Episode 126: Bart Kaczanowicz, Founder of OMGBart.com

If there’s one overarching message or pattern that I can see from our incredible array of WBMB™ guests—and one piece of advice for our listeners—it’s that you never know where your path will lead and you don’t have to panic if where you are at the moment is not your goal. Each step gets you closer to somewhere!

My guest Bart Kaczanowicz, founder and influencer-in-chief of the skincare blog OMGBart.com is a perfect example of this “you never know” approach to work and to life. Born in Poland, studying in California, translating in Brooklyn and with other way stations en route, it took Bart years to discover his passion and talent for curating skincare products. Today his wildly popular blog is trusted by brands and fans for his authentic, no BS evaluations of high-end products. He says it himself, “I always post about something that I had time with and that worked for me.”

In our full conversation, Bart shares his story of finding, then following, his bliss. Make sure to join us to hear all the details in his own words.

Dan Hodgdon
Jodi KatzHey everybody, welcome back to the show. I am so pleased to be sitting across from Bart Kaczanowiczz.
Bart KaczanowiczHello.
Bart KaczanowiczThank you so much, I am so excited.
Jodi KatzSo I know you, and we all talk about you here as OMG Bart, so much so that when I typed up my notes from our intake call, I didn't write Bart Kaczanowiczz, I wrote OMG Bart.
Bart KaczanowiczIt's easier, right?
Jodi KatzWell, it's just so sticky.
Bart KaczanowiczYeah. I had a different blog before, and every event I went to, I saw my name of the list as OMG Bart, because that was my Instagram handle. So I just changed the domain to OMGBart.com.
Jodi KatzSo Bart, would I say your title is influencer?
Bart KaczanowiczIt's such a weird word, and I don't love it myself. But I guess on a micro level, kind of, sort of in a way. Sure.
Jodi KatzDo you have a business card?
Bart KaczanowiczI don't, I used to.
Jodi KatzAnd if you had a business card, what would your title say?
Bart KaczanowiczFounder OMGBart.com.
Jodi KatzOh okay, I get it.
Bart KaczanowiczI feel like it's safe and to the point.
Jodi KatzSo for people who don't know OMGBart.com, what is OMGBart.com?
Bart KaczanowiczIt's a blog that I've been writing for over five years, and I focus on the latest in skincare, my favorite finds in skincare, and just skincare in general. And with like a heavy accent over luxury.
Jodi KatzSo we met you through Kate, our publicist, who's a friend of yours.
Bart KaczanowiczLove her.
Jodi KatzAnd I adore your content.
Bart KaczanowiczThank you.
Jodi KatzYou are so opposite the trend of nonsense.
Bart KaczanowiczI love it.
Jodi KatzI feel like everything you're talking about is completely genuine and authentic, and if they are collaborations, what I feel is you would never take a collaboration for something you didn't believe in.
Bart KaczanowiczThat's absolutely right. Not only that, but I feel like I also, when I start a dialog with a brand or when I respond to a pitch, I will make it clear that I will need X-amount of days with something. That doesn't guarantee any kind of content either, because I'm not out there to say something didn't work for me. I want to make sure that what I will tell you that I liked, worked for me.
Jodi KatzSo let's talk about how one becomes a skincare influencer. It didn't start like the way it starts now where people just leave high school, and decide they want to be an influencer.
Bart KaczanowiczLucky them.
Jodi KatzActually, in my notes with you, one of the first things you told me is, "All these young people make more money than me, and they know less than me." Right?
Bart KaczanowiczI don't hold it against them per se, but it is very transparent how little those who are up there know, and how quickly they change their point of view or taste level or personal even mantra. You know what I mean? I can be like, one week I'm all about retinol, then I'm all about IMC, but I will make sure that I will always use something that works for me, not jump from one to another, and never really have a relationship with a concept or a product.
Jodi KatzRight. It's clear from your content that you really love skincare, and that you love the things you love. I think that's super consistent.
Bart KaczanowiczI'm loyal to brands too. I'm loyal to formulas and brands, but I will also tell a brand that this new launch is definitely not for me. I will pass, if I can politely decline a PR mailer, I will happily do so.
Jodi KatzLet's go back in time, you're from Poland.
Bart KaczanowiczI am.
Jodi KatzYou were born and raised there?
Bart KaczanowiczBorn and raised, 17 when I came here.
Jodi KatzIs your family still there?
Bart KaczanowiczYeah, I go visit once, twice a year. Yep.
Jodi KatzWhy did you come to New York?
Bart KaczanowiczIt didn't start with New York, I came to Southern California as an exchange student to high school first. After a year, I went back. I just couldn't find myself, it was also a lot of self-discovery. It was late '90s, so pre-social media, we're influenced by I guess TV, TV shows, movies. I thought to myself, "I want to go back." But I came to New York, it was the cheapest plane ticket.
Jodi KatzWhat were the most influential TV shows or movies when you were Poland?
Bart Kaczanowicz90210
Jodi KatzI love 90210.
Bart KaczanowiczI really, really loved it. So when the idea of becoming an exchange student came about, I said to my parents, "I will happily go." They emphasized the importance of learning a second language, so I said yes, I'll go. But they had to pay extra for me to choose California, and I ended up in Riverside. It was not 90210.
