Whenever I work with clients, I’m a little bit of a party pooper. I’m always reminding them about CAN-SPAM laws and Facebook regulations. I’m not the cool consultant who lets you underage drink at my house and won’t tell your parents. Over here it’s lights out at 10 with a cup of warm milk.
That might not be for everyone, and I totally get that. But it’s my job as a professional to work ethically and keep my clients up-to-date.
And there’s a reason I really like following the rules – because as a consumer, it really irritates me when brands break them! Especially when it comes to email communications. Recently, I’ve received a few emails that I never opted in to receive and that have no way – that I can identify – to opt out. So, my only option would be to send an email directly to the person and hope that she removes me from her list. That’s not cool. It’s awkward and annoying. And, it’s against the rules.
Spamming people does not make them want to buy your product. It does not make people want to refer their colleagues to you. It just makes them mad and then, in turn, makes them passively aggressively write nasty articles about you.
So, if you’re thinking about sending emails to your clients and prospects (which can be a very effective strategy for some businesses) here’s what you should do:
When you use a service like MailChimp, you are sure that everyone has opted in and that they can easily opt out if the information is no longer needed. It’s a simple and free process and it will actually help build your list beyond people you know personally or have met at a networking event.
So you’ve got your blog or website up and running, and are posting regularly on Facebook and Twitter. But, if you’re not on Pinterest, you might be missing the boat. Pinterest has garnered substantial attention as a major traffic referrer and purchasing powerhouse. The visually-oriented community consumes photographic content in order to inspire direct purchasing (33 percent of users buy directly) and traffic. An active Pinterest community can take your little known blog or site to the next level.
Pinterest allows users to collect photos (pins) from around the web or those already uploaded to Pinterest from other users and organizes them onto “boards.” Imagine the bulletin board above your desk and how you would pin up photos of outfits, quotes, great photos or articles for reference and inspiration. The same idea has now moved to the web in the form of Pinterest. Here, you can group all those great recipes, outfits, your favorite quotes, artwork or any other category you might be interested in.
Pinterest, although only launched in 2010, grew to see more than 10 million users in 2012, a significant amount more than Facebook or Twitter saw only two years after launch. The site has also clearly become a hotbed for female interaction with more than 80% of users being women. The most popular pins include crafts and DIY, fashion and food. If there are people blogging about it and taking great photos, there is a rabid Pinterest community clamoring for more. So if you’ve decided to take the plunge and get your blog started on Pinterest, here are some tips to get you started:
Optimize your profile
Start with the basics. Make sure you fill out all of the information in your profile, including verifying your website. Make sure your “About” section describes your brand and your website succinctly, and make sure to use your targeted keywords because this is indexed by search engines. Upload a photo. For a major brand or business, a logo will work, but for an information website or blog, a headshot of the founder makes is more personable.
Develop Your Voice
When creating boards, make them specific and targeted to allow users to be able to determine exactly what kind of content is on your board. Instead of just one board for a generic topic like “fashion,” make a few boards that describe different types of fashion or explores different styles. You can have a board for street style, one for great shoes, stripes, and other trends or similar themes.
Pin Your Own Images
This is one of the most important part of your Pinterest strategy, because this is what is going to drive people to your website to view your content or your products. Make sure all of your content has great images to accompany it and if you have your own photos, watermark them with your logo or website. You can go a step further and also put a text overlay with the title or topic of your article or post. If you don’t have access to Photoshop, you can use a free service like PicMonkey.
Pinterest is a great way to tell a story about your brand, the motivations and personality of your website or blog. Connect with major themes and align them with your brand’s goals. Have a board of inspirational quotes. If you have a fitness blog, try doing a board of great outdoor hikes. Create boards that are going to be aesthetically pleasing, but also connect in some way to your target communities.
Take time to connect
Just as you put in effort to read and comment on other people’s blogs, take time to follow interesting people in your community. Network with them by liking, repining and commenting on their pins to develop and build relationships.
How are you developing your Pinterest community? Tell us in the comments below!
