Annie Lawless, founder of Lawless Beauty and co-founder of Suja Juice: When you take an investment, it's like a marriage.
Today's episode is brought to you by Sephora. They've got clean makeup. Meaning the beauty you on minus the ingredients you do not will explain in a bit but first. Let's get into the episode. You have to remember. You can get money from so many sources. There's only one you and one idea so you're actually the valuable one in the situation when you take an investment. It's like a marriage. I'm Carl Sagan. I'm Danielle Weisberg. Welcome to skin from the couch. This podcast is where we go deep on career advice from women who have lifted from the good stuff like hiring and growing a team to the rough stuff like negotiating your salary and giving or getting hard feedback. We started the skin from a couch. So what better place to talk it all out than where it began on a couch today. Any lawless joins us on skimmed from the couch. She's the founder of not one but two successful brands. Her most recent venture is lawless. Beauty a clean nontoxic cosmetic company before starting her makeup line any co-founded sujit juice one of the largest organic juice companies in the country with experience in two different industries and he has proven herself as an innovator and as a business leader any welcome to skim from the couch. Hi thank you for having me so first of all. I'm obsessed with your name. What a great last name. My last name people think it's not my real last name sometime but today I was GONNA ask. Yeah it is and I dropped out of law school. So it's kind of an interesting coincidence so I want you to just kind of the way we start all interviews which is skipping your resume for us okay. Yes so like I said I was in law school. I left Phoenix. I went to Arizona State where I grew up in two thousand and ten to start law school and I was pretty miserable and I knew I didn't want to be an attorney like a urine. I was like this is not for me so really. My First Post College job was Suda and that was the first company that I started with my partner at the time. Eric and it really didn't start with any goal to create some nationally distributed juice brand. It really was just a local delivery service. We just loved organic cold. Press juice and decided to start this little local service and it grew into what you know a sujit today and so that was really my first kind of project and then in twenty fifteen. We sold fifty percent thirty percent to cocoa a twenty percent to Goldman Sachs and. I decided that I really wanted to take my passion for health and wellness into another category. And so for me that was beauty. I obviously was so conscious of what I was consuming and I really cared about health and wellness. But I'm also a makeup girl and I love beauty. I love makeup. I love products and when I wanted to switch over to clean makeup I was just so underwhelmed by the pigment the coverage and the types of products that were available for a makeup girl so that was when I decided I wanted to start lawless which launched in twenty seventeen. And that's my current fulltime hundred percent. You know project an all in on right now. So what is something that is not as part of your scam or not on your linked in that we should know about you. I would say that I am a very. I wouldn't say highly anxious person but I have to be doing things at all times. Have a ton of hobbies. I do tons of yoga I read. I read like a new book a week. I'm always doing things I feel like even when I'm not working I'm always getting into some sort of project. The last book I read was actually a reread. And it's the secret because I wanNA talk any welcome so our people last year ask Carly and me. What were some like management books? We had read and I responded. The secret and it to me was really helpful. In how to think through manifesting visualization life. Yeah when we started the skin we were remains and we had a bookshelf with l sat books. Jerry Books G. Mat Bucks like all the things and then just the secret. That's a guy that we need to get this off the ground. Well I read it years ago when I really wanted to take the leap and drop out of law school. I didn't tell my parents. I was so nervous to take the next step and not know what I was going to be doing. I feel like when you're in school. You have this constant continuum of knowing after school. Then I'm going to get a job that I'm going to do this. I'm going to get promoted to this then and I was like for the first time. I don't know what I'm doing and that book helped me so much. What I put out there will come back to me if I just stick with my passions and aligned with my purpose and the things that interests me it all will fall into place. The universe well provide whatever it is that I'm supposed to be doing if I just keep waking up every day doing what I'm passionate about and it worked out and I know that sounds so cheesy but I wanted to read the power recently and I was like I really WanNa brush up and read the secret again. I saw my next book is the power so when you were growing up. He suffered from some health issues. That caused you to think about your health and body in new ways. Talk to us about that. Yeah so it was asthma. That was the biggest thing that I had since I was like a baby all the way through adolescence. It was all over my face my body my arms and it was really quite odd because most infants and toddlers grow out of eggs. Ma and I was getting to an age where I was really self conscious about it. I was in like I was about twelve so like middle school area worst age. Yeah and YOU START TO CARE. And so Pediatrician did an autoimmune panel and it turned out that asthma's autoimmune and so a seal EAC and so I had sealy act disease and I didn't even know what it was. I didn't know what gluten was back then. You couldn't order by any gluten free product so once I cut gluten out of my diet miasma completely cleared up and after years of using steroid creams interesting. So uncomfortable it was like this huge lightbulb moment for me that there's this direct correlation between what we consume and how we look and feel and that just caused me to like devour every nutrition book. I could