Top Beauty Execs on Their First Job

“My first job was as a day camp counselor at the local recreation center in my community. I was 14 — and it was a five-day a week job during the summer. It taught me discipline as I had to be there by 7 a.m. — and had to get myself there on my bike. It also taught me a lot about patience and gave me an appreciation for the positive power of play.” —Amy Gordinier, founder and CEO, Skinfix

Amy Gordinier - Credit: Courtesy
Amy Gordinier - Credit: Courtesy

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“I was a salesperson at Footaction. I love shoes, but selling them was a completely different thing. The job was so humbling in that you have to deal with so many different types of people and also — just — feet. I saw firsthand the power of a drop. This was back in the day, so the era of some of the hottest Air Jordans to this day. It was so exciting to see a hot launch come to life!” — Bee Shapiro, founder, Ellis Brooklyn

Bee Shapiro - Credit: Courtesy
Bee Shapiro - Credit: Courtesy

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“My first job was as a dining room waitress at a nursing home. It was a humbling experience to be at the service of some of the most vulnerable members of our society. I learned about the fragility of life and how to advocate for those most in need. And I benefited from decades of wisdom from our residents – what a gift to receive at such an early age! — Cara Sabin, CEO, Shea Moisture

Cara Sabin - Credit: Courtesy
Cara Sabin - Credit: Courtesy

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“I worked behind the counter at Macy’s Herald Square, as a beauty adviser for Christian Dior’s launch of Fahrenheit. To this day, it remains one of the hardest jobs I’ve ever done in beauty, and the lesson was immeasurable: It’s imperative to listen to your customer — this includes your end consumer as well as your sales staff — and focus on solving their problems rather than trying to sell them features.” — Tina Hedges, founder and CEO, Loli Beauty

Tina Hedges - Credit: Courtesy
Tina Hedges - Credit: Courtesy

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“At 21, I joined PepsiCo as a management trainee and my first assignment was as a sales representative for Frito-Lay. I was the only female working with men twice my age who questioned why I should lead them. It was a test of resilience and strength, and while I understood their doubts, they also drove me to prove myself. In time, we became the best-performing team in the region. I learned these valuable lessons: 1. Respect is something you earn; it’s not given by your title. 2. Leverage each person’s strengths to collectively create a powerful team. 3. Build followership by winning their minds and hearts. 4. Celebrate the wins and learn from adversity. — Annie Young-Scrivner, CEO, Wella

Annie Young-Scrivner - Credit: Courtesy
Annie Young-Scrivner - Credit: Courtesy

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My first job after college, building out a 38-suite executive office center in San Francisco, taught me about the importance of identifying needs of the customer and designing the physical space and services supported by equipment, technology and systems to best meet those needs. The deep up-front work to keenly understand the customer’s goals and needs, enabled us to fully occupy the office suites in record time. One of the tenants was working on a JV with the oil ministry of China, and offered me a position. I lived and worked in Zhenzhen, China in 1984 for four months. That was the most inspiring time, to witness how China was learning to do business by partnering with and leveraging the knowledge of other global companies and nations, and seeking understanding and technologies to move their own economy forward. It’s amazing to reflect back on all the change there in the last 36 years. Learning from others is a constant no matter what your size or situation. —Britta Cox, cofounder, K18 Hair

Britta Cox - Credit: Courtesy
Britta Cox - Credit: Courtesy

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My first job in the industry was at Revlon, as assistant product manager. My role was to test product formula, and/or copy. I learned how to listen to the voice of the consumer and gain insight from what they were saying. Today, I’m still listening, as I believe all great leaders are great listeners. And, the voice of the consumer has never been stronger. — Jill Scalamandre, chief executive officer, Beekman1802

Jill Scalamandre - Credit: Courtesy
Jill Scalamandre - Credit: Courtesy

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