British born, Barbara Sealy’s story is marked by many things. Pain and poverty, hurt…numerous trials and tremendous growth. But her story also represents the essence of achievement, of victory. Last week, I was honored -- or shall I say, “honoured”-- to hear some of Barb’s remarkable story first-hand. In her lovely English accent.
Born and raised in Forest Gate, a community in London’s East End that she compared to US’s inner cities, Barb had a rough childhood. Originally from Barbados (an English colony), she and the rest of her large family arrived in the East End of London in the ‘50s to find a new, diverse community with people from a variety of backgrounds. Growing up, Barb faced extreme poverty and abuse from her father, until her mother took on raising her and her brothers and sisters alone. From an early age, Barb loved music and started using it as an escape: she would lose herself in music and film, and she and her siblings would sing together to cope with their often tumultuous environment. As early as her teens, Barb had inherited a strong work ethic from her mother; she remembers vowing that she would do everything in her power to keep other children from experiencing what she had in her household.
As an adult Barb visited the States on a vacation in 1987, and a year later she decided to make the move permanent. Whereas back home she had never been encouraged to think about career options (she was more focused on survival), she knew deep down that there had to be something more. By now she knew that she wanted to help people and be a philanthropist, but she wanted her work to be tied into music somehow. “Music lifted my spirits,” she reflects. “I said if I can help another child not feel isolated or scared, and show them -- through music -- that they can achieve what they want, it would be really cool.” And that’s just what she set out to do.
Barb’s first jobs in the US included working for companies like Disney, as an administrator in the Video Division, but she credits her time working with the Grammys as the biggest learning experience of all. As the assistant to Michael Greene, the President of the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences, Barb was truly tested. “Because of how I was raised, I didn’t really have the social skills to help me to see how the corporate side of the world really works... I saw how somebody ran a company from the inside and it really set me up to do what I'm doing now.”
During this time, she met Robert (Bob) Brodhead, and they immediately clicked. They came from similar backgrounds and both had a mission to help young people. The two were asked to start the West Coast operation of the Thelonius Monk Institute of Jazz, an organization that has been thriving in Washington, D.C. for years. In this role, Barb worked to bring the jazz program to inner city kids by building after-school programs and other ventures to keep music education alive. She spoke to music departments at South-Central schools like Hamilton and Washington and found corporate sponsors like Nissan and the NBA to help support the programs. At one point, she coordinated a multi-school jazz band with, Reggie Andrews of Locke High School, that would play pre-game and halftime shows for the Lakers!
During her time with the Institute, she put together a scholarship fund and raised well over a million dollars to help students go to college. “Kids who would not have the opportunity financially were able to attend UCLA, USC, the Manhattan School of Music and the Berklee School of Music. The Monk Institute was very successful.”
What’s more, she taught these students that a solid career in music is not about fame. “I always taught that it’s more about having a career and supporting themselves doing what they loved. Do what you love and the money will come. In the meantime, you must know how to run a business and balance your checkbook.” These weren’t official classes, but kids would hang out after the program and ask Barb and her team about these realities. “They weren't learning this stuff at home. Nobody told them what would happen if they didn't do these simple, but life-changing things.”
After the success of the Thelonius Monk Institute, Barb turned around an after school program called Colors United, and then she and Bob Brodhead founded Creative Counseling Network (CCN) in 2006. Both programs were supported in large part by Barb’s close friend and January’s Made Woman of the Month, Barbara Vohryzek.
With CCN, Barb and Bob created a program that offered performing arts training, as well as mental health treatment. “One thing we noticed when working with other nonprofits was that we were providing great shows and entertainment, but the kids still had to go back to their environments and lacked the mental tools to carry the positivity through.” Sanctioned by the Department of Mental Health, CCN offered psycho-social rehabilitation, and involved social workers and therapists.
After CCN, the unthinkable happened in Barb’s life. She experienced a huge health scare that left her bedridden and fighting for her life. During this dark time, her former students and friends gave her another reason to keep fighting. “I said, I can't just lay here or I'm going to die. Part of what kept me going is that many of my students, like Miles Mosley, had called me; they had graduated and gotten their degrees, but the music landscape had changed and they didn't know where to start. So it came to mind that I should create a music management company to represent some of the people that had come through my programs over the years.” So Barb decided she would See it into Being -- and created SB Music Management.
