I think starting my business was the culmination of a lot of different things and interests of mine coming together.
From the time I was about 12, I was really into reading teen magazines. And it's funny to look back on it now because I realized that they were one of my special interests as an autistic person. I had three magazines that I would get each month Teen, YM, and Seventeen, and I even knew what date the new issue was available at the grocery store. I'd read them cover to cover and I kind of felt like that's where I got my clues on how to be a typical teenage girl. And of course I loved all the fashion and the cosmetics articles so much that I decided to take a fashion and cosmetic marketing course in college. In 2000 I got a job working for a cosmetics distributor, and I felt like I had pretty much landed my dream job as a marketing coordinator.
My younger sister thought it was the coolest thing too. She's seven years younger than I am and she'd love when I came home with all sorts of makeup samples. Since my job was marketing, I would spend a lot of time thinking about what problems products would help people solve. You got thin lips, this lip plumper is going to take care of that. Dark circles? Eye Cream is going to fix that. I honestly never really thought twice about it until one day I was with my sister and she was super excited to show me her new cellulite cream.
Right off the bat, I was horrified and SO angry. She was 14 and I didn't understand where she had gotten the idea that she had cellulite and that she needed to get rid of it. There's no cellulite that I could see, but she was still really self conscious about it at 14 years old. It just flipped a switch inside of me that day, I've never been the same. I personally was so mad at the marketing people - marketing people like me. They had convinced my little sister that she had to get rid of cellulite she didn't have. Somehow, when those messages were targeted to me, it was easy to believe that I had a bunch of imperfections to hide. But they had gone to my little sister who was already perfect in my eyes. How dare they do that?
I couldn't exactly put into words how it felt back then, but it was enough that I eventually left the cosmetics industry. I worked other jobs in different industries but always in marketing. And as time went by, I started seeing through all the lies have been sold to us about our appearance. On that day with my sister, I was mad that they convinced her she needed something for a problem she didn't have, but I eventually got to wondering why having cellulite in the first place is even a problem. And that's the thing, there are so many problems we've been sold right along with a product to fix it.
At the time, I didn't think I'd ever be inspired to start a lip balm company because of this. But that moment has always stayed with me and heavily influenced the type of company that I ended up starting. I wanted to make people feel good about themselves without telling them a lie about who they are or aren't first.
This is just one of the things that inspired me to start my company, so you can read part two here: What Inspired Me to Start My Business (Part 2)