When Melisse Gelula of Well & Good says you need to connect with an amazing woman, you do. Hence Jillian Wright, Owner of her eponymous skin care line and Co-Founder of Indie Beauty Expo (IBE) connected recently, in fact right after the August IBE. I was in NYC that day specifically to experience this show, which I had heard great things about from many indie beauty brands (which is rare, tradeshows these days don’t get the best rap). A NYC-based aesthetician and spa owner at heart, Jillian shared her 18-year journey in the beauty industry with me. Successes, pitfalls, relaunches, opening her spa, closing her spa, and her frustration with the tradeshow marketplace, which she deemed “unfair.” I couldn’t agree more – the universal truth of tradeshows is that the big companies with big budgets get good booths, and the bootstrapped indie brands get stuck in the corner. Hence her vision for the Indie Beauty Expo, which only caters to indie brands. Her vision beyond leveling the playing field was to create an event that brought together the three lifelines of any brand: press, buyers, and consumers. So far, she has succeeded beyond her expectations.
AP: What city were you born in? JW: New Haven.
AP: What city to do you live in? JW: Brooklyn.
AP: What is your astrological sign? JW: Sagittarius.
AP: What is something about you most people don’t know? JW: I play Candy Crush to decompress at night. It’s my cup of tea.
AP: What is your #1 beauty secret? JW: Sunscreen and sleep.
AP: What are your special diet tips, if any? JW: Everything in moderation. Minimal sugar and carbs. Lot’s of plants, whole foods and proteins, barely any cheese. And don’t deny yourself a sweet or savory treat every once in a while.
AP: What do you do for exercise? JW: Core strengthening exercises, jumping jacks and lots of planks at home in between phone meetings and emails.
(Ada’s note to self: start doing planks between conference calls!)
AP: What is your favorite thing to eat and drink? JW: Any vegetables and wine!
AP: Botox or not? JW: Sometimes, but not necessary.
AP: What is your secret to work/life balance? JW: Discipline, sacrifice that leads to reward.
AP: How many miles do you fly per year on average? JW: I just started flying more with IBE, stay tuned…
AP: What are your three top tips for travel? JW: iPhone charger cord in your purse, hyaluronic acid based serum that lasts all day for moisture binding, and a lip balm that can double as an eye hydrator for the plane.
AP: What is your worst pet peeve? JW: Strands of hair blowing in my face and spread sheets.
AP: What professional beauty/fitness/wellness experts do you have on your speed dial.JW: Melisse Gelula from Well & Good and Jeannie Jarnot from Beauty Heroes
AP: What time do you usually wake up in the morning, and how many hours of sleep do you usually get? JW: It depends. 6am for the kids and 8am when we can sleep in. Sometimes I wake up brush my teeth, then go back to bed for hours. That happens 2 times year! It’s heaven.
AP: Who is your mentor? JW: I had one when I was growing named Joy Wulke. She was a very successful visual artist in Connecticut but she passed away recently from a brain tumor. I was devastated, heartbroken. She was so young at 67. Luckily, I am still connected to her family. I was her apprentice growing up. She was everything to me. I could write a book about my experience as an adolescent growing up in her world in Stony Creek CT. Without ever telling me about life, she taught me about life and how to be a strong independent woman. I love Joy. I love and appreciate life because of her.
AP: What is your skincare routine (products, facialists, etc)? JW: I am an Aesthetician and give myself facials all the time. I don’t have time to go to anyone else, but if I did, in New York, I would go to Samantha Roberts. In the UK, I would go to Antonia Burrell and in California, I would go to Marie Veronique. But there are so many talented therapists, like restaurants, in New York, I could go to a new one each month and be very satisfied. I follow a strict day and night regimen and I never touch my face. I cleanse, exfoliate, use a serum, eye cream, night cream and SPF. Every day, not matter what.
AP: What do you do to relax? JW: I go to the beach in the summertime, I get massages and pedicures frequently. I love the human touch. It heals me. I also love going to concerts with my husband. Music is our bond. And I love to feed my friends!
AP: Quote to live by. JW: This was my high school yearbook quote. I as 17: “For what is it to die but to stand naked in the wind and to melt into the sun? And when the earth shall claim your limbs, then shall you truly dance.” ― Kahlil Gibran
This is my quote today from the same author: “Beauty is not in the face; beauty is a light in the heart.” ― Kahlil Gibran
AP: Words of advice for young women starting their careers today. JW: Don’t be afraid of hard work. Push yourself. Think outside the box. Know your strengths and weaknesses. Ask for help and advice. Find the Yin to your Yang. Know that your first business partner is the IRS. Be strategic in who you bring in to your business. Always be professional but have an edge. Don’t be afraid to try, but always do your research. Ask the “whys”, the “hows”, and the “who”. Trouble-shoot and don’t be afraid to meet an unmet need. Don’t let anyone get you down but protect yourself. Use common sense and think about the end user, and not yourself. And please, do not say “I created it, because it didn’t exist”. You are not reinventing the wheel. You are just spinning it in a different way. Be frugal, because you either have the money or you don’t. Try not to get yourself into debt unless you have a pay off strategy. Protect yourself with a good lawyer and accountant. Don’t quit your day job for at least 2 years in a start up. You will need the steady income until your start up takes off. This will not happen overnight. You will be working overtime and double shifts for a while. It’s ok. We are right there with you. Don’t put ice in a fresh blended juice, it doesn’t belong there. And take a class to learn how to do a spread sheet and photoshop. You are super woman if you do!
AP: Describe your dream day. JW: My dream day is to sleep in. Exercise. Get a massage. Make a yummy dinner for my family or just my husband and relax. I’m simple. I have simple pleasures, but if you offered me tickets to a Morrissey concert, I’m there!!
AP: What makes you feel beautiful? JW: Anytime of the month I’m not PMSing!!!