Barbara started managing multiple artists from her house, even though she struggled just to leave her bed each day. Many of her artists weren’t even aware of her illness, and knowing she had to make a call or send an email was what gave her the resolve to move from her bed, to at least her couch (“I contemplated calling it On the Couch Productions!”); this was literally the difference between her life or death. “Other people give you things to fight for, so you start to fight for yourself,” Barb recalls.
Today, Barb’s music management company is thriving, and she has seen artists like Miles Mosley, described as the Jimi Hendrix of the upright bass, grow to have hugely successful careers. Miles’ group, the West Coast Get Down, is a collective of jazz musicians who have traveled the world together, playing for people like Carlos Santana, Stevie Wonder, Alicia Keys, American Idol and the Voice.
By setting her artists up for longevity, Barb is “trying to change the face of management and the music industry by showing artists that they can have well-rounded music careers.” Miles Mosley, for example, has also carved out a niche in the film and video game trailer world, composing scores for major film trailer houses, publishing companies, web series and multiple Viacom projects.
The amazing thing is that through it all, Barb has stayed true to her life’s purpose. She has helped countless young people not only overcome seemingly insurmountable odds, but to gain independence and thrive as well-rounded artists and individuals. “I wanted to teach people to become adults the best way they know how... Just because you came from a hard background, it doesn't mean that you can't have dreams. Young people need to see that they have a place in the world, regardless of their circumstances. But they also need to know that nobody gives you anything; you have to work for it.” If they’re in need of an example of hard work, they don’t need to look too far.
We’ve all had those moments, chatting away at a dinner party, vino in hand ... you ask the smokin’ hot hipster sitting to your left what he does for a living. “Oh, I’m a resort water slide tester,” he casually replies like that’s something you hear everyday. “Excuse me—a what?! Awesome ... I didn’t even know that was a job.”
In today’s world, countless unique careers exist that your parents and college counselor probably never mentioned (or even knew about for that matter.) At a young age, most of us are plopped onto a track heading straight to Normal Jobville. Few kids grow up wanting be to a roller coaster designer, hair stimulation supervisor, menu engineer, ice cream taster, fortune cookie writer, or conlinguist—but they are all very real vocations.
While some high schools and universities are attempting to better prepare future young adults for occupations that are unique or don’t yet exist, most haven’t found effective ways to make students more aware of the wide variety of positions that are available, beyond the basics. So, how does a modern girl discover unconventional career options? It’s not as difficult as one might think.
Start by digging deeper into the world in which you want to work. Food, fashion, photography, medical, writing, hospitality, travel, entertainment, interior design—in each industry, there are a plethora of uncommon jobs. Talk to as many people as you can who work in fashion, if that’s your passion, and Google! The answers are there under simple searches like “unique jobs in fashion.” Another option that yields results—visit the “career opportunities” section on websites of companies you’d like to work for. Often you’ll see job listed that you never knew existed. Here’s an example on CondeNast.com.
There are also occupations that are highly unusual by nature and require unique individuals to fulfill the duties—i.e. sea urchin diver, coconut safety engineer, and snake milker—all examples of work that definitely qualify as unique, but also are not for everyone. Because most women I know (not all, but most), don’t want to learn how to extract venom from snakes and sell it to research labs for use in anti-venom medications, here is a list of unconventional jobs that might actually be of interest:
This person is the middleman/woman between textile manufacturers and designers. The job involves a fair amount of travel, as many fabrics are sourced in other countries. It also provides plenty of freedom from being stuck in a office cube. Textile distributors make an average of $105,000 a year.
It’s the job of a colorist to make sure that fabrics are the right color and of the same dye lot. If you have an amazing eye for color differentiation and know how different light sources effect the way we see color, this might be your next job in fashion. Colorists make an average of $53,000 a year.
