FUTURE GIRL BOSSES, TAKE A CUE FROM THESE TWO

LAUREN GORES & MARIANNA HEWITT: BOSS BABES

When you’ve been in the entertainment and lifestyle business awhile, not only does your own journey change and evolve, but a true advantage is getting to see your friends grow and accomplish amazing things over time. I’ve had the pleasure of knowing Marianna and Lauren for years now, so when their Summer Fridays line of face masks dropped and was an instant success - it was no surprise. Below is a candid discussion about what factors have contributed to the success of their business and some key tips on enjoying the ride. I’m so inspired by these beautiful girls who are innovative, hard-working, and KIND entrepreneurs. Enjoy! — Catt

Instagram @marianna_hewitt

Instagram @marianna_hewitt

Catt:
I think a lot of women all over the world look up to you both and what you’ve built! Let’s start with your friendship (pre-business partnership). How did you meet?

Lauren:
We met shortly after college and worked in broadcast journalism in the early part of our careers. We initially bonded over our ambition to create a path for ourselves in a field that was really saturated. I think the early part of our friendship, in that sense, shaped who we are now as business partners. Our friendship was always rooted in this desire to build a career we were immensely proud of, and that makes our current partnership feel really seamless. We have the same big-picture vision.

Catt:
How did you come up with the idea for Summer Fridays? Both the concept and the name.

Marianna:
The name we came up with because we wanted to give you that Friday feeling for your skin all year long because we really look forward to Summer Fridays. We wanted to bottle that so you can feel that no matter what time of the year it is.

L:
I was actually six weeks pregnant when we had our very first meeting! I was in the midst of switching everything in my routine, and was really struggling with a go-to product for easing sleepy skin. We had a few different business ideas, but ultimately felt strongly about launching with a single face mask that was clean, effective and meant for the girl on-the-go. Our Jet Lag mask is all about relieving some of the stress from a chaotic schedule — whether it’s from quite literal jet lag, or from working two jobs, or becoming a new mom. The products that followed all speak to proving some time off amidst a busy life.

C:
With any good relationship/partnership, each half brings something unique to the table. Marianna, what is your strength and Lauren, what would you say is yours?

M:
Being bloggers and influencers, we learned how to wear many hats. We also did that in our jobs before, whether we were creating content, shooting content, speaking with our audience, or doing the research. Both of our careers leading up to where we are now really helped in our current business and it’s so fun getting to create content because we do that for so many other brands, that we are able to take all of our experience being influencers and turn it into our own company.

L:
We don’t separate our roles, because we feel that our partnership is our fuel for growth. Marianna is very efficient, intuitive, and wildly distinct in her vision. She can make decisions quickly and knows when to push for more. This makes us a good team, because I am overwhelmingly patient, and I appreciate taking enough time to really think things through. We also jokingly say that I am good at keeping things light and optimistic because I’m usually overly excited for all things. While patient, I believe in making decisions with our gut and not always by the book.

C:
Most entrepreneurs say there’s a huge learning curve (launching your first product). Do you feel like the business model and strategy came easy or was it an uphill battle?

M:
I would say the business model for us — it’s not that it came easy but it was that we never did that before, so we didn’t really know what to expect. When we were creating things or thinking of how to do things we never knew there was a right or wrong way, we just did it the way we felt. If it felt easier to us it was just because we didn’t overthink things. Lauren always said, “Don’t be too smart,” and I think that’s so true because sometimes with too much experience you might feel like you know it all.

L:
Agree! I think in our case, we experienced some of that “ignorance is bliss” in our early days. We made a lot of decisions fearlessly because we didn’t truly know what lied ahead. I think we’ll always be learning, and I think any success story is an uphill battle in the sense that you’re always wanting to accomplish more, more, more — whether it’s growing your team, your sales, your creative voice, all of it. But during that uphill climb, I’d like to think we get to stop for some champagne each time we accomplish a goal! We try to remind each other to pause and indulge in our biggest moments. Also, I think it’s important to add that M and I are both first-generation Americans. We really appreciate the ability to create our own story and build our own dreams, knowing the risks our parents had to endure to create a life in the US. We have this understanding and appreciation for opportunities, and we don’t take that for granted.

M:
As far as who provided us the greatest support and our mentors, Jen Atkin has been incredible to us. She’s been helpful every step of the way, along with so many of our other brand founder friends who are in the same industry that we loop up to — Emily Weiss from Glossier, or Jessica Alba with Honest Beauty. And we have a close group of friends that get together who just share a lot of good advice, like Anna of Dose of Colors, Lily, of Lily Lashes, Annie, of Lawless and Suja juice, and a full group of girls in our Founders Club who are in the same industry and creating their own paths.

