Before going into any high stress situation, I like to collect my thoughts and see whether it is actually worth my energy. I ask myself “is this going to matter to you next week, next month or next year” and based on this I prepare myself to tackle it. Spending a few minutes critically thinking about this is important because sometimes when we get too caught up in stress, we lose our sense of rationality and might make a hasty decision
As a part of our series about “Optimal Performance Before High Pressure Moments”, I had the pleasure of interviewingAnn McFerran.
Ann McFerran was born in Bangkok, Thailand and immigrated with her single mother to America when she was 7 years old. After graduating from UCLA with a B.S. in Psychobiology, she saw a gap in the beauty market for magnetic lashes that actually worked and sought to develop magnetic lashes that actually worked, in styles that she would personally wear. During July 2019, after teaching herself everything from product development to marketing, Glamnetic was born.
Thank you so much for joining us in this interview series! Before we dive into the main focus of our interview, our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you tell us a bit about your childhood backstory?
Of course! Thanks so much for having me. What’s funny was I took so many unconventional turns in my life and I think that is very common. With life, you can never predict what happens but my best advice is to follow your curiosity because that comes from your gut and it will never serve you wrong.
So a series of experiences led me to this compulsion of going into business because it felt like it was my only feasible option where I could feel remotely happy.
It started when I went to UCLA and was told by my mom to take the safe route which was becoming a doctor and entering the medical field. My mom was a pretty strict Asian mom and I had a stepdad who was much older and was also heavily conservative. I had always been in love with science so I didn’t object. However as I went through school, I realized that I gravitate more towards art. My mind wanted creativity beyond what the strict confines of science offered and I took art classes at UCLA that solidified my stance at wanting to become an artist. Right around when I graduated with my Bachelor’s of Science, I sold my first painting for 5k dollars and I decided that I was going to be a fine artist. What did I have to lose? I was already broke at the time, was able to get by, and it seemed like people were really into my art. In my mind, there wasn’t anywhere to go but up. Fast forward 3 years later, I had sold paintings all around the world, had shows in Los Angeles, and had commissions from wealthy clients. But I felt like all I was doing was painting, and at a certain point, I just didn’t feel mentally challenged anymore. On top of that, the lifestyle of being an artist was super lonely and unpredictable. I spent all day in my studio painting when all I wanted to do was be around other people and build something with a team. I was also teaching myself day trading stocks and crypto at the time so I could have variety in my life and make extra money. But this did not exactly give me a sense of stability. I felt pretty trapped in a lifestyle that I felt was going nowhere, and that I wasn’t passionate about it. There was a point where I had to be honest and ask myself “Ann, do you want to be an artist for the rest of your life?” It had not turned out to be what I expected and my passion was fading.
I got fed up. I just pushed myself to make a change. What I realized I wanted to do is start an ecommerce business. At that same time, I was fortunate enough to meet a lot of people in LA who I saw become successful in e-commerce and grow their brand. I felt like I had it in me as well, that I also had the intuition to do it myself. I just needed an internal push inside myself to say “You know what, you can do it too. Forget that you have no previous experience. Didn’t you teach yourself everything up to this point anyway?”
I thought about what I would launch and up until that point, I had always had a passion for lashes and beauty in general. However, lashes especially had been a coping mechanism to make me feel like I fit in with everyone else. Coming to Thailand at the age of 7 into an all-white neighborhood, I had been made fun of for the way my eyes looked. I had become self-conscious and became reliant on lashes since they made my eyes appear larger. I tried every type of lash from so many brands and felt like I wasted so much money on lashes because the glue would clump up on the band and I would have to throw them away so often. Magnetic lashes existed at the time but they were all thin, felt like plastic, and had 3 magnets max. I saw a gap in the market for beautiful, full glam lashes that were easy to apply and super reusable, unlike conventional lashes. They were basically lashes that I would want. That’s when I decided to take the plunge and invest my entire life savings into this idea and after months of trial and error, Glamnetic was born.
What or who inspired you to pursue your career as an entrepreneur or business leader? We’d love to hear the story.
Funny story: I actually had dated men who had massive success in their business and I found what they were doing to be super interesting and exciting to me. They didn’t want me involved with their businesses too in depth so I was inspired to start my own, completely independently! I think my success was, to say the least, not expected. Immigrant girl from Thailand who paints paintings all day and never worked a real 9–5? Who would’ve thought!
None of us can achieve success without some help along the way. Was there a particular person who you feel gave you the most help or encouragement to be who you are today? Can you share a story about that?
