Diversity and inclusion. I love that the beauty industry is also leading in this realm. As a person of color and the daughter of immigrants growing up in the 90’s — I thought that the only option for me was to be either a figure skater (Michelle Kwan) or broadcaster (Connie Chung). This is why representation matters and I love that beauty in every platform is ensuring that it’s evolving to represent us all.
Asa part of our series about “Five Things You Need To Know To Succeed In The Modern Beauty Industry”, I had the pleasure of interviewing Mira Torres.
A lifelong beauty enthusiast, Mira Torres was originally a beauty editor for four years before becoming the first employee at the 2b dollars valued subscription startup, IPSY. Mira has always believed that trust, conversation and community are at the core of any experience, and has channeled this into developed JUNO. Mira founded JUNO with her business partner Kyle in 2017 and the brand as quickly become an internet sensation.
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 became a mom very early, very unprepared and kind of just winging it in life. There’s something in you that totally switches once you become responsible for someone else. I went from being a wannabe-hippie college kid to having my son and becoming a boring, overbearing Mother Hen. I became incredibly ambitious and the sky became the limit. I was determined to show him that he could be anything and everything he wanted. And determined to give him a life that was comfortable and as stress-free as possible.
At the time, I was a fresh graduate with the dream to get a business loan and open up my own fashion and art boutique in San Francisco — it was 2008 and the economy completely crashed so basically I decided to take whatever job I could get to help make ends meet. I became an associate at Ulta Cosmetics. Walking into the store, requesting an interview, and getting hired on the spot by the Store Manager, Julia Yi, who to this day will forever remain one of my favorite mentors.
In a little less than a year, I was promoted to the Administrative Manager of the store. I stayed there for four years learning everything and anything about makeup and beauty. This led me to getting the experience I needed to get jobs as a beauty writer, then a beauty editor, and then launching a social media consulting company where I eventually found a connection that led me to becoming the first employee of a beauty subscription company, IPSY. At IPSY, I really honed in on my experience and skills in the Marketing and Beauty space. Working alongside Stanford, Harvard, MIT and Duke grads. Learning and working on various aspects of e-commerce but mainly in the social voice and influencer community realm. After helping them organically grow from 25K to 2M in four years, I decided to take a break. During my sabbatical, Kyle (JUNO & Co.’s CEO) and my path met again — I met him while I was covering an event at his San Francisco Fashion Boutique in Westfield Mall 3 years before — and he and I started talking about creating a beauty product and beauty community that would be a total gamechanger. Community is my jam and I was totally in. That’s how JUNO was born and I became it’s CMO.
Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you began your career?
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?
The true “Tipping Point” for me was Ulta. Getting promoted so quickly. I love that you referenced Tipping Point because I love Gladwell and his insights, I feel, are so spot on. The day I asked about the open position for a manager at Ulta and explaining how I was interested in it even if I didn’t have the experience, Julia looked at me and said: “I was hoping you would ask because you are like a diamond in the rough and I know you can do this.” That vote of confidence has stuck with me to this day, and simultaneously, I learned that if I don’t go for/ask for what I want, there will be a big possibility that I won’t get it. And that would suck. Over the years, I’ve learned that when it comes to communication, getting to the point in the most simplified and authentic way is the best way to speak your ideas and ask questions.
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?
That’s so funny because I’ve been talking about Julia this whole time without even knowing this question would come up. But she is definitely one. And I could never just pick one. My mom, a single mom who did everything she knew how and could, and who eventually decided to let go of her stereotypical Tiger Mom ambitions of me being a lawyer and let me pick a career I would always be passionate about. She is my biggest cheerleader alongside my sons, husband and sister. The whole team at IPSY was my OG squad of immense personal and professional growth. Marcelo, Michelle and Jen — as stressful as it was at the time, being in that atmosphere taught me that I could thrive and deliver above and beyond in any situation and I would have never had that opportunity without them. Kyle (my CEO) for believing in me and knowing that I could pull off an Executive position. The team at JUNO, they are rockstars and I appreciate their patience with me always because I am a hot mess sometimes.
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?
Because of the pandemic, JUNO decided to make a huge pivot in terms of new launches. Before it, we had a line up full of fun colors down the pipeline: eyeshadow, highlights, blush, lipstick — now that many of us won’t be seen without a face mask — we pivoted our pipeline to create a healthy skincare collection set to launch the remaining of the year. Health is at the top of everyone’s mind right now and going back to the initial mission of JUNO, we listened and discussed with our community about what they want us to create more of and provide. Skincare is everyone’s concern — The products and ingredients we are putting in and on our body. Currently, we’re working with a Japanese and Korean lab overseas to develop game-changing skincare formulas that are super effective and super good for you. And, due to the state of our economy, we made it our mission to provide it at incredible prices that everyone can afford.
