I love how many of us took the time to try and improve ourselves during this time. People are taking the time to meditate, destress, pamper themselves with home spa-like treatments, sleep better, and educate themselves online. They understand that challenging times also call for recovery time and for being good to ourselves. To be hit with a challenge like the pandemic and seeing folks committed to creating positives out of having to spend so much time at home gives me hope.
I had the pleasure of interviewing beauty industry insider, Shana Lydle.
Shana, cocreator of CBD-infused KARIBO and mintedLeaf beauty and wellness products, has over 26 years of executive beauty industry experience, and is currently VP of business development at MMG Consumer Brands, the equity firm behind these top-selling beauty and wellness products. Ms. Lydle lives in Atlanta, Ga., and works with MMG in Miami, Fla., two cities significantly impacted by COVID-19. Since the onset of the pandemic, Shana completely reinvented her products’ marketing strategy going from being retail to eCommerce-focused. Meanwhile, KARIBO and mintedLeaf became top sellers at retail outlets. With a husband, a 10-year-old daughter, and a nine-year-old son sheltering in place with her at home, the marketing overhaul and the surge in sales all combined to trigger a marked increase in her workload. Despite these challenges, Ms. Lydle remains a devoted mom, highly productive and unflappably optimistic. She is poised to provide valuable insights about how to make the best of the challenges presented by the pandemic, how to achieve work-life balance, and how to stay in the best frame of mind, even while traveling between two cities seriously impacted by the pandemic.
Can you share with us the backstory about what brought you to your specific career path?
You can almost say that I was born with a container of lipstick in one of my hands. As far back as I can recall, I’ve been thinking about make-up. I remember watching my grandmother putting her makeup up. She was so meticulous about her morning skincare routine. She used Ponds cold cream, I remember, and I’d watch her very carefully. I was probably about five years old at the time. I would sneak back to the bathroom mirror and I would try to replicate whatever my grandmother had done. Even then, I was obsessed with makeup.
Whereas other kids I knew saved their allowance money for toys, I’d save it up for skincare products. When I shopped with my mom, I’d roam through the beauty aisles, get what I thought I needed, and then I would experiment with doing my own makeup by myself and with my friends. And this may seem a little strange, but even as a kid, I was already getting interested in the business side of these products. I was asking questions like, “how do all of these products get to the store and into these aisles, and who is buying them all?”
Being from Canada and wanting more and more as I grew up to understand the business angle of cosmetics, I learned that there was only one college that had a business focus in this area. I not only applied to the school, which was hard to get into but even showed up in-person to introduce myself and make my case. I was determined to get into that school, and I did. Now, it’s been over 25 years, and I’ve worked on every side of the cosmetics industry, in the U.S. and abroad, from overseeing manufacturing to developing cosmetics products, to launching top brands, to cofounding new products as I’ve done most recently with KARIBO and mintedLeaf.
I’ve been involved with every aspect of product development and even spent eight years running back and forth to China while creating state-of-the-art makeup brushes for Laura Mercier. I worked on the brand side for a variety of companies including Cole’s, Laura Mercier, MAC, Sephora, Bare Escentuals, Sonia Kashuk, Ulta, and Lancome.
There really isn’t an executive side of the beauty consumer products industry that I haven’t been involved in, from product development to sales and marketing, to promoting the products on national television during the morning shows. I’ve come to develop a strong understanding of the lifecycle of a beauty product. From inception, to launch, I’ve been there. It’s been especially fun to be involved in the newest products, whether those are the latest makeup brush designs, foundation formulas, or what I’m doing right now, the most exciting development yet: CBD-infused beauty and wellness products. And that project took all of that previous experience to execute, and never at a more timely moment, when women, and men, too, want to create spa experiences at home, and are looking for products that also have calming qualities, but that are also affordable.
Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you started at your company?
I’ve been through a lot of challenges in over 26 years in the beauty industry, but I can’t say anything has been quite as challenging as adjusting to the impact of COVID-19 arriving during the middle of our biggest product launches with companies CVS and Rite Aid. What was really amazing was how quickly our retail partners reacted to consumer demand and their needs. Despite the pandemic, customers were continuing to go to these retail outlets to get these products. KARIBO, for example, is a best seller. The retailers worked with us even as we did our part to get the message out that these CBD-infused products would be a great help relieving the stress of this time, and that if we are going to be spending more time at home we are going to need beauty products that can give us more of a spa-like experience at home, but with less time required. We were able to be a part of the change the industry had to make to address the pandemic. We knew we had the ideal products to meet this moment, but we also needed to refine our messaging to cut through the noise and let consumers know KARIBO and mintedLeaf were available to them. How we were able to come together with our retail partners so quickly to address consumer needs was a lesson in resiliency and really in experience. It really took everything I’d learned in full career to be able to pivot like this and make it work.
Are you working on any exciting new projects now? How do you think that will help people?
