Episode 187: Amy Gordinier, Founder and CEO of SkinFix

How does learning more about ourselves translate into real-world success? Can the power of your thoughts (both positive and negative) shape the success of a  business? Join me and my guest Amy Gordinier, Founder and CEO of SkinFix for her insights on the power of being authentic and learning more about oneself, what success means to her, as well as some tips on attracting abundance into your life!

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 Skinfix Founder and CEO, Amy Gordinier. And if you missed last week's episode, it featured Dana Jackson, she’s the Founder & CEO of Beneath Your Mask. Thanks for tuning in.

Hey, everybody. Welcome back to the show. I am so excited to be here with Amy Gordinier. She is the Founder and CEO of Skinfix. Welcome to Where Brains Meet Beauty®.
Amy GordinierThank you, Jodi, I'm thrilled to be here. I love your podcast.
Jodi KatzThank you so much. So, I want to tell everybody about my first moments of meeting you. It was many, many years ago at a Women's Wear Daily Conference when we used to have conferences in real life in buildings together, and have lunches together and whatnot.
Amy GordinierIt was nice.
Jodi KatzIt was really nice and it was actually in a really pretty hotel. It was a beautiful environment. They always make it very pretty. So, you were on stage presenting your life story in animation, literally on an... Like a cartoon. And I was so struck by it. Can you tell us just where you were and why you were on that stage at that time?
Amy GordinierYeah, Jenny Fine, the Editor of Women's Wear Beauty Inc. invited Skinfix to come and present at the Women's Wear Beauty Summit, which was just a huge opportunity for us to tell our story to the industry. It was funny, because we were trying to figure out how we do our [inaudible 00:01:47] video to open up, to tell the story of the brand and having been in beauty for 20 plus years, I've done my fair share of those kinds of videos.

And we thought, "Is there a different way that we can tell this story?" My journey's a little quirky and a little off-beat, I've had many divergent paths and the story of Skinfix and how I found it is a little quirky. So, we decided to do it via illustrated video and really bare all and be really vulnerable and that's what we did.
Jodi KatzWell. It was so striking for me, Amy, because it was really the first time in an environment like that, where it's all about industry and deal-making and whatnot, where I saw true vulnerability, the human side of business, how personal life intersects with business life. It wasn't presented in a way of an excuse or like a, "Well, I'm here by accident because of this." It was presented as a really full story that as a human being with many passions, one of them being business, one of them being my family, this is how I got here. And I was waiting for so many years to hear that story in that type of environment, and it made such an impression on me.
Amy GordinierWell, thank you, Jodi. That means a lot. It was a big risk and we were worried that we were going to show Women's Wear, the video, at the rehearsal and they were going to tell us that it was a no go because it was so different. But we did get such a tremendous response and I think, to your point, I think those of us that have been in beauty for a long time, at least, and probably everyone that's in beauty was really ready for more, I think, truth and vulnerability, and being able to laugh at ourselves a little at the mistakes we make along the way and the things that we do that aren't always aspirational.
Jodi KatzRight. And that was a desire of mine for a long time to wash away this hyper-curated, fanciful fantasy that was always really presented to me as a customer when I was growing up. There was only one version of beauty and it was this, kind of felt like a little elitist and exclusive. I was just waiting for the moment where we would just be regular people enjoying moisturizer and hairspray.
Amy GordinierI love that. I mean, that's one of the beautiful things that social media has done for us and particularly TikTok, as much as having two teens, it's the bane of my existence, it's also just so raw and so real and in so many ways represents that new image of beauty and new image of just life really.
Jodi KatzSo, let's talk about you and let's go back in time. This is one of my favorite questions that I get to ask guests. If we went back in time to visit your 11-year-old self and someone asks you, "What do you want to be when you grow up?" What is your answer?
Amy GordinierI definitely wanted to be a professional athlete. And I played volleyball, so I guess a volleyball player. But I just loved sports and the idea of being able to do that for a living was incredibly appealing, although very much out of reach in terms of my ability, but it was a dream.
Jodi KatzAnd is volleyball something that you did through high school and into college?
Amy GordinierYeah, I played a little bit in university. I played JV, because I wasn't really that good, truth be told, and I'm not that tall. I'm only 5'4", so I wasn't really an awesome volleyball player, but I was keen. So I always made the team, because I think I had the energy and the passion. But I did play a little bit at Princeton. I just love team sports and to be able to do that for a living would have been amazing. Although I know it's a lot of hard work, it looks glamorous, it's a lot of hard work.
Jodi KatzSo, if we went back in time to meet that high school or junior high school version of Amy, would sports or volleyball been a place where your leadership style started to form?
Amy GordinierAbsolutely. I was always, I think, I mentioned to you in our pre-interview, I was always voted captain, even though I was probably the worst one on the team. And I think it was because I was always so happy to be there, so happy to get out of class and get on the field, that I had a lot of enthusiasm and I had a lot of drive. I certainly did my best and tried my best. I think that was really a formative experience for me to express myself as a leader in that capacity from an early age. When you're put in a position of captain, it bears a weight of responsibility, you've got to always be kind of, bring your best game, so to speak, which I think was a great training for life.
Jodi KatzSo, what did captain mean to you other than being a responsibility? How did being captain show up as the way you captained?
Amy GordinierYeah, I mean, I always had really good coaches who were also really tough and had high expectations and they had a philosophy of leave the crap at the door, if you know what I mean, leave the bag at the door when you walk in this room and you're in the uniform and you're ready to play, put all the garbage that happened all day behind you. This is not where you bring it. Might be where you work it all out, but it's not where you bring it.