Jodi KatzIt was all about Brenda Walsh for you?
Bart KaczanowiczYes. Oh my god, Brenda Walsh for life.
Jodi KatzI was also a very big fan, and we would have viewing parties, we were high school I guess. I think we were the same, I was growing up, I was the same age as the characters, or maybe they were a year ahead of me. So if they were sophomores, I was a freshman, so I felt really, their stories were so relevant to me.
Bart KaczanowiczI liked how far ahead it was too, for someone who grew up in Poland. Because even though our high school experience is so different, to me, they looked like such adults. I was high school age, and I was like, "How do they look like they're 26 when they're in high school?" But still, it was all about the talk and the concept of having sleepovers, or shopping. Growing up in Poland is very ... Have you been to Eastern Europe?
Jodi KatzNo.
Bart KaczanowiczIt's gray and just very structured. The concept of 90210 was very, oh my god, like incomprehensible for me. So when I came to California, I was like, "Oh my god, I have friends who drive to school." It was cool.
Jodi KatzRight, in convertibles.
Bart KaczanowiczYes, plenty of those.
Jodi KatzI think style is so important to this show, so at the time, I wasn't able to be like Jenny Garth's character, but I wanted to be. I wanted to wear all these flower dresses that were a little peasant, and then she had combat boots, or tall socks and combat boots. I was really into that, in my head, I wasn't living it.
Bart KaczanowiczWhen you see now what they dressed like, don't you just cringe?
Jodi KatzNot at that look, that look I feel like I actually really appreciate. But Brenda's clothes, yeah, I'm not into her look.
Bart KaczanowiczThe flannels and the weird stuff, the hats.
Jodi KatzYes, but it's all around us still though.
Bart KaczanowiczRight, and it was a thing.
Jodi KatzYou came back to New York, it's the cheapest ticket, and what were you going to do for work?
Bart KaczanowiczMy first job was through an ad in the paper in Staten Island, and I was a home attendant. It was very under the table, I got paid cash. It was far from anything skincare related. I took care of someone with MS. I worked 10 hours a day, six days a week, eight hours a day. That was the very first working experience I had.
Jodi KatzHow did you get that job?
Bart KaczanowiczThrough an ad in Staten Island Advance.
Jodi KatzI mean, what qualifications did you have?
Bart KaczanowiczI had none, but the guy, it was so crazy, the guy interviewed me, and then I went home, and then I got a phone call the next day, because whomever was helping him at the time ... I forget if the person quit, or was caught stealing something, they needed me immediately. So when I came in, the guy said to me, "I thought you were Asian." And I realized he couldn't see that well.
Jodi KatzHe was elderly?
Bart KaczanowiczNo, but I think the MS was very much progressing pretty fast.
Jodi KatzHow long did you have that job for?
Bart KaczanowiczI want to say two years.
Jodi KatzOh wow, that's a long time. You spent that whole time with that one person?
Bart KaczanowiczYep. I then got into this side gig, because I had a friend who was a secretary at this Polish attorney's office. She would throw me scraps, because my English was pretty good, I always thought my accent was there, but you can't really pickup on the fact that it's Polish. So I would go to court with people who couldn't speak English, and I would, in Polish, explain to them as an interpreter, what to do, who to talk to, how to get out of it or pay up.
Jodi KatzWow, both of these jobs are a caregiving type of role.
Bart KaczanowiczYeah, I never thought of that, but yeah.
Jodi KatzIf you're someone who doesn't speak the language, and you're going through the legal system, to have somebody to rely on, because it would be scary for anybody who does speak English, let alone someone who doesn't speak the language. That's a lot of caregiving.
Bart KaczanowiczActually, it's crazy to think, because we're recording this on 9/11, and I was actually in Brooklyn on 9/11 in the morning, in court. I couldn't understand why everyone was called off, and that's when the towers were hit. Court was not in session, couldn't get home from Brooklyn. That was 18 years ago.
Jodi KatzA long time ago.
Bart KaczanowiczI didn't get into beauty until after college. Even my internship as a media major was in TV, did I tell you about this?
Jodi KatzI don't think so.
Bart KaczanowiczI was a media major, and I was convinced I wanted to be part of the behind-the-scenes in TV, so I interned with 20/20 and Primetime. It was great, it was great because I realized I don't want to do it. So I became a temp in beauty.
Jodi KatzHow did you get that first temp job?
Bart KaczanowiczI sent my resume everywhere. I sent it to L'Oreal, to Lauder, to any company that had a website with a mailing address, I sent a resume there. And I made sure I sent it priority.
Jodi KatzSo someone had to open it.
Bart KaczanowiczRight, I was not emailing my resume, it was going ... Fancy stock, really nice shade of cream.
Jodi KatzI don't think anyone's ever told me that they priority mailed their resumes in.
Bart KaczanowiczI did.
Jodi KatzThis is in the '90s too?
Bart KaczanowiczNo, early 2000s.
Jodi KatzRight, early 2000s.
Bart KaczanowiczMid 2000s.
Jodi KatzSo who called you back?
Bart KaczanowiczL'Oreal. Sorry, Lauder, oh my god.