get my hands on food book health and Wellness Book Cooking Book and that was ultimately how I got obsessed with juicing so I want you to take us back to what kind of mental space you were in when you came up with the idea for juice. It wasn't even really coming up with the idea like I'm going to start this brand and we're going to have it in grocery stores nationally. I was so obsessed with juice. I read every book by the Skydiver. Norman Walker who created the first cold press and he was the first pioneer to really taught the idea that juice could cure all these generative diseases and cancers and skin ailments and all sorts of things and so I was just you saying for fun and I was working the front desk at a Yoga Studio in La Hoya in San Diego and a guy. Can you are in law school at this point? No I had dropped his right after. You're right teaching. Yoga was kind of my way of doing something to fill my time and figure out what I wanted to do. And this guy's skated up on a skateboard to take class. And checking him in and he has a green juice in a glass bottle. And so did I. And so we strike up conversations so we ended up dating. We read hanger all the time. Make juice and just started this little local cult following of people who would ask us to make them Jews mostly through the Yoga Studio and then it just kind of by word of mouth grew in grill and so people would text us every Sunday their orders and then we would make it and deliver it. And that's actually how I met. My current husband is he ordered juice from me. Dafa and I delivered okay so four before we get into the business side. I just have to ask. What was it like starting a company with someone you were dating? It was rocky. I mean in the beginning. It's all sunshine and roses when things are great and you're getting along and you're in the honeymoon and you're excited about starting this new project together but we did end up breaking up. We're still great friends so everything turned out. Well I mean it's an evolution to get to that So in a Lotta ways. It's like co-parenting when you're divorced because you still have this baby doe working together. We were still working together and this was right when we launched in whole foods so we had a lot at stake. We have these huge opportunity is and so you kind of have to cut your emotions out and realize the bigger picture and that we both just want the same thing. We started this because we love juice. And now we're GONNA get it nationally distributed and be able to have other people experience the same type of product like we need to cut the crap that we have personally and just continue forward and there was a period of time. I was much more active in president and he kind of needed his time. But for great friends now and it all worked out. And there's obviously a big leap from year in a new relationship and you both have a hobby about making juice and sharing it with friends and customers of the studio and taking meetings a whole foods. What was the skill set that each of you brought to the table. That really started making this at business. Yes so eric. My original partner was relieve creative so he was really into the product the recipes Just a super creative guy and much more organized and analytic and I'm also very creative. I'm much more creative than I am like math science minded but I definitely was able to put a lot more of the business pieces in place. Initially we just had to investors who were local guys that had tried. The juice really loved it and wanted to know more about it and you know said. Hey we think we could really do something big at this and I think we were all thinking of the blueprint model where it was just like a national home delivery. I don't think thinking retail at this point and we only had a three day shelf life because it was an unpasteurized cold press juice and when whole foods approached us about the opportunity. They were just starting. I'm sure you guys have seen this. But there's like a little local signed by certain products that they have in store and it tells you how many miles away a little picture of who made their kind of just starting that initiative and they were looking for local brands that had unique ideas of products that they didn't currently have their assortment. So we said Hey. We only have a three-day shelf-life XYZ and they require thirty days and obviously selling unpasteurised product. Just the same way they don't sell. Jerry is a problem so we actually researched food preservation method called HP which is high pressure processing. Now lots of brands use it. But it's a way for juices to be essentially pressurized in an ice bath so that they stay raw so we employed that technology and we're able to launch in whole foods as a test and the southern Pacific region and then it did really well and within six months. They plus us out nationally to whole foods. Rich You I think. Initially we had a contact at whole foods that was interested and she kind of wanted to know more and then we were connected to kind of some higher up people and we pursued it pretty aggressively or you nervous or were you like no. We deserve this to happen this I yeah I think at the time I was really excited about the idea of doing it in my mind so much work needed to be done to make it happen. I never really got overly hopeful and kind of just was going down the path of exploring the relationship with them and figure out how we could make it. Work whole foods. Seems like such a big company. I didn't realize like Oh. They can just launch us in that in six months. They complex us out nationally. And so I don't think I understood the gravity of the opportunity when it first presented itself. I think that it was more. It'd be really cool. If we launched in whole foods you know. But I don't think I understood that it would really change the business and be that one moment. That really catapulted the brand to like national household name. How did you guys think about distinguishing suture juice in the beginning because you were right at the trend of what is now a very crowded market? Yeah and we were really lucky that we had great timing because at the time it wasn't a crowded market at the time. I don't