Can you share 3 things that most excite you about the modern beauty industry?
I love that:
1. The beauty industry right now is leading in the no-waste initiative. We are redefining packaging and ways to help clean up and contribute to the recovery of Mother Nature one brand at a time.
2. The beauty industry consumers are passionate about cruelty-free products. This also makes us leaders in finding ways to test new things without harming or hurting anything or anyone.
3. Diversity and inclusion. I love that the beauty industry is also leading in this realm. As a person of color and the daughter of immigrants growing up in the 90’s — I thought that the only option for me was to be either a figure skater (Michelle Kwan) or broadcaster (Connie Chung). This is why representation matters and I love that beauty in every platform is ensuring that it’s evolving to represent us all.
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?
- The fact that it’s still largely white males that are leading the board rooms and developing products being sold and marketed to women of all colors. This will forever irk me. Obviously. Get more women to make products for women, please.
- Price points. Inflated prices are still a thing. I’ve seen the line list of wholesale prices and know that some makeup brands are marked up at 300%. And most likely with the same ingredients. That is so crazy and so unfair. It’s quite silly and has always bothered me.
- Harmful ingredients. There is absolutely ZERO reason to keep putting chemicals like formaldehyde and coal tar in products. They need to just be banished. So gross.
You are an expert about beauty. Can you share a few ideas that anyone can use “to feel beautiful”?
Surround yourself with the right people. The right people will never make you feel ugly.
There’s a quote that my mom sent me while I was going through a divorce that has always made me chuckle: “Before you diagnose yourself with depression or low self-esteem, first make sure that you are not, in fact, just surrounded by assholes.” — William Gibson
Only use things that you love. This is probs a Marie Kondo thing — the whole “does it spark joy” aspect. I know that we can easily feel the need to not “waste” things and continue using or holding onto them even if they do nothing for us. But a big part of self-love is letting go of things that don’t serve you. People, bad makeup products, two-year-old Target receipts… The lighter the load the prettier you’ll feel inside and out.
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.
- Say something.
Your voice has power. If something bothers you, is hurting you physically or mentally, or if there is something that you need in order to perform as your best self, let someone — the right someone — know. Also, before you do, be prepared — plan the heck out and make sure you’re covering all your bases with facts and hard evidence before doing so.
- ex. Getting a raise. In my early years, I would just wait for the company I was with to give me a raise during the scheduled quarter. No matter how much my work responsibilities increased. I later learned that if I was being taken advantage of, I could raise my own bar. Prepared with proof like I was getting into a University debate, I called a meeting and got 3 times more than I expected.
2. Be prepared.
Like Scar in Lion King. This piggybacks off of my last one. If you have hard evidence, a beautiful deck, and place it in a way that is simple and uncomplicated, outlining the positive benefits for everyone, most likely you’ll get what you want or are able to negotiate to get what you need.
3. Stay learning.
Subscribe and read to everything interesting & relevant (and even those that aren’t) that you can get your hands on. Knowledge is power and we’re never going to be too smart to know everything.
I try to read up and get alerts on as much trending news as possible. This helps me to stay in the know and engage in conversations with everyone — from the sports fanatic to the millionaire influencer.
As an introvert, it is insane to me that I am suggesting this but it’s so important. Without networking, I would have never found so many open doors. Doesn’t even need to be in-person — social media is the queen of queens for this. A simple double-tap and like can go a long way. Also, always be kind. Especially on social media.
5. Keep at it.
This is cliché but it’s true. No matter how many rejections and criticisms you receive — grow the next layer of skin, regroup, and keep on keeping on. Before IPSY, I was in consulting finding various clients to work their social platforms for as a contractor. I got rejected by sooo many. But I still just kept sending those resumes and cover letters. Eventually, I found someone that loved my work and recommended me to more clients that were actively looking. It was a snowball effect that I was so grateful for.
Like with any data, the more tries, the more results.
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 would love to inspire a movement of making modern art incredibly special again. Like my initial ambition of being a fashion and art curator of an SF boutique, I wanted to bring back the trend to create art pieces that became funding and are timeless & valuable. Where are today’s Warhol’s, Magritte’s and Modigliani’s? Do we have any? I love art, supporting local artists and discovering creative, fun and unique people. But also, free healthcare. Defund the Police. Erase Student debt. Give the power back to the good people. Not my ideas but would take those, too.
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?
Gosh, I feel like I shared a bunch already but “Bloom where you are planted” has something I have loved since I was in high school. No matter where life/your career/your passion takes you, just make the most of it.
How can our readers follow you online?
My personal IG is @thebeautybohemian but I am always online, too on @thejunoco.
Thank you so much for joining us. This was very inspirational.