That was hard for me, because I wear my emotions on my face and on my sleeve. And I like to vent and I like to emote, but I had to learn that there was a time and a place for that and that this two-hour period was where I had to show up in a good mood, with a good attitude, with a strong work ethic. That's, I think, very analogous to being a founder, being a colleague in a professional environment. Sometimes there's a lot of stuff going on and you got to just show up and you got to just compartmentalize it for that period of time. Work isn't the place to work that stuff out.
Jodi KatzThat's so interesting you say that, because we talk, my team and I talk a lot about our job isn't, as people who work in an agency in service for our clients, sometimes we have to be actors, I don't know if that's the right word, but like-
Amy GordinierTotally.
Jodi Katz... even if you're having a really bad day, like when you come to that meeting, that smile has to be on your face because it's part of what the service is, the service is enthusiasm from our perspective anyway, maybe some other organizations don't have enthusiasm, and having to compartmentalize and press pause on some feelings to move into other types of work. It's a skill that takes time to nurture.
Amy GordinierYeah. And I haven't mastered it, I'll be honest. I'm still a work in progress very much on that front. I try really hard to embody that, but that's the goal for me. I mean, I have colleagues that do a phenomenal job of it and they mentor me in that sense, I watch and I listen and I learned, because sometimes I show up and it's just clear all over my face how I'm feeling. And as the founder, it's really important, similar to you, as an agency, it's so important that I don't bring that energy into the team, because it's tough what we're trying to do.

It's highly competitive, it's tough. We have really good days and really bad days and I have to try to stay neutral. So, that's what I'm trying to do is stay neutral to up. I'm not great at it. I'm not going to lie. I'm not great at it, but it's the goal.
Jodi KatzYeah. I can think back, as you're telling me these stories, of sitting on, Elisa, our design director's couch in her living room and literally crying years ago like, "Why am I doing this? Is this really the right job for me?" I think in the early years, it's nice to have people to be honest with, but I do see how, as we grow in scale, the way I lead is so crucial because people will follow. They want direction, they crave it. So, if I'm leading them down that to the couch of tears, it's not always the most productive place.
Amy GordinierNo, absolutely not. And I don't believe I was born a leader, so to speak, or a CEO. Frankly, I don't think anyone would hire me to be a CEO. I inherited the role, because I founded the company and I am better at leading on a sports field than I am in a conference room I think. Because I'm just a very emotional person. And I believe in paths and I believe this is part of my lesson, this life is to really learn how to do this, because it is so important. I watch, listen and learn a lot of other people. And my GM is one of those people that really embodies that for me and a couple of my other colleagues. But yeah, I'm learning as I get old, it is so important to be truly learning what leadership really looks like.
Jodi KatzYou just said that you think you're a better leader on the soccer field. Why is that different?
Amy GordinierI think I'm just so physical. I'm one of those people, my best friend, who also works with me, if I'm in sort of a mood, she'll text me and say, "Did you get on your Peloton this morning? Did you go for a walk? Because you really need one." So, I think I'm just one of those people that needs to work it out physically. And once I do, I'm a much better human. So, on the sports field, I'm just naturally doing that. And I think I'm just better equipped to lead people to run and move their bodies. Probably should've been a yoga instructor or something.
Jodi KatzWell, that's so interesting you're talking about this, because it's making me think of my challenges with meditation. The meditation where you're sitting down and quieting your mind and not moving your body is really hard for me. But a walking meditation is really powerful for me. And I wonder if you've had the same sort of experience.
Amy GordinierTotally. I mean, I'm very interested in astrology. So, I understand, based on my astrological makeup, why that is, I have a lot of air and fire and my body just needs to move. Some people just, whatever your belief system, some people just know that they need to move their body in order to calm their mind and others don't. My daughter is a little Pisces, she can sit forever with her crystals and her candles and meditate, but I can't. So, I think, yeah, you got to do whatever works for you. But for me, I know I do have to move my body on the daily or I get really wound.
Jodi KatzYou just gave me the most amazing segue, because my next question was actually going to be about your chart, because you told me in our intake call that you have a lot of Sagittarius in your chart. And I don't know a lot about astrology. So, tell me what that means.
Amy GordinierSo, I'm a Gemini, so that's somebody that's very much in their head, an ideas person, but a little bit airy. Then, I have a lot of Sagittarius. I have a Sagittarius moon, which means my emotions are ruled by a fire sign and my rising sign, which is like my personality is ruled by a fire sign. So, that combination of air and fire means that I am really passionate and that my emotions run hot and cold, but also that I have to move my body a lot as well. I mean, there's a lot in an astrological chart that can really help you understand yourself and also your colleagues, your friends, your kids. I find it very fascinating.
Jodi KatzNow, I'm curious. I want to learn more about me, because I think what I'm hearing from you is that knowing about your signs gives you the reassurance that what you're feeling and what your body's going through is okay, just part of who you are. It's like, I guess, taking out some of the surprise in life a little bit.
Amy GordinierYeah. And sometimes it's not okay, but it is who you are. So, it's about having compassion. We all have challenges in our chart as well, things that we're meant to work through this life. So, sometimes it's like, I know that really sucks about me and I have a tendency to do that and it's not awesome, but I can be compassionate about it. Because I can think that is my biggest challenge. So I'm working on it. But it's not awesome.