Jodi KatzJust one company called you back?
Bart KaczanowiczYeah. I still think it was not because I mailed my resume, I think that a friend from that internship at 20/20 had someone who worked at Lauder, because she texted me. She was like, "Did anyone call you?" I'm like, "Yes." I just showed up, and I said I will do anything. I was packing boxes.
Jodi KatzSo this is another, everyone who sits in this chair talks about this, you have to work your network.
Bart KaczanowiczAbsolutely.
Jodi KatzShe gave you the edge?
Bart KaczanowiczYeah. Another thing is that the beauty industry is so small, so those who you meet and cherish, you keep them close.
Jodi KatzThis first job, unpacking and packing boxes?
Bart KaczanowiczJust packing. I will never forget, I was sending training kits to the sales force of La Mer to Singapore, and they were like full-on toolboxes that I was filling with these full-sized Crème de la Mers and serums. I was like, "Oh my god, there's so much product." Then the pay was amazing, I remember, and they would always send me home with product. It was really sweet.
Jodi KatzIs this your first time learning about skincare professionally?
Bart KaczanowiczYes. But I think, I was interested in skincare, I remember I got really into mail order with Yves Rocher, that brand. It got out of control, and I realized the products aren't as great, I'm going to try a new product, it really isn't doing that much for me. So I think that the gig at Lauder made me realize not just how much I like skincare, but how the business works as an industry. It was fascinating, because the perk of being a temp was that once one assignment was over, and people liked me, they always kept me in mind for something else. I was at the reception desk for Bobbi Brown for like three weeks when the main guy went on vacation, and I was at MAC, then I was at Jo Malone wrapping folders, and I ended up getting a full-time gig with Jo Malone because of it.
Jodi KatzWhat was the job that was full-time?
Bart KaczanowiczIt was an assistant to the entire marketing team. It was a small four-people team, and I was gatekeeper between the SVP and the other two.
Jodi KatzWow, so you really moved all around Lauder Corp.
Bart KaczanowiczYes, but only Downtown. I started in the JM building, but then I moved with Jo when the luxury brands moved the building where the product store is, 575 Broadway, so I stayed there.
Jodi KatzThis was after graduation, you got the full-time job?
Bart KaczanowiczYep. It was my first full-time gig in beauty.
Jodi KatzTell me what a day in the life was like for you back then.
Bart KaczanowiczThey varied, because I really had to cater to the entire department. Whether it was scheduling calls, or booking my boss's plane ticket on a trip abroad, to making sure that when the retailers come to visit, everything looks top-notch. It was the luxury brand that's very much based on the sensory experience, from visual, to fragrant, to everything in between. So everything had to be just perfect, and luckily Dean & DeLuca was across the street, so every hard to get ingredient, I could always get first thing in the morning.
Jodi KatzThat's right, for little product displays and stuff.
Bart KaczanowiczYep. But the days were exciting, because I loved being around people in beauty. It was open space cubicles, so it was La Mer and Jo, and I got to meet really incredible people who I still am friends with today.
Jodi KatzWhen did this idea of being a content creator start?
Bart KaczanowiczI think after I left beauty, I worked in jewelry. I didn't love it, but I liked it inside of a PR angle. I worked at John Hardy Jewelry, then I worked for a neighbor of mine Downtown, who had a custom jewelry brand, which no longer exists. So I got to put her product on these websites back then, like and whatnot, so I ended up socializing with the buyers and learning how everything else works. That's when I think the social media platforms became a little more prominent. When I left a job working for my neighbor, I had this gap time between getting my legal situation in order, because I was always having a working VISA or a Green Card.

I thought to myself, "Now that DOMA fell through, I can marry the guy I've been with for years. While everything is being aligned, I'm going to start something on my own." So I actually reached out to male beauty bloggers in the UK, and I said, "Would you accept a guest post?" I just wanted to see if I can write something for someone, and have it out there. Both of them agreed, and I loved the fact that I wrote something that they posted. Then I'm like, "I'm just going to do it for myself." Went on YouTube and learned how to start a blog, watched nights worth of videos, and I started my blog.

The whole content part, I love to write, I understand less and less people read, so I had to think about visuals for Instagram and take selfies and whatnot. So it's a natural fluid part of my day now.
Jodi KatzDid you get married?
Bart KaczanowiczYeah. Yes, six years ago in July.
Jodi KatzCongratulations.
Bart KaczanowiczI just lost my wedding band on a plane going to Italy, two weeks ago. And the good news is that today the airline emailed me that someone turned it in.
Jodi KatzOh my gosh.
Bart KaczanowiczHow crazy is that?
Jodi KatzThat's beautiful. What a nice commentary on how wonderful people can be.
Bart KaczanowiczYeah. I think having lived in New York in the past, I was actually expecting it, because I'm the person who always returns the cellphone I find in the cab, or the wallet in the restaurant. Karma is real.
Jodi KatzThat's really cool. Let's talk about a deep dive into what it takes to be a content creator, who is authentic and focused and patient. That's what I see in you. What is a day like for you?
