Mented Cosmetics minted for women of color

Friends since they were students at Harvard Business School, KJ Miller and Amanda Johnson found themselves lamenting a problem many women of color shared — finding appropriately pigmented cosmetics.

 “Cosmetics brands have used a single model type — a white woman with pale pink lips — forever,” Miller said. “For women of color, those products didn’t show up on us at all or we would have to ‘chemist’ our way through to make them work for us.”

The duo spent their teen years mixing and matching drugstore shades of foundations and concealers and lipsticks. Now, adults armed with business degrees and a passion for beauty, the women set out in 2015 to create products for women of color.

“[They are] are a huge demographic and outspend white female counterparts by up to 80 percent,” Miller said. “Clearly, we have the money to spend. The term ‘niche’ here is such a misnomer.

After trial and error in a household kitchen that served as product-development lab, the concept of Mented Cosmetics took shape, along with the line’s first two lipstick shades. The name is short for pigmented.

Today, Mented offers a full line of vegan, non-toxic and paraben-free nude lipsticks and lip glosses created for women of color, all manufactured in New Jersey.

Mented has a handful of competitors including Maybelline, Iman Cosmetics and Laura Mercier that also have begun catering to the beauty desires of women of color.

The differentiator, Miller said, is that her company focuses on “everyday beauty.” Mented sells lipsticks and glosses in nude shades to suit a variety of skin undertones for wearing day or night.

To fund the company’s growth, Miller and Johnson eventually raised $1 million in venture capital. Miller and Johnson raised $400,000 in pre-seed funding by the time they officially launched the company in March 2017. They closed on another $600,000 in funding by the end of last summer.

Mented’s lipsticks include Nude La La, Pretty in Pink, Foxy Brown, Dope Taupe and Mented No. 5. Mented lipsticks are priced at $16.50 and are available only online. Earlier this year, Mented launched its first eye shadow palette.

“In most eye shadow palettes, there is a beige shade but it looks like chalk on me,” Miller said. “Those products are supposed to show up as beige on beige skin. But I need it to show up beige on brown skin. Mented everyday wear is nudes and neutrals for brown skin tones.”

Mented relies on word-of-mouth to market its products.

“For so long, women of color couldn’t walk into a store and get the assistance they needed and deserved; the associate they were talking with just wasn’t familiar with their skin tone,” Miller said. “So many of us turned to YouTube and Instagram and found the women who look like us and started to do what they were doing.”

Enrich friendships, not your wallet, to lift your life

When my friend Gerry Bellotti (vice president of the Independent College Fund of New Jersey) invited me a few years ago to speak to a group of nonprofit leaders on the subject of “purpose with a passion,” I agreed before I had even thought about how I would address this interesting topic.  The two key words —…

When my friend Gerry Bellotti (vice president of the Independent College Fund of New Jersey) invited me a few years ago to speak to a group of nonprofit leaders on the subject of “purpose with a passion,” I agreed before I had even thought about how I would address this interesting topic.  The two key words — purpose and passion — resonated with me, but I had no idea how I would shape a relevant message around them.

Of course like everyone today, I started the process by searching the internet.  As I did so, I quickly came across Robert Kriegel’s book “If It Ain’t Broke … Break It!: And Other Unconventional Wisdom for a Changing Business World.” In it, the author shares the details of a study of 1,500 new workforce entrants who were asked if they thought it could possibly be profitable for them to pursue a career where they would love what they do. 

In other words, they were asked to think about what they would expect to happen if they put passion at the top of their list of life’s goal instead of profits.

At the outset of the study, the group was divided into two groups:

  • Group A was comprised of 83 percent of the 1,500 people. They were the ones who embarked on a path they chose specifically because of the prospect of making money early in their careers, with the expectation that they could do what they really cared about later in life.
  •  Group B consisted of the remaining 17 percent. These were the employees who chose their career path for the exact opposite reason from their colleagues in Group A. They had made the decision to pursue what they wanted to do immediately without focusing on becoming profitable or financially successful. Their professional purpose was their personal passion.