Then, on the other hand, there are things like your Mercury, which is how you communicate, how you think, also how words, how you like to be communicated to. So, in my company, I know everybody's charts and I know that if I'm talking to a Mercury Leo, there's a certain way that I can communicate that they'll respond better to versus somebody with a Mercury Taurus. So, it's interesting, I find a lot of value in it.

I think, whatever works for people, but astrology for me is about compassion. It's truly about compassion for yourself first, understanding that all of these things are what you brought to this life. Some good, some bad, some challenging, some fabulous. Then, it helps you understand other people as well, and that they might be coming at life from a totally different perspective, so that you don't clash as much. That's the value in it for me.
Jodi KatzI love it. Okay. I'm going to learn more on my own side and see if my team is game as well.
Amy GordinierChani Nicholas is an awesome... She has an awesome app called Chani, C-H-A-N-I, that summarizes it all.
Jodi KatzGood. Okay. So, I'm going to checkout Chani. My team and I were actually talking about empathy and how we all have a lot of empathy and we think that's one of the reasons why we're really good at what we do. And I wonder if the chart would reveal that about us.
Amy GordinierAbsolutely. Absolutely. I mean, astrology is quite complex. So, there's so many things going on, but there are certainly planets and aspects that are very intuitive and have a lot of empathy. Things like Cancer and Pisces energy, all the water energy is very empathetic. I think we as women are naturally more empathetic too, or more intuitive at least. But I imagine your charts would reveal a lot.
Jodi KatzSo, as you're talking about, it's making me think of all the Tinker Bell fairy movies I used to watch with my daughter when she was little and I think all the fairies, now that you're saying this, were tied to the signs, so I need to go back and study astrology and then study Tinker Bell movies.
Amy GordinierYeah. Yeah. I'm sure there's an analogy there for sure.
Jodi KatzOkay. So, let's switch gears and talk about how long it takes to be an overnight success. You told me that Craig Dubitsky, who is the founder of Hello and has been on our podcast, he was early on. So, you'd have to scroll all the way down to find his episode. That he gave you some advice around what it's like to become an overnight success. And I think you told me it would take 10 years according to Craig.
Amy GordinierYes. And I almost had a heart attack, because I was in year two, thinking like, "This is just going so fast. This is going to be awesome." And he's so kind, I mean, you know him, he's just the kindest human and it comes from such a good place. But he said to me, "Amy, an overnight success is a decade." And I thought like, "Yeah, okay. Whatever. Not for us." But it is. I mean, it's more than a decade in a lot of cases. I mean, there are brands that people, I was talking to someone just yesterday about Supergoop!, that she was loving it and it's just arrived at Sephora Canada. And she's like, "Oh my God, I love this brand. We're so happy to have it in Canada."