Bart KaczanowiczThere is no set schedule, unless I have a bunch of deadlines that I have to focus on, because those are prioritized. That leaves my Instagram personal take on visuals on the side. But I probably get inspired by either something I try and I really like, or whether it's gorgeous daylight, and I'm thinking, "I've been using this mask, and I haven't taken a good picture, and now the opportunity presents itself." There really isn't a set schedule I have, but I do my best writing in the morning, preferably before the sun rises. I wake up super early, like 5:00, 5:30, and I'm most productive by 10:00.

So I'll get my writing done, whether it's an outline, whether it's around that, whether it's banging out demos, reaching out, looking for a quote or a high-res image. Then you have the afternoon, I focus more on opening the packages that arrive, because I am lucky to receive a lot of product in the mail. Then I will either post some stories, or take a picture, just for my grid.
Jodi KatzFor content creation, when it comes to writing, you're your own editorial director, but is most of the content driven by what you've been hired to write? Or is it that you create a story idea in your mind, and you work on it for yourself, whether there's a paid partner or not?
Bart KaczanowiczI'm not the best when it comes to creating stories on my own, I'm actually really bad when it comes to pitching stories. But I am great with doing roundups and gift guides, and something that I can curate. I really like curating. Give me 10 best gifts to get that are vegan, I will find you the chicest vegan gifts you can find. But when it comes to writing, I will do, when I have time, something for myself, if I enjoy it and want to share it with people on my blog. Or when it comes to writing for someone else, I will probably bounce ideas around, and give someone three scenarios of what I think would work. Whether it's a blog post or a series of stories, or images.
Jodi KatzAre you creating content, other than OMG Bart, are you creating for brands like work-for-hire?
Bart KaczanowiczMm-hmm (affirmative).
Jodi KatzSo you're both a freelance writer and ...
Bart KaczanowiczCorrect. I have my own platforms, and I will also deliver content to a brand if they wish so. It is most often than not my platform, their product, and that's how I get paid.
Jodi KatzDo people pay on time?
Bart KaczanowiczNever. Actually, wrong. Some people pay not only on time, but way before time. But there are some people that, when you freelance, you have to set aside this few hours a week to literally chase them places. It's upsetting, it's really upsetting. I don't understand how people sleep at night when they will have a net-90 in their agreement, and they will add 60 extra days, because I don't know why, but I have a car payment that I can't be 60 days late on.
Jodi KatzDo you find that it's the larger companies who are less timely with their payments? Or is it anybody?
Bart KaczanowiczNo, it's always the large ones. It's always the small ones that just got this far, or are trying to do something, that will PayPal the money the day of, when I send the invoice. Or wire the money within a week. But it's the big ones that, oh my god. I'm not going to name any names, but there were a few this year that I decided to, going forward, charge up front.
Jodi KatzI would recommend it. There are clients of ours that are very big corporations, where their payment terms are really insane and awful. The only way that we'll work with them is if they pay for the work up front.
Bart KaczanowiczEspecially, there's one brand that expects content for approval, they will assign something like two weeks. I like to work 30 days out, two weeks when I like the brand, I will of course find the time if I can. But if you have me do slight revisions, and then you take four months to pay, no, that's not right.
Jodi KatzI think it's important for independent people like you, and other companies like mine, to really stand up for yourselves. What's the point of doing the work if you don't get paid for it?
Bart KaczanowiczI've learned, doing this five-plus years, that it's important to speak up and ask questions, and make sure that your impression of this collaboration is also very much known. Because people think, they also have a really skewed concept of the word collaboration, because it seems like we're going to collaborate, but you're going to get everything you need, and I'll get the pleasure of working with you.
Jodi KatzLet's talk on that topic. I don't remember which influencer it was that said this, I'm sure they all say it now, but exposure doesn't pay the bills.
Bart KaczanowiczIt does not.
Jodi KatzDo you still get hit up with this?
Bart KaczanowiczEvery single day. It's actually brands that it would surprise you, who think it's such a great deal to get exposure. It's like, to your point, someone said having all these followers is like having all this Monopoly money. It's not real, it's all illusion.
Jodi KatzLet's talk about that actually, this idea of not real, fake followers, fake likes, fake comments, fake all of it. There's this mad panic that's been happening for a few years now of marketers just feeling like they need to see these numbers increase, so to increase them they're going to buy fakes. I'm like, "What's the point?" It doesn't make any sense.
Bart KaczanowiczI want to agree with you, and I do, but apparently it works for a lot of people, which is mind blowing.
Jodi KatzRight, because nobody is asking questions, back to your previous comment. But I think that, and my whole team believes this too, that the customer is super savvy, and the younger customer sees through it. If you have 500,000 fans, and you have 34 likes and one comment on a post, they know that your fan base is wrong.
Bart KaczanowiczI see people with hundreds-of-thousands of followers, and then they have the same three friends comment under each picture three times. If "This is the new way of beating an algorithm," then I think they literally just invented it.
Jodi KatzHow do you stay focused on the fact that you have your audience, but it's not 500,000 fans?
Bart KaczanowiczI think that you have to embrace what's there, and interact with people. I love interacting with people, whether it's via DM or whether it's via commenting. I became really good friends with people who are either brand founders, or fellow bloggers, influencers, or even editors. I don't get caught up with seeing the numbers. Honestly, I was just in Italy and I saw my best friend, who showed me her Instagram, and now in Italy they no longer see how many likes someone else got. It just says, "So and so and others like this picture." So you only see how many people liked your own picture, but not others. That's not a bad idea.
