Episode 140: Stephanie Kramer, SVP of Global Marketing and Product Innovation at SkinCeuticals

There’s enough wisdom in our podcast with Stephanie Kramer, SVP Global Marketing and Product Innovation at SkinCeuticals, to fill four episodes. The heart of our conversation is about surviving and thriving within the massive, regimented corporate culture. Stephanie calls herself an interpreneur for the way she has carved out a sweet spot, figuring out how to use the resources, get the projects, find the colleagues to partner with and nurture the talent just like an entrepreneur would but within L’Oréal, one of the world’s biggest beauty companies, all while climbing the ladder and being a caring parent and partner. Don’t miss a word.

Dan Hodgdon
AnnouncerWelcome to WHERE BRAINS MEET BEAUTY® hosted by Jodi Katz, founder and creative director of Base Beauty Creative Agency.
Jodi KatzHey, everybody. It's Jodi Katz, your host of WHERE BRAINS MEET BEAUTY® Podcast. Thanks so much for tuning in. This week's episode features Stephanie Kramer. She's the SVP Global Marketing and Product Innovation at SkinCeuticals. If you missed last week's episode, it featured Rea Ann Silva. She is the Founder of Beautyblender. Hope you enjoy the show.

Hey, everybody. Welcome to WHERE BRAINS MEET BEAUTY®. I am so excited to be sitting with Stephanie Kramer. She is the SVP Global Marketing and Product Innovation at SkinCeuticals. Welcome to our show.
Stephanie KramerHi. So excited to be here.
Jodi KatzThank you so much for rescheduling with me. When we had our first schedule to do this recording, I actually had no voice. I think that's the only time in my life I could not speak. It was very challenging, as you could imagine. So thank you for rescheduling with me.
Stephanie KramerYes, of course.
Jodi KatzThe first question I'm going to ask you about is my favorite because I love minutia. How will you spend your day today?
Stephanie KramerWell, after a holiday weekend, it was very exciting this morning to get up and get my coffee by myself. I had two sick boys this weekend, so lots of that. So that little bit of time was quite exciting. Getting ready to come here. I already had a really great planning meeting with my leadership team this morning, and then was able to just walk over because we're at Hudson Yards, and head back for some-
Jodi KatzOh, yeah. We're so close.
Stephanie KramerIt's so close. Super easy to get here. Then I'll head back over to the office for meetings with my team this afternoon. Then tonight, back into mom mode.
Jodi KatzIs most of your work days at the office, is it meetings, meetings, meetings?
Stephanie KramerYes. Lots of meetings.
Jodi KatzDo you ever catch up on your emails during work hours?
Stephanie KramerVery rarely, unfortunately.
Jodi KatzWhat is that schedule like? Do you get home, put the kids to bed and then get back on email?
Stephanie KramerYeah. I try to actually not do emails while commuting. That's my big thing. I try to not do it while I'm walking down the street and not while I'm in a car. So that leaves pretty much those hours after dinner or during dinnertime, when the kids have gone to sleep, or on the weekend.
Jodi KatzWhen you're commuting, you're on a train?
Stephanie KramerNo. Actually, I normally take a Via. So I take a ride share because I come straight down the West Side Highway. I'm on the upper west side to Hudson Yards. I also love to run home, but just not seasonally easy with the dark. That's my most favorite mode of transportation.
Jodi KatzOh, okay. Talk me through the fitness as commuting because I've always been curious about this. You pack a bag in the morning with your gear.
Stephanie KramerYep. Actually, I normally take multiple things with me. I take my sneakers back and forth, but wear a backpack. That's the days where I have ... I have an iPad at home, so I don't have to use my computer. Put everything in the backpack and then run home off the West Side Highway with my headphones on. Get the commuting in, get the exercise in and decompress.
Jodi KatzYou have the backpack on while you're running?
Stephanie KramerYes.
Jodi KatzIs that something that takes getting used to?
Stephanie KramerA little bit, but I try to not carry too much that day when I'm back and forth. Then I have to do the ride share then on the Friday to carry home all the gear and make sure I have backup running shoes in both places because it gets a little bit tricky. Kind of like when you're dating and you have your stuff in multiple places.
Jodi KatzSo you're accumulating during the course of the week and you bring it all back home on Friday?
Stephanie KramerExactly.
Jodi KatzOkay. That makes sense. I like that. That's cool.
Stephanie KramerYeah. It's great. Although now I live a lot closer, so I have to decide if I'm going to run less or if I should overshoot my apartment and then run back home because when I was a little bit further downtown at [inaudible 00:03:36], it was a five-mile run instead of a three-mile run.
Jodi KatzOh, wow. That's a big difference.
Stephanie KramerYeah.
Jodi KatzLet's talk about this. This SkinCeuticals job is a new role for you.
Stephanie KramerYes. Exactly. I started in October. SkinCeuticals is still part of the L'Oréal family, and moved from Kiehl's to SkinCeuticals. Really excited to be learning about a new part of the business.
Jodi KatzWhat was your role at Kiehl's?
Stephanie KramerAt Kiehl's, I was head of global marketing.
Jodi KatzWhat sort of shifts happen with your new role now? Is it more responsibility? Is it something that's brand new to you?
Stephanie KramerFor me, it's in a different growth phase, for sure, than Kiehl's. That's really exciting and challenging. It's in the high growth phase. It also has the medical channel, which is really exciting to learn. Way, way back, I was a chemistry major who wanted to go to med school, and I feel like this is really testing me to rack my brain and dig into clinical data. I spent my weekend reading lots of papers online to get ideas. So it's an exciting new step.
Jodi KatzThat's one of the first things I wrote. After my first question, I wrote, "You are a chemist!" That's so cool that you are a chemist.
Stephanie KramerYeah. Well, everyone always says those type of things. I remember being the student, the chemist, and then going and transitioning into marketing with that background. It's been a long time, but now it still clicks every once in a while, which is fun, especially the organic stuff.
Jodi KatzDuring our intake call, I asked you about why beauty and you told me about your childhood Mary Kay birthday party.
Stephanie KramerYes.
Jodi KatzPaint a picture for me of what that was.
Stephanie KramerI really am in the right place. I have lots of instances of that. Two of them that we talked about, one is the Mary Kay birthday party. So I would make potions in my bathroom. I thought pretty much all kids did that, but apparently this is special to me. I would mix all different kinds of products and try to get it to have different kinds of foam and all these things. Then that evolved into asking my mom if I could have the Mary Kay birthday party with the little pink trays that you'd fold up and everyone would sit around the table and you'd learn how to use the different products. I thought that was just the coolest thing in the whole world. Then everybody would leave with a little lip gloss.

