Saturday 14 December 2013

Interview: Jane Wurwand

Jane Wurwand isn't just the founder of one of the world's best skincare brands (Dermalogica, if you're wondering), she is an inspiration to women everywhere. Known for championing female entrepreneurship, Jane founded Dermalogica FITE (Financial Independence Through Entrepreneurship) in 1999. FITE is a foundation that works to empower women entrepreneurs globally, through various different support systems.

I got the opportunity to interview Jane and, as sycophantic as it sounds, I felt honoured to pick her beauty brain. So sit back and enjoy our little chat...

Jane Wurwand Interview

What inspired you to work in the beauty industry? And how did your career journey begin?

I was 13 when I started in the business. I wanted to work because I wanted money to buy David Bowie records! I began as a Saturday Girl, sweeping up hair cuttings in the local salon in Broadstone, Dorset. I then would pick through the huge box of hair-cuttings, pull out all the hair-pins, sterilize the pins, put them into boxes, put the boxes on the trolleys and send the trolleys out onto the floor for the hairdressers - only to do it all over again! This was still the age of the bi-weekly updo in the small town in England where I grew up, where the work of Mr. Sassoon hadn't quite reached yet!

What is your career highlight?

My career highlight, one of many, has been being called upon by President Bill Clinton as a thought leader. I participated in the Clinton Global Initiative and spoke at the United Nations on the subject of women's equality in the workplace. It is an honor to speak on behalf of the professional skin care industry which puts more women into their own business than any other, for which I am very proud. This is also related to another highlight, the founding of Dermalogica's women's initiative, Financial Independence Through Entrepreneurship [FITE]. This initiative is a global program for women all over the world, empowering women, girls and communities everywhere, especially in developing countries. We have funded close to 40,000 women to grow their own business in the past 3 years alone.

What advice would you give to someone wanting to succeed in the beauty industry?

My advice to someone starting out is to make sure that you're in it for the long haul. The rewards are very tangible, but this business is one where you must prove yourself and earn your place by standing on your feet and working with your hands, as well as your mind and spirit, every day. 

This is not an industry where there is immediate superstardom. Really, I think very few jobs can realistically offer that immediate gratification, however it is surprising how many people do expect it, and give up when they aren't on the cover of VOGUE the first year. Also, be prepared to invest in your own ongoing education, from the beginning. It is the only way that you will keep your edge. Almost every 'name' that you know in the industry worked their way up from the ground floor and have a passion for the business as a result.

Who is the ultimate beauty icon?

The ultimate beauty icon for me is Vidal Sassoon. He was so creative, so real, hard working, disciplined and such a visionary. He sensed what women really wanted - which was freedom and a sense of control over their own futures. This is what everyone wants, and I'm not just talking about our hair! And his genius was that he created an entire industry by flipping the paradigm. 

Salon-owners attacked Sassoon when he suggested that the woman could wash and condition and style her own hair at home between salon-visits, which could then be spaced to every 6 weeks instead of weekly. Then Sassoon introduced his other idea: retail products that the consumer could buy for herself at the salon. This was a light-bulb moment which created an entirely new industry.

Vidal Sassoon
Vidal Sassoon
What are your makeup bag essentials?

My makeup bag essentials are Dermalogica Special Cleansing Gel, SkinPerfect Primer SPF30 and Power Rich because I travel so much. Also I live in Los Angeles and Santa Barbara, where the weather is usually quite dry and bright, so I need to keep my lipid-layer intact. I also never leave the house without the perfect black mascara and a good lipstick, usually brick-red.

What is the biggest beauty crime a person can commit?

The biggest beauty crime a person can commit is, of course, not protecting their skin against the sun. We all need to do this every day, even if we live some place where it's often foggy, grey or overcast. We also need to do this even if we spend much of our time indoors - this goes for men as well as women. That weathered, tan look really is just so over. Even Mick Jagger exfoliates.

What is your top beauty tip?

My top tip is to remember that your skin is alive and your hair and nails are not - this is a fact! Women may spend a fortune on their nails and hair and buy many related products that are backed by marketing jargon about 'health'. However the fact is, something which is deceased cannot be healthy or unhealthy - it is simply dead. Hair is dead - it lives beneath the surface in the follicle, however what we see is an organic by-product of a living process, which has ceased. It is important to take care of your hair and nails, however your skin is living and warrants more attention and service. Women will easily spend hundreds on cut, colour, blow-out and gel manicure but wash their face with deodorant soap they share with others in the shower. 

My beauty tip is: place priority on your skin with a quality liquid cleanser, exfoliant, moisturiser, toner, serum, SPF and regular trips to a licensed skin care professional for a consultation and ongoing care.
Dermalogica collection

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