April 25, 2020
I have always admired beauty. It was freeing, empowering. I loved researching brands and deepening my knowledge on products, trends, the market, the industry. When I joined Aurum, I discovered that beauty has been a true passion of mine. All along I wanted to contribute to the industry that helped shape me, the one industry that I loved the most in the whole wide world, but I never considered pursuing beauty seriously as a career because “makeup is just a girl thing that girls are supposed to like”. This was the rhetoric that I heard my whole life, my passion was belittled to an expectation… and UGH! Can you believe that?! Can you believe that society conditioned me to internalize that???
Well, let me tell ya, “makeup is just a girl thing that girls are supposed to like” is a billion-dollar beauty industry that isn’t just for “girls”. It’s an industry with legitimacy, demand, innovation, power! It’s an industry that is just as important to our culture as any other. Like music or film, the beauty industry insights community, and development. It’s instrumental on an intergenerational level and it is here to stay.
When I came to terms with this reality, I was sure that beauty was all I wanted to pursue. Whether interested in the business side or development side of the beauty industry, I’m sure that many of you can relate to this experience.
At Aurum, I began to get a feel of what joining the beauty industry would look like from the employee standpoint. The more I looked for information on how I could make my dreams come true, the more I learned and the more I continued to learn. So I thought, many others who read this blog may be on the same boat too so, why not share?
Recently, I had the pleasure of speaking with a current Sephora employee, Margaret Park. Her educational background is in business administration and graphic design. Even though there are plenty of careers in the beauty industry, in all fields, and for everyone, my phone call with Margaret was about her personal experience in this industry, as Senior Art Director at Sephora. Margaret works with a large creative team within the Marketing department. She shared with me that she got into beauty unexpectedly. She began her career in fashion in New York but after a brief experience in the beauty industry, she felt that even though her love was always in fashion, her passion was in beauty. She continued on to move to San Francisco and work for the brand we all love and know. She’s been at Sephora for a little over two and a half years. Her remarks about the industry were enthusiastically positive.
Margaret shared that she finds that the social media age that we’re living in, is a great time to work in beauty! Social media has celebrated beauty and kept brands accountable for their products since information is so accessible to the public. “From an education standpoint, the customer right now is super knowledgeable, so in terms of skincare ingredients and all that, they’re not afraid to speak up. It’s tiring but I like it.”, Margaret explains. “People are so creative, it’s fun to see different trends”, she adds.
After getting an introduction of what her general experience has been like in the beauty industry, I decided to ask her a little bit about what it’s like to work in the corporate world. I know that along with many of you, I am interested in joining a big corporation, so I thought it would be nice to discuss that too. Margaret had nothing but great things to say.
“The teams are very big, the creative team is 50 people, the marketing team is a couple of hundred and Sephora USA is upwards of 20,000, but the size is very fun” she shares. She emphasized that when you have an entire team to reach out to, you’re more productive. I can imagine that the flow of creativity must be amazing. “There’s a big wealth of expertise in every part of the business. it’s fascinating” added Margaret.
She said that Sephora in particular has a great company atmosphere. Once she arrived at the company, she was very inspired by how many women there were. She felt protected by this “female-centered bubble” that she had at work. She even added that she is currently an executive MBA student at the Haas School of Business where gender inequity struggles are often discussed within classmates, but that she feels fortunate that she has never experienced such inequality in her industry. She said that many women are mothers in her industry, which encourages room for work-life balance to be prioritized in the workplace. Sephora particularly is very big on celebrating the employees’ initiatives.
I then continued on to ask her about advice that she could give to those of us who are looking to work in the beauty industry. I was curious to hear about potential challenges that one could face. She said that yes, of course it can sometimes be intimidating to be new to the beauty industry, or any industry, when there are people at these firms that are equipped with large amounts of experience but that that’s okay. “Experience is gained and you will eventually learn” she said. She also reminded me that coming in with a fresh perspective is also valuable. Having someone with a fresh eye join an industry is also productive.
As for the recruiting process, Margaret gave some really good advice too. She said that often, people barre themselves from applying to certain positions just because they don’t think that their experience is applicable to the job. Yes, most people in the creative team have art degrees, beauty degrees or fashion experience but that doesn’t mean that your experience doesn’t count too! “Even if you don’t have L’Oreal, Estee Lauder, whatever, on your resume, that doesn’t mean that you’re going to be X’d from a potential role. I think that especially now, some of the hiring managers are looking for people with a range of experiences. There’s no cookie-cutter experience anymore. It’s more about the person in their authentic selves. Do they have a strong work ethic? How do they present themselves? How do they communicate their story? All of those things are what’s going to make an impression”, she said and then she added to not forget that “no matter what your experience is, there are so many transferable skills that you can apply to the work that you want to get into. Leadership positions from school, extracurriculars, internships, they all count”. This was really encouraging to hear!
Lastly, I asked Margaret if she had any last advice that she wanted to share. She responded by saying that no matter if you’re at an entry-level position or high up as a director, that one should never lose their hunger to learn. “Keep your eyes open If the drive is there, it’ll fuel itself naturally. Any role requires a strong work ethic, ask questions, communicate, be a team player”, and I think that’s pretty promising.
I want to cordially thank Margaret for her time. Her empowerment, encouragement, and advice is a great contribution to the growth of the new beauty generation, and for that, I am grateful. I hope that this information finds you all well and that it has energized you to continue to follow your dreams in whatever industry that may be. As we continue to follow our dreams, we must look to outlets of positivity like the positivity that Magaret has transmitted today. I hope that you all learned as much from her as I did.
My best to you all, stay safe and take care.