Jodi KatzOther platforms do that too, so there's not this competitive nature.
Bart KaczanowiczI don't get caught up in numbers, it's nice when a brand that you like or enjoy gets to interact with you or repost your content. But it also is a double edge sword, because there are people who will repost and not credit you, or there are people who will just take your image and be like, "We thought it was a stock photo." I'm like, "Really? No, you didn't." I had a brand that threatened with cease and desist, because I used a phrase he apparently trademarked. Come on. If you have the time to do it, then you have to have the budget for proper collaborations.
Jodi KatzLet's talk about reposting, so we as an agency are just adopting now, across the board for our clients big and small, that we're not reposting without permission. This is guided by our legal team, who has been around and investigating a lot of what you just spoke about. Brands or content creators going after brands, and vice versa. Do you have a lot of brands asking permission to repost your work?
Bart KaczanowiczNow I do. I actually got smart, because I thought it was incredibly disrespectful, a brand I have been a fan of for years, never asked for permission of using my picture. We worked, we collaborated on projects when I got paid, but I saw my image in their newsletter, and it was the only image they used. At first, I was really mad. And then I was upset, and the first thing I did was just invoice them.
Jodi KatzOh, really?
Bart KaczanowiczI said, "This is what I charge for a photo." And they paid.
Jodi KatzWow, good for you.
Bart KaczanowiczThey took me off their media list, but you know what, it's okay.
Jodi KatzInteresting. Would it behoove you and content creators like you to actually have a terms-of-use or something somewhere on your website? This is what you expect, or this is what your attorney's have guided you to expect, so that you can actually point people to the right information?
Bart KaczanowiczI probably should have a section in my website that would explain it, because I don't even have a rate card. I feel like everyone wants to receive something that's so custom, that having a firm rate card would only hurt me. So I'm all about making sure that you get exactly what you want, and I will be compensated accordingly. But when it comes to terms-of-use, to me, it's common knowledge. You're using someone else's product.
Jodi KatzI think it's not as common, there's a lot of confusion, and there's a lot of lawyers. There are also a lot of young people just doing the job that they're told to do. I would recommend that you actually consult with your attorney, and say, "If you're going to repost my image, this is what I expect, that you ask for permission. If you're going to take my picture and put it in a newsletter, then I'm going to expect payment." You don't have to include your rate sheet, I agree with you that doing custom programs is probably smarter for you. But being able to then DM these people who are going out of line, be like, "You can visit my website for this, and now I'll invoice you." I think that's super smart.
Bart KaczanowiczI love it, I'm going to do it. Thank you.
Jodi KatzAnd any other content creator should think about doing it too, definitely consult with an attorney, I'm not a lawyer, which is what I say to all my clients. "I'm not a lawyer." But if we don't put forth what we want, if we don't ask for what we want or what we expect, then no one's going to follow.
Bart KaczanowiczIt's true, you have an excellent point. I just did not expect it, I really never saw this coming. To me thinking, if one brand can threaten a cease and desist because I used a trademarked phrase in a blog post title, not even about that brand, then if you are someone in the graphic design department or art department of a brand, and you're making this, and then marketing sees it for approval, they know they never took that picture.
Jodi KatzYeah, I think there's a sense that social is just there to be consumed, to be shared. Right? If I'm Jodi, I don't actually have my own personal feeds, but let's say I did, I could repost your picture and be like, "I thought this was really interesting." And you'd be happy.
Bart KaczanowiczRight.
Jodi KatzBecause I'm just a regular lady, talking about skincare.
Bart KaczanowiczYou are not regular, you're extraordinary.
Jodi KatzThank you. If I'm a brand, it's a different story.
Bart Kaczanowicz100%.
Jodi KatzBut I think it really still gets mixed up in people's heads, because these tools were not created to build brands, they were created to build communities and extend friendship.
Bart KaczanowiczI think initially, but now it's truly a source of income.
Jodi KatzYes.
Bart KaczanowiczEspecially for brands, this is an extension of their marketing or PR.
Jodi KatzBut we're, as brands, co-opting these tools for advertising purposes, so it's still so much gray area. So I'm not super surprised that a brand that you talk about a lot threw a picture of you into their newsletter, I can imagine that they were like, "This is so exciting, Bart loves us." But you have every right to expect-
Bart KaczanowiczI see a lot of brands do it, but they will always give me credit. I really don't mind this, at least my name is out there as someone who's a fan and who genuinely enjoys the product, and takes a decent picture that's worthy of their use. But if you're going to not acknowledge the fact that it's not your picture, and blast it to your hundreds-of-thousands of email subscribers, then there's something off about it in my opinion.
Jodi KatzWe have to take really significant steps now in even posting about press mentions, being super careful legally around how we use the publication's name. There are so many things that we're evolving our protocols around, to protect ourselves and our clients around this. You as a content creator have to do the same.
Bart KaczanowiczI have to.
Jodi KatzBecause no one's going to do it for you.
