Lisa Price, Founder & CEO, Carol's Daughter
By Caroline Cox
Lisa Price has come a long way since the days she spent mixing lotions and potions in her kitchen more than 20 years ago. As Founder and CEO of beauty and hair care line Carol’s Daughter – named after her mother – goods she once sold out of her home are now offered at stores like Macy’s and Sephora as well as at any of her nine (and counting) specialty stores. The 80-employee company brings in an estimate $35 million in annual revenue, and Price’s recent appearance on HSN saw more than 20,000 units of her sugar vanilla products sell in minutes. Price lives in Brooklyn with her husband and three young children.
Here, she talks to PINK about the issues facing businesswomen today, the future of Carol’s Daughter and her love of Lucille Ball.
PINK: What is the secret to your professional success?
LP: As I was building the company, when things were difficult and I would feel overwhelmed and pressured, my mom would say, “If you didn’t have all of this work to do, then you wouldn’t be getting the income from it,” and “every challenge is a blessing in disguise.” When something is difficult or scary, I know it’s going to be character building, and I know it’s going to pass. A problem doesn’t stay around forever – eventually it does go away.
PINK: What is the best business advice you’ve ever received?
LP: Figure out what you are good at that no one else can do and focus on that. Delegate what you can to other people, because sometimes we end up spending a lot of energy and brainpower doing something that we could pay someone else to do, and then the things that only we can do don’t get done. You may feel like you’ll save money if you do it yourself, but if you had to replace yourself, could you? And if you could how much would it cost? And all of a sudden having someone else do it makes more sense.
PINK: What is it about your background that resulted in your choices and success today?
LP: [My grandparents] raised their seven children to be very close with one another. My mother was close with her brothers and sisters, and my cousins and I are very close. I had relationships with my cousins similar to relationships people have with their sisters and brothers. If one mom found a dress in pink she would get a yellow one for one cousin and a blue one for the other cousin. We were a very close-knit family, but now it’s a little different because we live in different parts of the country. Family is everything to me. I love being home with my children and my husband. I love cooking and the holidays and all of that reminds me of growing up, and I want to recreate those memories for my family.
PINK: What do you think are the biggest issues facing businesswomen today?
LP: Women have a different way of developing relationships with people. We multitask well. We build teams to get things done. We strategize in a differently from men. What can hurt is if we become more personally involved in a situation than we should. When I became a mom I became a better businessperson. Before, I was a workaholic and didn’t have a balance between work and play, but I taught myself I can do a lot of things at once. I remember being on the phone with a company that was ordering Shea butter while I was cooking and feeding my son. I looked back at myself and said, “Wow, look at all the things you’re doing at once!” I think that works to our benefit in an entrepreneurial setting. If you don’t have a problem doing different tasks, you learn to juggle your time well.
PINK: How do you manage the Life/Work balance?
LP: There really isn’t a Life/Work balance. The balance is allowing it to ebb and flow. I have to sacrifice my time for family to be the priority. Sometimes work has to be the priority when I travel during the holiday season and make visits to other stores I’m not home and that’s just how it is. Everybody in my house knows that, once Thanksgiving starts up until just before Christmas, I’m going to be gone every weekend. But once Christmas is here I’m home every day, baking cookies, having fun and playing games.
You’re going to have days where the business wins and you’re going to have days where your family wins. Then you have those rare days where you’re a great mom and a great entrepreneur all in the same day. We put the pressure on ourselves – I never hear a man talk about balance. If a man works long hours and makes a lot of money, he is doing what he is supposed to do. Nobody chastises a man when he doesn’t cook dinner on Thursday.
PINK: How would you describe your leadership style?
LP: It’s a work in progress and every day I get stronger and more confident. I tend to want to learn from those around me and be a good example. I’m not really one to stand ahead of the team and say “This is what we’re going to do, period.” I want to hear what everybody else has to say so we can come to a decision together. I like to work alongside people and be the leader standing next to them, versus standing in front of them.
PINK: What do you do to relax and rejuvenate?
LP: I like to mix oils and products. I have a kitchen in my office, so that’s pretty cool. This summer I was in a peachy mood. We don’t have any peach-scented products, so I made some. I also like to watch movies. I like old musicals and Alford Hitchcock movies. When I do get to curl up on the sofa on a Sunday afternoon and watch an old Hitchcock movie that I’ve seen like a billion times, that’s relaxing to me.
PINK: What would you say is one thing people don’t know about you?
LP: I like to crochet: I make hats and sweaters and things. I also have a slight obsession with Lucille Ball. I have an “I Love Lucy” collection. When I went to Universal Theme Park a few years ago and walked in the “I Love Lucy” area and they had like a fake Lucy and Ricky. I took a picture with them almost cried. I bought the whole collection on videotape.
PINK: What’s next for Carol’s Daughter?
LP: One of the things we did for summer was launch Mary J. Blige’s fragrance called “My Life,” and it’s going to expand beyond just perfume. It’s being sold exclusively on HSN and it’s really its own brand, so I think projects like that will continue to emerge from Carol’s Daughter.
PINK: Is there a personal or professional goal you have yet to achieve?
LP: I have a personal goal of being a healthier person who doesn’t weigh as much. I have lost 90 lbs. in the past year and a half, so in some ways I have achieved a goal. I am much healthier than I was a year and a half ago, but I’m still about 25 lbs. from that number that’s going to make me really happy.
PINK: Do you have a favorite quote or mantra?
LP: I read about my astrological sign in a book once – mine is Taurus. It said, “A Taurus needs to remember is this too shall pass.” That resonated with me because I get very caught up in the moment and want to resolve a situation and fix it. Being in that situation really bothers me and I have to remind myself that, “this too shall pass.” Let it go and fix itself and don’t obsess over it.
PINK: How do you define success?
LP: Whatever is it that I’m working on or doing, I’m learning and growing from it. At the end of the day you don’t have a company unless you make money, but I don’t define success purely in the dollar form. It has to be meaningful and important. I treasure those great memories of when four of my employees and I went to a store with boxes and set it all up in six hours, and opened up a store in record time. Success is knowing that what I’m doing is making a positive difference in the world and the people I’m working with to do it are enjoying it and are passionate about it.
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