At the young age of 28, Nicki Zevola, founder of FutureDerm, has already been named one of the top 30 beauty bloggers in the world. And that it just the beginning. Beauty blogger and skin care entrepreneur, Nicki is savvy, ambitious, and passionate about the beauty industry. She has a clear plan for her business, including the ever-important exit strategy, and believes in having it all, although perhaps not all simultaneously. Just don’t ask her what her middle name is…
AP: What city were you born in? NZ: Seoul, South Korea.
AP: What city to do you live in? NZ: Pittsburgh, PA.
AP: What is your middle name? NZ: Ha! Wouldn’t you like to know. (Don’t mean to be rude – just don’t share this publicly!)
AP: What is your astrological sign? NZ: Scorpio.
AP: What is something about you most people don’t know? NZ: Sometimes as a woman you can be underestimated or labeled a pushover when you have a pleasant personality, but I assure you, I can stand my ground.
AP: What is your most prized possession? NZ: My big, beautiful, curvy brain!
AP: If you could have dinner with the person of your choice, who would it be? NZ: The sentimental me would want to have dinner with my grandmother, who died when I was 9. She was my best childhood friend, and I’d love to speak to her again as an adult. The business-oriented me would want to have dinner with any of my favorite business mentors: Jim Rohn (now deceased); Darren Hardy (publisher of Success magazine); Marissa Mayer (CEO of Yahoo!).
AP: Describe your fashion style in three words maximum. NZ: Classic, sophisticated, romantic.
AP: Do you wear a watch? If yes, what model? NZ: Not usually. I’m very iPhone-based.
AP: Diamonds or pearls? NZ: Both.
AP: What is your #1 beauty secret? NZ: My FutureDerm Time-Release Retinol 0.5 Night Treatment, of course!
AP: What fragrance do you wear? NZ: A lady should never reveal her fragrance…but I do smell of gardenias nowadays.
AP: Botox or not? NZ: Someday. Not yet.
AP: Hair color: natural or not? NZ: Natural.
AP: What are your special diet tips, if any? NZ: I am a huge fan of Kimberly Snyder’s Beauty Detox Diet. I abide by it religiously five days per week – I literally lost nine pounds in the first two weeks, and I was small to begin with. It’s not just about weight loss, though – your energy flies off the roof! You start off each day with a homemade green juice for breakfast, eating again only if you’re hungry. You then move to a vegetable-based lunch – I’ve grown addicted to black bean pitas loaded with vegetables! Dinner is a little more lax, but you can’t combine proteins and starches, because they use different sets of enzymes to digest and it’s harder on your body. So I have protein with vegetables or starches with vegetables. I snack on fruit. During those five days, I avoid anything fried, white, dairy, or animal-based. It’s tough! But two meals a week, I eat whatever I want. I just started this a month ago and I hope to be in incredible shape in a few months!
AP: What do you do for exercise? NZ: I run 3-4 miles five days per week. I also am training to be a certified Pilates instructor.
AP: What are three things that you always have in your fridge? NZ: Fruit that is in-season, asparagus, vegan butter.
AP: What is your cocktail of choice? NZ: A nice glass of Riesling.
AP: What is your secret to work/life balance? NZ: For me personally, I don’t believe in work/life balance. I believe you can have it all, but not all at once. If you have more than one priority, guess what, it’s not a priority! To do anything to the best of your ability requires focus – and being a 28-year-old woman who is unmarried without children, I am focusing on my career right now. So I’m building a beauty start-up, and plan to do so for the next 4-6 years, at which time we will exit by selling to a large skin care/cosmetics manufacturer. After that point, I want to concentrate on starting a family and securing a job as a part-time professor of entrepreneurship at a major university. I’d like to write books and teach classes, and do a lot of philanthropy.
AP: How many miles do you fly per year on average? NZ: Too many! Probably 20,000.
AP: What are your three top tips for travel? NZ: 1. Use two carry-on bags. I’m quite petite. So rather than lug one huge carry-on through the airport, I put a smaller handbag inside of a larger carry-on. While walking through the airport, I take the smaller handbag out so I can carry one in each hand to redistribute the weight; then, when boarding/on the plane, I simply zip the smaller handbag inside of the larger carry-on bag. 2. Carry extra shoes in a plastic bag in your purse while you’re walking around town. 3. Schedule meetings far apart. When I’m traveling, I make one meeting in the morning and one meeting in the afternoon. Not only does it account for the fact that you don’t necessarily know how to navigate where you are, but it also leaves some breathing room for sightseeing, trying new restaurants, and visiting little boutiques. Sometimes it’s that breathing room spent while traveling that incites the best ideas.
AP: What book are you reading right now? NZ: Finding Your North Star, by Martha Beck.
AP: Quote to live by. NZ: “If your mind can conceive it, and your heart can believe it, then you will achieve it.”
AP: What is your worst pet peeve? NZ: Negativity. Complaining. Being a part of the “Why me?” club constantly. I get that you can’t be happy all of the time, but you only get about 30,000 days of your life where you’re young enough to move around and old enough to know what you’re doing (and have the rights to do so). And that’s if you’re lucky. Pick yourself up, dust yourself off, and make the most of every situation.
AP: What time do you usually wake up in the morning, and how many hours of sleep do you usually get? NZ: I get about 8 hours of sleep a night. I’m no good to anyone if I don’t sleep.
AP: What is your favorite thing about the beauty industry? NZ: My favorite thing about the beauty industry is simultaneously my least favorite thing about the beauty industry: There needs to be a revolution in the way products are marketed. Women have become more empowered and educated in the past four decades. In fact, one in five American households have women outearning their male partners. Yet the beauty industry still markets to women like they are schoolgirls, presenting us with glossy ads featuring 16-year-old supermodels claiming to use an anti-aging cream. Also, promising overnight results. We need to start marketing to women like the intelligent, educated beings they are. And that starts with honestly teaching what skin care and cosmetics really can and cannot do.
AP: Least favorite thing. NZ: Please see above.
AP: Who is your mentor? NZ: I have a lot of mentors. For business, I strongly trust the advice of Jim Jen, Larry Miller, and Frank Demmler of Innovation Works in Pittsburgh, PA; Alicia McGinnis of Audrey’s Kitchen in Pittsburgh, PA; Adam Lyons from Insurance Zebra in Austin, TX; and Randy Eager of Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh, PA. You need a lot of business mentors when you are building a startup! For my personal life, I trust the advice of my mother; a few close friends; and the writings of Martha Beck, Jack Canfield, and Jim Rohn.
AP: Words of advice for young women starting their careers today. NZ: Find your true voice and your true purpose. Stop the negative towards yourself – stop doubting and questioning and being mean to yourself. You are smart and beautiful and have merit, no matter what anyone has told you, and you deserve better. Stop being negative towards others. When you take the negative out of your life, there is so much positive left to think, say, and do. Create something worthwhile. Right now. Start now, start today. Inspire someone. Reach out and help others. Whether you believe you get one life or not, you get one life as you in 2013, right now. Don’t let a day go by and wonder where it went. Know the power of a day, specifically today. Turn it all around.