Bart KaczanowiczNo one, you're right. It's just me.
Jodi KatzWe've been talking a lot about the brands, let's talk about the fans, because that's really, your community is really what it's all about. Do you remember the first time somebody DM'd you a question, you realized, "Oh my god, people really care."
Bart KaczanowiczYeah, it still happens, it never really wears off, because people have really good questions. I am not licensed, I am not certified, I can not analyze your skin and give you recommendations, but god knows, I've tried hundreds of products. I know what worked for me, and what will probably work for most people. I do love when people ask questions. I always feel weird when they ask me for moisturizer for dry skin when they're 20, because I've always been oily, I'm almost 40, so I can't tell them, but I will tell them which brand I think would be a good starting point.

I do like it. There was one moment when I was in the UK, and I walked into a space in Oxford, and this guy who is now a friend on Instagram, was like, "Oh, you're OMG Bart."
Jodi KatzNo way.
Bart KaczanowiczIt was the sweetest, it was the ultimate moment. It was actually special.
Jodi KatzHow long ago was that?
Bart KaczanowiczTwo years.
Jodi KatzThat's really cool.
Bart KaczanowiczIt was really cool.
Jodi KatzDoes he know how cool that moment was for you?
Bart KaczanowiczI hope so, I'm pretty sure I told him. It was really cool.
Jodi KatzAre there ever questions that you're like, "I don't have an answer for you," or do people stick to what your specialty is?
Bart KaczanowiczNo, people ask questions about products or procedures or something that I have absolutely no idea how they would work. But it also works both ways, because sometimes people will message me and tell me what worked for them, and I really like that. Or I got a patch test for this new filler, and I decided I didn't want to do this. And I think what made me decide I didn't want to do this, and I've never had filler in my life, but so many people message me saying, "Don't do this, this stays in your body forever, blah-blah-blah." And I felt smarter, because of my followers.
Jodi KatzWhat is it like to watch your followers grown and evolve, not just as numbers, as metrics, but that you're educating them along the way?
Bart KaczanowiczI think it's pretty fulfilling, I think it's a nice feeling knowing that people come back and say, or will post, "I bought this because OMG Bart said I will probably like it, and he was right." It's a full circle moment, it goes a lot of the time from recommendation to a really nice thank-you message.
Jodi KatzWhat do you know about your fans? Have you done any research into who they are, where they live?
Bart KaczanowiczI see the stats on my Instagram, I know it's 85% women, 15% men. I know that most of them are in their early 20s to mid 30s, and they're from New York, LA, and London mostly. They're pretty urban.
Jodi KatzHave you surveyed them at all?
Bart KaczanowiczNo, but I asked yesterday, because I'm working on a blog post after someone asked me about a basic routine for a guy in his 30s, and I asked the question. So I surveyed them how much they would be willing to pay for a cleanser, a moisturizer, and whatnot. I got a ton of responses.
Jodi KatzHow much would they be willing to pay for a cleanser? Out of curiosity.
Bart KaczanowiczUnder $20. A lot of people between $20 and $30, but I think under $20 was the sweet spot.
Jodi KatzI wouldn't spend more than $20 for a cleanser.
Bart KaczanowiczOkay. I probably would.
Jodi KatzWhy, tell me why?
Bart KaczanowiczI think I like a lot of cleansers that are more than $20.
Jodi KatzI should say this, I should actually Google, because there is a cleanser that I might actually spending way more.
Bart KaczanowiczWhich one?
Jodi KatzFarmaesthetics.
Bart KaczanowiczOh, yeah. The one in the lavender bottle?
Jodi KatzIt's the glass bottle.
Bart KaczanowiczThey're from Rhode Island, right?
Jodi KatzYes. I'm going to look it up, if I can remember.
Bart KaczanowiczI'm sure it's over $20.
Jodi KatzSo then, I do, and I'm wrong.
Bart KaczanowiczI use their rose powder that you mix with a cleanser, or you can use it as an exfoliant solo. It was so nice.
Jodi KatzIt's incredible. I don't actually usually pitch products on this show, but they were a client many years ago, and I started using their products. And when my skin is wack, like crazy wackadoo ...
Bart KaczanowiczYou have beautiful skin, is it Farmaesthetics?
Jodi KatzI use a lot of Farmaesthetics, I use a lot of other products too. But I am a skincare girl, much more than I am a cosmetic or a hair girl. The Farmaesthetics products, this mask, what you spoke about, take me from looking wack to having the most beautiful glowing skin.
Bart KaczanowiczLike red carpet, right?
Jodi KatzYeah. It's amazing. Now I'm going to just, I want to see how much my ...
Bart KaczanowiczIs it geranium or lavender, which cleanser was it?
Jodi KatzI'm going to tell you right now, it is the Fine Herbal Cleanser, oh, it's $40.
Bart KaczanowiczSo it's double.
Jodi KatzAnd I do pay for it.
Bart KaczanowiczYou think you wouldn't pay.
Jodi KatzI do get a lot of products for free, but this one I pay for. I do love it. So I lie, I would spend money for a cleanser. Why is that? Why would I spend a lot of money for a cleanser?