believe blueprint was certified organic yet. They quickly became certified organic but I think when we launched we were the only certified organic brand secondly are blends so we did really unique blends at the time. I think blueprint was very straightforward. It was like Apple. Lemon beat you know and we did eight plus ingredients on a lot of juices inc things like turmeric you know Sour Cherry and all sorts of like really high antioxidant things And the flavors were really kind of had this little local cult following so we had a lot of unique juices that weren't in the typical assortment of other brands. And I think that set us apart and also just the story that we had founder story it was kind of this little local success thing that I think people really loved knowing about so we weren't just kind of this nameless faceless brand. Who did you turn to for advice as you started something? Got This incredible opportunity. And then you're negotiating or navigating. A sale process all pretty quickly. That's a really interesting question. And that's something I always get asked. I feel like a lot of times. People will say like who is Your Mentor. Or who did you look to? And if I'm just being completely honest I don't feel like I really had anybody. I was like twenty four at the time. None of my peers. Were doing anything similar. I feel like a lot of the older people in my life that I knew. Kind of pooh-poohed. This idea didn't really take me seriously what we were doing so I really just relied on my partner. At the time that we would just go back and forth and it's really just came down to ultimately trusting ourselves and figuring out what felt right. Sure you make tons of mistakes that way but I feel like it was the biggest period of growth because I was able to learn as I was doing things. And if anything didn't work out it was really on me which is kind of a cool thing because at least at the end of the day you think well it didn't work out but that was my decision. We are traveling all the time for work. All one thing that we are really obsessed with is thinking through what we put on our skin one. We are flying when we are travelling when we are on the road in so many places. It's really important that we keep ourselves healthy and we've started to think about. What does that actually mean regarding the products that we use on a daily basis and also because her skin just looks really bad when we travel so he loves using products. That are because we like to know. Now what's in them and we don't want to actually have to sacrifice the quality which I think is a big misnomer. I think about clean beauty. And that's something that we've really started to investigate in so lucky for all of us. This March sephora is raising the expectation on what clean can be yes. They have some amazing brands that are clean and thoughtfully made. Some of our favorites are bite. Ilia Kosas our Ms Beauty Tower Twenty eight and artsy so the products are packed. With good for you ingredients. They look good and they make you look good. It's great that one of our favorite stores Sephora is focused on clean beauty. We really appreciate that. I think that we are part of a generation. That's really thinking about what's going into the things we use every single day and it's great that we can get all the products that we really love without the ingredients that no one needs exactly so time for you to get the best in clean makeup at Sephora online and in store right now look for the green seal to know which products are clean at Sephora. Certified you started the conversation today talking about that. You have invited and that that you're anxious person. How did you overcome that to be able to channel trusting your gut and not leaning on mentors or support network? Yeah I actually think if you channel anxiety in the right way it can be a really powerful tool actually to keep you moving forward. It's sort of like this restlessness with me and if I kind of stopped focusing on fear and worry side of the anxiousness and more the restlessness of it it helps me make decisions and helps me be a little bit more maniacal about what I'm doing. Because I'm so fixated on the project and the end result so I feel like really dropping the fear and constantly coming back to that notion like in the secret that fears ultimately the only thing that holds you back. really helps me channel. Magsi more to like forward moving versus stagnancy. Let's talk about the sale. You make this huge shift in your life from dropping out of Law School. You start this you learn so much and then you're in a position where you step away. Was that hard initially. I think it was. It was both hard and it was both so simple and easy because it was clear that it was time for me to work on something new. I think when you start a business. It's so exciting in the beginning there so much work to be done there so much unknown. And there's this constant build build build. That's thrilling and then when a company grows and there's a lot more people involved the team as you know hundred plus people there's multiple investors. It's running it's business. As usual every day I felt kind of stifled like there. Wasn't anything left for me to really do back to the anxiousness. I was just ready. I was antsy to do something new and get up and go and so I think that was when it was clear to me. But there's always that bitter sweetness because you remember what it was in the beginning. It was like your baby. And you're kind of leaving your baby behind but it was good. How old were you when you salt? I was twenty seven. I believe twenty six or twenty seven and I want to give you a little bragging rights Edens sulfur. Small amount and the company was valued at three hundred million dollars. When you sold. That's extraordinary. You talk about you know you didn't have the mentors or the people who are maybe like the older people in your life that you would have gone to for advice. Kind of pooh-poohed. This was everyone's reaction. I think everyone was just really proud. I think it's also inspiring to other people because it's not like I'm this super knowledgeable business personnel trapped loss. Just knew exactly how to start a