I have this great picture of me that I was in middle school, and it was really the peak of Old Navy's height. So I had a really funky sweater on and I had black and gold braces because I was from ... I am from Pittsburgh. I also went to North Allegheny High School. Black and gold are not really the best colors for you to alternate on your teeth.
Jodi KatzI am speechless right now.
Stephanie KramerYeah. I'm painting the picture for you because I'm standing in front of this triptych board. You know slides and things? You used to actually have to cut out letters and put them on the background of a board to present your science fair experiment. Mine was called Skin Science. I tested different soaps on pieces of shammie that my dad used to dry the car hood because it was simulating skin. Really, I'm in the right place.
Jodi KatzSo your school project was about how soap and skin react to each other?
Stephanie KramerTesting different soaps.
Jodi KatzWhat did you learn?
Stephanie KramerI don't remember, but I do remember that Dial Bubble Bath was one of the contenders.
Jodi KatzHow interesting. Why do you think you were so fascinated by beauty back then?
Stephanie KramerI think I was really into both the science piece because my grandfather was a chemist ... So he would actually bring home corroded pipes and teach me why that was happening and different things, from boilers he would visit. You could imagine that's a very interesting link to beauty, but then also I would always read the fashion section of the New York Times and think about those two things together, and art. I love to paint. Yeah.
Jodi KatzThat's so cool. Okay. I don't know if Mary Kay still does birthday parties, but if they don't, somebody should because this is a genius idea.
Stephanie KramerAbsolutely.
Jodi KatzOkay. Let's talk about education. You've trained quite a bit.
Stephanie KramerYes.
Jodi KatzYou have your degree in chemistry. You have a master's from FIT. Is that right?
Stephanie KramerYep.
Jodi KatzWere you in the NYU graduate program?
Stephanie KramerI did their certificate program for digital marketing.
Jodi KatzOkay. Then you're also a trained esthetician?
Stephanie KramerYes.
Jodi KatzOkay. Did I miss anything?
Stephanie KramerThat's good.
Jodi KatzOkay. Tell me why you love school.
Stephanie KramerI love to learn. Now it's so nice to be able to be, especially in my current job, a very proud nerd. I just can't get enough. When I went to Wake Forest, I was the only person sitting in my chemistry class, wearing my sorority jersey. Again, one of those things that was very much who I am. One of my projects was working with the art department on putting a periodic table outside of the chemistry department. A real table that had tiles that were shaped like the different elements, so that we could sit together, maybe get people to come over to the chemistry building.
Jodi KatzSo you were trying to market the chemistry department?
Stephanie KramerYep. I was trying to market the chemistry department. I was the president of the chapter of the American Chemical Society. I remember the day they took the yearbook photo, I had on my sorority jersey and I thought, "This is really special." That was exciting, but I couldn't study abroad because of all the labs. So I got to study in Cuba. I did a special program that was in the summer and it was on Cuban art and literature, and really was talking about art and art history. I just kept thinking, "I don't know if I can go to med school right away or to graduate school. I just have this urge to be abroad and to do something different."