Recipe Developer and Tester
Today you don’t have to have a professional culinary degree to get sell your recipes if you’re an amazing cook, uber detail oriented and can write precise directions. Magazines, brands, and even celebrity food personalities are hiring home-chefs to help fill their plates, pages, websites and cookbooks with delicious recipes. This is typically freelance work and it helps to have a food blog to showcase your talents. Recipes are generally sold for between $275 and $1,000 each. If you’re skilled at food photography, you can charge more.
Gourmet Food Buyer
If you have a passion for food, this could be a dream job. Stores like Whole Foods, Trader Joe’s and Costco all employ people to find and purchase the foods they sell and to decide which items to take off the shelves. To qualify for a position like this, it’s best to have a background in hospitality and gourmet food, but Trader Joe’s is known for promoting from within if you have the drive. Other skills needed: excellent palate, ability to negotiate with vendors, product sourcing, inventory management, marketing, and an understanding of trends in consumer taste. Travel is sometimes involved and salaries range from $50,000 to $80,000.
This is an amazing way to travel the world, entertain people, and avoid sitting behind a desk all day. Cruise directors are responsible for all on-board hospitality, entertainment and social events. They act as the public face of the company and are constantly interacting with the guests. For this job you’ll need a charismatic personality, tons of energy, the ability to be away from home for extended periods of time, and experience working in recreation, entertainment and/or hospitality. Here is an example of a job listing for Cruise Director for Royal Caribbean. Salaries can range from $45,000 to $150,000.
Hot hotels today are hiring “Vibe Managers” to create the overall “vibe” of the hotel—from the music in the lobby, spa and elevators to creating unforgettable corporate meeting experiences for hotel clients, e.g. setting up a DJ booth in the conference room so the CEO can be spinning pre and post meeting. Read more about the Vibe Manager for Hard Rock Hotel, San Diego here. Salaries range from $50,000 to $75,000. Here is a list of other unique jobs in the hospitality industry.
No matter where your passions lie, you can be sure there are unique jobs that exist in that field … you just have to do some digging to uncover your first or next unconventional career!
These days, going green is more than just a trend, it's the smart thing to do in the business world. If you want to make sure your customers know that you care about the earth, your business needs to integrate environmentally-friendly marketing decisions at every turn. Some of these choices may sound simple, but they are a great way to let your audience know that your brand is one they can trust, and that what matters to them also matters to you.
If you've printed business flyers before, you know how expensive and wasteful the process can be. Eye-catching mailers are still great for certain promotions and times of the year, but e-newsletters and electronic coupons are great all the time. Give your customers the option to subscribe on your website, but don't inundate their inboxes. Instead, focus on messages that really give them value.
When you do need printed material, switch to recycled paper and vegetable-based inks whenever possible. You can also use these methods in packaging, letting your customers know that you don't simply talk about going green - you actually do it. They will get a positive feeling from picking up your flyers or buying your products if they know they are supporting a company who supports saving the planet. Don't forget to print the source of the materials right on the paper for them to read!
When you're exhibiting at a trade show or just doing promotions for your business, think about investing in green promotional items that show your overall company philosophy on helping the environment. There are plenty of options, from eco-friendly tote bags and apparel to LED lights, recycled stationary, and everything in between. These freebies can help introduce you to colleagues who share your attitude towards eco-friendly business.
Don't just set an example with your business, encourage your audience to go green themselves. Offer discounts for shoppers who participate in local environmental cleanups. Give coupons for green products and incentives to reach your business by bicycle or public transportation, or bring in reusable shopping bags. You can get creative with promotions designed to get people thinking about green lifestyle changes.
The shift toward internet-based business also gives a boost to the environment, and when they visit your website, customers should be aware of how electronic buying is actually environmentally friendly. That also means you should look into going green with your IT department, including hosting your site on the most energy-efficient servers possible. Sustainable web hosting solutions are available now which are mainly powered by wind or solar energy, and that's a great thing to communicate to your site visitors.
The benefits of green marketing campaigns are enormous. You will not only build a great reputation for your business, you'll ensure customer loyalty from people who take environmental issues to heart. Going green should be more than just a fad to you, because your customers will know the difference. It's okay to spend a little more time and money, and it's great to think outside the box. Your earth-conscious brand will earn staying power and a whole lot of respect.
