These ladies are the ultimate power duo, the pea to each other's pod, the yin to each other's yang. Even in their interview their storytelling was seamless. As an entrepreneur myself, I had to understand how these warrior women of the beauty industry built their skincare brand empire.
LM: You have been partners for some time; I think our readers would love to hear about your origin story.
R+F: Well, we met at Stanford 30+ years ago so we've been married for a very long time, but our story really begins in 2002 when we started working with Estee Lauder and were really known as a department store brand. We decided to buy back the company and restarted 2008 with a more innovative approach both in terms of the products themselves, as well as in how we brought the products to our consumers.
What drove us from the beginning was our background as practicing dermatologists. Still to this day, we see patients and talk to them all the time. We realized, no one has perfect skin, we all have some issue with our complexion that we want to fix and we found that there was a lot of confusion and a lack of results, it was a vicious cycle.
As dermatologists we have such a deep understanding of the skin and have been doing product development for such a long time, we wanted to give people the tools so they could treat in the privacy of their own homes. So, we bonded in our practice and our belief that skin is everything; it's your self-confidence, it's not your vanity. We just then had the hubris to think we could build and empire, and we did it!
LM: You talk a lot about redefining the future of skincare. What does that mean?
R+F: It's all about product innovation, which is the centerpiece of our entire business. We are hell bent on creating products that really work and we approach it in a way that no one has before. We look at what the real issues are and the pathophysiology behind it, and use that to figure out how can we make a difference through our products in the quality of our customer's skin and their lives. We are so confident about our products and our process that we put a camera on the box before you ever start so that you can compare and contrast to see visible results and we don't launch products unless it does.
LM: Let's talk about social selling or the MLM marketing model. Why did you decide to approach your business this way?
R+F: It really started back in our retail days. We realized customers weren't coming in because the store was doing the best marketing promotion or the right event. They were coming in because of word of mouth.
As someone who has suffered, we know that if you've had an issue and you've found a solution, that you want to share it with anyone else who has suffered in the same way. So that's what brought customers to our counter. But we realized it was bigger than what we could do in the retail setting. So that's what caused us at great risk to buy our business back and start with a blank slate.
We asked the question, "how are we going to distribute this product in a new and different way that combines ecommerce, direct selling and retail?" We came up with the concept of consumer connected commerce. When we started, people didn't have iPhones, so we were positioning ourselves for the new world order. We put the customer at the heart and soul of the brand, then the consultants around her, and the ecommerce platform around them.
For us it's not just about selling product. We wanted to not only have the best products, but to give people the opportunity to build a business that could change their lives. The sense of community and what comes with it, the personal growth and the feeling of being a part of something that's bigger. That's our message.
LM: What would you do differently or tell an entrepreneur to watch out for as they build their businesses?
R+F: Focus on the product, everything else will fall into place. We love product development and are very involved in the room with the r+d guys. We just launched Active Hydration Serumactive hydration which uses a 3d 3p water molecule that is durable and gives back buoyancy, which is incredible. We look at problem/solution. That's what any good entrepreneur should focus on.
We also think about purpose a lot. You will never get where you want to go if you're not clear about your core purpose as your main driver. We believe so strongly in doing the right things, setting up the right company. What brings success to an entrepreneur is bringing in your value system to your purpose and process. If you believe so strongly in what you're doing and tune out the naysayers you have no idea where your idea can take you.
LM: As female founders, Rodan and Fields have worked hard to truly understand both women and entrepreneurs. They have built a business that enables people to have more control of their lives. Their goal and legacy is to unleash the power of team and the power of the American woman, or, as Rodan said, "put your aces in their places."