Then I actually interned at Quest and Quest Fragrances, which was acquired by Givaudan. They had all these analytical majors. Biologists and chemists and perfumers who have this very different knowledge and skillset. I saw the business piece, too. I got so excited. Then I did a rotational program with Quest, where I worked in New Jersey, in the Mount Olive plant, which was super cool, working on toothpaste flavors. Then I worked in New York and I was working on the Estee Lauder account when Beyond Paradise was the fragrance of the year, and with Britney Spears on Curious. Now I'm really dating myself.

Then I lived in the U.K. and worked on strategy and finance and then rotated to Asia and lived in China. So pre-Olympics China, pre-big boom in China for our industry. Really got to work on the consumer insight side and doing ethnography studies and then came back and then moved to L'Oréal.
Jodi KatzHow cool that when you're in college, you longed to study abroad, but then you got a job that basically paid you to study abroad.
Stephanie KramerExactly. Yeah.
Jodi KatzAbroad in many places.
Stephanie KramerExactly.
Jodi KatzThat's so cool.
Stephanie KramerIt was very, very cool.
Jodi KatzI want to know about you now. Tell me about your leadership style.
Stephanie KramerI think my leadership style has really evolved. I say that because I think it's just ... I like having multi facets of my life, and I really like to give people space, but I also know who I am and I have a lot of energy and I get really excited and engaged. So I try to balance my personal excitement and engagement with giving people the space to thrive. So I really want to be the biggest cheerleader. I want to help people take an idea and explode it. I really like a back and forth relationship, but I'd really, really like to find people and help lead people to find that place where they get energy. That's what I look for in myself, too.
Jodi KatzHow did that come out when you were earlier in your career? You were at Quest for many years and then you were at Tiffany.
Stephanie KramerThen I was at L'Oréal.
Jodi KatzL'Oréal.
Stephanie KramerThen I was working on Ralph Lauren fragrances, and then from there, I moved to the professional division. Worked on Matrix and then left and went to Chanel and worked on the U.S. side of the business, and then came back to L'Oréal to work on Kiehl's.
Jodi KatzI mentioned Tiffany because I'm getting confused because you had ... We have someone in common, Adina Kagan-
Stephanie KramerYep.
Jodi Katz-who used to work at Tiffany. Now she's at Chanel, so that's where you ... Was she your boss at Chanel?
Stephanie KramerNo, but she's a great mentor still. She wasn't my direct boss very early on in my first job, but she was the most influential boss. I guess she was my boss's boss's boss. She's amazing and I think about her all the time. Totally amazing, and excellent listener and bouncing ideas off of person.
Jodi KatzWhen I ask people about their leadership style, they usually are a little more advanced in their career, but how did that leadership style come through when you were leading maybe just your own work and not a team?
Stephanie KramerI think this energy thing has always been part of it. I think people know too, they can give me a little project or something that maybe other people don't want to work on and just say, "You can work on this on the side," and they know that I'm going to get excited about it and it's going to explode and I'm going to bring people into it. So I'm a good person to give those type of things to. I think now I see that in others and I try to also make sure that while you want to work on big vision and strategy and all the different pieces that you also have these other things that might just be a spark, but give people space and let them do it because I certainly was somebody who did that and saw how that helped my career and also helped how I lead others.
Jodi KatzAs you're talking about all the different companies you worked at, it makes me think about a little bit of my own career. Those are all very big organizations, very hierarchical organizations. I always have a really hard time with hierarchy. It didn't mix well for me. It was no doubt that I would become an entrepreneur at some point, but following rules is really hard for me. Not just the rules of the job. I mean I guess ... I didn't break laws or anything. I'm not a law breaker, but the politics and the internal kind of mishegoss. Were you able to navigate that stuff and not ever worry about it?
