Recently, I had the opportunity to join some masters students and alumni at Cal State Northridge for a talk from Jane Wurwand. Her experience building one of the most successful skincare lines ever, has resulted in some serious business wisdom, which she shared.
Here are 7 standout points from her talk:
#1 – Outsource intelligently.
Jane is all too familiar with the life of a “credit card entrepreneur”. As you’ll read more about in the points below, cash was always a concern as she grew her business – In early years, and later on as well. Looking for ways to cut costs, she explored every area of her business: One interesting saving opportunity revealed itself: Laundry. Outsourcing laundry not only saved time, but taking it off-site reduced the risk of slip-and-fall injuries in the workplace. This also reduced Jane’s workers compensation coverage costs by 30%.
#2 – Don’t hire from a resume: Hire the person in front of you.
Jane grew Dermalogica from a bootstrapped, one-employee company, to one with hundreds of employees.
What has she learned in the process? One thing is this: Resumes are easy to polish up. In fact: Who looks bad on a resume? Not many people.
Jane doesn’t pay much attention to resumes for this very reason.
Instead, she focuses on the person sitting across from her in that moment. While it may be easy to fake it on your resume, there’s no substitute for a great attitude, and bringing new information to the conversation.
#3 – Sell what you don’t have. (yet)
When you’re a young company, time and money are at a premium. Often, you don’t have the resources to take multiple tries at designing and marketing a product, only to find out that there’s no demand…
With this in mind, sometimes you need to market a product or service before it really exists and be willing to do whatever it takes to then meet the demand for this product or service. Jane did exactly that in her early years of Dermalogica – Selling her vision for what skincare products could and should be, then getting these products into production in record time.
#4 -Don’t do what everyone else is doing – Do what they’re NOT doing.
There’s only one you.
YOU are the differentiating factor in your business – Embrace it!
“Be yourself, everyone else is already taken.” – Oscar Wilde
Jane believes in the power of individuality, and being one’s self. From the beginning, she’s stuck to what she believed was important – led by her values and her unique experience. This approach eventually led her to #6 on our list:
#5 – Spot the Pain in Your Industry
“If you can spot the greatest pain in your industry, you’ve just spotted the greatest opportunity”, says Jane.
When she came to the US and started to explore the aesthetician world here, Jane started to realize: The level of education available to aestheticians here paled to what was available (and mandatory), back home in the UK.
She had seen the effects first hand – And spotted the opportunity to elevate the level of education available to US-based aestheticians and enable them to bring their skills to the level of those elsewhere in the world. In doing this, Jane could help aspiring aestheticians avoid becoming a statistic in an era when the drop-out rate for new aestheticians was close to 95%.
This proved to be a huge opportunity for her to serve this community, while also gaining her exposure to the very community who would later sell her new product line through Dermalogica.
#6 – Starting a Business is Like Making a Baby.
Have you ever had a great idea and relished in the glory of that idea… Only to be hit with the realities of what it would actually take to make it a reality? Even better: Have you turned an idea into a reality, encountering roadblock after roadblock as you push toward your goal?
Bringing new products and services into the world is a lot like making a baby… The beginning of the process is glorious and heavenly… And then things get real… quickly… Soon, you find yourself in a complete mess, wondering what you just brought into the world, and how you’re going to keep it alive.
This thought, while pretty funny, is really healthy to keep in mind as you consider what to focus your attention on when that next idea comes – Is it worth it? You have to believe so deeply in what you’re doing that you’ll be willing to endure through storms that will derail all but the most committed.
#7 – Never, never, never, never, never, never….. never… give up.
Jane’s story is anything but a story of “overnight success”.
In the early days, Jane would teach 6 days a week: A schedule which she kept for over 3 years while taking only $300 per month for an income. Jane’s husband Raymond was able to make roughly $1000 per month. As you can imagine, the two barely had enough money for food after rent and gas was paid for.
At one point, good friends took Jane and Raymond out to dinner and essentially staged an “entrepreneur intervention” of sorts.
Her friends explained – “You’re showing up 6 days a week teaching these classes… You’re not making any money… Why don’t you just go and get a steady job in the industry – You could make good money!!!”
Jane just listened. She knew she was on the right path.
Following this dinner was a defining moment for Jane and Raymond…
Jane’s first words after their friends departed, “We should double down!”
“Yes”, Raymond said. “We should develop our own products and sell them!”
And just like that, (or… something like that), Dermalogica got its second start. One that would eventually pave the way for excellent products, and huge sales.