Jane Merten: “You need to understand your target consumer”

I think beauty is an inside job. You need to find ways to build self-confidence through self-talk and establishing healthy daily habits via self-care, food, and fitness. There is no amount of make-up that is going to make you feel beautiful if you don’t love yourself first. As a part of our series about “Five Things […]

The Thrive Global Community welcomes voices from many spheres on our open platform. We publish pieces as written by outside contributors with a wide range of opinions, which don’t necessarily reflect our own. Community stories are not commissioned by our editorial team and must meet our guidelines prior to being published.

I think beauty is an inside job. You need to find ways to build self-confidence through self-talk and establishing healthy daily habits via self-care, food, and fitness. There is no amount of make-up that is going to make you feel beautiful if you don’t love yourself first.

As a part of our series about “Five Things You Need To Know To Succeed In The Modern Beauty Industry”, I had the pleasure of interviewing Jane Merten.

Jane Merten is the Vice President of Marketing at Eco Lips. She has been in the organic industry for over a decade and has had a lot of success launching innovative products into the market with mass distribution. She also owns an organic deodorant brand called All Out Naturals. Jane has an MBA from the University of Iowa.

Jane Merten is a passionate entrepreneur helping people find clean, organic personal care products that fit their daily lives. She is the Founder of All Out Naturals, and the Vice President of Marketing at Eco Lips. She enjoys bringing transparency to the process in the hopes of educating people on where ingredients come from and why their purchasing decisions matter to their health and the health of the environment.

Thank you so much for doing this with us Jane! Before we dive in, our readers would love to learn a bit more about you. Can you tell us a story about what brought you to this specific career path?

I’ve always been interested in the organic industry having grown up on a farm in Iowa. My career took a few twists and turns through the corporate world where I found myself laid off in 2008. I moved back home to the farm where I helped my mom with her caramel candy business. I had several interviews during that time and happened upon the perfect job at Frontier Coop. It’s there where I found my tribe and was fully immersed into the organic industry. I’ve been having a ton of fun ever since!

Are you able to identify a “tipping point” in your career when you started to see success? Did you start doing anything different? Are there takeaways or lessons that others can learn from that?

I would say the tipping point is when your entire team starts running like a well-oiled machine. People own their mode of expertise, understand the goals, communicate effectively, and work together with respect and understanding when meeting challenges. Success doesn’t happen alone so taking individual credit doesn’t feel right. All members of the team should be recognized for any success a company has.

None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person to whom you are grateful who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?

There was a time when I was really struggling with overwhelm, team dynamics, and poor communication at Frontier. Clint Landis, the CMO, recognized this and took it upon himself to make time to help me. I’m very independent and it’s really hard for me to ask for help or admit I don’t know how to do something. His approach with me was very kind and understanding. It wasn’t so much about what he taught me but more importantly how he made me feel and that I was worthy of experiencing success.

Ok super. Let’s now shift to the main part of our discussion. The global beauty industry today has grown to more than a half a trillion-dollar business. Can you tell us about the innovations that you are bringing to the industry? How do you think that will help people?

It’s all about less is more with less actually doing more. Specifically, with cosmetics it’s about adding functional ingredients that allow the product to do double duty for people’s skin care routine. Our most recent launch of the Brazilian Vegan Lip Tints combines Babaçu and Pracaxi oils with Cupuaçu butter. All three powerhouse ingredients moisturize lips while Babaçu specifically fights free radicals and Cupuaçu helps to improve lip condition by working on damage already done to the lips. Pracaxi is rich in fatty acids and helps promote balanced collagen production. You’re getting a beautiful, natural mineral-based tinted lip moisturizer that doesn’t dry out your lips.

We’re also working on a new innovative package we’re really excited about. Stay tuned!

Can you share 3 things that most excite you about the modern beauty industry?

The awareness about access packaging and environmental impacts of waste.

Gender neutral & inclusion products.

Transparency in ingredient sourcing.

Can you share 3 things that most concern you about the industry? If you had the ability to implement 3 ways to improve the industry, what would you suggest?

