A(nother) day in my life…

16-ish months ago I wrote about a day in my life – a day that defined why I love being an entrepreneur. Since then, there have been a number of similarly memorable days that I could have written about – but usually at the end of those days I am too exhausted to put pen to paper (so to speak). Today was one of those days, and despite the late hour, I have to write about it. Today was an amazing day.

5:30 am. Phone alarm goes off. I already miss the days when the sun was shining this time of day… I remember I am in NYC, in my favorite apartment in Tribeca, courtesy of middle-school bestie Trisala whom I have known for 25 years. Morning routine: coffee and emails.

8:00 am. Breakfast with a client at Aselina (I highly recommend this place for breakfast; civilized and quiet). We discuss the trials and tribulations of small beauty companies, the pros and cons of GoogleAdwords and SEO, and how we are going to take over the world. We agree that life is too short to work with people who are not nice.

10:00 am. Meeting of my day – perhaps my week or month. Or my year. I have a one on one with Lynn Tilton of Patriarch Partners, who has been an inspiration ever since I heard her speak at the WWD Beauty CEO Summit. She is possibly the most time-starved entrepreneur in the country, yet I get to spend 53 minutes with her, in the “purple room” in her office. We debate the benefits of red lipstick versus diamonds to cheer a girl up, and then I tell her my story. She listens to me, and then I listen to her. I really listen. My “products are better than my revenue stream” (I think that is better than the reverse?), I need to streamline my pitch, think in terms of poetry, and drive my message to the core. Having heard her speak to an audience, I knew she was inspirational and charismatic. Having now spent time with her in person, I now know she is (not surprisingly) incredibly smart, analytical, generous, and kind. And she tells it like it is. I leave with some new Stila makeup, and more importantly with a renewed desire to better my best, work harder, work smarter, and tell my story better. Thank you Lynn.

11:10 am. Having found the best cabbie in NYC, I make it from Wall Street to mid-town in 17 minutes flat. He gets a good tip. I am 10 minutes late for a meeting with Ricky’s, a meeting that has taken me longer than I care to admit to get. Richard Parrott, the CEO, spoke in Vegas at Cosmoprof and said that he was looking to expand his men’s category. So here I am with my men’s products. Great meeting – stay tuned for results.

12 noon to 4 pm. I visit existing NYC clients with my NYC angel, Arista, who has been part of the Alchimie team for a few years. She is a delight with clients (they all like her more than they like me), I could not hope for a better representation of my brand. And spending time in spas and boutiques, speaking to the owners and to the customers is the best learning experience. No matter how many times I do it, I always learn something – like that the font on our boxes is still not big enough… In between two visits, we stop by Serafina’s to eat and strategize. Our server Stacy was our server this past June (I like to stop at the same places). It makes me smile that she remembers us and gives us a 4-top because she can tell I need room for my laptop.

4:10 pm. I have 50 minutes of breathing room before my next meeting, which is at 750 Lex. I spend this precious time at Le Train Bleu, in Bloomingdale’s. I catch up on emails, watch the older ladies at the table next to me have a very late lunch (or very early dinner), and the gentleman across the room with his glass of wine and his book. This moment is oh-so very civilized, somewhat old-fashioned, and perfectly quiet.

5:10 pm. I arrive at my first ICMAD board meeting. I have been a member of this organization for 10 years, and now I get to give back to the industry and play a role. I am in awe, sitting a few seats away from Jane Iredale and chatting with Robb Akridge of Clarisonic, who begins the meeting by greeting everyone and making sure we all have his cell phone number should we need to reach him.

9:45 pm. I am back in my favorite place in NYC, at Trisala’s in Tribeca, talking about my day and her about hers. She makes us each a cup of licorice tea, my favorite, and we slowly let the day end and the energy slow and the noise quiet. We need to get our beauty rest and let our brains recover. Tomorrow is another day. May it be as magical as today.

Last impressions from the WWD Beauty CEO Summit… and Lynn Tilton

On the plane heading back to DC from Florida, my mind is going a million miles an hour, stimulated as it was by some 40 hours spent at the WWD Beauty CEO Summit. WWD sure knew what they were doing when they scheduled Lynn Tilton, Founder and CEO of Patriarch Partners, as the closing speaker, so that we might end on a high, inspired note. While it never was a question that I was going to stay until the very end (after all, this is my Dad’s early birthday present to me and I was going to enjoy every minute of it), I have to say seeing Ms. Tilton speak was the highlight of the Summit and I am sorry for anyone who had an early flight and missed her. As corny as this may sound, I knew there was a reason I had to be at the Summit this year, and when she started speaking, I realized that reason was her.

I also realized that while I like to think I know who’s who in beauty, and in women-owned businesses, I didn’t know who she was. A self-made billionaire. The owner of the largest woman-owned business owner in the country. The owner of Stila and Jane (and 73 other businesses). A Yale-educated, diamond-wearing, Barbie-looking (tan, hair, cleavage) powerhouse. A writer of poems. And a self-professed introvert who says it is lonely at the top. Exactly my kind of woman. Madame Butterfly.

She knew her audience, of course, and so spoke mostly about Stila and Jane. She talked about how with Stila she learned how she could empower women, what beauty brands have the power to do for women: “I came to realize that when we feel beautiful and we feel confident, our inner beauty shines. We become our more compassionate self.” She continues:  “Beauty has become a tool with which I can touch women. It is so important that we be kind to each other. We talk a good game, but we don’t do it very well. … Beauty humbles us, excites us, and bonds us.”

With Jane, she traveled the country to women’s shelters and “saw for myself how we transform lives by transforming looks. This completely changed our strategy with the brand, and now when you buy a product, we give one to a neighbor in need. It is my hope that I can teach young girls that compassion is contagious and kindness is cool.”

And then, she shares with us a poem she wrote. Uncannily, the theme of the conference is “Metamorphosis.” And her poem is entitled Madame Butterfly (and her first company was called Papillon – butterfly in French). The poem brings tears to my eyes (and maybe even to Pete Born’s…), as do her closing words: “I have always thought of butterflies as I touch the world; I have always wanted to touch the world lightly and be remembered for the beauty of my flight. Let us all be butterflies, and fly.”