Being female founders of a beauty startup is a lot of things. It’s exhausting, exhilarating, overwhelming, amazing, hard, exciting & rewarding to name but a few. No two days are the same - one minute you’re schmoozing with influencers & raising millions in investment and the next you’re in a factory in the north of England in a hair net. But we can’t complain, variety is the spice of life and all that.
We’re incredibly privileged to be able to call this our job and still have to pinch ourselves on a regular basis. For International Women’s Day (in our office, every day is International Women’s Day) we wanted to to answer our community’s questions so put it to you on Instagram and this is what you came back with. Read on to discover our take on what it takes to break down the glass ceiling & our favourite skincare product, obviously.
Q: Did you face sexism when you entered the industry?
A: Perhaps, but we didn't stop to notice it or let us impact our work, we were too busy growing our blog Clean Beauty Insiders and getting BYBI up and running. We were and still are regularly in scenarios of all-male boardrooms and it might have been that we were taken less seriously being two young women. If we ever get the vibe of something feeling off, we just chose not to work with those people. We've had the privilege of meeting hugely supportive people, both men and women, that celebrate us being two female founders and it's those that we bring into the BYBI fold.
Q: What about your brand are you most proud of?
A: Our fight on climate change, our team, when we see a 5* review of one of our products.
Q: What were your biggest obstacles in launching a brand?
A: Feeling financially ready was definitely an obstacle and one that we discussed and prepared for. We share more detail about the business' funding journey on this episode of our Clean Beauty Insiders podcast. Neither of us came from the beauty industry which in theory could have been an obstacle but we didn't let it stop us! We surrounded ourselves with experts, studied hard and asked loads of questions.
Q: What’s the best and worst thing about being a female founder?
A: Best thing is definitely being part of a community of fellow female founders (including each other) who inspire us every day. There's not really a worst!
Q: What do you think are the biggest barriers that young women face in the workplace that holds them back from success?
A: Financial inequalities, unconscious bias, feeling inadequate or lacking confidence...it’s not always easy for young women but it feels like we’re in a time of change that will hopefully go on to positively impact younger women as they mature in their careers.
Q: What advice would you give to someone thinking of setting up a business?
A: Less talk, more action. We couldn’t be bigger believers of making quick decisions, taking risks (albeit calculated) and most importantly learning from mistakes. We meet a lot of early stage founders who almost freeze at the point of starting out and while it's natural to feel nervous, it's also crucial to make some kind of move - even if it's the wrong one! You'll learn and develop so much faster. Also - don't forget to celebrate your successes. We're so guilty of moving too quickly and not pausing to acknowledge what we've achieved.
Q: What weren’t you taught at school that you wish you were?
A: Pretty much all of the useful, practical, future-building information that was totally lacking in the education system when we went through school. Lessons in running your finances, what a mortgage is or how to prepare for job interviews would have been great!
We spoke to someone recently who said they'd run a talk at a girls school and was asked by one of the students how to deal with sexism in the work place. It's so positive to hear that kids are being encouraged to think about and discuss this from a young age and that it's being taken seriously.
Q: How do you deal with imposter syndrome?
A: This is tricky, imposter syndrome is common for many and especially creeps in for founders as often your role involves a load of stuff that you don't have any experience in. Both of us have experienced it and we find that talking really helps, as simple as it sounds, sometimes just sharing your doubts with a colleague/founder/boss helps to put them into context and separate emotion from the facts. Also like we've already said, celebrating achievements, however small, can help to boost confidence. You're in that role or running that business because you deserve to be there and have earned it - don't forget that!
Q: In ten years time, where do you want BYBI to be?
A: The leading sustainable skincare brand, inspiring and pathing the way for others, and a household name for great beauty products.
Q: How do you switch off?
A: It's really, really difficult to completely switch off as a founder, BYBI is like our baby so it's always on our minds! We're both into Barry's Bootcamp and yoga, each very different but amazing ways of truly switching off for an hour or so. We also both have dogs so the morning dog walk can be a good way of clearing the mind before work!
Q: Favourite Netflix show?
A: Currently both watching Love is Blind, also big fans of Stranger Things, Narcos, Glow, Easy, You, Game Changers, Cowspiracy, The True Cost.
Q: Desert island product?
A: Elsie - Mega Mist. Dominika - C-Caf.
Q: What’s your next product launch?
A: We can't give specifics away but...we base our new product pipeline on customer feedback and the two products we get asked most regularly for are an eye cream and SPF. You do the math.
Thanks for reading! Today we're raising a glass (or Booster bottle) to the women around the world who inspire us every.single.day and who we wouldn't be here without. To those who dedicate their lives to driving change and empowering women, even in the face of adversity, we see you and are beyond grateful. Here’s to a future where ALL womxn are empowered to live a life free from oppression and are socially, economically and politically equal...until then, we'll keep fighting ✊ Happy International Women's Day!
Elsie & Dominika x