The researchers followed the experiences of these 1,500 employees over a 20-year period. At the conclusion of the study, the final data revealed some stunning results:

  • At the end of the 20 years, 101 of the 1,500 had become millionaires.
  • Of the millionaires, all but one — that is 100 out of 101 — were from Group B, the group that had chosen to pursue what they loved rather than aim for millionaire status.

Reading the results of the study forced me to stop and give real consideration to what matters most in life.

This is not a new concept. Professionals in the human resources field have long pointed to statistics that support the premise that most employees are concerned about good benefits and flexibility more than salary. Others support the theory.

For example, in an article published in Inc., Geoffrey James reminds us that, “Contrary to popular belief, employees value many things more than the amount of money they’re being paid.” What he discovered through his conversations with employees and employers is a comprehensive list of attributes that employees care about, including feeling proud, being treated fairly, having an influence, having flexibility and a personal life and being less stressed.

So the facts tell us that the opportunity to live a quality life often outweighs the desire to take home a big paycheck. Repeated research across many disciplines bears out the famous quote by Mark Twain, who said, “If you turn your vocation into your vacation, you will never work another day in your life.”

I would rely on practicality to draw a conclusion from this conversation that those of us who have pursued passion first have a significant advantage in life. The benefit we have is that we have found a way to pursue happiness.

But that brings up another question. What is happiness? There are endless answers to this age-old question, but the most often cited sources agree that happiness is consistently correlated to one’s ability to generate personal relationships. That is, what happy people have in common is that they form meaningful connections. Money alone is not a key factor in measuring happiness.

In fact, there are more important contributors, as pointed out in a newly released study on happiness by GoBankingRates.com. This study ranks Finland as the happiest place to live in 2018, despite the fact that the sun doesn’t even rise for 51 days a year in a portion of the northern part of the country! While it seems that sunshine might be overrated, what does matter is politics, economic stability and strong social support.

We are right back to the place we began – with a recognition that social ties, interpersonal contacts and strong social support really do matter most.

Whether you are observing people around you, reading the experts’ research or thinking about your own feelings, it is pretty obvious that for most of us, the measurement of happiness is based on close relationships and having passion for a job or hobby.

So if you are considering improving your own professional success and enhancing your personal success and you’ve decided you want to be on a path to becoming a millionaire, you might reference Kriegel’s work and all the volumes written on this topic.

I won’t even charge for this advice: I’d suggest you consider putting your time and effort into building and reinforcing your friendships, become more deeply involved in those areas where you feel a sincere and genuine passion and focus on gaining balance in your life rather than gaining a bigger bank balance.  Enrich your friendships instead of enriching your wallet to enrich your life.

Sally Glick is principal of the firm and chief growth strategist at Sobel & Co. LLC and president of the Association for Corporate Growth in New Jersey.

Campbell CEO Morrison out at company effective immediately

Campbell Soup Co. chief executive Denise Morrison has announced her retirement, effective immediately, in a move that could reflect weaker sales of some of its key products in recent years.

Keith McLoughlin, a board member since 2016, will serve as CEO “while recently elevated Chief Operating Officer Luca Mignini focuses on the integration of newly acquired Snyder’s-Lance and Pacific Foods and stabilizing the company’s U.S. soup business,” the company said in a statement.

Campbell shares were off more than 11 percent in early trading amid an upbeat broader market.

The turnover at the top of Campbell follows the disappointing reception for a line of healthy food products introduced to offset a category-wide decline in soup products.

“Denise has been a passionate advocate and leader over her 15 years with the company,” Campbell Chairman Les Vinney said in a news release. “She has made many important contributions over the past seven years as chief executive officer to reposition Campbell in the rapidly changing food industry.

