When Marcia Kilgore debuted Bliss Spa in the mid-1990s, she turned the business upside down. Since then, she has successfully launched five ventures in the beauty and wellness industries.
Kilgore’s big shoe moment came in 2007 with the debut of FitFlop, sold today in more than 60 countries. Uma Thurman serves as brand spokesperson for its spring ’18 campaign. Kilgore’s most recent startup, Beauty Pie, a luxury cosmetics business at discount prices, launched in 2016.
Always contemplating her next act, Kilgore provides valuable advice for how to survive — and thrive — as an entrepreneur in today’s complex retail climate.
WHAT TO DO
1 “Read as many books as you can, by people who’ve done what you want to do in your field or other fields. Find out how they process things, deal with adversity and navigate ups and downs. Nothing beats experience. If you’re humble enough to absorb advice from people who are kind enough to write about their journey, you’ll be miles ahead on your own.”
2 “Finance your idea [personally] for as long as you can. It keeps you real. It makes you understand where the money is going. Business is all about allocating resources to the most effective, most efficient purpose, to get you to the end goal fastest. Nobody learns as quickly when dealing with somebody else’s money. The pain you go through from spending your own, that’s what learning comes from. If you’re struggling, ask yourself, ‘Why is this happening for me? — rather than, ‘Why is this happening to me?’”
3 “[Psychologist, author and Wharton School professor] Adam Grant says people who make the best entrepreneurs generally have an in-depth knowledge of their own field but at the same time a broad knowledge base around many others. To start something new is easier if you’re an expert but at the same time an outsider. You want to be skeptical and broad, to be able to poke holes in how people are doing things and find that magic opportunity.”
4 “Hire people who already have done what you need done. Hope is great, but it can also be expensive. When you’re interviewing people, ask them to detail how they’re going to do what they say they’re going to do. Everybody can talk, some people can really talk, but not that many can execute.”
WHAT NOT TO DO
1 “Don’t believe that because you’ve got integrity and made an oral agreement, other parties are going to honor it. Get it all, no matter how small, in writing. People’s memories can be funny when things go from small to viable and lucrative.”
2 “Don’t hire friends hoping that because you love them, and they’re smart and funny, they’ll be good at a particular role. It’s tempting but deadly.”
3 “If you put a lot of like-minded people on your board of directors, no matter how natural and empowering it may seem, they end up nodding at each other without the incredibly necessary devil’s advocate input.”
4 “Don’t believe that just because you aren’t the strongest voice in the room, you’re not right. If you know something’s, it’s your responsibility to be as loud and as vocal as everybody else out there.”
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