Create & Cultivate 100: Small Biz: Lesley Thornton

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Lesley Thornton was disappointed in the way the beauty industry was doing things. Representation was barely present, if at all, and almost none of the products had sustainable or ethical intentions behind them.

So, she decided to do something about it.

She gained her esthetician’s license in 2010 and started doing things her own way. She created skincare products made to nourish the skin while keeping the planet in mind. But she wanted to take it a step further. So, she founded Klur to equip consumers with empowering skincare routines and skincare education. 

Now, the industry is taking notes from her.

Thornton knows how easy it is to feel like you’re floundering when you’re a small business in a saturated industry like beauty, but she’s proof that, when you’re driven by your purpose, stand by your values, and celebrate your losses like you would your wins, no one can stop you from achieving success.

Take us back to the beginning—what was the lightbulb moment for KLUR and what inspired you to pursue this path? 

There was no singular lightbulb moment. It was an accumulation of decades of separate experiences. I’d been in the beauty industry for twenty years. I had always been passionate about making people feel beautiful. I started as a makeup artist which got me to a certain point, but being a makeup-expert didn't provide me with knowledge of skin function, ingredients, or skin therapies. So, to increase my understanding of those processes, I studied to become a Licensed Esthetician focusing on skin-care education and product development. All of which inspired my entrepreneurial path to build Klur. 

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How are you making a difference with KLUR and pushing your industry forward? 

If I followed the industry model in order to push it forward—as you ask—I would have had to conform to industry standards, and Klur wouldn't be what it is. So far, everything I've done is completely the opposite of what makes a beauty brand successful. 

My intentions have always been to do things differently: I set out to build the brand I had expected but never experienced, a brand that is thoughtful, inclusive, and well-considered. 

We, as entrepreneurs, should think less about our impact within our industries and more about building community. If that pushes an industry forward, then great. However, it's not my job to push the industry; my goal is to stay true to myself and continue to create with passion and integrity, and hopefully, the industry follows. 

Entrepreneurship is all about taking calculated risks—What’s the most pivotal risk you’ve taken, and how did it change your path?

My biggest risk was self-funding Klur and using my small savings as capital. I’m certainly glad that I took this risk because I was more determined than ever to make it work. But I had no one else to lean on if things didn't work out. My path was based on self-reliance, and learning my business inside and out helped me to carve out a lane of my own.

2020 presented everybody around the globe with new, unprecedented challenges. How did you #FindNewRoads + switch gears towards your new version of success?

I have always believed in the power of e-commerce and a digital community. And thus, I designed Klur as a DTC brand operating solely in this space. So, fortunately, I didn't have to switch gears too much. However, 2020 taught me that learning to pivot is a real skill. Leaning into our online community and building online relationships is more important than ever and essential to our current and future success.

Going after what you deserve in life takes confidence and guts. Does confidence come naturally to you or did you have to learn it? What advice can you share for women on cultivating confidence and going after their dreams?

I've always been a fairly confident and resilient person. I grew up doing pageants and that taught me immense confidence from a very young age. My advice to all entrepreneurs, especially those who identify as a woman, is to own your journey and to not compare your dreams to others. Remember, your dreams belong to you, and no one can see your vision the way you do. 

It’s easy to celebrate the wins, but how do you handle failure or when something hasn’t worked out for you?

For me, failing is R&D, and it's just part of my process. I don't fear failure. In fact, I have learned to intelligently navigate failure by celebrating my wins and my losses. 

What advice do you have for other entrepreneurs? How can they achieve the same success you've experienced?

Entrepreneurship is an individual journey. No person's journey can be replicated. However, all successful entrepreneurs have one thing in common: they never give up, and that is the best advice I can give to anyone who embarks on an entrepreneurial journey.

Minimize the distractions and keep going.

What's the one productivity tip or work hack that truly changed your life?

Without a doubt, food preparation has changed my productivity. I wake up and cook my meals for the day first thing in the morning. Planning out my food is essential to maintaining a solid schedule, optimal health, and it allows me to practice gratitude before I begin my day. I’m focused, balanced, less stressed, and constantly energized—and thus—much more productive. 

What is the #1 book you always recommend and why?

The Power of Broke by Daymond John. 

It's incredibly inspiring and informative for anyone who wants to pursue entrepreneurship! 

If you could go back to the beginning of your career journey—with the knowledge you have now— what advice would you give yourself?

Don't waste time. It's the only thing that you cannot get back.

Fill in the blanks:

When I feel fear, I am close to…

Something great.

To be successful, you need to take…

Time to learn your craft.

If there were more hours in the day… 

I’d sleep in.

The three qualities that got me to where I am today are…

Tenacity, endurance, independent thought.

The change I’d like to see in my industry…

Is exactly what I am creating with Klur.

 

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