Ever wondered how someone makes it as their own boss? What it takes to run your own business? Here at VIP, we love speaking to some of Ireland’s top business people to find out the secrets to their success.
This week we chatted to The Skin Nerd, who you may know better as Jennifer Rock. From keeping us up to date on all the skin knowledge we really need to know on Instagram, as well as having multiple product lines like Skingredients and The Cleanse Off Mitt, there’s not much Jennifer doesn’t know about skin.
She chats to us about what it takes to run your own business, the importance of a team, as well as how to find that elusive work/life balance.
Have you always dreamed of owning your own business?
Yes! Whilst being a trainer for other brands I dreamt about how I would love to amalgamate a lot of the concepts and cherry-pick the key ingredients at the correct efficacious levels to ensure that the capsule skincare collection that is Skingredients could come into fruition.
The goal was always to create a community-based skincare collection, where education was at the core of all that was done from online seminars to social media to newsletters and beyond. The focus is always to educate people on how to ensure we get the best ingredients into the skin.
What have been your biggest challenges you have faced?
A big challenge was researching contract manufacturers to ensure that we aligned with the best chemist possible to create formulas to the highest level, as opposed to the marketing level. Surrounding yourself with the right people who will ensure that you deliver the best possible product is important.
Working in a new market is challenging, however, I was fortunate enough to seek counsel from many and work alongside an independent chemist to ensure that we delivered the efficacious, correct level, to ensure that our products and claims are substantiated.
How do you balance work/home life as a business owner?
Balancing work life when you are a relatively new business is always easier said than done. If you follow me on social media @jenniferrock, there’s definitely an element of showing the reality of the situation behind the scenes. It would be incorrect of me to say that it is impossible to achieve it in a 9-5 scenario and being a single parent of a child doing their leaving certificate, it’s a case of prioritising and compromising at many different times throughout the day.
Ultimately, I adore what I do, and because it’s my passion and a lifelong goal, there’s constant motivation and drive there to ensure that I am continuously working towards, innovating, and bringing the next phase of the project to life.
Do you find that you often bring your work home?
I definitely bring work home. The business began from my parents dining room table and has always been very much a Rock contribution. Work is centred in family conversations, with my son, Matthew, who is nearly eighteen and his business brain challenging and talking things over with me.
My friends and family are beyond supportive as they know the huge level of interest I have had in this has been apparent since the age of thirteen. Because I work from home, it is definitely difficult, but I’m fortunate enough to have a separate office where I can close the door and can go to a different level of the building to ensure that I’m back home again, however, boundaries do need to become more regulated.
What advice would you give a young woman who wants to be her own boss?
I would ask her what reason she is doing it for? Is it for the lifestyle? Is it for the challenge? Are there many sacrifices that you’re willing to make to ensure that you enjoy the journey? I’d advise her to surround herself with no people as opposed to yes people, who will challenge her every step of the way. Ultimately knowing your why, your purpose and your goal is important to ensure that you are satisfied and yearning to learn is a key aspect of all things in a new business.
How important of a role do your team play in your business?
I wouldn’t be here without my entire team! It’s physically impossible to create a brand to this level without so much support from stockists, who we communicate as readily and regularly as we do on social media. Customer service is paramount to ensure our clients get the best support. Keeping our website working efficiently, through IT, is imperative to make sure that we deliver the best possible service to people. Having people around that can manage delivery and logistics and fulfilment is also crucial.
So, it’s categorically true to say that this is a team effort, as much as my face is at the front of it. I may be the one that constantly drives the business forward, but it would not be possible without every single person, from content writing to having a managing director, who pulls it all together to ensure that we operate as smoothly as possible!
What do you wish you had known when you first started out?
The fact that patience is a virtue and being aware that as you are running a business you can have access to funds that you can invest back into the business. Reporting on analytics and making sure that you are always monitoring why you are doing what you are doing and if it is successful and in line with what your clients genuinely want is also important. Listening to our community has always been a large part of what I have done, but you need to ensure that you are escalating that to the next level to drive the business forward.
What has been your biggest business mistake? What lessons did it teach you?
When I started the Cleanse Off Mitt, I originally didn’t have contracts, legalities or truly understand how to run a business. I treated it more like a hobby. This has taught me to make sure that I have everything behind the scenes aligned and up to date.
What has been your biggest achievement?
Seeing the Nerd Network testimonials coming in daily, where people say they truly have had their life changed by the confidence we bring and instil in their skin.
With Skingredients, it is learning that people have fallen in love with their skin through the formulas we’ve created. From a service perspective with the clients and consults in Nerd Network, and from a product development perspective in Skingredients, to know that we are truly changing how people feel about themselves on a physical and an emotional level is undeniably the biggest achievement upon launch that I recall. That we have created a product, a brand, a concept, and a community where people truly feel aligned, heard, valued and supported – that is success.
What woman in business inspires you the most?
There are so many women and men that inspire me on a daily basis. I constantly read books and am inspired by people beyond my sector too, as there’s always lots to learn from outside your own field.
Within my sector, I think it would be fair to say that Janna Ronert, Founder of Image Skincare is a huge inspiration. The credibility that she has built is undeniable, building the brand from a small humble beginning in Texas to now being sold in 60 countries worldwide.
What are your plans for the next five years?
To keep the demand and love for the brand in Ireland. We’ve just launched Skingredients on Cult Beauty in the UK, which is a huge occasion for a small Irish brand so early in our journey! Expanding into other markets is also a potential goal, but I am a big believer in doing everything and making sure that you bring your clients along the journey with you.
I’m slowly and correctly not on a race to be absolutely everywhere but want to focus on solidifying our message, educating many and delivering skincare results country by country before we become excitable and move on to the next.