Unpublished Work © 2011 Cristina Carlino
my 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,