Bart KaczanowiczI don't know. I have seen the voices in beauty switch from, "Oh my god, it's going down the drain, why would I pay for something that's on my face for a second?" And now they're all obsessed about the acid mantle, about protecting the layer on top of our skin. So people are investing in cleansers that won't strip the protective oils, that will keep the pH leveled, so people are willing to pay for I think whatever the buzz of the moment is.
Jodi KatzRight. You keep segueing beautifully for me.
Bart KaczanowiczSorry.
Jodi KatzNo, it's perfect. You're doing my job for me, so I'm grateful. Trends and all this meshugaas, I sometimes feel like I want to just vomit. There's so much, this, now it's this, now it's this and now it's the next thing. It's really annoying and overwhelming, and I do think the customer is overwhelmed.
Bart KaczanowiczBut I think the customer's to blame, because it's happening because of the customer, no?
Jodi KatzTell me.
Bart KaczanowiczI think we talked about this when we had our phone call, and I was telling you how my passion for skincare stems from those days 15 years ago, when there were two new L'Occitane products launching a year. I really looked forward to them, and the second the postcard got in the mail. Because no one was doing newsletters, email. I was in that store, getting that jar, coming home with it, then really enjoying it.
Jodi KatzI want to press pause on this, because I used to work at L'Occitane. I was the creative director there, so that mailer that came in the mailbox, I probably was creating at the time.
Bart KaczanowiczThey were beautiful, and they got me to that Spring Street store the day it got in the mailbox. Well done.
Jodi KatzYou were a super fan, just like teenagers with sneakers or video games, you waited for that launch?
Bart KaczanowiczRight, but newness was really new, and now newness is redundant in a way, because brands are launching so much, every month almost. I also harbor quite a bit of resentment that a lot of my favorites get discontinued, but I understand that tester units can only accommodate so many products, and they need to make room for the new ingredient or have something that other brand did that resembles whatever hit of the month.
Jodi KatzYou said the customer's to blame, but it sounds like really it's the brands to blame at this point. The customer wants something new, but does he or she want something new every other minute?
Bart KaczanowiczThat I don't know, but people sure buy a lot of stuff all the time.
Jodi KatzThis goes back to my thinking around the mailers that go out to influencers in media. We make a lot of them, our clients hire us to make them, some more elaborate than others, a lot of money is spent, and a lot of product goes into making them, and a lot of time. My philosophy on this is it's ridiculous, but until the influencers and editors stop putting them on their stories, the brand's going to want to invest in them.
Bart KaczanowiczI know, but I'm sitting on I think four mini fridges right now, and I haven't plugged in one yet, because I have enough on my shelves. I can't imagine having a skincare fridge in the bathroom. It looks cute when you open the box, but then you have to throw the box out, and figure out what you're going to do with that fridge.
Jodi KatzRight. As someone who receives a lot of these mailers, what's your point of view on it? Would you rather just have product in a bag with a note?
Bart KaczanowiczYes, 100%.
Jodi KatzAcross the board, even if La Mer has the sickest box, you'd rather have the product in a shopping bag?
Bart Kaczanowicz100%.
Jodi KatzTell me why.
Bart KaczanowiczI think I would appreciate of brands is if they had the ability to send product pre-launch, so your enthusiasm can be really genuine when the product launches. I think a lot of brands now time deliveries of mailers with the launch day, and my excitement is just there, but it's not at its best. Because I got it, and I'm grateful, and thank you so much, but I can't tell you anything about it.
Jodi KatzSo you're saying you would like the time to actually experience a product, get to know it, spend a month with it?
Bart KaczanowiczYes. Quite a few brands still do it, there's always an embargo you should mention, you can't mention. But it's nice to have something before it launches, when you get something the day it launched, and it's a big, anything from pool floaties to champagne bottles.
Jodi KatzRight, because then it gives you a chance to be a true advocate of it at the time that it's launching.
Bart KaczanowiczI understand we can't all be an advocate for everything, but it will be nice to have an experience that is more than a single application.
Jodi KatzOn the other side of that desk, you're receiving it when your receive it, and you wished you received it earlier. I know our clients are saying, "Let's send it ..." we say it as well, "Let's send it timed with when the customer can buy it, because we know that the recipients are going to put it on stories." So I think what you're asking for is actually the approach we used to take with media, send it three months in advance, they know it's embargoed.
Bart KaczanowiczEarly access, yes.
Jodi KatzThat would make a difference for you.
Bart KaczanowiczIt would.
Jodi KatzThen you get to really experience it, and then tell your story when they're looking for the most momentum, which is when it's launched.
Bart KaczanowiczExactly.
Jodi KatzIs that true for paid programs and just product that's suited to you?
Bart KaczanowiczAnything, everything really. Then again, it works the other way, because I went to this wonderful fragrance launch event, and we got a fragrance six months before it launched. By the time it launched, I forgot I had it.
Jodi KatzSix months is too long.
Bart KaczanowiczI moved on, yeah.
Jodi KatzSo is a month the sweet spot?
Bart KaczanowiczI think that would be ideal. Even if it's two weeks, it's always something that gives you this edge.
Jodi KatzI think that's really smart.
Bart KaczanowiczAs an enthusiast of products, skincare in general, and someone who likes to share.
