After discovering her love of creating fragrances, lotions, and other aromatherapy products in her Brooklyn kitchen, Lisa sold her first creation at a church flea market and was driven to create her own business. Named for her mother, Carol’s Daughter quickly took off and established itself in the fragrance and beauty industry. Her goal is to enhance a woman’s life and make those five minutes in the shower with Brown Sugar Scrub a slice of heaven for the mother of three. Lisa published a memoir, Success Never Smelled So Sweet, and has been named the Entrepreneur of the Year by the National Black MBA Association and honored with the YWCA “W” Award.
Q: Please share with us the story of how your professional journey began and has brought you to where you are today.
A: My career in beauty began in my kitchen in Brooklyn. My husband and I lived in a 4th floor, walk-up, floor-through apartment in Clinton Hill, Brooklyn with a tiny, railroad car type kitchen. I mixed my first bowl of Body Butter in my grandmother’s mixing bowl with a Sunbeam hand mixer and a wooden spoon. That bowl used to yield 13, 4 oz. Jars of Body Butter. I sold for the first time at a church flea market in 1993. My mother encouraged me to do it. Through word of mouth and a lot of hard work Carol’s Daughter continued to grow. In my home and eventually outside of my home.
Q: Who is a leader that you have great respect for and why?
A: I am sure a lot of people will say, Oprah, but so be it. I have been addicted to her behind-the-scenes show. I love how completely she can trust her team to appropriately execute her wishes. That to me is a great sign of leadership. Building a team that shares your vision and knows you and how you want things done but will still challenge you and bring you ideas that may take you out of your comfort zone but will keep you and your brand fresh and relevant ultimately helps you grow.
Q: What’s your best advice for an entrepreneur in an early/bootstrapping phase?
A: Appreciate every single milestone and every hurdle you overcome. Take pictures of your company as it is growing. It is soooo helpful later, when the stakes are higher to look back on those early days and remind yourself of how great you are and how many amazing things you have done. I wish I had more pictures of my various office spaces and work rooms when my business was in my home. I remember having things stacked from floor to ceiling. I remember my basement looking like a rabbit warren and am sad that those things are only in my mind and not documented. You never know where you will be tomorrow and looking back at yesterday is important. It gives you perspective and enables you to move ahead with more confidence.
Q: It’s hard to focus on the “big picture” sometimes because we can get caught in the weeds of work and life. When does visioning come clearest or easiest for you? Or what inspires your vision?
A: When I give myself time to relax and breathe, the ideas flow. When I take time to meditate or listen to music or even just clean out my closet it is as if I clear out the cobwebs. If I am going through a rough time my iPod and I are best friends and I will play chapters of The Secret to myself along with music that will move me.
Q: What do you believe makes a great brand?
A: Consistency without ever being boring, and innovation and relevancy without ever losing authenticity.
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: Learn and read. Keep your life as open as possible. Don’t worry about romantic relationships. They will come and go and life and youth are too short. This is a time in your life when the world is your oyster.
Q: What or who in your life gives you the strength to persevere?
A: My family. They are my light, my joy and my laughter and they make every bad day okay.
Q: What do you think is the key to happiness?
A: Being comfortable with who you are, flaws and all and being willing and patient to change the things that will make your life better, richer and longer.
Q: What simple things in life today bring you joy?
A: My daughter’s sheer and utter glee over anything pink and sparkly. My sons telling me that they love me. My husband letting me know that at 49 and after over 20 years together he still thinks I am hot.
Q: How do you respond to the question “How has having a child changed your life?”
A: My children are my balance. Without them I fear my life would be all work and no play. They also remind me of what an awesome multi-tasker I am. I never give myself credit for that.
Q: What is the most valuable lesson your mother taught you?
A: Take a few minutes out of the day and have a cup of tea.
Q: How would you describe your style?
A: I like to be comfortable but be dressed in something that still flatters me. And, I love to wear art. Like an amazing piece of jewelry.
Q: Who are your favorite designers?
A: Donna Karan, Michael Kors, Rachel Roy and Tracy Teese for clothes.
Diane Gilman – DG 2 jeans.
Jewelry – Stephen Dweck, Heidi Daus and Miriam Haskell