Stephanie KramerI mean I definitely worried about it, for sure, but yes. I think that that's something I've really found a sweet spot. I call it almost an interpreneurial spirit.
Jodi KatzSay that again.
Stephanie KramerInterpreneur. So I'm an interpreneur. I'm coming to grips with that because again, I have found great partners and great resources within these companies in order to test and learn and do things. I like to be on brands and work on teams that like to do that. So maybe some brands or some teams that have more of that structure or rigidity or ... I just think I've tried to find those sweet spots within the big organizations and people. It has always been for me about people.
Jodi KatzIs interpreneur a thing? Have you heard of this before?
Stephanie KramerI mean I use it all the time. I think it might be, but it's certainly how I define myself.
Jodi KatzYeah. Maybe see if you can trademark that one.
Stephanie KramerYeah, absolutely.
Jodi KatzBefore it's too late.
Stephanie KramerExactly.
Jodi KatzI'm thinking about Jan-
Stephanie KramerIt might have to be like theinterpreneur.us. Something.
Jodi KatzYeah. Well, Jan who reads through all the transcripts from our show and writes the LinkedIn blurbs about it, she's going to latch on to this.
Stephanie KramerAwesome. Great.
Jodi KatzYeah. It's such a good idea. I love it.
Stephanie KramerYeah.
Jodi KatzOkay. So you just think that you have a knack for finding the right people and the right projects coming to you, so that you can be entrepreneurial, but within a big organization.
Stephanie KramerYes. Exactly.
Jodi KatzWhat kind of advice would you give to people who are starting out or maybe in the middle of their career and they're working in very hierarchical, very corporate environments, and it feels itchy to them?
Stephanie KramerI think that's a really important feeling that I actually always encourage people, in any state of their career, to consider. When you're feeling itchy or when you're feeling stuck, I normally try to help them unstick why they're stuck because that's the worst feeling in the world. One of the worst feelings for me. So I always say, "Okay. Where are you?" I do this with my students, too. I say, "Are you a green, where you're like, 'I have these feelings, but I'm still pretty good in my current job'? Am I yellow? Am I starting to feel like this is making me uncomfortable every day and bothering me? Is it something I can change that's within my control or am I red? Like, 'Get me out of this. This is not right.'" Something like that.

Almost giving yourself that frame helps you to feel a little bit less itchy or sticky or stuck. So I always give people that advice. The second is, what things are within my control? What things are not within my control? Sometimes you just have to stay the course with those things that are not within your control that are part of your job responsibilities, but then also find other ways that you're going to get that energy. That high frequency that we all want to find that'll help stimulate you in different ways, so the other stuff won't feel so itchy and stuck.
Jodi KatzYou're saying that through your career, your team members could come to you and have this conversation with you and they don't have to worry about if they're ... Yellow is that they're going to lose their job tomorrow?
Stephanie KramerNo. I think it's really important that it's a partnership. You want people to feel good. What I always do with that is also say to people, "It doesn't mean you have to leave." Of course, your first thing is going to be ... Especially with talent. How do I retain you? How do I make sure I'm getting the best out of you? How do you feel that way, too? You don't want to just be using people for only what they're good at, but what do you want to be stretched? How do you want to do it together? Also, I try to keep a very high level of trust with people on my team.
Jodi KatzRight. So you're obviously a nice boss. What should people look for if they're not sure if their boss is the type of person they can come to with their honest feelings?
Stephanie KramerI think it's actually always a good thing to test with someone you totally trust and go in. Maybe somebody that knows your boss is a good tip. So you can go into them and say, "This is what I'd like to say." You know what? Honestly, generally the best policy is to just go for it because your boss, even if you don't have that best relationship, will probably really respect that you're having this type of conversation, but sometimes it's good to test it out on someone that might know them or somewhere where you might feel a little bit safe and comfortable.

