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Beauty’s Female Power Duos

These dynamic duos are proof positive that women working together are powering the future of beauty.

Serial Successes

Katie Rodan, co-founder of Rodan + Fields

“I’ve always worked better in conjunction with another person. I like to collaborate—it makes for a better outcome in terms of doing the right thing for the company, which is always the heart and center of every decision. It’s also a lot more fun. I look over the last 30 years and there were so many challenges, so many times you’d want to fall on the floor and say, ‘It’s over! It’s curtains.’ When you have someone to share those ups and downs with, someone whose shoulder you can cry on and say, ‘We’re going to figure this out,’ it makes for a fabulous journey, which this has been.”

Kathy Fields, co-founder of Rodan + Fields

“There are many ways to approach a problem. And if there is a bad outcome, is that it? No—you keep going. We learned that early on. It comes from medicine—you never walk away from a patient. You fight to the death. With this relationship, it’s the same thing. When things are not in lockstep, you have to do more work. This is not the time to give it up and throw a hissy fit. We never walk away. We’ll look at the problem, the resources, the consequences and come to a point where we’re both on the same page. If necessary, we get expert advisers to help us. When things get rough, we get more help.”

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International Relations

Sarah Lee, co-founder of Glow Recipe

“People say you guys are two female founders. Are you getting along? We get that all of the time. We joke about it. I don’t agree at all with the intimation that two strong females are not able to get along. For us, it’s been the best decision we’ve ever made. It’s the reason we are where we are. I would say our similarities, gender included, serve as the bedrock for our relationship and allow us to stay focused and on task even when we disagree. We know from our experience in our prior life that the glass ceiling is real. There are multiple reasons why—there is the network of men in the senior management pool and a lot of the decisions on who will be the next [chief executive officer] are made years in advance. There is also the perception, which is slowly changing, of women’s roles as leaders. If a woman has a family and prioritizes her children over work, the perception is that she will no longer focus on work as much as she used to and her performance will suffer. We have simply not found this to be the case.”

Christine Chang, co-founder of Glow Recipe

“There is this overarching narrative about women being catty or territorial and not lifting each other up. If anything, all of the female founders we meet have been nothing but amazingly supportive, professional and inspiring. Overall, we see industry and society shifting toward new norms, from the way businesses and brands are being created to how working dynamics, structures and hierarchies are shifting within the workplace. But what remains a constant is if you have a partner who has the same philosophy and you’re aligned on the same goal, you’re stronger than any man out there. Sarah and I very rarely have conflict. Traditionally, founders have complementary expertise—one is more marketing oriented, for example, and the other is more operational. We don’t have that division of labor, which has been very beneficial in terms of speed and ideation. We have very productive intense discussions that produce the best outcome because we both have the best interests of the business at heart.”

Path Finders

KJ Miller, co-founder and chief executive officer of Mented

“When I was in corporate America, at Deloitte, there were a lot of reasons why I looked at the partner track and thought, ‘Is this for me?,’ because there were no black women, not a single one, who had made partner in the firm. I thought, if I’m going to blaze my own path, I’m going to do it my way, with something I’m really excited about. I would rather do that amount of work for something I’m really passionate about. Amanda and I met at Harvard Business School and were the 15th and 16th black women to raise $1 million in venture funding, according to Forbes. It was depressing to see that only 14 women had done it before, but after we did it, it was ours. At Deloitte, I could have forged that partner path, but would the prize at the end have meant that much to me? I think probably not.”

Amanda Johnson, co-founder and chief operating officer of Mented

“Start-up life is very much geared toward men who are married—they can have a great work life, where they are putting in a ton of hours but also have a personal life that a wife manages. It can be difficult for women to chart their own path. There are things in your personal life that you have to give up and, for women, that can sometimes be a greater sacrifice than it would be for a man. Take health care. When you’re a start-up, you’re most likely getting health care on your own. For women, that can be more difficult to navigate, in terms of birth control, fertility issues, family planning. Those are things that would be available to me in a large company and now are very expensive. As our start-up grows, I’ll have access to better health care, but this is a sacrifice as a 32-year-old single woman that I’ve made that wouldn’t happen to a 32-year-old single man.”