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C:
In a digital world where so many lines are blurred and it’s hard to stand out and get noticed, what’s been the key to the success for you both? As bloggers and now as entrepreneurs?

L:
I know everyone is probably tired of hearing the word “authentic” but I think it’s so true now more than ever. The digital world is overcrowded with bloggers, businesses, brands… you name it. But a crowded room can hold a lot of successful people — it doesn’t mean there’s not space for you! You have to determine your voice, and push people to remember you for it. On the personal side of sharing things, this is always evolving for me, and I’ve tried to be more open and purposeful in my writing. I don’t think people want just a pretty photo now — they want to know a part of you. On the Summer Fridays end — we know our community really well. We talk to them everyday, all day, responding to every message and making them part of our decisions in which products to create next. On that platform as well, we keep it real and don’t merely show models using our products.

C:
What’s the biggest misconception about what you do for a living?

M:
I think on the influencers side people think we just go to events and take pictures of ourselves, it’s so much more work then that. You’re a very small team of a handful of people but you are functioning just like any other editorial website online — you’re the model, photographer, editor, writer, videographer, the creative director, you’re coming up with the concepts, you’re posting the content, you’re the community manager, you’re the social media manager, you’re doing the PR for yourself, there are so many different jobs that go into being an influencer but I think that really helped us on the business side.  For Summer Fridays a misconception would be you just put out a product and it’s really easy, but there is a big team of people behind us and if it wasn’t for all of the people who do the work behind the scenes of Summer Fridays, there’s no way that it would even get on the shelves for people to try.

L:
Oh boy, there are so many misconceptions! I always joke that my life as an entrepreneur looks prettier on Instagram than it is in “real” life (LOL!) — it’s not really possible (nor that practical) to share every meeting, email exchange, brainstorming session, or red eye on social media. So I think there’s this assumption at times that businesses magically happen and we developed an idea overnight. But the truth is — and I try to remind people of this — everything you see takes days, months… even years to create. And for everything we said “yes” to, you’d be surprised to know the number of “no’s” that happened beforehand! My point is — don’t feel discouraged to create something if it feels like it’s hard or not happening fast enough. Patience fuels the greatest successes.

C:
How have other girl bosses inspired you?

M:
It’s been so amazing for people to sell at major retailers — like Jen Atkin, Huda Beauty — to go into somewhere like Sephora before we did. They showed retailers and traditional beauty experts that being an influencer can translate into real sales and into a real business. If it were not for the people that came before us, we may have not had the opportunity when we presented our brand because they might not have believed in the power of what we can do. It’s the brands that came before us we are super grateful for.

L:
I think as women founders, we are particularly grateful for the support we are receiving right now. It’s a remarkable time in history, I think, and one that our children will look back on someday and think “WOW, this is when we witnessed a major shift.” I always had the expectation that I would create a strong path for myself, but there were not necessarily a lot of female business owners that I knew and idolized. That’s changing for young women now, and I’m proud to share all of my roles with others — as a wife, a mother, a CEO, a friend, a daughter. I want us to let go of the idea that women have to choose one path or the other to be spectacular. Every journey is unique, and those choices are only ours to make.

C:
Do you feel a female community of support lifting you up each day or do you still feel there’s a competitive cattiness to the business? Be honest.

L:
I have had points of my career when I’ve felt overwhelmingly confident, and other times when I have questioned everything. When you’re in those low times, it’s easy to go down that scary path of comparing yourself to others and feeling “competitive.” But truly, once I let go of the pressure to have it alllll figured out, those feelings never returned and I felt free. We all benefit from the success of others! We want other beauty brands to soar, because that’s better for the beauty space as a whole, and therefore, better for us as both business owners and as consumers. There’s room for all of us to succeed, I don’t think success is granted by some vague scale of who “wins.” Instead, it’s granted to those who put their time into moving forward, creating ideas, and always working harder to do something rather than talk about something.

M:
We have a group called Founders Club and everyone is so helpful. I think this generation of women really understands supporting and helping each other out. They really get that, and it’s not a generation of competitiveness, it’s a generation of understanding if we all help each other out we will all be better. Especially in the beauty industry, people understand that no one uses all of one brand for their hair, skincare, make-up, their fragrance, body products — whatever it is people are using so many brands at once. It’s better to support each other and cross-promote each other because it’s just helping everyone support the industry as a whole.

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C:
The aesthetic of both of your personal brands and Summer Fridays is outstanding! Do you hire outside to establish this consistency or is it all self taught?