  • Made up marketing terms that have no meaning like ‘natural,’ ‘clean beauty,’ and ‘therapeutic grade.’ All this does is confuse the consumer. I think as an industry evolves there does need to be a better way to define a new direction. It becomes challenging when there is no neutral third-party certifier that establishes the standards and then certifies the products for companies that want to make claims.
  • The supply of high-quality raw materials. With all the environmental problems and natural disasters that are happening more frequently, it starts to hinder the growing season and harvest yields. The quality of the soil combined with the weather can really impact the quality, color, scent, and potency of the ingredients. This can sometimes alter the finished product. Consumers don’t understand this. They just want the product to be the exact same every time they purchase it. There has to be a better understanding of tolerance for slight variances and a true understanding of where ingredients come from and environmental effects.
  • Margin squeeze. Retail chains are asking for more and more money from increasing price margins, vendor set-up, slotting fees, coop advertising, store resets, markdowns, etc. It’s becoming harder for smaller companies to get a foot in the door simply because they can’t afford it. They either must take on investor funding or sell to a larger company that has deeper pockets and long-standing relationships with the retail chains.

3 ways to improve the industry

  • Establishing standards for new claims and following guidelines already established for claims such as organic. The USDA Organic standard already exists. If it doesn’t have the seal, it’s not the real deal.
  • A push on more sustainable packaging that consumers are looking for that minimizes the demand for non-renewable resources like petroleum.
  • More multi-functional products that minimize the need for multiple bottles on the bathroom vanity.

You are an expert about beauty. Can you share a few ideas that anyone can use “to feel beautiful”?

I think beauty is an inside job. You need to find ways to build self-confidence through self-talk and establishing healthy daily habits via self-care, food, and fitness. There is no amount of make-up that is going to make you feel beautiful if you don’t love yourself first.

Here is the main question for our discussion. Based on your experience and success, Can you please share “Five Things You Need To Know To Succeed In The Modern Beauty Industry”. Please share a story or an example, for each.

You need to understand your target consumer. If you try to be everything to everyone, you’ll be a nobody soon enough. Understand their core values and ask them what their looking for as you look to expand your line.

You need to know your true cost and price your products accordingly knowing the various margin requirements between direct wholesale and distributor pricing along with the various pricing structures between natural, food, drug, specialty, and mass retailers. If you don’t understand this, you’re going to run into a lot of problems when it comes to negotiating and protecting your margin.

Have a solid understanding of contract manufacturing so you find the right partner that can grow with you. We don’t have to worry about that at Eco Lips because we are the actual manufacturer, but we also do contract manufacturing and experience a wide range of brand owners who can sometimes stumble through the process.

Don’t put all your eggs in one basket. It’s important to develop a balanced portfolio of retail partners as well as online presence. I think COVID exposed a lot of weaknesses for many companies as foot traffic in stores was drastically reduced and many companies started scrambling to establish online platform sales to make up the difference.

Trying to decipher between a fad and a trend can make or break any small beauty business if they head in the wrong direction. Understand your tolerance for risk, listen to the market, and strike while it’s hot.

You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂

I think a water-free, plastic-free direction for the industry would be amazing. Water free because you wouldn’t have to use preservatives in the product which many people are sensitive to, and the package size could be reduced which reduces the overall environmental footprint. Plastic free because the product would no longer be reliant on petroleum which is a non-renewable resource. There are some innovative brands already doing this which I think is pretty exciting. At the end of the day, will the consumer be open to this as it might be an inconvenience to their routine. We shall see.

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?

How can our readers follow you online?

IG: @janemertenbiz

Thank you so much for joining us. This was very inspirational.

Share your comments below. Please read our commenting guidelines before posting. If you have a concern about a comment, report it here.

You might also like...


9 Successful Entrepreneurs on Their Best Advice for Small Business Owners

by Heather DeSantis

History in the Making: the Rebirth of a Sustainable Sierra Leone

by Michaela S Guzy
We use cookies on our site to give you the best experience possible. By continuing to browse the site, you agree to this use. For more information on how we use cookies, see our Privacy Policy.