I wouldn’t even be in America to have this opportunity to start my own business if it wasn’t for my mom. When we moved here, it was just the two of us and she did whatever she could for my sister and me to have a good future. Even when I made major career changes from being a premed at UCLA to starting my own beauty business, she thought I was crazy and that I needed to go back to school. Nevertheless, she supported me.
She was like, “You know what? As long as you’re happy doing that.” She thought I was delusional. Then one day I told her, “Mom, we’re making over 100,000 dollars a month.” And now, we’re making over 4 million dollars a month! She’s always just been supportive no matter how well or not well I was doing. Now, I’m so happy because I can support her.
The road to success is hard and requires tremendous dedication. This question is obviously a big one, but what advice would you give to a young person who aspires to follow in your footsteps and emulate your success?
Anything is possible if you work your butt off! Work really hard to grow your brain to become a fast learner, a better analytical thinker, a better creative thinker, and you can figure out anything!
Can you share your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Why does that resonate with you so much?
The biggest risk is not taking any risk- Mark Zuckerburg
This quote resonates with me a lot because it signifies how I began my journey and every decision I have made to get to where I am today. Had I not risked leaving behind the stability of becoming a doctor to become a full-time artist, I would not have been able to learn the key lessons that I did. It gave me an outlet to channel my creative energy, pursue my passion and adopt some key values. Similarly, when I used all my savings to start Glamnetic a couple of years later, I would not have been where I am today had I not taken that plunge. Taking risks is important not only because it has the potential to reach great success but also because it gives you life’s experiences that shape you and how you react to uncertainty. Starting a business involves a great deal of uncertainty and your success is ultimately based on how to react and adapt to those situations and how daring you are to face them head on. Even if it leads to an unexpected outcome or failure, I have learnt that stepping out of my comfort zone is what really gives me a chance to grow and do better in the future.
What are some of the most interesting or exciting projects you are working on now? How do you think that might help people?
We have some really exciting things coming up! One of our newest and most exciting projects is launching our rewards program. As a way to thank our loyal customers, we are now launching a loyalty program that is basically our way of giving back to the Glam Fam. Through this program, we wish to get closer to our customers and be able to give them several benefits and offers for showering so much love on our brand.
Apart from the loyalty program, all of our products are essentially focused on making our customers lives easier and simplifying their beauty routine. By focusing on multi-functional and quick to use products, we aim to declutter our customers’ lives and make it more efficient. For example, our newly launched Press-On Nails have been gaining popularity because of the fact that they are DIY yet salon quality, reusable and extremely easy to apply. This innovative product basically eliminates the need to ever go back to a salon because now you can achieve an even better manicure right in the comfort of your home.
OK, thank you for all of that. Let’s now shift to the core focus of our interview. As a business leader, you likely often face high stakes situations that involve a lot of pressure. Most of us tend to wither in the face of such pressure and stress. Can you share with our readers 3 or 4 strategies that you use to cope with the burden of stress?
Being the leader of a brand that is growing so quickly can definitely be stressful. But I would not have it any other way because it is also equally fruitful. One of the key strategies that I use to cope with stress is positive thinking. No matter how stressful a situation is, I refuse to think negatively or assume the worst outcome. This also kind of correlates to my second strategy which is going into problem-solving mode. I am an individual who needs quick results and I can never let anything just stew or sit around. If I see a situation going downhill or some task that hasn’t been finished, instead of letting my emotions of stress come in the way I definitely am the kind of person that goes into instant problem-solving mode. I am really good at thinking logically even during the worst of situations and this kind of an attitude definitely helped me to handle my stress. Lastly, I definitely think it helps to take systemic breaks. No matter how busy my day is, I make sure to carve out a few minutes to myself to reflect upon my thoughts and actions and calm my mind to feel more centered. This has helped me think rationally through situations without getting too worked up. Even if it’s just stepping outside for a couple of minutes or doing some quick stretches, I highly recommend doing this just to recharge and refresh in the middle of a hectic day, especially while we’re all locked in our homes during quarantine.
Aside from being able to deal with the burden of stress, can you share with our readers 3 or 4 strategies that you use to optimize your mind for peak performance before high pressure, high stress situations?
Before going into any high stress situation, I like to collect my thoughts and see whether it is actually worth my energy. I ask myself “is this going to matter to you next week, next month or next year” and based on this I prepare myself to tackle it. Spending a few minutes critically thinking about this is important because sometimes when we get too caught up in stress, we lose our sense of rationality and might make a hasty decision. I also find it helpful to be prepared. I like to foresee all the outcomes and have strategies set in place for those outcomes. This makes me a bit more relaxed and confident before going into a stressful situation knowing that I can have some control over the outcome.