Also, I always recommend if you have a difficult conversation, generally, you should just maybe have a practice run because you might be overly emotional. You might not have the right words. You might not be as articulate. You might need to think through it yourself too, depending how you think. So I always give people that extra little ... Give yourself a buffer.
Jodi KatzIt's such sound advice. I think I'm amazed by what you're saying because early in my career, I didn't have people to turn to like you, and went to the HR department to talk about that stuff and got fired before I even left the elevator. You know, on the way back up to my office. So I guess I've been so wounded by corporate culture, in that sense. It made me think that it's not possible, but I believe you, that you're telling me there are people.
Stephanie KramerI think it's evolving. I think the corporate landscape is evolving, too. I think people are not going to be ... That's not going to happen anymore. I mean, let's hope so. At least at some of the companies where you are the champion of your own career. You're encouraged to have those conversations, particularly difficult conversations and people are more vulnerable. Hopefully we're getting to a point where people feel better about it, but it's still tough. It's never easy.
Jodi KatzYou mentioned your students. Who are your students?
Stephanie KramerYes. I teach at FIT. I teach the program I graduated from. So I graduated from the FIT MPS program, which is run by Professor Stephan Kanlian. He's a great champion of his students. I graduated from the program in 2011. Then I worked on the alumni board. Then from that, one of the professors was retiring, so I shadowed her and then I took on the communications class. I teach the first year communications class at FIT for the master's program.
Jodi KatzThat's amazing. That must be so much fun.
Stephanie KramerIt is just one of the best things that I do in my entire life.
Jodi KatzWhat are your students learning right now?
Stephanie KramerI teach the fall semester. So right now, nothing from me, but we do general communication skills. So executive presence, presentation skills. They actually have to give at least six or seven presentations that are filmed and have feedback from their peers, from myself, et cetera. They do written communications, too.
Jodi KatzThis is such a great role for you because I feel like you're so coachy.
Stephanie KramerThanks.
Jodi KatzDoes anyone ever tell you that?
Stephanie KramerYeah. I love having people ... Helping people find themselves and grow within that. I always say to the students, I say, "I'm not going to make you into a robot, but I'm going to make you into the best version of yourself that you're an effective communicator, and that you have the presence of who you want to be." I think that that's really important is to not force everybody to look and do the same things, but to find where they feel comfortable. Still, there's teachable skills within there, too.
Jodi KatzThis isn't talent of yours. Not everybody does this.
Stephanie KramerThanks.
Jodi KatzYeah. This is awesome.
Stephanie KramerThanks.
Jodi KatzDoes L'Oréal Corporate have a role for that type of learning for their team?
Stephanie KramerFrom a coaching perspective, yes. There's mentorship programs that are at L'Oréal. There's also coaching that's done on a one-on-one level and on group level. They also sponsor students within this FIT program, which is great. It's a really amazing industry program, where people are sponsored and immediately are reciprocally bringing back those benefits to their team.
Jodi KatzThat's awesome.
Stephanie KramerBut I really believe in it.
Jodi KatzYou have a professor role. You have a job, which is a very important job at SkinCeuticals. We started talking about life work balance when we were on our intake call together, and you said, "I don't have life work balance."
Stephanie KramerNo, I don't.
Jodi KatzYou have something else. So tell us what that is.
Stephanie KramerYes. I always have this image, another one of my visualizations, of a seesaw. How the stuck thing is like the worst. If you're sitting on a seesaw and you're trying to balance it, first of all, it's just not going to happen. So I always think of it as sometimes one side is up. Sometimes the other side is up. It's not that you're trying to always keep this perfect harmony, but that you decide. Some days, I was like, "You know what? Today, I got the coffee. I took the pause. I blew out my hair. I took my time getting ready." Other days, I prioritize. I want to be the one to take my older son to school. I want to be the one to be home early and put both kids to sleep.

