If you're wondering how Gwyneth Paltrow manages to always look so good, it might have something to do with Juice Beauty, a company that she is an investor in. For the what's what on organic beauty and for an inside look at the brand's San Francisco office, we sat down with founder & CEO Karen Behnke.
What was your first job?
When I was 15, I pressed decals onto t-shirts at one of those instant t-shirt stands. Maybe that was actually the start of my beauty career as I received quite a "steam facial" daily from the machine with every decal pressed!
How did you get started in your career?
The first company I started was at age 22. It was an aerobics exercise business where I landed the U.S. Army contract for Northern California teaching fitness for various divisions of the Army. Next, I started my corporate wellness company that provided onsite wellness programs to major, California corporations. Then I went into the beauty industry.
What is a typical day like for you?
I get up at around 7 a.m., then I head out to run, bike or swim for an hour. Sometimes I take morning phone meetings on one of our decks overlooking the San Francisco Bay. Product development, marketing and sales meetings follow. I either speak with Gwyneth Paltrow, our business partner, or someone on her Goop team about our many pending projects. Usually mid-day I will walk a few blocks to our local Whole Foods for lunch, generally with one of the dogs in our office.
Tell us about your office décor. When did you last give your office a makeover?
Juice Beauty has only been in our office location for just a year and I feel like we are still designing the space! We completely sustainably-refurbished a former grocery store (with a beautiful, barrel ceiling) into an open, working space with plant walls and an outdoor-garden, sitting area. It's bright, airy and loaded with Juice Beauty products.
What inspired you to launch Juice Beauty?
Although I was specializing in nutrition and fitness, I had never paid attention to the ingredients in the beauty products that I was putting all over my face and body. So when I became pregnant, it was the first time I actually read a beauty product label. I was astounded to learn that although the skin can absorb over 60% of what is placed on it, there were very few available personal care products that worked well. My entrepreneurial "juices" kicked in and I thought, I can do this better!
What are the benefits of organic cosmetics over regular products?
Since we don't use inexpensive fillers such as petroleum, glycols or added water, our products are packed with nutrients so every antioxidant-rich drop can feed your skin. Our goal is for Juice Beauty products to work as well as, if not better than, conventional products because of our antioxidant-rich botanical juice base and highly-effective ingredients.
What beauty tips do you always tell your friends?
Drink a ton of water, exercise daily, sleep and establish a great cleanse/treat/moisturize organic skincare routine. My friends always rave after they break their addiction to conventional, chemical brands and all that petroleum, artificial dyes and fragrance. I can really see rejuvenated and glowing skin after just a few weeks with Juice Beauty.
What's the best part about your job?
Listening to our customers when they rave about our products, but also when they suggest changes. I also love our incredible employee and management team—they amaze me every day with their motivation and inspirational work.
What's the most daring career risk you've ever taken?
Buying the name "Juice Beauty" and starting it from scratch to compete with the corporate beauty giants. Although I meticulously planned the formulations and collections for our beauty products, I can't say I ever stop to think about the corporate giants that are my competitors.
Who are some of your career heroes?
I love Mia Hamm and all of her great tips on winning—my daughter introduced me to her career. I also love Andrew Grove's advice: "if you're wrong, you will die. But most companies don't die because they are wrong; most die because they don't commit themselves. They fritter away their valuable resources while attempting to make a decision. The greatest danger is in standing still."
What is the best piece of advice you've ever received?
Follow your passion. I can't remember who said it to me first but that's what I've done and that's what I tell everyone to do, as it's served me well.
Finish the sentences below:
Today for lunch I had… Whole Foods organic salad bar greens with beans and vegetables, Honest Tea and organic raspberries. I generally top off my lunch with a bit of chocolate.
The first website I log onto every day is… Juicebeauty.com and Juice Beauty's Facebook page.
My favorite lipstick shade is… I can't wait to tell you as Juice Beauty's Phyto-pigments makeup collection is coming soon under the creative direction of Gwyneth Paltrow, our business partner.
One of my favorite shades is actually one of our lip stains named, well, "Gwyneth".
If I wasn't doing this job, I would… be starting another mission driven business.
My favorite place to visit is… The farms where we source our organic ingredients, anywhere in the minimally developed coastlines of California and Italy.
List five things that are on your desk right now… Juice Beauty's Stem Cellular Moisturizer, Juice Beauty's Hydrating Mist, multiple lip crayons from our new Phyto-Pigments makeup collection about to be released, organic tea and my MAC.
The book I'm reading right now is… Annie Lamott's Small Victories but I have Elon Musk's book sitting on my bedside…can't wait to read it.