Do you use any special or particular breathing techniques, meditations or visualizations to help optimize yourself? If you do, we’d love to hear about it.
Do you have a special technique to develop a strong focus, and clear away distractions?
I like to be in an environment that I am comfortable in so that I can focus really well. I try to focus all my energy on the topic in front of me and just mute everything happening around me in the background to completely focus.
We all know the importance of good habits. How have habits played a role in your success? Can you share some success habits that have helped you in your journey?
I work almost 16 hour days, 7 days a week. It is extremely hectic but there are a few good habits that I have adopted that help me cope with these gruesome hours and remain efficient as well as productive. No matter how long a day I have had, I make it a point to get a good night’s sleep. I try to get as deep and sound a sleep as possible and this I think is the most important to me. I also wear a sleep mask to improve my sleep and recharge my mind. I try my best to sleep 8 hours every night at least. Second, another habit that has helped me greatly is compartmentalizing. Being a leader, I am pulled in several directions daily from marketing to finance to inventory to product development. Multi-tasking and focusing on everything at once has never been successful. Therefore, I learnt how to compartmentalize and reduce the transition time between two diverse tasks. I am also able to practice this habit by visualizing my daily and weekly goals to better move forward in my journey. Lastly, another habit that has helped me in my journey is constantly taking in information. I enjoy looking at documentaries about space, our planet and human behavior. I also just love keeping up with what is going on in the world and the beauty industry to remain well-informed. Watching content for a few minutes daily helps me step away from work to reflect but also still keeps my mind active because I am constantly taking information in.
What is the best way to develop great habits for optimal performance? How can one stop bad habits?
In order to develop a habit, consistency is key. You have to keep at it no matter what the cost, and condition yourself to act a certain way so as to develop the habit you want. One useful method is easing yourself into it. If you tell a chocolate-lover to stop eating sugar, it is not that easy to just implement this habit for good the next day onwards. Developing habits is a process and needs time to get used to for your body and mind. Instead of restricting oneself abruptly, it’s more effective to reduce the amount of chocolate consumed weekly and continue doing so in increments until it can be cut off completely. This also allows the person time to reflect on why they need to develop this habit and what exactly is holding them back from it. Lastly, I think being realistic is very important as well. As hard as it is to develop a new habit, it is just as easy to give in to temptation. Instead of setting unrealistic expectations, I prefer being realistic and having achievable goals as well as contingency plans.
People say it takes 21 days to break a habit. I think what helps me most to cut out a bad habit is removing any triggers, visualizing myself having gotten rid of the habit already and definitely surrounding myself with individuals that will support me on my journey to be better.
As a business leader, you likely experience times when you are in a state of Flow. Flow has been described as a pleasurable mental state that occurs when you do something that you are skilled at, that is challenging, and that is meaningful. Can you share some ideas from your experience about how we can achieve a state of Flow more often in our lives?
Eliminate all distractions, get in an environment you’re familiar with, be 100% focused at what you’re doing and be thinking about that particular subject for a long time until it becomes subconscious, exercise regularly, eat a balanced diet.
Ok, we are nearly done. You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good for the greatest number of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger.
I think brands no matter how big or small should have their sights set for philanthropy and creating products that don’t produce waste, but rather help reduce it. Although Glamnetic is under a year old, we have already donated sizable amounts to nonprofit organizations that align with our mission to fight for equality — the Black Lives Matter Movement, and the LA LGBT Center — as well as helping in times of need — donating to the Australian Wildfires and rehabilitation for endangered Koalas and donating lashes and masks to front-line workers. We are young but I know we can push to make a change and contribute for the greater good. We develop products also that create less waste such as our magnetic lashes which are reusable up to 40 times and ship them in 100% recyclable bubble mailers. We will continue to release products that eliminate the need to drive anywhere (i.e. getting your lashes, nails, or brows done) and instead promote a do-it-yourself beauty routine in the comfort of your own home.
We are very blessed that some of the biggest names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US, whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might just see this, especially if we both tag them 🙂
I am a huge admirer of Elon Musk and would be honored to have a meal with him. I believe that he has an extremely brilliant mind and I would have to chat with him about space and technology and smart business decisions. He inspires me to challenge myself daily to always push the limits of innovation and achieve the best product possible, no matter what it takes.
How can our readers further follow your work online?
Via @Glamnetic instagram, of course, where I do weekly takeovers and give updates on the brand and on my personal instagram account @themodernartista. You can also view our products on https://glamnetic.com/
Thank you for these really excellent insights, and we greatly appreciate the time you spent with this. We wish you continued success.