Meet Master Aesthetician, Co-Founder of Indie Beauty Media Group, Jillian Wright

From founding the largest global exposition for independent beauty brands, Indie Beauty Media Group, in 2015, to opening her own spa in New York, Jillian takes us through her entrepreneurial journey, her why, and shares tips on how to keep your skin glowing.

Since her 20’s, she knew she wanted to devote herself to a career that excited her– something meaningful, and through her experience, has sculpted her own definition of success.

"Success comes from hard work and can have success many times in your life under different circumstances. Success is feeling good about your accomplishments, being acknowledged for them, and leaving behind the ability of others to benefit from your success."

With a degree in Fine Art, Jillian wanted to pursue something creative. She didn’t see herself in the art world as a curator or working artist, but when she discovered aesthetics, she knew it was for her.  She loved spending time around feminine energy, and it gave her the freedom to build her own business and create her own schedule, because just as important as her career, was having a family.  She has since trail blazed her way through the beauty industry, helped countless indie brands enter retail and scale, and continues to be an inspiration.

I'm blessed to have met Jillian on my entrepreneurial journey with La Luer, and am honored to share her journey with all of you!

Read on to learn more about Jillian's founder journey, and how she fights tooth and nail to live the most authentic life.

What’s your “why” – the one thing that fuels you and helps push you past challenges?

Drive and passion fuel my “why”. Life is full of challenges- at every corner.

The biggest one for us is the pandemic. This halted and continues to delay in-person events- the blood of our business. The events were my life for 6 years. I devoted everything to Indie Beauty Expo including my retirement fund, I sold my apartment, I closed my spa and gave up my beloved clients. Everything I owned went into building this business.

We had the Best in Show Awards every year, a trend report every single show. I LOVED introducing beauty buyers and press to brands. To have it disappear, literally overnight was something I never planned for. I never learned crisis management as a young child especially to this degree.

I was devastated. LA 2020 was our best show to date. We were on the trajectory to outpace our hometown show NYC with the amount of retailers and press attending. Luckily for us, we diversified early on and had the ability to stay connected with the community we built through Beauty Independent. Right now, this is our focus.

At the end of 2019, I started missing my facial clients. Some of them had been with me my entire career. I was at a point within IBE, that I could take clients once a weekend per month in between shows. This made me very happy. I connected with my clients, and I was fully booked for the third week of March 2020. Well, this never happened. We were in lock down. As March, April, May, June, July and August droned on, I realized that my love for aesthetics was deeper than I anticipated and that I wanted to reintroduce myself and build my aesthetics business again. With events nowhere in sight and Indie Beauty Media Group turning digital, I knew this was my opportunity to do a deeper dive into aesthetics.

Ironically, I chose two professions that require in person services and communication. This is not lucky! For me, it’s been a double challenge.

But slowly, we, as a global community are rising from the ashes and people are feeling safer. I’m focusing on my social media and through Instagram, educating my followers which I truly love. For in person facials, I get tested often and I’m very honest and careful with my clients. I wear two masks and a shield. I have a Covid safety policy on my website.

It’s been a profound joy in my life to be back in the treatment room. I feel energized.

I will let no one or nothing control my destiny. I will fight tooth and nail to live my most authentic life.

I will not let this pandemic get me down so I slowly wait for people to come back and trust the process. We all need pampering and kindness right now. I’m that rock people can rely on. If we ever get back to doing shows, I can do both. I’m looking forward to being very busy again.

What inspired you to create Indie Media Group, and what were your most rewarding moments?

This was a very personal journey for me.

10 years into my aesthetics career, I decided to launch my own skincare line. I had this fantasy that I would get picked up by 50 retailers by the end of the year. Well, I was very naive. Clearly that didn’t happen. After my moment of humility, I needed to figure out how to meet the beauty buyers from Bergdorf, Barneys, Bloomingdales and Saks...All retailers within walking distance of my spa. It was 2013 and I couldn’t figure it out. Social media also wasn’t as sophisticated as it is today. I was doing facials all day long and raising a family. This was my world. I didn’t know a single thing about the world of trade shows.

When I finally wrapped my head around doing a tradeshow, the cost was prohibitive and there really wasn’t one that fit who I was–a luxury indie beauty brand. So, one day, I was walking across Madison Avenue and had that AHA moment.

I was going to put on my own show for indie beauty brands. I asked a then facial client of mine Nader Naeymi-Rad if he had any interest in doing this show with me. Without any hesitation, he said yes. That was 2015.

Our first show was in NYC and since then, we expanded to LA, Dallas, London and Berlin. We launched Beauty Independent-a digital publication for all things indie beauty, a webinar series, a concierge service for brands looking for service providers like ingredients, branding and formulation, plus ADIT, our new platform to help indie brands meet the right retailers.

Needless to say, we haven’t had a chance to breathe since our first expo. I’m proud of the self sustaining ecosystem Nader and I created with our team for indie beauty brands.

