Brittny Robins, founder of Flawless by Friday, gets real about starting her own brand and learning as she goes
In this weekly series, we profile entrepreneurs approaching the top of their game, and ask them how they got there. From getting over pre-pitch jitters to raising investor capital, we asked Brittny Robins a few quick questions.
When Flawless by Friday started popping up in stores across Canada, people were blown away by how quickly Brittny Robins managed to launch her Korean-inspired skincare brand. But Robins says the process was anything but quick. She had zero experience in the beauty industry but she loved everything about it from a very young age. Growing up, Robins was the designated hair, facial, and makeup expert among her sisters, but she never saw her passion for beauty as a legitimate career option. So, when she graduated university she joined the world of event marketing instead. She was really bad at it. Everyone around her seemed so passionate about their work and that’s when Robins realized that she should be doing the thing she always loved: beauty.
Robins left event marketing and landed a job at L’Oreal which reconfirmed her idea that the industry was too complicated for consumers. People didn’t know how and when to use their skincare products. She dreamt up a simpler concept, something that had easy to follow steps and could be used in succession to achieve the perfect glow in time for the weekend. Robins spent months sending emails and making connections before and after work; five minutes here, ten minutes there. Finally she quit her job, moved in with her grandparents and committed herself to Flawless by Friday.
The ‘5 day system‘ was Robins’ first product. It’s a step-by-step routine which uses a different active ingredient each day that works in synergy to give you the desired results by the weekend. The easy-to-use method is inspired by Korean beauty, which Robins calls the Mecca of skincare. Despite countless miscommunications, typos, and language barriers, Robins never gave up on her goal of combining the ideals K-beauty with her personal brand values: speed, simplicity, and self-confidence.
Today, Flawless by Friday is sold online and in stores like Lord & Taylor, Trade Secrets, and Hudson’s Bay. Despite the brand’s success, Robins says every day presents new challenges but she’s learning as she goes.
Here are 11 questions with Brittny Robins.
How did you scale your business?
I listened to my mentors and I was never afraid to reach out to somebody. Many people are scared of rejection (including myself) but if I wanted to connect with someone I was really annoying with emails and phone calls. I also utilize any time someone can make for me, even if it’s just fifteen minutes.
What’s it like being a young female entrepreneur breaking into a huge industry?
Being 28 years old and raising money was hard because I’m a woman and I’m young. I’ve seen men around me raise money by sneezing, and I have actual products in market [but] I have to fight to be taken seriously. I definitely see the funding imbalance but I do think things are slowly moving in the right direction. It’s brutally tough but it’s getting easier because more and more people are doing it so there’s a larger community of people to talk to.
What is the biggest risk you’ve taken?
To start a business you have to be okay with taking risks. It’s a risk 100 percent of the time when you’re starting something from nothing. For example, every time I hire someone it’s a risk because you don’t know if they’ll be a good fit and if they’re not, you have to deal with the consequences of that. You’re dealing with people’s lives.
How do tackle pre-pitch jitters?
I try and look at the worst case scenario, because if I become less afraid of the worst case scenario, the whole situation becomes less scary. I also become a better listener when I’m afraid, which is beneficial. I end up treating the pitch more like a constructive conversation than a performance.
When did you realize your product was a success?
When we started getting reviews that people really liked the product and it was working for their skin. If customers don’t like your product, it doesn’t matter how good your marketing is or where you’re carried. Knowing we created something that people wanted to use was the most validating [moment] for me.
How do you pick yourself up after a setback?
I remind myself that if I’m not the strong one in the situation, nobody else is going to be. Looking at people, like Bonnie Brooks, who have put so much time and effort into me, and into the business keeps me motivated. If it was just me I might have walked away by now. But it’s not just me. It’s all these people who believed in me, which makes me believe in me.
How do you balance being a CEO and a personal life?
It’s very difficult, and I haven’t done a great job at it until recently. I broke down the areas of my life as a family member, a best friend, spouse, and a business owner into pillars and looked at where my effort was going. Now, I’ll do things like leave my phone at home when I’m out for dinner so I don’t get distracted by work.
How have you changed as an entrepreneur since the beginning of the company?
I’m a different person. My priorities are completely different. I used to worry that the image of the company wasn’t cool enough and that if we didn’t get published in specific magazines, nobody would care about us. But then I realized all that matters is whether these products can do what they say they’re going to do: make people’s lives easier and make them feel better about themselves when they leave the house every day.
Where do you see the company in five years?
I see us continuing to expand and continuing to be a little bit disruptive by popping up in different ways. Most of all I see us continuing to stay ahead with technology and creativity so we can bring products to our customers that are both great for their skin but also make them feel really good.
What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever received?
Shelley Rozenwald told me many times to never use the word ‘hopefully,’ because if you don’t believe it’s a certainty nobody else will. Now I never use the word ‘hopefully’ when I’m talking about something I want for the company, or myself for that matter.