A new year is a upon us, ladies, and that means it’s time to pour something sparkly and make a toast to new resolutions. Not only is this a great time to make some changes or new commitments in our personal lives, but it’s also an opportune time for a fresh start in the workplace. Whether you’ve been in a slump at work or are flying high loving your current job, let’s all make some New Year’s workplace resolutions together. Here are a few of mine:
I don’t know about you, but on occasion (okay, maybe on a weekly basis) I find myself getting frustrated with people at the office and really needing to vent. But venting can quickly become gossip if I take it beyond my closest confidantes. In 2014 I am resolving to watch what I say about other people to other people. No good can really come of it.
This may be in part to my current pregnancy, but recently I’ve adopted the bad habit of reaching into the office candy bowl and snacking on meeting leftovers too often. Every now and then I think it’s okay to treat myself, but making a habit out of it only leads to extra empty calories, which are often the hardest to work off. When I return to work after maternity leave, I’m going to focus on keeping my desk stocked with healthy snacks.
Sometimes it can be hard to find a mentor at work. Most of us have supervisors or managers whom we report to, but in 2014 I’d really like to find a mentor who can provide guidance beyond my day-to-day work. This year I resolve to spend some time getting to know a colleague I admire and whose career path is one to which I aspire . Even just asking him or her to coffee would be a great way to learn more about how they achieved their career success.
I’m going to blame pregnancy for this one again, too, but I find myself choosing the more casual side of “business casual” at work these days. We have a very laid back dress code, so it’s been easy to trade in my previously polished look for something comfier. But hey, if I want to reach the top of the ladder, I need to dress the part, right? I’ve decided 2014 will be the year I bring my wardrobe back to the professional level that makes me feel strong and successful.
Each year I try to set three to five career-related goals. Sometimes I’m not sure where the year is going to take me, but I always at least get something down on paper to help me dream big and work toward new aspirations. True to my own tradition, I plan to get my 2014 career goals down on paper as soon as possible. With a new baby coming in February and a desire to find a balance between motherhood and my current career path, this is one of my most important New Year’s resolutions for 2014.
We all need to tend to our professional growth, and now is the perfect time to take a look at how things are going. So, now it’s your turn. What are your workplace resolutions going to be this year?
When I was in college, my idea of professionalism was a power suit, back-to-back conference calls, early mornings, late nights and black coffee. I guess I watched too many movies in the 80s. When I actually got into the workforce – outside of my part-time college gigs – I realized it was more about prompt follow up and knowing your stuff.
Whether you’re climbing the corporate ladder, launching your own business or working in a non-corporate capacity, a certain level of professionalism is sure to kick your career up a notch. Here are a few unspoken rules that all true professionals hold dear:
Being professional never goes out of style. What are your tips for impressing your colleagues and clients? Tell us in the comments below!
Debt. It just doesn’t seem to go away. Whether we’ve racked up credit card bills during the summer wedding season or had to give in and get a new car, many of us have some form of debt to our name. More than likely, however, most of us have debt in the form of the good ol’ student loan. According to American Student Assistance, today in the U.S. there is approximately $902 billion to $1 trillion in outstanding student loan debt.
Fortunately there are programs out there that help students and recent graduates pay off their loans more quickly and efficiently. One such program is SmarterBucks – a website dedicated to helping reduce student loan debt (and don’t worry, it’s legit. SmarterBucks is an FDIC member).
A website that promises to help pay off student loans faster? Sign me up! As a woman who is more-than-eager to pay off her grad school loan, I eagerlyaccepted the invitation to check out SmarterBucks and explore how the service could help me out. After all, that hefty monthly payment would be much more useful in my savings account, or for charity, or …perhaps the occasional extra pair of shoes.
Through using a special debit card issued by SmarterBanks or simply making purchases through preferred vendors, SmarterBucks will give users up to 10% back in rewards to help pay down student loans. Users can also invite family and friends to contribute to their account.
