Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey in personal care but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Lisa Strain, Co-Founder of Kari Gran Skincare, located in Seattle, WA, USA.
What's your business, and who are your customers?
I’m the co-founder of Kari Gran Skincare. For over ten years, we’ve been pioneers in the clean beauty space. Kari (other co-founder) and I were friends from our real estate days. We jumped into the heavily competitive beauty industry as a second career without any experience in e-commerce. Whew, we definitely have had to learn as we grow.
When we started Kari Gran, I was in my 50s, and Kari was in her 40s. Our customers reflect us, women over 40 who are looking for effective, straightforward solutions for their changing skin due to natural estrogen depletion (aka dry skin). Our simple oil-based formulas focus on health and hydration, not youth and perfection.
Tell us about yourself
Well, I’ve led many career lives all in Seattle (my hometown). In my teens, I worked at my father’s glass business and at Nordstrom, where I learned the value of customer service. After college, I worked in advertising. One of my customers was Roman Meal bread, if you remember them.
I then moved to real estate and spent 20 years selling high-end homes. I’m extremely self-motivated and have a true entrepreneurial spirit. The saying at Kari Gran Skincare is that Kari is the inventor, and I’m the instigator.
What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?
Making payroll for ten years. Anyone with employees will completely get this—it’s the pressure that never goes away, but another big accomplishment is holding to our core philosophies from day one. We’re a simple, natural, and purposeful company. Kari is the formulator and manages the product side. My heart has been on our impact on the environment and giving back to our community. From day one, we’ve used sustainable packaging, recycled, and worked with partners who also share our philosophy.
In fact, we once turned down a major retailer because they wanted to individually polybag lip whips for shipment. And we’ve never produced a plastic sample pack. I’m also a firm believer in giving back to our community. We tend to give more to the gritter organizations. As we say, we might be small, but small can be mighty too. You are never too small to give and help.
What's one of the hardest things that come with being a business owner?
One of the hardest has been being a woman-run business and trying to raise investment money. It’s a sobering fact that women-owned businesses attracted only 2.3% of venture investment dollars in 2020, and that was down from the HIGH of 2.8% the year before. It’s hard for women to get funding, yet women-owned businesses have a higher success rate.
What are the top tips you'd give to anyone looking to start, run and grow a business today?
- As my gramma Margie would say, it’s not for sissies.
You must love “the win” but still be able to pick yourself up after a real trouncing and try again.
- You can’t keep your failures a secret because that will eat away at your confidence. Own it and move on.
- Let go of the belief that a founder manages all the big thinking and decision-making. Every job within the business must be done. Nothing is above or below what a “title” dictates.
Where can people find you and your business?
If you like what you've read here and have your own story as a solo or small business entrepreneur that you'd like to share, then please answer these interview questions. We'd love to feature your journey on these pages.
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