Karuna Celebrates International Women’s Day

March is Women’s History Month and we’re here to celebrate all the amazing girls and women in our community! In honor of International Women’s Day, we’re checking in with our founder, Linda as she shares her journey navigating the world of business ownership and leadership as a female minority in the ever-changing world of beauty. From inspirations and life lessons to tips for success, check out our 10 Questions with Linda below!

  • What’s the story behind starting Karuna?
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    I’ve always been drawn to anything beauty or fashion-related and that passion eventually led to my career as a fashion buyer before starting my own company. While I was on a trip back to Taiwan, I discovered sheet masks and a lightbulb immediately went on inside my head! The serum-soaked cloths reminded me of a childhood experience I had had with a doctor when trying to deal with my eczema. He had advised me to apply ointment to the problem area but then cover it with plastic wrap to speed up the penetration and results. It sounded crazy at the time but it worked! When I thought more about it, that same principle applied to these sheet masks. It finally made total sense to me and ultimately inspired me to start Karuna! 

     

  • Starting your own business must come with some pretty interesting stories! What are some interesting ones that stand out for you?
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    Let’s just say there are many interesting stories that come along with building your own business! A lot of my stories have to do with the trials and tribulations that come with the entrepreneurial journey - some funny, some challenging but they’re all exciting in their own way and definitely build character. One that sticks out to me, in particular, is when I had to recall a product because of a packaging defect. The bigger issue though was that is was right after my Hong Kong press event for it! I remember feeling super stressed and devastated because I was so new to this world of “beauty brand owner” and didn’t have the experience yet to deal with these types of situations. Fortunately, the retailer understood, we were able to get them everything they needed and it all worked out in the end but talk about a learning experience, right? I've come to an understanding that falling is just a part of the entrepreneurial process.  These experiences just make you stronger. 

     

  • Was there a moment in the beginning when you got the feeling that your business was really starting to take off?
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    I feel so lucky that there have been a couple “tipping points” in my career. I’d say the first big one happened in 2014 about 5 years after I initially launched Karuna. Sheet masks were really starting to take off and gain traction in the beauty industry and because Karuna was one of the first brands to bring sheet masks into the category, we saw huge momentum. 2021 was also a big tipping point year for both brands with additional retail expansion and brand awareness. We expanded Avatara into additional mass retailers like Target and Walmart and launched Karuna’s everyday skincare line into Whole Foods! That was particularly exciting because it took the brand into a whole new category: daily essentials. What I’ve learned from these two experiences is that hard work will absolutely pay off if you keep at it and don’t give up! Success may take a little longer than we like sometimes but it DOES come around. Just don’t lose momentum when you see the success! Use that tipping point to push harder, take advantage of that momentum and propel your business forward.

     

  • What was your support system like?
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    I’ve had so many lucky stars helping me along the way that it’s impossible to pick just one person! Both personally and professionally, I feel very fortunate that through every step and stage of my journey, there have been amazing individuals there to help support my growth and both brands’ growth. That includes every single one of our customers who provide feedback, engage with us and love us as much as we love them.

  • How do you keep your business fresh and exciting?
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    Beauty is constantly changing and it’s important to stay up with new innovations but even more important to stick to values. When I’m creating new formulas I, of course, take into account new ingredients, trends, and technologies but they always have to meet two additional criteria: 1. Do they align with what each brand stands for and 2. Is it something that will resonate with our customers? Being overly trend-focused can put you at risk of losing your identity and losing trust with your customers. For me, validating new developments with a wide range of team and customer feedback is super important.  A great innovation means a combination of amazing formulas, interesting and efficacious ingredients, eye-catching packaging, and a price point that’s accessible, not intimidating.

     

  • As a female business owner, what excites you most about the beauty industry these days and what would you like to see more of?
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    I love that there are more and more opportunities and conversations for minority groups and women coming to the forefront. It’s about time! Furthermore, I love that inclusivity and celebration of diversity continue to be made a priority. Seeing more diverse models being used in brand imagery is amazing. As a female minority myself, I’m very passionate about mentoring and inspiring underprivileged teenage girls which is one of the many reasons we’ve partnered with organizations like the MALALA Foundation and Step Up to help make an impact. I’d really like to see more mentoring programs available for them because I firmly believe the opportunities you’re given at this tender age define who you become. If you have a good role model, it can change the entire course of your future in the most amazing ways.

     

  • What are your thoughts on how “beauty” is portrayed to young girls and women?
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    Visual impact on beauty standards is inevitable and I try my best to work towards changing it for the better. Yes, we’ve moved away from magazines influencing perceptions of what “beautiful” means or looks like, but now we have social media. It makes it so easy to filter and photo edit that the misrepresentation of what real beauty means is super skewed, creating noise, self-doubt, and insecurity for younger generations. Our goal at Karuna and Avatara is to promote positivity, self-care, and compassion in everything we produce – celebrating inclusivity and diversity every step of the way. After all, it’s 2023 – do I really even need to explain why this should be consistent across the board? I mean, come on!

     

  • What’s your best advice for how to feel the most beautiful?
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    Look, I’m not going to turn down a self-care day with some sheet masks and skincare treatments, but feeling TRULY beautiful requires an inside-out approach, not just a focus on outer beauty. Ensuring that you feel good about yourself directly impacts how you look, so make sure you allocate some “me” time to recenter and recharge. It’s so important to do things that make you happy, feel good about yourself and boost your confidence. Feeling good means looking beautiful! 

     

  • For those looking to follow a similar path to yours, what are your top 5 tips to succeed in business – beauty and beyond?
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    1. Be Passionate! If you don’t love what you’re doing, it will just feel like “work.” When I started my beauty business, I didn’t anticipate just how much dedicated time it required but because I’m passionate about creating beautiful products and seeing how they sell, it makes the lack of work-life balance a little easier!
    2. No is not always the final answer! Each time I’ve been told no in the industry, it motivates me to find another way to accomplish what I had set out to do. Always stay active and curious because oftentimes, the “no” is because that person or company hasn’t thought about what you're asking for. Looking for ways to challenge opposition gets you closer to finding a solution!
    3. Always keep learning! Continuing to educate yourself will help you keep up with the ever-changing industry trends. Reading articles or staying up to speed on what other beauty brands are doing are a couple of easy ways to have a pulse on what’s going on at any given time.
    4. Be your brand’s expert! Make sure you know everything there is to know about your brand and products right down to the operations, ingredients, and packaging. People are going to rely on your to educate them about who you are, what you do, and why you’re different.
    5. Think outside the box! The beauty industry is extremely competitive and there are always new brands and products coming to market. You have to think outside the box so that you stand out and have a solid point of differentiation. Just remember that what might work for other brands doesn’t necessarily mean it will work for yours.
  • When reflecting back on your entrepreneurial journey, is there a quote or lesson that sticks out most?
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    My favorite quote is from Maya Angelou - “If you don’t like something, change it. If you can’t change it, change your attitude.” This is how I live my life! If something is making me unhappy or not inspiring me to be my best self, it’s my responsibility to do something about it. You’re in control of your own life and shouldn’t rely on others to change.

    What are some of your best pieces of advice or success stories? Share them below or let us know on Instagram @karunaskin to celebrate women's empowerment together!

    Written by Ryan Nelson

    March 08, 2023 — Karuna Marketing

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