Lynn Power used to love building brands, but her high-powered advertising role left little room for creativity. So, she put on her entrepreneurial hat and co-founded a hair care brand. What she didn’t expect to encounter was ageism. Here she shares the lessons she has learned from doing it differently.
What inspired you to launch your own business?
I spent 30 years in advertising and marketing. Before becoming an entrepreneur, I ran a large ad agency, J. Walter Thompson NY, but I wasn’t loving it anymore. Much of my job was dealing with bureaucracy – HR issues, legal issues, and finance meetings. I wanted to get back to doing what I loved, building brands, and there’s no better way to do that than to build your own. It’s very motivating to take back control of your life.
Starting a business takes courage. What obstacles did you have to overcome?
I was surprised to discover the amount of ageism that exists with being an “older founder”. I already was expecting to face some level of scrutiny as a woman, but the ageism was new. It didn’t make sense as research shows that older founders are even more successful. But the bias was there, and it impacted our ability to find investors, partners, and more.
Luckily, I have found many other older founders of beauty brands, and we have created a community that shares and helps each other.
What challenges have you faced running your business, and how did you resolve them?
We launched MASAMI in February 2020, which was a challenging time. Not just because of COVID, but we also had headwinds with digital advertising, retail distribution, salons, and more. For instance, digital advertising has become expensive, and hard to achieve a positive return on investment. We’ve had to adjust (like many businesses) and focus on our Direct To Consumer (DTC) business, our content, and our customers.
The supply chain challenges caused by the pandemic are also real, with ingredients and packaging in short supply and overseas shipping taking many months. That means getting ahead of our inventory needs and moving as much of our supply chain to the US as possible.
What achievement/s you are most proud of and why?
We have gained momentum despite the business challenges – and also a personal challenge – I was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2021. Our haircare products have won several awards, and our customers love us.
We have just launched the Conscious Beauty Collective, a pop-up experience of 30+ indie beauty and wellness brands.
Have you ever experienced imposter syndrome? How did you address it?
I think most women deal with this. But once I realised that everyone has “blind spots” and lots of people are dealing with their own challenges, it made it easier not to focus so much on my insecurities.
If anything, joining forces with other women can be very powerful and help you thrive together. You need to find people who share your values and will be positive and supportive – and ditch the negative, toxic ones.
Who has been your biggest champion on your journey, and how did they help you?
My co-founder James is amazing. Despite the challenges, he is positive and optimistic and believes in what we are building. My husband is also very supportive. Launching a business isn’t easy, and it’s a 24/7 job, so it helps when your family understands and supports it.
What skills do you believe women must have to succeed as a leader?
Many leadership traits critical to success today are naturally more “female” – such as empathy, communication, listening, collaboration, and more. Empathy is essential; it better connects you with your employees, customers, partners, and advisors. We’ve all been dealing with a lot over the past two years, so knowing that it’s not easy for anyone can give you perspective on your priorities.
Work/life balance can be difficult. How do you manage it, and can you share your ‘tricks of the trade’?
I believe in blending work and life; it doesn’t work for everyone, but it works for me. It’s about making your work fit your life and not the other way around. There are days when I will do personal stuff most of the day and work at night. It doesn’t have to fit the conventional mould. I also like working with people I know and trust – my brother, my high school friend Kristyn, and my friends. Work is easier to enjoy when surrounded by people you want to spend time with.
Looking back, is there anything you would have done differently?
I always thought that my work would speak for myself, but I’ve learned that often, you have to be vocally advocating for yourself. It was years before I figured that out. I encourage women to speak up about their goals, accomplishments, and expectations. Otherwise, you might be overlooked because you can’t expect people to know what’s in your head.
Lynn Power’s Top 3 Leadership Lessons Learned:
1. Be yourself. Don’t change your leadership style to how you think CEOs behave. Authenticity is important and will inspire more people to believe in your actions.
2. You’re never too old to do what you love. Many people are unhappy with their current work situation but feel they are too old to change. It’s not true! Leverage your experience across different industries and find inspiration. You’ll be glad you did.
3. Don’t settle. Don’t stay in a toxic culture thinking that you can change it. It rarely works, and you will expend your energy fighting an uphill battle. Sometimes you need to move on.
© Laini Bennett, MBA