Tag Archives: beauty brands

standing in my truth with shoes that finally fit

Unpublished Work © 2011 Cristina Carlino

cristina carlinomy last two blogs i wrote about “hands and knees” – a song i co-wrote with my friend, stuart mathis, two years after i sold my majority interest in philosophy. the lyrics speak to the effects i saw corporate america having on the women i worked with and loved as my own days at philosophy came to an end.  “honey i’m beat” is the cry of each chorus.   what i could not see at the time was how truly beat i was as well as a working woman failing as an executive chairman by day and, too often as a mother and partner by night.  i was on route to my own break that was decades in the making.   this is my story and truth that i have shared only with those closest to me until now as i near the end of my time as a spokesperson for philosophy.

to start, i began working when i was 16. i had always been an excellent student in high school who graduated with not enough courage or self worth to go to college so i signed up for  vocational beauty school with a friend  so i could learn to cut hair by day with fantasies of singing in her band by night. i was a failure at beauty school and dropped out at one point.  eventually i returned and earned my hours by working as the school’s receptionist.  looking back, what i was proficient at was understanding the physiology of hair, skin and nails. i loved it.  i just couldn’t read enough about it.  soon after i graduated, i went into business for myself with the help of my mother. i began putting fairly sophisticated product lines and procedures together for doctors based on my experience as their patient who suffered from both acne and very sensitive skin. when i was  29,  i founded biomedic and at age 36, philosophy.  all expected of me by no one. especially me. i loved my life and the success of the companies. biomedic was a brain child and philosophy a love child. i thought of them as my babies until at age 40 when i got pregnant for the first time. also unexpected.  i finally got to look up from my desk long enough to ask, “what am i doing?”.

soon i realized, like so many working moms, that i wasn’t doing well as both a working woman and a mom. i knew the first time i looked in grace’s eyes that my own personal available decision would be to  put my company up for sale as soon as it was ready.  that time came and the buyer was an iconic wall street corporation.  when i sold philosophy,  the plan was i would  step down as ceo and still be  the executive chairman and creative life force working 20 hours a week from home or the office which  was perfect as it took little  time away from my daughter. the security of that role was important to me because creating was what i did and i was still deeply invested in the brand. be that as it may, my truth was that my heart would prove to be far too soft for big corporate america.  at philosophy, we operated as friends and family, which was all i knew, and for me that type of culture really worked.  now i was a creative visionary that had been moved from a sandbox into what felt like a giant battlefield  with tanks coming through.

soon there would be all new heads of heads and my creative vision was just in the way of the new direction they wanted to take the brand. i realized i had sold a home with myself in it.  it was hard on everyone and brutal on me the day i got a call that my creative services were no longer needed.

although i had gotten what i wanted in  the  privilege of being able to be with my daughter,  decades of what i thought was my  identity as a business creator were swooped away in a phone call.  that call sent me into the dark.

today, after four years under the brilliance and expertise of the carlyle group,  philosophy has a new home with coty and i couldn’t be happier. we all get along beautifully.   while i have clocked a lot of time as a home mommy which i love more than anything, my life, like everyone else’s still has its share of stress, fear and resistance to more change.  and yet for me the truth is still i have never felt so much at peace.

that said, the truth is also that an event, a phone call, may appear to change our lives in an instant, but the emotional transition is never an event.  it is a process.  and mine has been a long ongoing often very painful one.  the call that  put me face to face with what i named my “beautiful beast” became a next  song for me and  a mid life  journey and journal that i will share you with you soon.

ultimately it is about what connects us to what truly matters – the moment and our capacity to love not just others but ourselves enough to say “enough”!

with peace and gratitude,






big ideas

Unpublished Work © 2011 Cristina Carlino

on june 15th, i was the guest speaker at CEW (Cosmetics Executive Women’s) conference in L.A. i was honored to be interviewed on what it takes to build a beauty brand. i have unique experience in this area having created, built and sold two very successful brands with the help of extremely gifted people. as i looked into the audience of 300 beautiful faces, i said “you have to be willing to take a risk.” risk by my definition is being willing to lose, to fail, to fall hard knowing you will look foolish. risk sparks courage and often a “flash of genius” which fuels our ability to create and produce a big idea. you can be one person or a very small company and still be holding the big and very best idea in your pocket. that is what we did when we first started philosophy in l996. our small  company turned out to be an industry  game changer.

so today is the 30th. it is the last day of june, my birthday and the beginning of my 49th year. i don’t think of today as “the big one” before the big 50, but rather the best one. the gift i am giving myself this year is to live knowing that every day / each year is always the best one  that  provides  a blank canvas for your finest work of art to be realized.  this past year i started a new venture – Project Miracle. our business model is to connect big ideas with consumer brands and non profits.  we are a very small company with a vision for a brighter future for all.  we will grow by planting one idea at a time.

my birthday wish is for us all to take a risk on the big ones and the best ideas that we have. as for my vision for a big birthday bash, not too long ago i was willing to take a risk on bowling. now i can’t think of anything more fun than bowling, rolling around in laughter and breaking cake with the people i love most.

CEW Women in Beauty Series

Unpublished Work © 2011 Cristina Carlino

CEW Women in Beauty Series – West Coast
Couldn’t make it to the event? Well now you can connect with it anyways! On Tuesday, June 15th, Cristina Carlino, founder of philosophy, shared her insights, anecdotes and recommendations with Jill Scalamandre, CMO, Chrysallis, and CEW Chairwoman, to over 300 attendees at “Top 10 List: How to Build A Beauty Brand,” a CEW Women in Beauty Series event.

The discussion was held at the Fairmont Miramar in Santa Monica, CA. Attendees had the opportunity to network with colleagues at an informal, pre-event cocktail reception followed by the moderated program.

Some great quotes from Cristina and her Top 10 List:

“A brand, in my opinion, is based on the people who create it, co-create it, and help it grow. The “culture” of the company is the primary foundation on which any great brand is built.”

“There is plenty of room at the top, it’s the bottom that’s crowded”

“The product has to be a game changer”

1. Innovation, Efficacy and elegance. Are you innovation driven, price driven or service driven and why you can’t be all three?

2. Consistency, quality control and excellence. Why people don’t go to a restaurant once they have had a bad experience?

3. Authenticity, messaging, packaging. Why you need to be first rather than a fast follower?

4. Staying on brand message: tell the story and stick with it. Why you need to limit the amount of fingertips touching the brand?

5. Distribution strategy. Masstige versus prestige?

6. Supply chain and staying in stock. Product needs to be on the shelf based on supply, operations, and margin.

7. Merchandising and education. Inquiring minds need to know. Sensory people need visual stimulation. Everyone likes “law and order”

8. Multimedia and social networking. Why is hearing the customer and telling them the truth so important?

9. Philanthropy. What does the customer care about? What does the company care about? Why?

10. Building employees and customers and rewarding them in big and small ways. How?

At CEW’s Women in Beauty Series, leading women offer insights into beauty industry issues and inspiration for professional growth. This event was generously sponsored by Kaplow PR, Kolmar Laboratories, Nyx Cosmetics, Ungerer & Company, Nordstrom, Ole Henriksen, Neutrogena, Stila Cosmetics, Ouidad, Liz Earle Naturally Active Skincare, WWD BeautyBiz, MaCher and Fairmont Miramar Santa Monica Hotel.