Jane Wurwand

Founder and Owner, Dermalogica. Inc., and The International Dermal Institute

Licenses: From the British Association of Beauty Therapy and Cosmetology. ITEC, California Estheticians License, Post-secondary Teachers License

Affiliations: Clinton Global Initiative member, UCLA School of Management board member, NAWBO/LA member, Step Up Luminary Member.

AS A TEENAGER, Jane Wurwand worked at a salon in her native United Kingdom as a ‘Saturday Girl,” an entry-level apprentice who sweeps hair trimmings and sorts and sterilizes hair-pins. She fell in love with the business, and when she discovered skin care, she discovered her destiny. Today, Wurwand’s Derrnalogica line is sold in more than 80 countries and her International Dermal Institute offers curriculum in 40 global locations. In 2011, Wurwand expanded her vision beyond skin care by establishing joinFITE (Financial Independence Through Entrepreneurship) to extend microloans to impoverished women around the world to help them establish businesses that can provide for themselves and their families.

Who were your mentors along the way? “I have been very lucky to have had great teachers, beginning with my own mother. She was widowed very young with four daughters and never remarried. Her sole focus was creating the best possible life for her daughters. She told me from the beginning ‘Learn how to do something.’ I have learned a great deal from professionals in our industry, such as Eve Taylor, who truly created modern aromatherapy, and Ken England, an industry great and Redken superstar who taught me ‘Never believe your own publicity—you probably wrote it yourself.’”

How has being a woman made your career path harder or easier? “The skin care industry is nearly 100 percent a woman’s arena, which is very different from hair care. That said, I absolutely ran up against the old-boys-network chauvinism when I moved from practicing skin care treatments to becoming a manufacturer. For instance, when contacting available compounding labs in Los Angeles, all of the chemists were much older men and they viewed me as a girl with a cute accent, who knew nothing. Without exception, they told me the concept for my line was impossible to formulate—they all said it couldn’t be done. That was 25 years ago. and today, Dermalogica is the most-requested professional skin care brand in the world. And our VP of R&D is Dr. Diana Howard—a woman.”

What would you consider your greatest professional break? “Coming to the United States in 1983. More dreams come true here than anywhere else on the planet and I still consider it the greatest gift I have ever received. There have been other landmark moments, but I think the opening of our very first concept space, our Dermalogica flagship store in Santa Monica, was a major turning-point.”

What’s the best business advice anyone ever gave you? “‘Don’t try to please everybody’. This sounds obvious, but many brands lose their footing because they lose sight of their key customer. Sometimes this happens out of greed, other times, it’s simply misguided. Someone gets what seems like a good idea, and BOOM, a jewelry design brand is suddenly in the business of baking designer cupcakes. Not to say this never works, but Dermalogica’s success reflects the wisdom of a narrow focus! I love a good, red lipstick, but I’ll let somebody else make it.”

What business achievement are you most proud of? “That our brand is universally respected for its commitment to education and specifically empowering women financially and professionally. Over the past 28 years, we’ve trained more than 100,000 skin therapists worldwide, 25,000 of whom own their own skin care centers or spas. Reaching beyond skin care in January 2011, We created our global philanthropic women’s initiative called joinFITE (Financial Independence Through Entrepreneurship). The goal is to extend microloans to women in need around the world, in all sorts of work, so they may provide for themselves and their families. I had the opportunity to meet with President Bill Clinton at the 2010 Clinton Global initiative in New York City and pledge Dermalogica’s commitment to help a minimum of 25,000 women worldwide to start or grow a business. Additionally, on the 100th Anniversary of International Women’s Day, I provided a keynote address at the United Nations and shared the joinFITE commitment.”

What do you hope to achieve in the next five years? “I hope to work with fellow entrepreneurs, and also with women who are powerful decision-makers in executive roles in the corporate-world, to set a greater precedent for championing apprentices in every profession.”

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Originally posted on Salon Today