“Denise has been able to significantly transform Campbell’s portfolio into the faster-growing snacking category with the acquisition of Snyder’s-Lance and increased the company’s focus on health and well-being with brands like Pacific Foods. Her actions have helped to enhance the long-term growth potential of Campbell. On behalf of the Board, I want to thank Denise for her dedicated service and wish her the best.”

Said Morrison: “I am proud of Campbell’s accomplishments and how we have transformed our portfolio amid changing consumer tastes for food and health and well-being. It has been an honor to lead this iconic company and exceptional team, and I am confident that Campbell will enjoy continued success for many years to come.”

McLoughlin said he knows “where Campbell has been and where it’s headed, and am excited to lead the company as we continue to work to increase value for all our stakeholders.”

He was CEO of Electrolux AB, a global manufacturer of major household appliances, from 2011 until February 2016. He joined Electrolux AB in 2003 as head of major appliances North America and executive vice president of Electrolux AB.

Between 2004 and 2007, he also served as head of major appliances Latin America. From 2009 until 2011, he served as chief operations officer and executive vice president of Electrolux AB.
Before joining Electrolux AB, McLoughlin spent 22 years in senior leadership roles at E. I. du Pont de Nemours and Co.

Solopreneurship, gig economy perfect storm for women

Hello and welcome! As a new contributor to NJBIZ I am proud, excited and daunted to find myself in the position of bringing NJBIZ readers my personal insights, interesting anecdotes and fresh perspectives on women in business with a unique focus on New Jersey.

Now for my “debut.” I’d like to take on the role of devil’s advocate this month, looking at the plight of women in business through a different lens, predicting perhaps a different outcome than the current situation indicates.

For so many years I have measured the progress of women in the workplace versus their male colleagues by reviewing critical statistics that include parity in salaries, number of C-suite decision makers and presence as leaders in a range of industries. But quite frankly, the numbers have for the most part painted a bleak picture. 

The data speaks for itself. For example, according to Fortune magazine, “As of January 2018, there are 27 female CEOs on the list [of Fortune 500 companies] but by April 2018, that number will drop down to 24, as HPE’s Meg Whitman, Avon’s Sheri McCoy and Staples’ Shira Goodman have all announced that they are stepping down from their roles this quarter.”

And in a 2015 World Economic Forum report, it was predicted that “economic and social equality of the sexes on a global scale would not arrive for another 177 years.” This claim was reinforced a year later when the Institute for Women’s Policy posed that, “American men would significantly outearn American women until 2058.”

These numbers are discouraging to say the least. But I would like to take a somewhat different approach, looking at different data and considering trends that could turn the workplace as we know it upside down.

First of all, more women are starting businesses than men. As Fast Company notes, “From 1997 to 2013 the number of women-owned businesses rose 1.5 times the national average for all businesses.”

Women are starting companies but nonetheless the numbers show us they are not making substantial progress getting to the highest levels of authority and power in the corporate world. Why is that?

First of all, as Entrepreneur.com indicates, “Women-owned businesses receive just 7 percent of venture capital investment money, which is highly disproportionate to their role in the economy. Additionally, loan approval rates for female entrepreneurs is 15 to 20 percent less than it is for men.”

Secondly, women in business often have a long list of outside (often family-driven) obligations to juggle, making it difficult to address the demands inherent in a traditional corporate leader’s role.   

So instead of focusing on the lack of progress for women striving for a CEO seat in Fortune 500 companies, I’d like to look at the quick rise of women’s solopreneurship.

But we know that the number of women business owners is accelerating. So where are they? I would suggest that many are entering the business community today as solopreneurs and as such, may be flying under the corporate radar screen.

So instead of focusing on the lack of progress for women striving for a CEO seat in Fortune 500 companies, I’d like to look at the quick rise of women’s solopreneurship, combined with the powerful trend to a new gig economy, both of which I think could create a perfect storm for women in business. 