M:
It’s definitely all self taught, for us we know what we like for both of our personal brands and for Summer Fridays. We translate that through photos, graphics, emails, everything. I think as young female brand founders we are our target consumer, so when creating the concepts and the content for the brand we really try to keep it as stuff that we think would be cool and that resonates with us.

L:
Thank you!! A lot of thoughtful decisions go into our brands (both personal and on Summer Fridays). I think creating a mood board and having a clear vision of who you are talking to really helps. This industry is very self-taught! No one was blogging in this way before our generation, and I never even had Instagram until after college. I’ve learned along the way.

C:
Lauren, while your business is exploding you’re also a new mommy! How has the juggle been so far? What has surprised you most about motherhood?

L:
The timing has been pretty crazy! I never anticipated the business would grow as quickly as it has, all while raising a very young boy. I certainly have my days when I feel like a superhero for taking meetings, launching products and chasing my babe around at the park all in a 10-hour- span. And then other days, I wonder if I’m doing a terrible job at the juggle when I’m late to the office and I miss my son’s bedtime. But I have found peace in the imbalance of it all. More importantly, I am just so incredibly grateful for all of it, I don’t let a bad day resonate for too long. Prior to all of this, I remember the days when I dreamed to have more success at work, and when I dreamed of becoming a mother. I spent a lot of time praying for those roles, and I don’t take this moment in time for granted. I feel very fortunate, and not a day goes by I don’t look up to say thank you more than a few times. I have been most surprised at my ability to keep going. I will never have all the answers, and my schedule will never be perfect. But my son and I do have the perfect relationship, because it’s ours — and I believe that’s true of every mama out there. Your story is perfectly yours.

C:
Marianna, I feel like you are one of the OG bloggers and have been growing rapidly over the years. What’s the end all end all dream for your brand?

M:
For me the end all dream was Summer Fridays. I think this was always the goal that I was working towards and always something that I wanted to do and I am so glad that Lauren and I are doing it together because I love product, I love creating product, product development, branding, and marketing, social, photoshoots, and video shoots, I love doing all the aspects of that. The years of working and stuff I did for brands like creating content, it’s all taught me things I need to know getting up to this point. I still love to create content, I still have a passion for sharing things. I don’t think I’ll stop blogging and creating content and YouTube and social because I keep wanting to share things that I am obsessed with.

C:
For the next gen who is just starting out in the beauty world, what’s some key advice you would bestow on them? What do you wish you had known?

M:
When I first started out on blogging and YouTubing, you were either a blogger or a YouTuber and there were very few people who did both but I really felt passionate about both types of content. So I just did that not knowing it wasn’t common at the time to have both channels and I just went for it. I also didn’t fall into a pit of looking for what was trending on YouTube and mimicking that. I just shared the type of makeup that I liked, the type of skin care that I liked, how I like to do my hair and make-make-up and I really created a specific channel for myself of who I truly was. So I think if you’re starting in this industry do what works for you, don’t copy someone else because there are already somebody else who’s creating that content who’s shooting it in that way, or photographing in that way, so just do you and I think now with Instagram stories and YouTube, you really have a chance to show your personality off. So do that because people will connect with you more personally than just through photo content.

L:
I always tell people to love the process over the plan, because the industry is changing so quickly. A dream you have today might look drastically different in five years, and it’s important to have the flexibility to evolve quickly now. Don’t be afraid to change your path as the world around you changes. Also, don’t be afraid to keep trying different approaches. In beauty specifically, do what feels right to you rather than attempting to replicate the look or vibe of someone else.

C:
Who has the best red carpet glow in Hollywood?

L:
Margot Robbie is always glowing in my opinion!

C:
Who are you most looking forward to seeing walk the carpet at the Oscars?

L:
Halle Berry + Lady Gaga for her gown choice!

LAUREN

First thing you do in the morning?
Give my son a kiss on the forehead in his crib!

Fanny pack or dad shoes?
Fanny pack.

If you had one extra hour in the day,
sleep or work out?

Work out.

Girl crush?
Amber Fillerup.

What woman would you want to swap brains with?
Oprah, obvi!!!

Daily mantra?
The glass is half-full; there is always a solution.

Designer/brand you’d want to be buried in?
Chloe!

MARIANNA

First thing you do in the morning?
Make bulletproof coffee.

Vintage or new?
New.

Girl crush?
Victoria Beckham.

What woman would you
want to swap brains with?

Oprah.

Daily mantra?
Don’t be afraid to be told no.

If you had to use one beauty brand forever
for the rest of your life
(Other than Summer Fridays)
which brand would you pick?

Omg this is so hard but anything sold at Sephora!

Catt Sadler