Future Investors 

Jill Granoff, chief executive officer of Eurazeo Brands

“I tend not to think along gender lines. For me, it comes down to the basics. I look for people who have a strategic vision, lay out a roadmap to achieve that vision, build teams, inspire people and drive results. That’s how I have been able to reach the c-suite. It didn’t have anything to do with my gender. I work hard, try to work smart, surround myself with the best people and pursue opportunities where I think there is a high likelihood of success. That said, when selecting companies, I did look to see if leadership put women in senior roles. That’s one of the reasons I chose to work for Eurazeo, who named Virginie ceo this past year due to her visionary transformational leadership and successful track record driving results.”

Virginie Morgan, chief executive officer of Eurazeo

“I’ve never been frozen by fear. Fear is your enemy. What excites me and motivates me is constructing a group, hiring the right people. With structural diversity, you are much stronger in terms of decision-making and judgment than if it’s the same sort of people around the table with the same education, same culture, same background. There’s also something very rewarding in a business relationship between women—in creating that connection. We go from discussing where we bought our latest handbag to whom to nominate for the board of our latest acquisition to how the kids are doing to where the industry is going.  There is something about sharing everything that makes us very strong in business.”

Leaders of the Pack

Tracey Travis, executive vice president and financial officer at The Estée Lauder Cos. Inc.

“In order to make that next move to a higher level, I call it a logarithmic change from a career standpoint, you need the right experience, but you also need a sponsor, someone who believes you can take that next step and that you will deliver for them. Jane and I have both sponsored many people for different roles. I look for someone who always goes above and beyond what they’re asked to do, who’s proactive, interested in learning beyond the role they’re in and cares about delivering quality results. I’m also keenly interested in how they interact with their peers and those who report to them. Not only do they need the technical and requisite skills but also leadership skills. The higher you move, the more important those skills are.”

Jane Hertzmark Hudis, group president at The Estée Lauder Cos. Inc.

“Building your career is complex and having someone to help you along the way is essential. You can have the passion and the drive, but you also need the tools. When Tracey, Sarah Moss and I formed the Women’s Leadership Network to empower women by creating a culture where we inspire and support each other and give people the tools through a formalized mentorship program to build their career, leverage their talent, foster self-confidence and drive for success. I was very lucky to have both male and female mentors who really taught me how to see the world and understand what competencies I needed to make my way. Everyone needs a great teacher and a great mentor, and it is wonderful to be able to give back to women in this company that we all feel so passionately about.”

Cause and Effect

Mary Dillon, chief executive officer of Ulta Beauty

“I’ve always said Ulta Beauty is about more than the business of selling beauty products. We are in the confidence-building business, the business of joy and the business of creating possibilities. Beauty is at its best when it’s giving back. That’s why in 2016 we established the Ulta Beauty Charitable Foundation, which is committed to causes that enhance the well-being of women and children. Our signature partner is the Breast Cancer Research Foundation. Unfortunately, one in eight women will be diagnosed with breast cancer. As a company with 40,000 associates—92 percent of whom are women—we care deeply about this issue. Our work with BCRF nurtures a greater sense of community and purpose, especially in October when we fund-raise in our more than 1,100 stores. Our work inspires both our associates and guests, and their passion for this is undeniable. Since 2009, Ulta Beauty has raised more than $22 million for BCRF and funded more than 440,000 hours of lifesaving research.  With the continued commitment of our guests, associates and business partners the possibilities to make an impact are limitless.”

Myra Biblowit, president and chief executive officer of the Breast Cancer Research Foundation

“Breast cancer, for the most part, is a women’s disease and everyone can rally around it—everyone wants to change the future for our mothers, daughters, sisters, friends. Mary Dillon understands, as Evelyn Lauder and the Estée Lauder Cos. did, that the line between beauty and health is a straight line and they and the beauty industry have rallied around this cause magnificently. Mary is deeply committed to philanthropy, and it is infectious. Her team would follow her into any battle. She communicates that culture to the company. Women do that—they communicate exceptionally well, and Mary is a perfect example. She speaks with passion and pride. In the last year alone, Ulta Beauty has funded 16 research projects. There is a community of values and a joy in those shared values.”

Brand Builders

Megan Grant, president of Kiehl’s U.S.

