Dana JAckson, FOUNDER of beneath your mask - 5QS: A Q&A BETWEEN TWO WOMEN WHO'VE STARTED THEIR OWN BUSINESS
Welcome back to the 5Q: Female Founder series. I am so happy to continue to introduce you to beautiful woman owned brands. Meet Dana Jackson, founder of Beneath Your Mask. I met Dana like I meet so many of my digital age comrades - online! In person Dana is lovey, warm, smart, chic and all about her business. On a galavant to Houston, I visited with Dana over a vegan lunch at Vibrant. Our afternoon was vibrant indeed. We chatted about life , business and owning beauty brands in the luxury space. I hope you enjoy Dana’s insightful Q&A.
1. Looking back on your first job, what skill did you use that you still use today?
My first job was at an accounting firm in Chicago. All of our clients were small business owners. None of them liked handling the “business” sides of their companies. That’s what we were for. Now that I’m on the other side and as much as I love the creative side of what I do, I still handle business first. Making sure accounts are set up properly, expenses are properly accounted for, projects and partnerships are profitable, managing finances, etc. It’s so easy to get wrapped up in the image I have for Beneath Your Mask and all the products and projects in my head, but finding balance between my uncompromising vision for my brand and running a business is a skill I rely heavily on. Sometimes I have to scale an aspect of packaging design back or put a new launch on hold or not attend a trade show They are never easy decisions to make.
2. Was there a defining moment that made you start your business?
I was working in the entertainment industry as a business manager and was completely burnt out. I knew when I left the industry, I didn’t want to work for anyone else again. My life completely revolved around my clients 24 hours/day for 6 years. The company I was with was bought out by Live Nation, and my boss offered me the opportunity to take over all our clients under my own company. I knew I couldn’t do it. I would’ve only been doing it for the money. I’d always felt like my journey with lupus was bigger than me, and that I needed to share it so that the person newly diagnosed didn’t go through what I went through. That’s when I decided I wanted to develop a full line and share what I’d created for my skin & hair as well as share my story.
3. What was the first step you took to launch your brand?
I made my first product in 2012 to heal and repair the damage to my skin from a lupus diagnosis. I never intended to launch a brand at that time. When I did decide to launch my brand, the first thing I did was form an LLC, open a bank account, get my logo designed and file my trademark. My background is business, so I took care of the business side of things first. I wanted to run all my expenses through my business and make sure everything was handled properly from the beginning.
4. What is the greatest lesson learned in your first year in business?
That it’s ok to start small. I launched with 4 SKUs, but wish I would have launched with one. I’m on my 3rd round of boxes right now trying to get them just perfect, and it would have been much less of a financial strain to make the adjustments on one SKU than multiple SKUs. If you’re a perfectionist, there’s always going to be something that you can improve upon, so don’t feel like everything has to be absolutely perfect to launch.
5. What is your best piece of advice for your fellow Female Founder?
Seek out a mentor or peer group in your industry. Having the support of someone that’s been there or going through what you’re going through is so important. There are many times I’ve felt like I couldn’t handle this business and it was too much, and a peer or colleague was experiencing the same thing or talked me through it. Sometimes your friends or family can’t be that source of inspiration and encouragement because they haven’t done it or don’t have an entrepreneurial mindset. Whatever you do, quitting can’t be an option. I don’t have a Plan B, because Plan A has to work. It does take time, it won’t be easy, but it will be worth it.