It's choices. I'm very lucky to have an amazing, supportive husband and have developed the network that I need in order to be able to do a lot, but yeah. Most days, I'm not getting an A in everything. That's probably my number two advice after the red, yellow, green and where are you. I go, "You're not going to get an A in everything." From somebody who really was a straight A student, that's a tough one, but I think it makes you feel a whole lot better when you think about it. You know, but get an A in something.
Jodi KatzRight. That's actually something I say to my kids. Like, "Not everybody is good at math and reading and history." All these subjects. Most people aren't great at all these subjects, right? You have some that you fail and that's life, right?
Stephanie KramerYeah. That actually came from my mom, too. I would be so upset about a B on a test and she'd be like, "Yeah, but you got 100 on this other test. So let's just take the points from that one and put it into this one." I'm like, "Okay. So where can I mark it?" Mark me getting a B into an A. All right. I can do this.
Jodi KatzRight. Well, in life, I don't like the word perfection. I think it shouldn't even exist as word because for me, it doesn't exist as a thing. If I try to hold myself to a standard that's not reachable, I'm only going to feel sad. Right? Deflated. So this idea of being able to get an A in one thing ... Maybe I got an A in work today, but I got a C in parenting or cuddles or whatever. I'm starting to really be okay with it. I think it was harder when they were little, but now that my kids are 12 and nine and they are essentially small adults ... No, you're not going to get the best of me at 9:00 at night at bedtime. It doesn't happen. It hardly ever happens. I'm half asleep.
Stephanie KramerYeah.
Jodi KatzCuddles are not A+ cuddles.
Stephanie KramerExactly. You know when they're not.
Jodi KatzYeah.
Stephanie KramerYou totally know when you're not giving A+ cuddles. The next day, you're like, "All right. Today we are doing A+ cuddles. There's not going to be any background thinking about the emails that I have to write when I'm done with this. We're not going to just do the short book. We're going to do the long book and the back rub and the extra cuddles in order to refill that reservoir because that's ..." I say all the other things, how much I love my job and I love FIT, but my kids and my husband and my family are really number one.
Jodi KatzIsn't that amazing, that we're in a time in our careers where we can have conversations like this that go public? Right? 15 years ago, 20 years ago, we might not have ... If we said this in public, people would be shaming us.
Stephanie KramerTotally.
Jodi KatzLike, "Oh, you don't put your work first. Oh, you're not 100% your work." Right? They would really have scolded us, right? Our peers or the supervisors and the leaders of the company would have scolded us for having feelings about having a life beyond work.
Stephanie KramerTotally. I think we still have that challenge. It's awesome that we can have that conversation, but I think people still face it all the time, every day.
Jodi KatzWell, this is a great transition to the topic that I wanted to spend the most time on, which is how we can all, our companies or as friends, better support women as they become moms or as they grow as parents and in work. I know this is a topic that you feel really strongly about. So tell me what your thoughts are on that.
Stephanie KramerOne of the topics that I'm very, very passionate about is about working women and pregnancy because I think it's a very important point. I remember it so vividly, and I'm sure you do, too. It's such a pinnacle point in your life, where really, that is the focus. But you still are also generally, at that time, that age point, you're also hitting a specific time point in your career. I think that perception is everything. Even if you are a woman who has been pregnant, I probably think that you could see someone pregnant and you might see them differently if you just found out that day that they are.

So I think it's a really important perception that we have to all be aware that we have and how to support women in that time because I think if we get them there, it's not about when you come back from your maternity leave, trying to retain them. I think it's retaining them before they even get pregnant or when they are pregnant.
Jodi KatzWhy do you say that? Do you think that a switch goes off in some women's heads that's like, "Well, now I'm pregnant. I'm probably not going to have a career here"? Do you think they make a decision about that?
Stephanie KramerI think that it's a point where you really think about it because you have to make ... We're talking about the balance. You have to go to all those doctor's appointments. You can't go on that trip to France. You have these other pieces. It's the first time where really, you can't say yes. I remember for me ... When we were talking about my early career, I was super fortunate, but I also worked really hard and I also said yes. Not just to the really cool things, but to all of the other horrible things, so that maybe someday I'd be considered for the awesome ones. I think it's one of the first times, and I remember having the moment, where it was like, "Oh, I can't say yes," and I wanted to.

