What an incredible year it has been. Maybe I've already written about that, but truly it has been. We're going to bare our souls here a bit so hang on for the ride. We learned so much from both good and bad mistakes, made tons of new friends, hired a fantastic staff, created pretty stellar products, saw some things, discovered a few other things, laughed, danced, cried, pulled our hair out from the roots...this is all called growth. We grew, we continue to grow and with all of that comes a type of juggling act. You probably know the one. You work crazy hours so something's gotta give. Our relationships, marriages, friendships. Heck, I had a terrible decision to make this year that kept me up night, sweating, feeling guilty and conflicted. I had to choose and ultimately I choose the right thing, but not before all the grief had me spinning.
As creators and co-founders of La Bella Figura, Karen and I are like sisters or work wives we say. We agree, disagree, push, pull, comfort one another, allow someone to fall apart sometimes. You have to be there for one another during the errors, complaints, criticisms, rejection, snobbery just as much as the good times, great calls, amazing press and compliments. Some of you call it teamwork, we call it glue. We fix one another when we need to. It isn't always easy and when people ask us for our advice about starting a business or running one, mine is always to get your personal life in check. Have that conversation with your significant other. It's going to be tough now so it can all be great someday. It's hard for a lot of people as ego and instant gratification are both always in the way of change. I've never been a zen-type of person. I don't like exercising in gyms because I like to feel my body moving with change in the background. I am sometimes very impatient. I don't like beating around the bush just get to the point so I can move onward. I need to work on this more. Karen is quieter, more zen with her thoughts and ideas. She is a lover of all things French so you can bet she enjoys her cup of tea at a leisurely pace. She is more patient of the two us. We are both uniquely creative though and that is where the beauty of LBF comes in. We both love to read up about science and art. We get excited and motivated when something great is discovered. It's the real fun part of our business. This year we learned a lot and we have a list that we want to share with you. Maybe you're a fan or customer reading this, maybe you're a blogger or editor or publicist or friend or competitor, retailer or new on the scene, either way you may be able to relate, pick up a good tip or two or even add to our list. Let us know what you think.
1. Think with your head on backwards. Sometimes following the rules does not allow for creativity. Think outside of the box and you may just experience a flourishing.
2. Don't worry about what "the others" are doing. You WILL get stuck if you do and comparing yourself to anyone else is poison for your business. Be smart and updated, but don't focus on what the others are up to. It's wasted time that can never be gained again. "The others" are following one another and following you for their motivation and you've got to be better than that and build your own direction to your destination.
3. Reach out. If you admire a blogger or makeup artist or retailer. Reach out and say so. Being shy never got anyone a date with a hottie and in business there is no growth in being an introvert.
4. Build Your Strategy. Think long and hard of your voice and then go ahead and build it. You have a lot of opportunity in being creative with how you design your strategy.
5. Be nice. Always be kind and courteous to everyone. You should have learned this in kindergarten and you better get back to your roots on this for you never know who you'll cross paths with again and again and again. Trust me, I know exactly who and whom has been a blatant jackass and will never do business with someone who has made me feel bad ever again. How you make others feel and how you treat them is the essence of who you are and I can spot a jerk pretty easy. Always, always, always be a kind person in business.
6. Reciprocate. This is another rule of thumb that some people forget about. If someone does you a favor remember to pay it forward. If you are selfish about doing this it will be noted and you may miss out on some opportunities.
7. Don't be afraid to fall. You are going to fall and sometimes you will even be stumbling for a while. Dust yourself off, get back up and learn how to catch yourself for the next time. It will likely not hurt as much.
8. Stay inspired. Take breaks, rewind, revitalize often. Get inspired by others or music or reading, but don't allow your fire to burn out by not indulging in your extra curricular passions.
9. Re-visualize what No means. No is not always no in business. It's sometimes, "let's wait and see." Sometimes no with someone is a yes with someone else because you learned about why you were rejected and how to avoid a mistake or two.
10. Get thick skin. If you cry when you receive a complaint from a customer or criticism from a retailer you will be crying a lot. It's always going to happen and you need to listen, learn and move on. Don't argue, don't be so defensive, aim to please and correct certain issues with grace and the insight of an elderly person who knows you only get better with age.
11. Love your haters. You are going to have people trying to bring you down on your way up. It's Darwinism at its best and most basic. How do you fight this battle? Fight it with doing better than they can possibly expect you to. This year a little hater wrote us emails so often it became dreadful (I learned how to trace them and found out who it was, sadly) and I thought if only you took that passion and turned it around into your own business you would see massive growth. It's not worth arguing with haters let them motivate you to be better. You can really do amazing things when haters inspire you to do so. Don't think of it as a negative thing exactly and turn it around so you can benefit from it.
12. Thank people. This is along the basic principle of being kind. Thank people you've worked with or you'd like to work with. Thank the beauty editor or blogger that wrote good stuff about you. It doesn't matter if some people don't know how to appreciate the beauty and simplicity of true appreciation, you will and that's all that matters.
13. Passion play. Being a conformist, a follower, a by-the-rules type of person can lead you spiraling downward. Play the game with heart and fierce belief in what you are doing. This can be seen and felt by others around you. The best artists and creators follow passion as though they eat it to sustain themselves because they do! You have to constantly be fueled enough so when all of the other above mentioned things happen you can keep going.
These are some things we learned in 2013 and hope you can use these tips if you need to. We have much more to learn and will likely continue to fall, stumble, get back up and get to working. Which leads me to want to share some sneak peeks into 2014. We're working on some new products now. I'm pretty excited about our first face cleanser, a cream moisturizer, a "makeup" line and something for the boys. Some of these products will come soon in the new year, some mid year and some towards the end. Our ideas are big, but we're still a small and growing company. I am thrilled to share new ingredients we'll be using in our formulas and some old favorites. This year omega rich sacha inchi oil and kakadu plum cell extract made it into your skincare routines and next year it'll be some great new ones that we've been studying and experimenting with for a while. So while we can't wait to share more with you we hope you stay patient with us because as they say, "the best things are yet to come." Thank you for sharing our year in beauty and business with you. YOU, the customer, the beauty lover remain our inspiration to keep our passion burning.
XO, Victoria and Karen
La Bella Figura