If you work in the beauty industry in Los Angeles and you haven’t been to a Mazur Group Beauty Biz Roundtable…are you really in the beauty industry? It’s not an exaggeration to say that the networking events conceived and hosted by Frances Mazur, founder of the Mazur Group recruitment agency, and her team draw a veritable who’s who of West Coast beauty business professionals.
With all the changes impacting not just the beauty industry but many other sectors in recent years—consolidations, rise of social media, influencer marketing—we asked Mazur to talk about why she wanted to focus on placing people in beauty and also how people in the industry can keep their skills sharp in a digital-first world.
MODERN SALON: While you could operate in any number of sectors, you specialize in the beauty industry—why did you decide to hone-in on that business?
Frances Mazur: When I started my company, we recruited for several industries including architecture and interior design. When the economy crashed in 2007, 2008, those clients literally laid off 50% of their staff overnight. There was no placing people at companies that were at half. I took that opportunity to really focus on who we wanted to be, and because I loved the beauty industry, and those companies weren’t as hard hit by the recession, I decided to narrowly focus on beauty and be everywhere that beauty is. At that time, too, it was a much smaller industry in Los Angeles and we were in a good position and place to specialize.
MS: With so much consolidation and acquisition happening in professional beauty, many companies have been hiring and many people have been on the job search. What are some skills that people in beauty—and, certainly, other industries—will need to possess in the coming years?
FM: We see the major multi-nationals acquiring strong digital-first brands in order to get up to speed on how to market socially and develop product at a quick clip to keep up with the digital consumer’s appetite for ‘new.’ Think Pulp Riot’s recent acquisition by L’Oréal. We don’t see any slowing down of this move to digital first, so if you can get experience at a successful digital first brand, we see those skills as very valuable and marketable. We’ve also seen a significant uptick in companies hiring product developers to keep up with the demand for new, so candidates with strong product development experience will likely be in demand for quite a while.
MS: And what will employers need to do to make themselves attractive to prospective employees?
FM: The first thing we do when talking to candidates is we ask what they want so we can bring them the right opportunity. Usually, they are looking for good work/life balance and good benefits package. There is more demand for talent, today, and that creates an employee market so companies that aren’t raising their salaries are losing talent. It goes back to basics; giving them the opportunity to grow, to have mentors and to be promoted internally (which is sometimes a challenge in beauty; often talent has to leave a company to find the next role.) Also, providing some options for flex hours is important. It sounds so basic but with the challenges of commuting in LA, companies that aren’t flexible will lose.
MS: You launched a Beauty Biz Roundtable (BBR) where Los Angeles-area beauty professionals come together to network and learn from each other. How has that evolved since you first introduced it? And why is that in-person meeting still so valuable?
FM: The whole idea behind BBR is to put into one room as many smart people as we can from different categories and channels of beauty, as well as different types of suppliers – it’s really meant to be a meeting of the minds. And because we really encourage an atmosphere of sharing best practices and challenges with one another, BBR has become a platform for collaboration. People leave the event with new ideas and inspiration on how to do things differently. I had a candidate who moved to New York a few years ago tell me that she thought the roundtables had something to do with all the innovation happening here in the west compared to what she sees in New York. It’s been really fun to see how far we’ve come.
When we started, no one was doing events like it. The idea that you can sit down with someone, maybe even a competitor, and ask questions and hear from the presenters as well as other attendees, makes the event very compelling. We have kept the format the same since we started because it’s so popular; we’ve sold-out every roundtable since its inception.
MS: If someone is working in another industry but has always wanted to work in beauty, what would you advise them?
FM: It can be hard to break into beauty if you don’t start at an entry level because it’s a very insular industry and candidates have to work really hard. While we do encourage our clients to consider candidates from outside of beauty, because they bring a new perspective, because the business moves so fast, our clients often revert to candidates with significant experience in the business.
But if someone really wants to get into the industry, we typically encourage them to attend as many industry events as they can so people know that they’re really serious and invested in getting to know the business. The other thing is candidates who have really strong e-commerce or social media experience –those are highly competitive skill sets—can make a successful transition highlighting those skills.
MS: If someone is currently in beauty, how should they be ‘future proofing’ to be sure they remain viable and valuable?
FM: Of course digital experience is very important, so if one hasn’t worked at a digital first brand, it would be good to try and get that experience – and it almost doesn’t matter what discipline you’re in – whether it’s sales, marketing, product development, even supply chain, e-commerce businesses just run differently. We’re working on a General Manager search right now that our client is really wanting someone who has come from a Social-media driven brand and can provide direction on their digital/social strategy. Because GM’s are further along in their career, we’re having some trouble finding talent who is well-qualified, as social media wasn’t a key driver as these GM’s were coming up through the ranks so they don’t have any hands on experience.
MS: When someone comes to you, what is the first thing you’ll do together?
FM: We don’t even interview until they have completed our pre-evaluation worksheet. It’s a great exercise for anyone considering a change and it forces you to really explore the parameters you want to work within—compensation, location, etc.—and note particular companies of interest to you. By starting there, we can introduce the right opportunities instead of skewing to just one job. It helps us really serve our candidates but it really serves the companies as well. If we as recruiter don’t start with the job, the tenure tends to be longer because we are identifying career opportunities instead of jobs.
Learn more about how the Mazur Group makes beautiful connections at: mazurgroupla.com