Rocks vs Sand: Lessons on Entrepreneurship with Jamie O’Banion, Co-Founder of Beauty Bioscience

When Jamie O’Banion turned 10 years old, her father, Dr. Terry James, invited her on a business trip to his new skincare lab in Germany. Jamie’s unofficial MBA – a “master’s in beauty administration,” as she calls it – began. At the dinner table, the two would discuss everything from absorption science to the skincare needs of people in Singapore versus Italy.

Jamie grew up in the skincare industry, modeled professionally and joined her father’s lab after graduating from Brigham Young University. In 2008, Jamie and Dr. James launched their own skincare brand, Beauty Bioscience. In 2012, they introduced their signature microneedling device, GloPRO®, which increases absorption of skincare products by 200x. In this post, I analyze the most memorable stories and lessons from my conversation with Jamie. Her entrepreneurial style is worth studying because it challenges the norms of marketing a brand, work-life balance and Silicon Valley’s failure fetish.

1. On ‘lightbulb’ moments

‘Lightbulb’ moments arise when we don’t demand them. You can’t force a realization, but curiosity can guide you to unexpected analogies and inspiration from unrelated fields. The story behind microneedling, Beauty Bio’s key innovation, illustrates this idea.

Jamie: The upper layer of your skin is called the epidermis, and the lower layer is the dermis. Skincare ingredients don’t work unless you can get the ingredients down into the dermis. Your skin is like an airtight lock. If it weren’t, you’d come out of the swimming pool looking like a balloon.

Microdermabrasion, peels and derma planting, a fancy term for shaving, came about to solve that problem. Those techniques don’t go all the way down to the dermis, however, because they strip off the skin horizontally.

One day, my Dad was watching his yard as it was being aerated. He had the ‘lightbulb’ moment. Instead of going horizontally, we had to move vertically into the skin. Microneedling, his invention, does that in a painless fashion. We did a study that showed if you apply your skincare products within the first 30 minutes after microneedling, you absorb the ingredients.

2. Keeping your mission statement simple and on point

Some companies have long, generic mission statements. No one, including the employees, are sure what the brand stands for. The wording and purpose of Beauty Bio’s mission statement is a great model for entrepreneurs.

Jamie: Microneedling was the first technology that could guarantee absorption of skincare ingredients. Women had been wasting lots of money on skincare. Even though 100 percent of the ingredients were there, they wouldn’t work! That’s how our three-word mission 2JP AGV statement, “Truth in beauty,” came about. We felt that women had been misled and wanted to change that.

Sometimes, people ask me how often they should use the microneedling tool. I say, “How many nights of the week do you want your skincare products to work?”

3. Home Shopping Network (HSN) – a megaphone that gets the message right.

Most new brands depend on digital technology to launch and market products. Beauty Bio does some of that, but the Home Shopping Network (HSN) in the U.S. and QVC abroad made all the difference for Beauty Bio. The infomercial format has some major advantages.

Jamie: I can fly to a store on Michigan Avenue and talk to a thousand women. Or, I can fly to Tampa and talk to 60-80 million women [on TV] for the same amount of energy and keep the message clear. Otherwise, it’s a game of telephone for a brand ambassador, who might tell customers something that’s not even close to the truth.

I love the idea of being able to speak to so many more women with the same energy. It’s a chance to scale our growth quickly. It was especially important when we launched GloPRO.

To have a megaphone has been amazing. One retailer might buy 3,000 units of something, and that’s a big buy. On HSN, we’ll be on every two hours and sell 4 million units in 24 hours.

4. Entrepreneurship is not the easy way out

You might feel more motivated to work for yourself, but don’t conflate motivation with ease. Entrepreneurs can underestimate what it means to be ‘all in.’

Read the rest on Forbes.


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