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For Jill Beraud, chief executive officer of Living Proof Inc., disruption is the mother of invention.
This story first appeared in the June 1, 2012 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.
“Living proof was disruptive from Day One by taking inspiration from outside the industry from the worlds of biotech,” said Beraud, who previously has held posts at Victoria’s Secret and PepsiCo. “Everyone says I want to be the best in the business, and I want the best in the business. I believe sometimes the best is outside the business.”
Like its first beauty product, No Frizz, Living Proof is focused on attacking many of the vexing problems still unsolved within the beauty industry. Launched in 2008, the formula — which was innovative in part due to its lack of silicone — includes polyfluoroester, a new molecule discovered by Living Proof scientists.
“It was disruptive in bringing together a diverse team of talent, people from as far afield as Silicon Valley and Vogue, nanoscientists, medical researchers, digital experts and even hair stylists,” she said. “There’s of course no way to actually incubate disruption but it is possible to create a climate that will be more likely to produce it.”
To ensure such a climate, Living Proof’s founder, John Flint, collaborated with Dr. Robert Langer, one of 13 institute professors at Massachusetts Institute of Technology and the largest patent holder in life sciences in the history of the country, according to Beraud.
During her time at Victoria’s Secret and PepsiCo, Beraud said disruption also led to innovative thinking and initiatives that inspire her still today.
“From the launch of the first Miracle Bra to the very first Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show, we were not afraid to be unconventional, even shocking,” she said. “We took inspiration from outside our industry with a vision that was a mixture of entertainment, fantasy and high fashion.”
At Pepsi, Beraud named the Pepsi Refresh Project, a campaign in which millions of dollars worth of grants were given away nationwide to foster the social good, as another highlight of her career.
“Pepsi Refresh was a social movement born out of listening to the prevailing culture…towards doing good,” said Beraud. “More people participated in Pepsi Refresh than voted in the last U.S. presidential election. ”
Beraud’s advice for beauty companies?
“Everyone says don’t reinvent the wheel,” she said. “I say, isn’t the point to reinvent the wheel? To be disruptive you need to be willing to upset the status quo and take umbrage with convention.”