We have a great team at KARIBO and mintedLeaf. We are constantly looking to innovate. As a result, we have a range of new mintedLeaf tincture flavors we are preparing to introduce to the marketplace. We are also working on new ways of applying mintedLeaf products. And we have five new KARIBO skincare products that we plan to launch this year and they will further position of us in the CBD space, and they are affordable. These include a CBD hydrating facial oil, a serum, a hydrating facial mist, a gentle cleanser, and a hydrating eye cream. These products will help women look and feel more beautiful, achieve that in less time than a spa treatment, and do so while not spending excessively during a time of economic uncertainty. That’s peace of mind without sacrificing your beauty, and that’s important.
None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards?
I like to be of the mindset that everyone you come into contact with in your career you should be grateful for, whether it has been a pleasant experience or not, it leads you to the best place to be in the long run. On a more personal note, it was my mother who always told me not to give up on my dreams. And my teachers throughout my life were awesome.
The Covid-19 pandemic has affected nearly every aspect of our lives today. Can you articulate to our readers what are the biggest family related challenges you are facing as a woman business leader during this pandemic?
Time management and placing more pressure on ourselves than we should are the biggest challenges when it comes to family and working from home. I think women especially have a drive for everything to turn out smoothly and perfectly and to be everything to everyone. But we are in a new normal that is constantly changing. Yes, we can program and schedule our lives to give us the form and discipline we need to be productive, but if we are going to expect to meet every deadline and have everything work out perfectly, we are setting ourselves up for disappointment, poor life balance, and not the best mental health. And that goes for our expectations of others, too.
Can you share what you’ve done to address those challenges?
We have to also consider some things we may not think are essential but actually are. I’ve already discussed programming and scheduling, but you also have to include fun in your plan. For our family, it comes down to eating and exercising together. We’ve extended bond-building outward by scheduling weekly zoom meetings with friends and family and having Friday night virtual happy hours with those close to us. This has been hugely beneficial and has allowed us to communicate at times with people we love more than we did before the pandemic. We can’t forget that there are still opportunities to strengthen the bonds with those we love at this time if we seize these opportunities. Apart from that we still need to make time just for oneself. In my case, I’ve taken time to do solo cooking projects which are actually stress-relieving to me. And sharing the results has been the greatest pleasure of all.
Can you share the biggest work-related challenges you are facing as a woman in business during this pandemic?
The CBD industry is a male-dominated world, so it’s been a bit of a challenge. I think there was the assumption that once the pandemic hit, the women would drop business concerns and just focus on taking care of the family at home, and women would put their careers on hold until the crisis ended. But that was not at all the case. Women in this industry have turned out to be rock stars, pivoting on a dime when we had to professionally while continuing to be household leaders for our families.
Can you share what you’ve done to address those challenges?
Well, I never left the beauty products scene, in the first place. Whether it was saying, “hey,” to my team internally, or to retail partners, I just kept checking in on how they were doing. I sent gifts, too. This was firstly about how letting them know that I cared how they and their families were doing, and about keeping our bonds strong, especially during a crisis. I really do care about the people I work and partner with. This made it very easy to move forward once we got our bearings. The people in my network knew we could count on each other in this crisis and that we would show up for each other. It was about letting each other know that, yes, we were having to respond quickly, decisively, and with a lot of follow-throughs, but we were committed to bringing these products to consumers exactly when they would need them most. Because our bonds were intact, we were able to quickly rally around the awareness that this was precisely the right moment to bring our products and our message to the marketplace.
Can you share your advice about how to best work from home, while balancing the needs of homeschooling or the needs of a family?
When the pandemic first began, many thought it wouldn’t last, that it was a hiccup and we would get back to normal quickly. When that didn’t happen, I was lucky to have already developed some of the working habits that would help get me through this new period. I had been working remotely, for example, for the last two years, so I had already learned how to be effective and self-motivated as a business leader while working from home. That said, there’s no question that the pandemic introduced a range of new life stressors that required adjusting to.
Like many professional women, I had to hit reset and figure out how best to move forward. It really doesn’t matter how together you are, when you put all of the new circumstances that the pandemic presents on someone’s lap, one is going to freak out a little, and the more you want to achieve perfection, the more you will struggle.
To get my hands around the problem of remaining effective, the first thing I did was to find ways of setting up routines and spatial arrangements at home that reflected the more ordered world we already knew how to work within before the pandemic struck. I set up workstations for my two kids, one 10, one 11, and my husband and I made sure we, too, had designated places from which to work. Once we had the spatial arrangements set up with the technological resources in place to either work from home, or to receive teaching instruction remotely for my kids, then I set about creating a schedule that duplicated the norms we already knew. Whether there was school or not, there would be no lounging about all day for my kids. They would have to get up early and maintain some reasonable level of productivity whether going to school or not. Breakfast, lunch and dinner were also programmed and we worked hard to eat together on time, as planned.
We’re fortunate enough to have a gym space in our home, so exercise was also scheduled. And we are having a lot of fun with this! I don’t always get to do my exercise routine with my husband and kids, but we took advantage of this time to be together. Self-care is also an important part of achieving life balance during these days of added stress. So, we also have mats available for acupuncture and meditation.