It's not bad. You get all these amazing benefits on the other side, but that's a real check to your ego, to your reality. You know, it happened again when I had my second son. It happens now to me still, too, but it's different and it's tough. We were talking about really supportive people around you. We can have honest conversations about it and know that it does affect you.
Jodi KatzSo this idea that we need to retain women before or during pregnancy is really fascinating because I'm thinking about my own journey. I was working at L'Occitane En Provence and I knew I wanted to have kids. I wasn't pregnant yet, but I made up in my mind, "This is not a place that I can be a mom."
Stephanie KramerYep. I think that happens to a lot of people. It's such a shame because we shouldn't have to have that be one of the limiting factors. However, it's true. Right? If you had a job that had tons of international travel, probably you might want to make a change, or you know what? You decide that you're going to take your child with you and maybe change your childcare plan or something, but it's definitely a point where you're making a decision.
Jodi KatzRight. I've really never thought about it this way. I've thought a lot about once the baby comes or the second baby comes, and those are conversations we have with our team because many of us have kids, but I really never thought about making the environment in such a place that when I do get pregnant, it's a place I know I could be a mom.
Stephanie KramerExactly. I always talk to people about, "Well, do you want to go see where the pumping room is? Do you want to talk about what your schedule could be?" Making it not a thing. Like, "Do you want to talk about what your options are if you had a maternity leave?" Literally, people are going on the website and looking on your corporate policies and making their life decisions with all of those things in mind. Wouldn't it be better if you could have a conversation about it, where you could talk about options and your feelings? I don't know. I think this is another sweet spot of business opportunity, only because I think that the companies who get this right will set a standard. This is for people, like we're saying...

I did a TEDx at L'Oréal on this topic. I remember people coming up to me and saying, "You know, I'm not even there yet. I'm not even dating. I'm not even thinking about having kids yet, but this made me feel better about it because we're having this conversation and it's been something that's been on my mind."
Jodi KatzYeah. This is actually really huge. My friends who wanted to stay on in their roles when we had kids, yeah, they were looking in these handbooks. They weren't willing to talk to anybody because they were fearful to have those conversations. Fearful of negative energy that can come back at them. Also, probably it didn't feel safe in asking these questions, that they wouldn't be received. This is really amazing. How do you as one person help a global organization think this way?
Stephanie KramerI think any time I have the opportunity, like this, to talk about it, I do. I talk about a lot of other difficult things that happen in that same area because I think it's a really unique spot. Women in this position, they normally do two things. One, they either push really hard. You're already, by the way, making a human, doing a full-time job and trying to be like normal. You probably don't feel that great and you're probably tired. [inaudible 00:29:40], but that was me. So you're doing that, but you're pushing because you want to say, "And I am completely the same, even though people's perceptions are likely going to be different."

Same as if you have a broken arm. People are going to see that visibly, right? So you can't hide that visible thing or they're going to pull back already. That's those two pieces. Then when you come back from your maternity leave, if you're staying at your same job, you have that hangover of those things too where, "Oh, I pushed so hard when I was pregnant and now I'm ready to take on more," but you're coming back into the same job, but you need to feel so much more fulfilled because now you're also giving up being away and you're spending money on all these other things.