“As a working mother, I have to balance my children, my husband, my two dogs and, of course, the business and my team. You really have to organize how you are approaching each and every day and be able to prioritize your time. It’s a constant reprioritizing and it translates to the business world we’re living in today, because you learn to move fluidly and quickly. You also have to feel comfortable drawing boundaries. I leave every day at 5:20 p.m. so I can get home and have dinner with my family. Of course, there are days when I stay later, but I’ve set the boundary and I know when it’s feasible to be flexible and when it’s not.”

Cheryl Vitali, global president at Kiehl’s

“Sometimes people think I come across as nice and friendly and I am, but I have a point of view and I’m not afraid to put it out there and fight for what I believe in. I don’t think I’ve had to adopt more masculine traits to articulate my point of view. My adjustment was learning to speak up more. We work in a very verbal culture and I had to get used to being appropriately aggressive without being overshadowed. Over the last 15 years, I’ve become much more comfortable with that—how to be prepared, how to anticipate where the conversation could go and how to lead it to where you want it to go.”

Founding Principles 

Carisa Janes, founder of Hourglass

“Vasiliki trusts her gut. When she’s looking at brands, it goes beyond the financials. She has to feel a connection with the brand, its purpose and integrity. If she doesn’t feel it, she doesn’t do it. Vasiliki has a perfect balance of female sensitivity and intuition coupled with a rational and pragmatic understanding of the business. That sensitivity to the brands makes maintaining the culture and vision top of mind. As an entrepreneur, I always want to feel creatively free and ensure that my vision for the future of the company is fulfilled. That sense of empowerment is everything for a founder—even after you sell.”

Vasiliki Petrou, global executive vice president of Unilever Prestige

“I love collaborating with Carisa. She has an uncompromising attitude to great aesthetics and innovation and a very clear vision. She has built a great brand. I’ve heard pretty clearly from start-up companies that being a female entrepreneur is doubly as difficult with regards to securing funding. You’ve got to go the extra mile to justify you’re twice as good. There is unconscious bias about women potentially not being as good in business thinking, mathematical thinking, commercial thinking versus the creative side. This persists because there is gender imbalance at the top. The more females we have in private equity firms, the faster we’ll drive change.”

Community Activists

Lauren Gores Ireland, co-founder of Summer Fridays

“Our community is so supportive. What I love most is how engaged they are. We communicate directly with them, multiple times a day. I love how excited they are when we come out with a new product. I love that we help them feel empowered to make their own footprint in whatever they do. This year has been a big transition time for me—I had a baby and started a business. What has been amazing is to see other moms who are doing the same—none of us have really figured it out, but we motivate each other to keep going.”

Marianna Hewitt, co-founder of Summer Fridays

“Right now is a great time to be a woman in business. This generation of female brand founders is so supportive of each other. We created a Founders Club in Los Angeles, comprised of a lot of female founders—all of whom are willing to share. Half of us sell at Ulta and half of us sell at Sephora and we all want to see each other succeed. We know that no one uses only one brand in their beauty routine, so it only makes sense that we support each other rather than be competitive. This inspires our community. Young people see us as young Millennial brand founders and it inspires them that nothing is too big for them to do, either.”

Power of Inspiration

Simona Cattaneo, chief marketing officer of Coty Luxury

“I approach mentoring as a partnership, trying to cascade to the people I work with my passion and inspiration, as well as my know-how and experience. Listening is also important. On the one hand, I want to give them the freedom to make their own decisions, but listening enables me to know when to challenge them if they need help or inspiration. I think making mistakes is positive. The fragrance industry is very creative, and to express yourself fully in that regard, you need to be able to fail in a stress-free environment. I try to create a partnership based on mutual trust and respect. I want to give them freedom, but at the same time be there for them and even challenge them if necessary. Women are, by nature, more open and inclusive and they tend to work in a cross-functional way by group. This is important because the more you work in a group task force model, the faster you go—and speed to market is key.”

Claudia Marcocci, senior vice president of Gucci Beauty

“The only way more women are going to make it to the board of directors is by supporting each other. We used to think that to be successful we had to act like men. The new mantra is women are empowered to express ourselves freely and that sisterhood brings us together. We build on each other’s ideas, and make them bigger. I can remember being in a meeting 17 years ago and being told to make myself look less attractive—no makeup, ponytail—so that people would think I was more intelligent. I hated that so much I made it a mission to empower my team through self-creativity. It was a very different world back then. This is the beginning of the revolution.”