In his article “What is a solopreneur?” freefrombroke.com blogger Glen Craig writes, “A solopreneur is an entrepreneur who works solo. … Now just because the word solo is in there doesn’t mean to think small — always think big. Thanks to the online marketplace there has been an explosion of solopreneurs.  Operating a business from the privacy and comfort of home appeals to thousands of people and the Internet helps to facilitate this goal. Depending on the type of business, not only is this simple to do but very little capital is required to get things off the ground.”

Let’s just think about that for a minute and mull over the change that solopreneurship could precipitate.  As the corporate world shifts, more disruption will occur and companies like Uber will have to adapt to an economic platform where full-time employees make room for, or are even overwhelmed by, independent contractors (aka solopreneurs).

Did you know that in November 2017, Uber reported it had 7 million drivers working for them? These independent-minded workers are reshaping the business community with their growing demands for flexibility and independence and willingness to forgo status as a company employee.

What does that sound like to you? To me, that seems like a workplace where women leaders can thrive.

The influence of the gig economy and the growing millennial presence in the workplace are bringing the winds of change that could result in that perfect storm I mentioned. As millennials continue to be the largest segment in the business world, their demands for a flatter environment, more teamwork, and collaboration and mobility (enabled through technology) will bring together the power of gender and generational change, ultimately forcing the corporate world to embrace innovative attitudes and game-changing processes. This evolution will only further serve to emphasize the valuable role that everyone can play today and, as importantly, in the future.

Fasten your seat belts!

Sally Glick is principal of the firm and chief growth strategist at Sobel & Co. LLC and is president of the Association for Corporate Growth in New Jersey.

Montclair mom’s fairy tale becomes hair care empire

In 1999, Risa Barash noticed a common plague among the kids coming into her family’s salon: head lice.For just such problems, her then-fiance’s cousin, a salon stylist by trade, had developed a shampoo infused with rosemary, lavender, peppermint and tea tree oil. Barash was impressed and after brainstorming with her fiancé (now husband) Rob, contracted with a company in the Midwest to manufacture the product in bulk.

“We knew the best way to grow the product was in salons,” she recalled.

While her evenings were spent onstage as a stand-up comedian, her days were free. So Barash walked around New York, placing Fairy Tales shampoo in salons.  She stocked the salons for free with the promise that if nothing sold, she’d take back the unsold product.

“I was doing this for months, and it was a little crazy,” Barash said. “But no one ever called me to pick it up, not once. They all paid me.”

As more salons sold out, more product was made and the brand grew significantly with minimal advertising.

“We had moms who, when they became aware of and fell in love with our products, they’d call and ask if they could distribute brochures for us,” Barash said. “Moms and school nurses — they’d call and say, ‘Hey, what is this? Can we have some info?’”

In 2002, Barash began selling Fairy Tales online after she and her family moved to Montclair. Sales took off that year, and Fairy Tales has continued to mark double-digit sales growth year over year.

The company now has 16 employees and several product lines: Rosemary Repel, to clean hair and prevent lice; Lice Goodbye, to break down the glue that allows lice eggs to stick to hair; Sun & Swim, to remove sea salt and minerals that make hair dry and crunchy after a beach trip; Curly Q, for curly hair; and Tangle Tamers, for knotty hair.

In June, it’s launching a line for kids ages 8-14, inspired by the couple’s teenage kids.

“The tween-age range, there’s not a lot of products out there for that age group,” Barash said. “They’re stealing their expensive products from their mothers. There’s not a lot for the 13-year-old whose hair and face has started to get oily.”

Fairy Tales today is a multimillion-dollar hair care company, with the No. 2 lice preventative on the market next to Suave Kids.

“I know I’m creating something that parents need, not just want,” Barash said. “So many of these companies want to grow so fast and scale up. We are enjoying the ride. [Fairy Tales] has been a project of love, not a money project.”

The company’s products are stocked in Walmart, Target and other large retail outlets.