SmarterBucks offers great tips and resources for debt management, as well as exclusive discounts and deals for users.
Signing up for the SmarterBucks account and inputting all of your information is easy. In order to actually pay down a loan, users will have to link their SmarterBucks account to their student loan account so that SmarterBucks can track it. The site seems really secure, so this shouldn’t be a concern.
The actual process of earning rewards and paying debt down has been a bit of a challenge for me thus far. Since I don’t necessarily need to make purchases from vendors within the SmarterBucks marketplace, I have yet to actually earn any rewards to go toward my loans. Still, for the diligent buyer who is determined to pay off her loans, the process is simple and each dollar will add up quickly.
My advice is to sign up for the SmarterBank debit card. This is the fastest way to make qualifying purchases that will help erase that debt. It works like any rewards Visa where you earn points or cash back for everyday purchases, except you get SmarterBucks back instead – and those go toward your designated student loan. It’s a win-win!
If you have student loans to pay off, you should definitely give SmarterBucks a test drive to see if it will work for you. Every dollar toward those loans helps, and soon (okay, maybe a few years from now) the debt will disappear.
Can you define your personal brand?
If you had to think about it, you can’t.
Why does it matter?
In the words of business icon Warren Buffet: “Your premium brand had better [be] delivering something special or it’s not going to get the business.”
In the last five years the idea of a “personal brand” has become more important, even if you’re a corporate employee. Perhaps especially if you’re a corporate employee! With the uncertainty in the economy, people realized that they couldn’t afford to skate through their workdays unnoticed if they wanted to keep their jobs, much less earn a promotion.
If you want to build your career and success, as any MADE woman does, you need to take the initiative, show up every day and look for ways to innovate and stand out.
You need to define your Personal Brand. The POWER of a brand lies in its ability to speak for you and before you.
As any marketing executive can tell you it takes a lot of work to create a brand. So sit down and take some time out to create your own, strong personal brand:
Personal Brand Element #1 – VALUE
Creating your personal brand starts with understanding the value you offer. What differentiates you? What makes you stand out from the competition or your co-workers? Brainstorm your unique skill sets as well as your unique attributes. Are you a good communicator? Do you stay cool under pressure (Emotional Intelligence is just as important as IQ)?
Personal Brand Element #2 – VISIBILITY
What kind of an impression do you want to leave with co-workers, colleagues, clients or managers? This means becoming recognized for something so that even others are talking about you. However, it starts with YOU showing up and stepping out to make yourself visible. Attend networking events, ask for introductions and also offer introductions. All while keeping in mind what it is you want to be known for as the go-to expert.
Personal Brand Element #3 – AUTHENTICITY
It’s personal for a reason. It’s all about YOU. If people sense that you’re being inauthentic, even if it’s with good intentions, they won’t trust you. This means that if you’re trying to be a certain way because that’s how you think you’re supposed to be, you’re inadvertently coming off as untrustworthy. OWN all of YOU.
Personal Brand Element #4 – IMAGE
As the uber-successful Tony Robbins shares, “Initially, style is more important than substance. If you don’t have the right style, you won’t get to share any of your substance.”
Your style and presentation is a visual representation of your brand. Communication is 55% visual. You are communicating who you are before you even get a chance to speak. Your favorite color to wear subconsciously tells people a bit about your values. Your accessories, hair, nails, shoes, etc. is evidence to your attention to detail. Your outfit hints at your personality. Finally, your image must be appropriate to the audience without completely sacrificing who you are. For example, if it’s a suit culture, add color, accessories and heels to bring in your personality and brand.
Personal Brand Element #5 - CONSISTENCY
Whether you’re going for coffee or leading the meeting, your focus on your visual presentation should be the same. You don’t have to put a lot of effort into your ‘coffee casual’ look to still be polished, professional and confident if you happened to run into a potential client or colleague. The same is true with all written communication – whether on Facebook, in email or on LinkedIN, write with the intention of building your Personal Brand.
What is your Personal Brand? Tell us in the comments below!