Jodi KatzThe lesson to everyone who is listening, is that Bart would like to not receive the tchotchkes, no tchotchkes, and no elaborate boxes made out of beautifully wrapped cardboard with graphics printed on them, and you just would like the products in a shopping bag.
Bart KaczanowiczOr even just in the box, yeah. It sounds great.
Jodi KatzAnd send it a month in advance, before launch.
Bart KaczanowiczTwo weeks is good.
Jodi KatzTwo weeks to a month.
Bart KaczanowiczPlease and thank you. Do you like those big? You create them, I'm not saying you are to blame, because the mailers are amazing. But you have to agree that some are really over the top.
Jodi KatzYes, and we've created many over the top ones. We started working on this type of work years ago, it might be 10 years, even longer at this point, for Clinique. This was right after the recession, and the very smart women who were my client team at Clinique decided that it would be in poor taste to send fancy expensive shoes to editors, which is what they used to do. Like, "Here's beautiful shoes and our product, as thank you to your loyalty to Clinique, and here's the product and beautiful shoes." Or a bag.
Bart KaczanowiczI actually remember those days.
Jodi KatzThey thought that would be in poor taste, so they wanted to do something that would be intriguing and conceptual. We had never done this work before, because nobody was doing this work before, and it was right at the moment where we had bloggers and bloggers had a real value in storytelling. We started doing this work, and the first project we did with them, I remember I was pregnant with my daughter, who is now just about nine, and it was for one of the Rosacea collections. We actually created, it was magnificent, a white acrylic box that arrived on editor's desks glowing red.
Bart KaczanowiczWow.
Jodi KatzWhen you lifted the lid, the red light inside went off, and the box was white. It was like doing what the product would do for your rosacea.
Bart KaczanowiczSoothing instantly, canceling redness. Wow.
Jodi KatzIt was really a work of art, it was a really interesting piece of technology, we had LED lights, there was trigger to turn them off. We had to of course call all the publishing houses' messenger centers and say, "We're sending shopping bags with glowing red lights inside, it's fine." Get permission to send them, because this is unusual. It was the first time we'd ever done something like this, and it really started a trend in how you tell conceptual stories about product through packaging.
Bart KaczanowiczThat's amazing.
Jodi KatzSo we've been really proud of many of the creations, I'd say the best ones we did were with that Clinique team way back when.
Bart KaczanowiczWere you in-house at Clinique?
Jodi KatzNo, it was my agency. But since then, I think it's just been a race to do more, faster, get more out. Certainly there are other projects along the way we've been proud of, but I don't love the idea of the focus so much on these individuals, because I think the clients sometimes forget about the customer. Let's really focus our attention with these types of projects to your best customer, your top one-percent customers, and shower them with these really special moments. Because they are advocates for your brand too, maybe they don't have a YouTube, but they have their mouths and they tell their friends, and they bring their friends to the counter or the store, tell them where to shop.

It's hard for brands, a lot of them are third party retail, so they don't actually know who those customers are. So the L'Occitanes of the world do know, they own their own stores. But if you're a third party retail, it's impossible for you to know who these people are. I always want to just get closer and closer to the customer, the end user, and shower her with love, but it's hard.
Bart KaczanowiczI remember L'Occitane always did amazing GWPs, the more you spend. We were this close to getting a free bike in that store.
Jodi KatzI think they still do it, because I do buy, the things that I do shop for, the Farmaesthetics face wash and the shea butter hair and cream at L'Occitane.
Bart KaczanowiczThat's like an iconic product.
Jodi KatzIt's my favorite.
Bart Kaczanowicz100% shea butter.
Jodi KatzI'm really grateful you shared all your wisdom with us today, and your story.
Bart KaczanowiczThank you.
Jodi KatzIt was so nice to get to know you.
Bart KaczanowiczThank you for having me.
Jodi KatzI adore you.
Bart KaczanowiczI was so scared I would be awkward, because I tend to get awkward.
Jodi KatzThis is your first podcast ever?
Bart KaczanowiczEver.
Jodi KatzYou did a beautiful job.
Bart KaczanowiczThank you, I really appreciate it.
Jodi KatzYou can tell your friends and family.
Bart KaczanowiczI can just listen to you for hours. I knew this after our phone call, I'm like, "This is so great."
Jodi KatzI'm genuinely interested in you, I think that's the difference.
Bart KaczanowiczIt's a two-way street.
Jodi KatzThank you.
Bart KaczanowiczI have interest in you.
Jodi KatzYou brought us beautiful donuts today.
Bart KaczanowiczI did, from a local farm/bakery in Litchfield, Connecticut.
Jodi KatzThank you for bringing them on the train for us.
Bart KaczanowiczI drove.
Jodi KatzYou drove? I'm a train girl.
Bart KaczanowiczI love the train, but today, of all days, I didn't want to be in Grand Central. It's so hot, I didn't want them to melt.
Jodi KatzThank you.
Bart KaczanowiczYou're welcome.
Jodi KatzAnd for our listeners, I hope you enjoyed with interview with Bart. Please subscribe to our series on iTunes, and for updates about the show, follow us on Instagram @WhereBrainsMeetBeautyPodcast.
Bart KaczanowiczThank you.

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