At every critical juncture in my life, there’s been someone saying, “There’s no way you can do this. You’re too short to be a model. You have no experience to run a company. Industry-quality beauty products can’t also be healthy for your body and the planet.”
As a supermodel who also happens to be shorter than your average cover girl, I’ve learned that anything is possible if you have the drive and bravery to go after what you love. It’s that same spirit that gave me the courage to found our high-performance, natural cosmetics brand. This “hutzpah “ as my mom calls it, can be traced back to my upbringing in a Bohemian household with humble means in the Bay Area. I was taught by my parents (a green builder father and a mom who is 1 of 13 children) to be sustainably resourceful and to respect the planet.
But most of all, they taught me to work.
As a kid, if I wanted something, you’d better believe I had to earn it. I learned at a young age that when life gives you lemons, you (literally) make lemonade. Thanks to an old lemon tree in our backyard, by age nine I had a prosperous lemonade stand on weekends in front of our local bakery. In a funny way, it taught me a lot about running a business, and it gave me my first taste of success.
It was that hunger to achieve that drove me to defy the naysayers that said I was too short and break into the world of modeling at a young age. By the time I was in my late teens, I wanted more –- not more money, but to be better. With perseverance, I got deals at Guess, Sports Illustrated and a record-breaking ten-year gig at Maybelline.
I spent a lot of time in the makeup chair asking for natural makeup alternatives to the products they were putting on my face. Each time I was told that it was impossible to create high-performing products with organic ingredients, but I knew it was possible.
As those of you who are mothers can relate, becoming one can make you take a hard look at yourself. As weird as it might sound, being pregnant with my daughter Rumi Joon made me realize that it was the perfect time for me to start my business. I started thinking about what kind of role model I am, the impact our decisions have on future generations…and more directly, how what I was putting on my body during pregnancy was affecting her. So I created Josie Maran Cosmetics with “Luxury with a Conscience” philosophy.
Today, we offer products that are pure, gentle, contain no toxins or ingredients that damage the planet and yet are luxurious. The packaging is as compostable, biodegradable and recyclable as possible. And what started as a small business is now spanning the world from QVC, to Sephora stores in the U.S., Canada and Mexico (and opening in Singapore and Malaysia in 2012.)
People ask me if I’m surprised by the success of my line. I always believed, why wouldn’t people want to buy luxurious products that were good for them and the earth? I risked a lot and definitely made many mistakes along the road but no, I’m not surprised.
If I were to give advice to future entrepreneurs, these are a few pieces of advice that really helped me:
Follow your passion and your dream, not the money. If you love what you’re doing, others will too and you’ll become profitable.
Define your brand and know what you want. By truly knowing what your brand and message are, you can maximize what makes your business special.
Know your market. A good idea can be bettered if you’re aware of your competition and if you have a clear target customer.
Find the right team and support. If you’re working with others, carefully consider how you can work together by understanding each other’s strengths/weaknesses. While you may think you’re superwomen, the best women in business are surrounded by good people.
If you’re going to do something, make sure it is an instigator for good. If you’re impacting the world in a positive way, the return on your hard work will be so much more rewarding.
I wanted to create something beautiful and luxurious, but also contribute to the world by making a positive change. I think so far I’ve attained this. And in the future? My goal is to continue to build a brand that is so well loved, my customers and I can work together to make the world a better place.
Because you know, doing good is a beautiful thing.