A clear brand story. Don’t shortchange this — it’s super important to driving your values, your content and your innovation. I’ve worked with many brands and founders in my advertising career who couldn’t articulate clearly what the brand stood for. It’s much harder to figure this out after you’ve been in the market for a while — you end up inevitably unraveling a lot of work you’ve done.
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 Lynn Power.
Lynn Power is a 30-year advertising executive (most recently CEO of J. Walter Thompson NY) turned entrepreneur. She launched MASAMI, a clean premium hair care brand, in February 2020. Lynn is passionate about building high performing teams, disrupting the status quo and helping women find their voices.
Thank you so much for doing this with us! 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 spent most of my career at creative ad agencies — running them in the back half of my career. I found that blending my left and right brains to leverage creativity as a business tool was quite fulfilling. But then I met my co-founder, James, who had spent 10 years working on our formulations. His passion and dedication were impressive, and the formulations were even more impressive. I couldn’t not do it.
Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you began your career?
I am so lucky to have been able to visit Japan as part of our development of MASAMI. We visited and enjoyed many onsens, we met Masa’s family (he is James’ husband, and our muse) and we discovered an underground cocktail culture in Tokyo that’s unlike anything I’ve seen.
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 this is when I decided not to try to emulate the “male bosses” I was used to who had a specific leadership style but to embrace my own style — more open, more vulnerable, more empathy.
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?
One of my first bosses, Tom Yorton, was a big influence on me. He was incredibly supportive — and let me do all of the work which I loved. And he forced me to deal with my introverted nature and learn to become an extrovert.
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?
We are leveraging a Japanese ocean botanical that gives your hair massive hydration without any bad ingredients. But we are also finding sustainable solutions — whether it’s our 32 oz refillable bottle or the work the MASAMI INSTITUTE is doing to help rebalance the ocean ecosystem in northeastern Japan.
Can you share 3 things that most excite you about the modern beauty industry?
- There is a ton of innovation happening, especially among indie brands — we are on a platform called Beautyque that is a virtual 3D store
- Consumers are less tolerant of products that don’t perform so the bar will be getting higher, which is a good thing.
- I like to see diversity happening more overtly and it feels like the industry is finally embracing this.
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?
- I’d love to have more consistency around what clean beauty means and which ingredients are dirty. The EU bans significantly more ingredients than the US.
- I hate how “unsustainable” the beauty industry is. I’d like to see more sustainable packaging solutions.
- Many (if not most) beauty brands don’t have a built-in mission or vision to give back. I’d like to see more thoughtful purpose-driven initiatives.
You are an expert about beauty. Can you share a few ideas that anyone can use “to feel beautiful”?
A silk pillowcase always makes me feel indulgent! But I also love a great body lotion with an amazing scent and even a DIY hair mask (so many ingredients at home can help, like avocado or bananas).
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.
1) A disruptive product. Beauty is so crowded that your product really needs to be differentiated. And work! I’ve worked on many brands in my past that were not disruptive at all — they used their size to acquire more shelf space. So true disruption is key.
2) A digital-first team. Even if you plan on selling in traditional retail, businesses need to be tuned into the way consumers think and behave. So you need to have a team that knows the customer journey, social, digital acquisition, etc. MASAMI has a digital acquisition expert, an expert, a content creator, a UX person and a social media expert.
3) Great packaging. Beauty is very tactile. People respond to beautiful packaging, not just what’s inside it, so don’t skimp on this. We hired Joe Doucet, a Smithsonian award-winning designer and it was the best decision we made!
4) A clear brand story. Don’t shortchange this — it’s super important to driving your values, your content and your innovation. I’ve worked with many brands and founders in my advertising career who couldn’t articulate clearly what the brand stood for. It’s much harder to figure this out after you’ve been in the market for a while — you end up inevitably unraveling a lot of work you’ve done.
5) A fearless attitude! It’s difficult launching any business, especially in crowded beauty. So don’t give up and know that it will take a lot of perseverance to succeed. I’ve met some amazing founders who have this and have succeeded despite the odds (Cassandra McClure comes to mind!)
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. 🙂
Clean Beauty! Many people have no idea how many toxins lurk in the beauty products that we use daily.
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?
“Beware; for I am fearless, and therefore powerful.” Mary Shelley. I love this because it’s true — fear doesn’t help us.
How can our readers follow you online?
I’m on LinkedIn and also @lynnpowered on all social channels.
MASAMI is @lovemasamihair on social and lovemasami.com
Thank you so much for joining us. This was very inspirational.