“I was just in Arizona, and when I saw an Albertsons, I went over two lanes of traffic to pull into the parking lot,” said Barash. “I still get so excited anytime I see my product in places.”

Panel Beware of #MeToo isolation

With all the talk, training and other activity arising from the #MeToo movement, some worry about unintended consequences such as isolating women in the workplace.“I’ve said this to the employers — let’s not go so far to the extreme that we begin to isolate women out of a fear that ‘Oh my gosh, I’m going to have a conservation with her and I might say something wrong,’” said Linda Hollinshead, a partner with the law firm Duane Morris and panelist at a March 6 event in Kenilworth hosted by the Association for Corporate Growth New Jersey Women of Leadership.

“[Employers] take a step back and don’t   create the opportunity for that uncomfortableness,” Hollinshead advised employers and HR professionals. “Those are lost opportunities. That’s the backlash.”

One audience member spoke of an experience in which former bosses would conduct male co-workers’ annual reviews over lunch and drinks, while her review would be held in the office.

“I was the only female partner in the firm, and I would go to lunch with guys in a group but never alone; I did feel [that] may have hindered my growth,” recalled Alix Rubin, who now works for her own firm, Rubin Employment Law.

“I find that frustrating, because it’s almost doubling down on the problems that led to these issues to begin with,” said Natalie Watson, the panel’s moderator and a partner at the law firm McCarter & English LLP.

Among the tips for HR protocol came this from Donna Hughes, senior vice president of human relations at Impax Laboratories: “Get an idea of whether or not that person will behave consistently within your culture, so you’re not in a situation where you have to retrain them based on something that they did. If you hire people inconsistent with your values, that’s on you.”

At Campbell, women lift each other up

Denise Morrison is part of an elite group: one of the 27 women at the helm of a Fortune 500 company.

Last year, she was one of 29.

“That alone tells me we still have plenty of work to do to create opportunities for women throughout the corporation, particularly at the more senior levels,” Morrison said in a video statement released today in honor of International Women’s Day.

Morrison, who came to Campbell in 2010, co-founded the Women of Campbell network to empower women and give them tools to navigate complex career decisions and paths. Last year, the Women of Campbell network launched a mentorship program called Be Real Circles, where one female leader mentors a small group of women, providing them with advice and directing conversations among group members.

“My generation cracked the glass ceiling, but this generation has to shatter it!”

Denise Morrison, CEO, Campbell’s Soup Co.

Be Real Circles give women on the rise at Campbell the opportunity to “pay it forward” to the women following in their footsteps.

“My generation cracked the glass ceiling, but this generation has to shatter it!,” Morrison said in her annual Women’s Day statement. “And it’s everyone’s responsibility to mentor and sponsor them on their career journey.”

Meghan Welch, a team lead in sales reporting at Campbell, has been involved in the Women of Campbell network for two years.

“Whether it is via our Be Real mentoring circles or workshops around personal development, I’ve seen women across the organization broaden their networks and gain confidence to put a stake in the ground and be more declarative about their career goals,” Welch said in an e-mail. “I think creating an environment where women can share their personal career struggles and realize that their peers are dealing with the same issues has been instrumental in helping us make strides around morale for women Campbell-wide.”

What’s amazing about Be Real is that it’s living up to its name—by showing real results. Almost a third of the women participants in this program have had a promotion or an expansion of their job responsibilities since the program rolled out, according to Melissa Price, Campbell’s marketing director of North American foodservice.

Price and Welch co-lead the Women of Campbell network together.

According to Price, the positive effects of Be Real aren’t just seen within the groups, but across the company and in men as well.

“All of our programming also helps create connections across the organization, which have helped boost morale. I’ve also seen behavior change from men in the organization; our programming has helped involve them in the conversation, bring awareness to issues women face at Campbell, and also exploit strengths in our organization that we need their help dialing up,” Price explained. “We cannot get to where we are going without involving men.”