During her MBA summer at Harvard Business School Hayley learned the ropes of ecommerce and product management at Amazon.com. A proud techie and fascinated by consumer behavior, she is excited to be in business with both sides of her personality—geek and chic. Through Birchbox she is able to provide women with a discovery service for beauty and lifestyle products.
Q: Please share with us the story of how your professional journey began and has brought you to where you are today.
A: I never knew what I wanted to be when I grew up. Through high school and college I tried everything from research at IBM to trading bonds for a hedge fund. After I graduated, I started my career as a strategy consultant at Bain & Company. I worked with a great group of intelligent and fun people solving a diverse set of business problems for clients across industries. I learned a ton, but also knew that I needed to get closer to products and customers to be professionally fulfilled. After Bain, I worked in strategy for Christie’s in Hong Kong and as a product manager at Amazon.com. After business school I started Birchbox with my friend Katia and I’m learning more than I ever imagined!
Q: What’s your best advice for an entrepreneur in an early/bootstrapping phase? Or in a growth/need to ‘now scale’ phase?
A: In an early stage business, the most valuable thing you can do is learn. Always know what your top three priorities are and focus your limited resources on making progress in those areas. Any investment of time or money that doesn’t help you get closer to an answer for your top questions or focus areas shouldn’t be made. Do things yourself, whenever possible, and that way you’ll learn more. Focus is key, and it should be directed at your customers and the product you’re building to serve them.
Q: A great negotiation can be game changing for one’s business or life. Studies have shown that men are much more comfortable negotiating and asking for what they want compared to women. What’s your advice to women who are uncomfortable negotiating?
A: First, figure out what style you’re most comfortable with. What are you willing to say versus not say? What are you willing to ask for? Then practice. Role playing seems silly but it really helps think through all the different things the other party may ask for.
ON Career Transitions
Q: Many people become discontent with their current career yet are too afraid or reluctant to make a change. What’s your best advice for women in this situation?
A: We’ll have long careers if we want them. You’ve got a lot of changes left in the bank. Just get started now. What’s the worst thing that could happen? Even if you fail miserably, chances are you’ll learn a lot and be more qualified for another job you’d love.
ON Starting Out
Q: If you had a young sister or a daughter who was a senior in college, anxious about landing her first job or unsure of what she wanted to do, what would your advice be to her?
A: I would tell her the same thing my mom told me. While it might seem that your first job is an incredibly important decision, it is only a first step in what will be a long and incredibly diverse journey. Don’t think that what you do first will dictate what you do forever. Instead, just choose something that will challenge you, make you happy and help you learn about what you want to do next.
Q: What are you most passionate about, and how do you incorporate it into your career or everyday life?
A: Building and creating things that make people happy! I knew Birchbox was the right choice for me because it taps into that passion.
ON Time Management
Q: How do your prioritize your time?
A: Poorly! But I’m learning every day. First, you can’t get everything done, so choose your battles. Second, get a system in place whether it’s a list on paper or a fancy time management tool. Third, be willing to be flexible and to change plans when necessary.
Q: What is the most valuable lesson your mother taught you?
A: My mother is a scientist by training. She taught me the value of asking questions and systematically finding the answer. Because of her, whether it’s anything from love to business, I am not afraid to ask, test and learn.
Q: What’s your best buy ever?
A: My grandmother bought me a classic black Louis Vuitton clutch that I love to death, not only because it’s timeless and perfect but because it reminds me of her and how fabulously and intelligently she lived her life.
Q: What are the beauty items you could not live without?
A: My desert island beauty products are moisturizer with SPF, a great brush for my long hair and some ridiculously bright nail polish to make me smile.