business and so I think that's kind of how we all are people don't understand you don't have to have a business plan to start a business. You don't really have to know what you're doing but there's this idea that you do and so I think that hinders people from just doing things. Because they feel like they're not in the position they don't know enough. They need that. Stay need more money and you don't and so I think it was just inspiring to a lot of people in my life who either had ideas or just felt like they were holding themselves back because they knew me and knew that. I didn't know what I was doing either. I mean we agree with you. Don't have to know everything before you start and you don't have to have your business plan totally baked. But what do you think you do have? We did not yet. We did. Not which is why we agree with you. But that's why you guys just did what you're passionate about and look at. Where so do you think the key is the passion? I think it's passion and also a uniquely differentiated idea. You need to find a white space in the market. Like what are you bringing? That's different and you have to really kind of know yourself on what you can do that. Someone else can't like what's your spin on something. What's your angle on something? What is it that you can bring to the table? That hasn't been seen or done. Because especially in products consumer products now are such a saturated world whether it's beauty whether it's food whether it's fashion you start to feel like everything's been done because kind has so unless you're going to do something a little bit different that you have this uniquely creative idea about even if it is in a category. That's been done. I think that that is your real sticking point. What was the white space you saw in beauty Sephora was doing this big push for clean skin care about three years ago? They had really brought on all these clean skin care brands and it caused me to switch over because I was starting to learn more about ingredients and I started really making my entire skincare routine clean and I was like. This is so crazy that I'm spending more on cleaned skin-care yet I'm so married to my makeup products that I love that. I'm putting all the ingredients back on my face. Five minutes later we might make up onto thinking about that but yeah it makes no sense if you really look in the mirror. It's like what this makes no sense so I was like okay. I'm going to try to switch over to clean makeup and when I was playing with it all I was just like this is just not my journey. I am not a no makeup makeup girl. I'm not going for the natural luck. I were full face of makeup every day I like full coverage and so when I kind of saw okay. If that's what clean makeup is this is why clean skin cares. Happened and clean. Makeup hasn't is because there's nothing over here for the makeup girl that's going into Sephora buying fancy Hooda all these brands she's not GonNa look clean because that's not the type of makeup. She's after and myself included so that was when I realized okay. There's definitely a white space in clean. And I want to kind of redefine what people think of when they think of clean and create products for the girl that isn't necessarily looking for clean makeup. But it's just such a great product that she is into it anyway. Can you just for our listeners? Just explained what makes a beauty company clean? That's a great question because it's kind of undefined. Right now Sephora has their clean seal which does clearly delineate which ingredients cannot be included to be a clean brand but every brand different so me for example. I don't use silicone in any of my products some of the clean foundations. Do I personally. Don't so talk is a big one for me. Obviously parabens for me synthetic fragrance. Because it's a big way that brands can hide ingredients and then a lot of them can be allergens or irritants so I really wanted to be transparent about what's in the product I said. Oh to Kane it's a preservative that's Houston a lot of foundations but actually can corrode plastic That's why most foundations are in glass. Bottles those are like my top line things that I really tried to avoid. So how did you get up to speed on all of this just through research in Google and my own personal lake fascination with just ingredients it really started with skin care when I was researching for myself of cleaner products to to buy and reading all sorts of blogs and you know journals about different ingredients and what wasn't wasn't clean and then when I was formulating my makeup I kind of use that list of things that I really was avoiding in my skin care in my line for my makeup and then every time a lab would send me a formula and I didn't understand her known ingredient I would go on e? Wg which kind of just ranks ingredients by how toxic they are and what they've been linked to just kind of do my own research that way and understand what was the function of this ingredient. Where did it come from so I just did a lot of research really through Google and just learning that way? I love makeup. I love skin care and for me. It seems overwhelming. How do you advise people who are starting off in this trying to navigate this world trying to make good decisions? But also you know aren't as obsessed where. They're googling all day long. Where do you start? I think that things like this before clean sale. Make It really easy because you don't really have to read the ingredients if you know what isn't is included part of the seal. You can just use that as your little guide. I also think like what's important to you. You don't have to clean overnight. I don't make everything in my line because for example I haven't nailed a clean Mascara. I've been working on it for two years but I am not going to launch something just to launch it if I don't feel like I'm going to use it instead of my conventional favorites so for me. It's really like don't be hard on yourself and don't go in being like. I have to go all or nothing. Just pick up a few products. Do you care most about what touches your skin directly than your base product. Just make some small changes and adapt at your own pace for what you're