If you’re a young entrepreneur, the first time you open your doors, make a high-stakes deal or put your product on the shelf -- you may encounter a moment of sheer terror. As much confidence as you may have in your big idea, that moment of fear and self doubt can creep up on the best of us. Nicole Baldwin knows how important nerves of steel can be for success. As an US Army veteran, with tours in Iraq and Afghanistan under her belt, she is familiar with the courage it takes to work through fear in order to reach an objective.
You can’t help but find perspective when you are 19, thousands of miles from home and risking your life in service to your country. Nicole’s Army experience made her even more determined to start her own business and create something meaningful out of her life’s work. She worked on a plan right there in the midst of conflict, staying up sometimes until 2 am. She created a vision board for everything she wanted her company to represent, staying focused on her goal despite the turmoil around her. Committed one hundred percent, she came home ready to execute her plan for BIAO Skin Care -- the name, an acronym for Beauty Inside and Out. “The use of the acronym is a hat tip to the Army; they use an acronym for everything in the Army,” she proudly explains.
But why a skincare line? For Nicole, it’s quite personal. When she was a little girl she snuck into her grandma’s kitchen wanting to surprise her with a cup of tea. When she reached up to put the kettle on the stove, the boiling water spilled on her, giving her third degree burns on her face, chest and lips. The scars were devastating to Nicole. Beside the pain she endured, she also had to deal with being teased by other kids. Luckily, her grandma -- a nurse by trade -- had a recipe for an herbal remedy that was known to work like a charm. Her grandmother applied the remedy on Nicole’s burn scars and over time they went away. As she grew up, her family continued to use this formula -- a mixture of vitamins and other herbal plant combinations.
Nicole learned how to make the formula from her grandma and, after her tour in Iraq, decided to go to school to be an esthetician. “My passion was born from a tragedy that happened to me,” she says. She wanted to help other women get past the trauma of severe scarring using the remedy that worked for her and learn that if you have beauty inside and out, nothing can take that away from you.
To Nicole, BIAO is so much more than a beauty product. It’s her mission to help others who went through what she did and spread the company’s vision that “Beauty is Giving Back.” “It’s a reward that money can’t buy,” she says. All of the products in the line are natural, organic and cruelty free and each ingredient is certified organic by the Natural Product Association. Nicole believes that focus on the details is important to building trust with her customers. “We want to make sure our products do not expose the consumer to unnecessary to biochemicals, genetically modified organisms, biosolids or irradiation.” She speaks confidently of her product, knowing that her face itself is proof of its effectiveness.
And others are catching on, too. She was recently interviewed on ABC.com and was one of 24 women selected to receive a grant as an Women Veteran Entrepreneur Corps Awardee, for Capital One’s Count Me In initiative. The key moment for her? When BIAO became a finalist in the Happy Beauty International Packaging Awards, after competing with hundreds of other companies including Estee Lauder and Beyonce’s line, Pulse. “That’s when I knew I had something with BIAO. That it could be a success.”
Success is definitely knocking on Nicole’s door. She attributes much of it to attending events and seminars, “as a small business, as an entrepreneur, you have to get out and meet others.” But she also warns up-and-comers to be selective on the tradeshows and events they attend. “Sometimes I felt like they owed me money for attending,” she laughs. She also gives credit to networking with other aspiring women in the cosmetics industry and says that she’s learned a lot from her mentor in her industry.
Since her focus is not just monetary, Nicole has made “world beautification” the company’s mission. One dollar of every product sold goes to Free the Children, an organization that works to empower kids in 45 countries. She is also working with her grandma on a new line of products that can be used to treat burn victims. Her grandma is excited to see her old family remedy bring her granddaughter success, and Nicole is thankful for her grandma’s encouragement. “It’s important to surround yourself with positive people -- people who are going to push you toward your vision,” she relates.
It’s been a long road for Nicole, but she has stuck to her plan for her company with the determination and discipline of a true solider. What she encountered in the battlefield was more than enough training for the high-stakes and fire drills of entrepreneurship. She leaves fear at home and makes the moves necessary to advance her company. Her example as a businesswoman and the bravery she displayed in defense of our country definitely make her a Made Woman.