Karolyn Stayer worked for beauty brand philosophy for over 10 years. During that time, as a working mom handling the complicated balance of kids and career, she knew that bath time was special. "When I was working full-time crazy hours at philosophy, the time I arrived home was usually about the time the kiddos were headed to the bath. Bath time became our connection point each night," she says.
Now that her kids are 10 and 7, she says they still prefer a "nice warm bubbly bath over a shower," and that she still sits on the side of the tub, talking to them about their day, asking "What was a rose, what was a thorn?" She says it's also the time they chat about the values printed on the side of be good bottles.
be good is Karolyn's first entrepreneurial venture, started in 2014. It is "a socially conscious, next generation for this generation, personal care company." Born from Karolyn's desire to create something of her own as well as "the need to create clean, safe, virtue-based products," the company focusses on messaging like "be good," "be honest," and "be polite."
We talked with the entrepreneur about first ventures, hearing more "no" than "yes," and why be good's virtue-based messaging is its point of differentiation.
You did marketing and development for "one of the most beloved brands in cosmetics" for 10+ years, and were then inspired to create be good based on your experience. What would you say was the trigger that made you go the entrepreneurial route?
My desire to express my own creative ideas coupled with my desire for more flexibility in my schedule that allowed me to be there for my children was a huge motivation for me. Philosophy was created and built by one of the smartest, most amazing women I know who is very much a mentor to me. I loved the brand and culture she created. She inspired me. I figured if she could do, I could do it, and she has always been so supportive of me and be good. I think I’ve always had the desire to create something on my own. My dad and brothers have their own business and I think it’s in the blood. Ultimately I’d love to see be good grow into a brand that gives back in meaningful ways and fosters a corporate environment for women where they can thrive professionally while balancing home life. I believe it is possible!!
How did you go from idea to product? How involved were you in the testing phase?
Once you’ve got the idea, the first piece of advice I received was to protect it. I had the name and the idea for years before I was ever in a situation where I could actually move into development. There was a lot of sketching on pads of paper, coming up with names, color palette, product assortment. I did a lot of consumer research with my mommy friends to get an idea of what they felt was missing and what they wanted from children’s products. Once I knew what I wanted, I began creating a product brief that captured what I wanted the formulas to look, feel, and smell like. I knew I wanted these formulas to be as clean and safe as possible without sacrificing product performance. Once that brief was submitted, there is a lot of back and forth between me, the chemist, as well as a group of mom and child testers to continue to tweak and adjust until we got it to the perfect place.
"I wanted these formulas to be as clean and safe as possible without sacrificing product performance."
Is be good your first entrepreneurial venture, or have you given entrepreneurship a try before? What other entrepreneurial ideas did you have in mind?
Be good is my first entrepreneurial venture. However, I do have my own marketing consulting company as well. For now, be good occupies the bulk of my brain power, but I’m always looking for white space in the market and where there might be real needs not being met by the consumer. I love ideas!!!
Describe being a "mom-preneur" in three words:
Challenging. Satisfying. Motivating.
You have a solid foundation in the beauty biz, but when you strike out on your own there are always new challenges and surprises. What are some of the things that you had to learn?
I’ve learned to be much more thick-skinned, extremely determined, and open minded. So far with be good, I’ve received a lot more "no's" and very few "yes’s." I thought I knew exactly where these products would go. I’ve been wrong — a lot of the time. You just can’t give up and you have to believe. We still have such a long way to go. It’s been a big lesson in patience, my expectation on how long it would take for things to happen was WAY off. I now know timing is everything and be good will have its day in the sun right when it's supposed to happen.
What would you say other moms who are looking to take the entrepreneurial route?
I say you have to go for it. Even though getting be good off the ground has been much more difficult than I expected, I know I would have lived in regret had I not decided to act on my dream. If it fails, so be it. I’m OK with failure - as long as I can say that I gave it my very best shot. I just don’t think I could have lived with myself if I never gave the idea a chance.
Where do you see be good in 5 years?
I’d love to see be good with an expanded personal care offering that includes tween skincare. I see be good doing good by giving back to the world in meaningful ways that help children. I’d also love to see the idea expand into other categories outside personal care.
Learning from the mistakes of your competitors is important. What would you say that you do better than your competitors?
I think our packaging is what truly sets us apart. It is sweet and charming and appeals to mom’s sense of style and children’s sense of discovery. The virtue-based messaging is so relevant right now. We are trying to teach our kids about good choices and about putting kindness and love in this world. Goodness know the world needs more good now more than ever. If I can champion that movement with fantastic products that are safe for our children and that bring happiness to our homes, I would be one satisfied mama!
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