comfortable with and slowly but surely you'll find some of those like hidden gems that you are discovering through the process that you really love what our mistakes that you made at. Souda that you have avoided making the score around. This is an interesting one. I would say just choosing partners wisely through Soochow multiple rounds of investment. But I think initially you know I went in wanting to scale this business and wanting to grow and you have to remember. You can get money from so many sources. There's only one you and one idea so you're actually the valuable one in the situation at when you take an investment. It's like a marriage so you really wanna get to know each other. You WANNA understand it. All the time that you're aligned with your vision for the business because if you're not there will be had spudding. There's no way out of it. Their money's in you can't just you know cut you raise capital or gone capital differently. Yes so this time around. It took me two years to get capital. I really wanted to get my foundation belts. Really figure out how I wanted. This brand the literal founding literally kind of tended. I wanted to figure out like what this brand was. Who Am I? Who's the span and kind of got established before bringing anyone else in and just this past December? I completed my series. Say and it took congratulations. Thank you. It took months of back and forth with many different investors to spend a lot of time with people. I moved slow to really. Just make sure that. I was aligned and comfortable and I went with call capital and that's not see firm that's a private equity is the private equity firm and I couldn't love them more. I'm been here in New York. I hung out with them yesterday. Like I text them all day. Did you want to work with private equity over venture capital you know? I didn't know I wanted to. I took meetings with both. I think it was more the personality fit for me and really understanding what the relationship would be. That made me feel much more comfortable than anything else. It's interesting I'm listening to you. Tell your story. It's very obvious why you're successful and you very clearly breakdown. Complex issues in a way that they're easily accessible and it becomes a consumer product. What are you not good at a so? I'm really good at the plumbing side of the business like I'm the creative person I love makeup. I Love Product. I want to be in stores. At sephora. I want to be making tutorials. That's my passion so it's tough for me especially I'm the CEO and we're just in the middle of hiring president but right now I'm working on a lot of things I hate doing and I know I'm not the best person for the job. My brother new hate. I hate like finance numbers Wade through your brother. Can we ask him director? Come join us. What was any like growing up like? Did you think that she was going to become you? Tell your knees entrepreneur. Is David older younger brother younger? I'm actually the youngest in our family so we have an older sister as well okay. Is this your favorite sister? She's definitely moment so growing up. Anne and I had kind of a special relationship. Our parents got divorced when we were super young. And Andy kind of assumed the role as being the mother of me. So it's kind of been that way with us. We've had a special bond you know ever since we were little. What's it like to work together? It's interesting I was. I was an investment banker for like five years. We were thinking about working together when she first started the business and she approached me at a point in my career where I still felt like. I had some things that I wanted to accomplish. I told her I wasn't quite ready. Working Twenty hour days for years on end to kind of took its toll after awhile and turned into me kind of calling her and begging her seeing if the position was still open. And you know I had the skill set those right at the time. Just kind of helping us with our first capital raise and I would say as a boss. She's definitely tough but keeps me on my toes. What really ticks off. She's very unique in terms of how much energy she has She's so vivacious and I for one like get tired when I travel I what a unique quality you have I I think just like keeping up with tough and she can go on one hour asleep and do a podcast and then she's going to run to like three other meetings today like she's pregnant. It's pretty ridiculous. The amount of things that she's able to accomplish in a day and surely doesn't show any signs of stress. You're wearing yeah this time for our favorite segment the lightning round anti. What was your first job anthropology working retail? But you're going to see any anthropology major worst job real estate. What is the first one call you make or who? Is it too and you get good news. David my brother. What about when you have bad news my husband? When was the last time you negotiated for yourself yesterday? What you negotiate. I'm in the middle of hiring a president so kind of with my investors negotiating the personalities. I've ever and figuring out things. I wasn't wasn't willing to sacrifice. What's your biggest Vice Shopping David? What is big space bags? What is the last show? You watched real housewives of New York season like six with an older season. I respect that David. Why does the sister Lee annoying thing that he does? She definitely prize in my personal life. What's the last sibling fight? You had not about work. Nothing really comes to mind like we definitely have work related moments of tension but it really only lasts a short period of time. And then we talk it out like we'd otherwise you guys. This is such a healthy relationship. What's your shameless plug? Go by lawless. At Sephora. We're all over the country so fifty four doors otherwise go to support. Dot Com awesome guys. Thank you so much. What a treat dav-david tank you. Thanks for hanging out with us. Join US next week for another episode of skin from the couch. And you can't wait until then subscribe to our daily email newsletter that gives you all the important news and information. You need to start your day sign about the Skim Dot Com. That's the S. K. I. M. Dot Com. M's for a little something extra.