Your facials are exquisite –calming both the skin and soul. Can you walk us through your signature facial?

I’ve learned over the years that if you have too many choices on your menu, it confuses people. So, I offer custom facials based on time. I don’t like nickel and diming people either, so what most people do in terms of upselling their services to make more money, I don’t. I will do what your skin needs at that time within the time we booked to ensure you get the most out of your service. 

What treatment would you recommend most for someone in their 30s 40s 50s?

When I do a facial, I look at someone’s biological age, but also look at their skin. Their skin is what tells me the story-the history of why it might be behaving poorly.

It’s an open dialogue between the client and me. I coach them through their thoughts (Do I have hormonal acne? Am I touching my face too much? Am I breaking out because of stress?)

I go over their lifestyle choices and stresses, and partner with them to get their skin to optimum health. I ask a lot of questions about their diet, current skincare routine, genetics, monthly cycle, etc... 

So, it's really not about age, but the individual person at that time. Your skin changes seasonally and it also reacts to your environment. 

Your skin is an open book. I can tell what internal and external stressors may be causing premature aging.

It’s my goal to achieve optimum skin health for that person through home care and professional facials. I keep it simple and fun to do. I encourage people to be their own skincare detective.

From your current clients and personal experience, what do people struggle with the most, and what are your personal recommendations?

 Right now I’m seeing compromised, fragile skin that is dry or dehydrated. The factors I mention above are all culprits that contribute to unbalanced skin. Throw in “Mask-ne” and it’s a triple whammy.

From your current clients and personal experience, what do people struggle with the most, and what are your personal recommendations?

 Right now I’m seeing compromised, fragile skin that is dry or dehydrated. The factors I mention above are all culprits that contribute to unbalanced skin. Throw in “Mask-ne” and it’s a triple whammy.

You have flawless skin. I’ve seen your photos from 10 years ago, and you look the same now...what’s your beauty secret, nighttime routine?

I’m slightly obsessed with my skin. I use SPF everyday-EVERYDAY. I never skip on cleansing. I use clean skincare and color cosmetics.

I never put anything on my skin that might irritate it. I’m methodical with how I take care of my skin.

I nourish it, take care of it like a baby . Babies love routine and a schedule. So does your skin. When you care for your skin like a baby, your skin will thrive in the environment you provide.

I’m not married to one product or brand over another. Your skin doesn't know labels, but it responds to ingredients. I use products from different lines that play well with one another. Ingredients I use are CBD, pomegranate, rosehip, Acai Berry, Vitamin C, Shea Butter, Maca root, olive oil, pineapple and hyaluronic acid to name a few.

My other secret is eating a lot of green and whole foods, not a lot of processed foods. I eat kale and garlic all the time. I, pretty much on any given day load up on vegetables in one form or the other. I do believe this makes a huge difference in my skin.

My third secret is getting plenty of sleep. I LOVE to sleep. It agrees with me!  

As a serial entrepreneur, and someone who has worked with many entrepreneurs, what advice would you give?

When you decide to bring your idea to life, it is a roller coaster journey that will be the most emotional yet rewarding of your career. It’s not easy but doable.

Make sure you are not being redundant and bring something to market that is interesting and different.

When you think of the name, make sure you can protect it with a trademark. With this said, you want to have a good attorney and accountant.

If you are thinking about bringing on a partner, make sure they have complimentary skills. But, remember, you already have a partner-the IRS.

Story/mood board everything.

Pay close attention to your competitors. It’s very important that you are well aware of what's already out there.

What's your endgame? Are you building this business to pass it along to your kids or are you looking for an exit?

Make sure your ingredients and packaging are sustainable. People will want to know. You need to be able to explain your entire journey. No stone unturned.

Be creative with marketing. Try not to spend a lot of money on marketing in the beginning. Investors look at this.

You also want to build up your social following before reaching out to retailers. They ALL look at your Instagram. All of them. They want to know that you have spent the time building a community.

Don’t launch with too many products. This will confuse people. Have your launches scheduled out over time.

Hire PR. Hiring the right publicist will introduce you to the right people who will include you in stories if you're relevant. Make it easy for the press. Give them story ideas. They will love you for this. Become an authority and expert in your field. Tell your brand's story 8 different ways. The QVC shopper is different from the Net-a-Porter shopper.

Make your product about your consumer, not yourself. Give them a reason to buy from you.
Build your community. A strong one.

What are some books you recommend?

I have a few books that I would read over and over again.  They are beautiful stories written about mystical women who honor nature, have magical powers and show their strength in unique ways.

The Mists of Avalon by Marion Zimmer Bradley
The magical saga of the women behind King Arthur's throne

The Mistress of Spices by Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni
A classic work of magical realism, tells the story of Tilo, a young woman from another time who has a gift for the mystical art of spices

A Signature of All Things by Elizabeth Gilbert
The novel is about Alma who inherits both her father’s money and his mind, ultimately becomes a botanist of considerable gifts herself

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