So you have this tension. I think that that time really could use individual coaching or programming or support. You have to find people, too. So when you're asking me about how I can do it, I can talk about it, but I do talk and meet with a lot of people. I think that any time someone is pregnant in the workspace and someone knows me, they're normally like, "I have a friend you should talk to." Sure. Come on. Let me give you my weird list of things you should put in your hospital bag, but also, let's talk about your career. What do you want to do?
Jodi KatzWell right now, you're sitting in the pumping room.
Stephanie KramerYeah. Nice. Good.
Jodi KatzYeah. So we'll put a curtain there on the door.
Stephanie KramerIt's soundproof.
Jodi KatzYeah.
Stephanie KramerThat's the biggest thing. The pumping room with the noise is not cool.
Jodi KatzWe do have these conversations here. No one is pregnant as far as I know, but I do want them to know that you can come baby here. You can work from home here. You can do whatever it takes. Your talent is important to me, but I'm also a very small organization run by a woman who has kids. Right?
Stephanie KramerIt's amazing because when you say it, you can tell you believe it and I think that's a tough balance, too. People will say it and they'll say they have a policy, but you've got to really believe it.
Jodi KatzWell, I lived it. Right? I torture-tested it. So I know for sure that work can move forward if people work at home. I know for sure that work can move forward if you have a screaming baby on your lap. I know that you can work during nap time. I know that you can just catch up at night if the day didn't go the way you wanted. I know this. I know this and I have a lot of working moms on my team who work when they can work, right? For me, it's so important to leverage their talent in a way that's comfortable for them. Sure, does it mean some work can't go to them if they're not available during working hours? Yes, but then there's other work that can go to them if they want to be more like the night shift. It's really not that hard. It just requires somebody committing to it.
Stephanie KramerYeah. In order to do it, you have to have the conversations with people. The whole team. It's not even just about that person. It's like, "Okay, cool, but you better call in for this time spot." By the way, it's how we all should be working, anyway, to be respectful of what people want to do because I always say, too, it's not just about pregnancy or women with kids. It's also I want my husband to be able to take my kid to school. I want to support him in that way, too, or I want people on my team who are training for a marathon, I want them to be able to run during daylight hours. We all have the things that also help us keep that energy going because we're all people.
Jodi KatzWe were having a conversation here about someone we were having a call with, and she said to me ... She's outside of our agency. "Time is not my own here." I mentioned that to one of our team members and I said to Robin, I'm like, "Why is it not like that here?" Robin is like, "Because we're adults. We treat each other like adults. We all have other things in our life. You have a doctor's appointment, your dog needs to go to the ... Whatever. We're just adults about it." I think that that's a really big difference, right? Treating people like adults versus treating people like children.
Stephanie KramerYeah. There's respect. There's trust. There's efficiency. There's making sure you have the right tools in place. All of it.
Jodi KatzWhen did you notice this idea that you're losing people before they even got pregnant? How did you see that?
Stephanie KramerI experienced it with myself, even though I was in a supportive environment. I experienced it with myself, where I was having all of these feelings and I realized that my friends were having the same things. Then when it happened again, where I was thinking about it, actually ... So I wasn't even pregnant with my second son and I was thinking about it again. I said, "You know what? I need to fact check this thesis." I had a student who was an amazing mentee of mine. She was struggling with this exact thing that we're talking about, and actually wasn't sure how her boss was going to react.

He ended up being very supportive with her, but we had to ... Like we were talking about, we had to think through the right way to have that conversation and what the boundaries were and how she was going to do it all that she wanted to do. I thought, "Is this just me? Is this just a perception thing?" I actually started doing research because I'm a nerd, as we discussed. I found studies that were very much proving the fact that perception changes the minute that you announce you're pregnant. Once I found that, I thought, "Okay. Why?" I dug deeper into why and how, but then it started to ladder into this bigger thing because this is what I do. I snowball and I love that, about why are women getting paid less money? Why are there less women in the top of the pyramid? All of those points of attrition and losing women and talent in the pipeline at this very crucial moment started to crystallize into this thesis.

For me, I was like, "Okay. It says this one article ..." I will send you my articles. This one article says that between 30 and 35 is where you're likely to become a first time manager. So let's say you're getting into a groove in your career. However, we know that your eggs start going downhill in the same time period. So that's great. You basically have age 34 where you need to make everything happen, so you can maintain your career and you can have your fertility. There's a lot more challenges that go into all of that, too. I thought, "Wow. This is all real." So how do we support people? This isn't going to change, but it went into an even bigger thought.
Jodi KatzWell, this is amazing. If you have articles, we can share them with our fans.
Stephanie KramerYeah. That'd be great.
Jodi KatzI'm sure a lot of people would be really interested in this.
Stephanie KramerTotally.
Jodi KatzThank you so much for sharing your wisdom with us today. This is incredible.
Stephanie KramerOf course.
Jodi KatzYou've given me a lot to think about.
Stephanie KramerThank you.
Jodi KatzI'm going to walk my team into the pumping room after this call.
Stephanie KramerGood. Good.
Jodi KatzFor our listeners, I hope you enjoyed this interview with Stephanie. Please subscribe to our series on iTunes. For updates about the show, follow us on Instagram at @wherebrainsmeetbeautypodcast. Thank you.
AnnouncerThanks for listening to WHERE BRAINS MEET BEAUTY® with Jodi Katz. Tune in again for more authentic conversations with beauty leaders.

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