The whole point of our efforts has been to recreate the life and work rhythms we knew before our lives were changed. We all worked hard to be disciplined about our routines, but even with that determination, when you’re launching products useful during a pandemic this can result in an increased workload, as it did for me. I had been in the middle of launching two brands: KARIBO beauty and mintedLeaf wellness products. With both products being CBD-infused, it was never more important to get these products into the hands of the folks who could benefit from their calming and pain-relieving qualities. Meanwhile, we had to reinvent our retail-focused strategy with lots more people now looking to shop online. It was a strange kind of luck. I was lucky to have products that were particularly useful at this time to launch and promote, but who wants to work in the middle of a pandemic?
So, this takes me to a very important point about how to get through these times. You are not going to get everything right, so don’t try to. Begin by recognizing that not everything is going to proceed smoothly and flawlessly. If you are among the fortunate who remain employed and working you may find that you are also among those for whom the pandemic has resulted in greater work demands and even less time to get things done. You may, for example, find the laundry taking extra days to get done, the dishes piling up and you have to give yourself a little leeway.
And, you can also make readjustments where possible. For example, I’ve been involved with the beauty industry my entire adult life so a beauty routine is part of my life, pandemic, or no pandemic. And so, I’ve set up a beautiful spa-like experience in my home that comes complete with dermabrasion equipment and a routine for special days. The added time at home has meant exploring platforms like YouTube to augment and develop my beauty practices. While religious about my face treatments, I’ve also readjusted my work-week beauty routine making it shorter, but still meaningful. It helps me build my professional momentum for the day as I prepare for video calls.
Can you share your strategies about how to stay sane and serene while sheltering in place, or simply staying inside, for long periods with your family?
As I mentioned earlier, you have to ensure that, if at all possible, everyone has their own space. Don’t neglect your own time, space, and rest. I included home spa rituals, trying new recipes to prepare food for my family, and sometimes scheduling time to do absolutely nothing. That’s why I love to put on our company facemask and do nothing while it does it works. Beauty is my business, so this is a pleasure that doesn’t have to come with guilt. Living the beauty lifestyle is about more than looking good. It’s about understanding that we deserve to pamper ourselves from time to time, especially when we live such hardworking lifestyles and struggle so hard to bring harmony to our lives. We deserve to do what we have to do to feel and look beautiful. If that means taking time to do nothing, then give yourself that time and give yourself a break from having to be perfect.
Many people have become anxious from the dramatic jolts of the news cycle. The fears related to the coronavirus pandemic have understandably heightened a sense of uncertainty, fear, and loneliness. From your perspective can you help our readers to see the “Light at the End of the Tunnel?? Can you share your “5 Reasons To Be Hopeful During this Corona Crisis?” (If you can, please share a story or example for each.)
- Recognize that there’s always the opportunity to turn a bad situation around. We’ve made it through the worst and learned that we are better connected for it.
- People have connected sometimes better than they have before. I’m closer to some friends, in part, because we made the time to have these virtual happy hours together. I used to see many of these people once every few months. Now, we’ve learned to reconnect more often without all of the distractions that come with getting ready to meet at a particular place. We are learning more about each other, and asking important questions about each other during this time, and I am very grateful for this.
- Seeing the reaction from the retail and beauty industry was promising. This is obviously not a great period for the retail industry, but I have to say I’m proud to see retailers reacting to turn things around, recognizing they can be part of the solution for people out there looking for ways to make life a little less stressful. And retailers have risen to the occasion investing a lot in making consumers safe while shopping. My local shops are spotless and I see a lot of workers committed to making shopping a better experience.
- I love how many of us took the time to try and improve ourselves during this time. People are taking the time to meditate, destress, pamper themselves with home spa-like treatments, sleep better, and educate themselves online. They understand that challenging times also call for recovery time and for being good to ourselves. To be hit with a challenge like the pandemic and seeing folks committed to creating positives out of having to spend so much time at home gives me hope.
- Recognize that tomorrow is another day. You’ve already proven that you can get through a lot. Imagining those better times ahead is critical to getting to them. It can take a leap of faith, but I’m here to tell you that by believing in my products and in myself and my work it has allowed me to move forward and create wins out of what appeared to be losses. Have faith and take action.
From your experience, what are a few ideas that one can use to effectively offer support to their family and loved ones who are feeling anxious? Can you explain?
Hugs, everybody loves hugs. And tell people around you how much you love them. Tell them it’s going to be okay. It’s okay to laugh when something is funny. Just being courteous in the home and out is an easy way to begin putting people at ease and getting us better connected.
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?
The former CEO of Starbucks, Howard Schultz, has a great quote. He says, “success is best when it’s shared,” and I really love that. I really do feel the people I’ve encountered while pursuing a career in the beauty industry were critical to me getting to where I needed to go. The opportunities that presented themselves for me have always come through these encounters. Whether receiving encouragement, guidance and support from family, teachers, friends, customers, and business partners or learning from their criticism, it’s these exchanges that I’ve grown from. I am a woman who grew up fascinated by beauty products since I was a little girl. Over and over I met the people who would make it possible for me to thrive in the industry that most fascinated me. Sharing success with them remains my deepest pleasure.