And I just said, "Do you know how old it is? Do you happen to know how old it is?" And she's like, "I don't know, two years old?" I'm like, "17 years old." So, it just takes a long time. I mean, there are the Glossiers and the cosmetics that go, and the Drunk Elephants, that go straight up as you know, and then there's the rest of us that it takes a long time. In some cases, it takes reinventions, it takes pivots. It might take changes in distribution. It takes a whole lot of things. But it typically does not happen in a couple of years. It takes time.

And I think it's good to know that going in too, so that you don't also overinvest, we came out of the gate really zealous and over-invested thinking that we were going to blow it up really quickly. And then it was just going to keep going. What we realized is that our concept was really ahead of the market and no amount of investment, while it got us some momentum, was going to be sustainable to get that consumer up that learning curve or ready for that kind of product. So, it's important to know it's going to take a while and to pace yourself financially, emotionally, physically, pace yourself. I did not, but you should do that.
Jodi KatzSo, I love talking about this idea of success, because the way it's defined is so personal. So, back at that time, when you're talking to Craig two years into your business, what did success look like for you? What was that marker of like, "Ta-da, I did it?"
Amy GordinierSuccess was like, my business is going to be 50 million in net sales in three years and L'Oreal is going to buy me for 250 million. I mean, it was just dumb. It was just so naive and simplistic and, also, I think, motivated by the wrong things. I think if you're playing for the end game, then you're not going to be playing for long.

We had some interest from some strategics really early days in our brand. And I think it just colored our whole perspective of the world in a bad way and got us thinking about the exit, which was a long way off, if ever. So, yeah. Success to me today is a completely different paradigm than it was in the beginning, thankfully.
Jodi KatzAnd what is success today?
Amy GordinierSuccess today is just, frankly, I know it's going to sound simplistic, but it's actually enjoying what we're doing, having fun. You do need to be seeing momentum in your top-line revenue in order, I think, to be able to have fun, because at the end of the day, it's a business. So, if the business is performing, then everything just feels better.

It is a really fun industry. If you get some momentum and you start to win with a product or with a retailer or some combination or online, and then you can start to really play and enjoy and have fun and enjoy your colleagues and enjoy what you're doing. That's, to me, success. So, what happens next is not important. It's one day at a time really.
Jodi KatzI love that thinking, because, I mean, that's really one of the reasons why I started this podcast, because back when I first met you, everything was about like, "I'm selling my business for $1 million, $1 billion, $20 billion." Whatever. It was just all this noise about money. And I felt like I didn't know anybody and I didn't know anybody really.

I had clients that I thought I knew, but that was so surface, I had friends that knew, there were people that were acquaintances, but I just didn't feel like I knew anything about the industry beyond this money talk. This show is like free therapy for me, because I get to talk with people like you and you hear stories and this is the fun, this is why I'm here. I think it's helped ease me into this attitude of not worrying as much and just letting an abundance attitude lead me and not even knowing where it's going.
Amy GordinierAbsolutely. That abundance attitude is so important. It's so easy to get into that scarcity fear. I get there a lot. I have my moments where I'm like, "What am I doing? I've spent so much money. Oh my God, what's going to happen next?" It's human nature. But to just continue to focus, as you say, Jodi, on abundance and what I have right now is enough and what I have right now I'm enjoying and these are the things that I love about it. And focusing on that and that is the most important thing. Because focusing on some kind of a crazy end game is not the recipe to success in my experience or my opinion.
Jodi KatzSo, I wonder if someone's listening to us right now and they're thinking, "Oh my God, these two are so naive. Because they're not worried about how much money their business makes or anything like that." That's not that I don't worry about it. I mean, it's not that I don't think about it. I think I'm less worried about it. Does that make sense?
Amy GordinierYes. Yeah, absolutely. Worry is a wasted emotion really. I mean, do your best work, focus on hitting goals and hitting targets, but worrying about it isn't really helpful.
Jodi KatzRight. So, okay. Then, let's talk practical tips for somebody who's listening and rolling her eyes at us right now. How do you get out of the worry?
Amy GordinierI think it's a lot of really working on focus. So, things like exercise. I know it sounds so basic. Meditation, not drinking too much. I mean, there are things that produce anxiety in my body that I know are triggers. So, I try to avoid those things and I try to lean into the things that help me to release anxiety. And I try not to worry really. I mean, I do worry. There are times when I certainly do, but I try to just do the best that I can with what I have at the moment. No, I think after eight years of doing this and having made tons of mistakes, I know I'm going to make more mistakes. It's going to happen. I know I'm going to have some screw-ups. I know I'm going to waste some money.

I don't want to, but I know it's going to happen. That doesn't mean I don't care, but I'm trying not to manifest it almost, anticipate it, and worry about it. Because then I'm just going to bring more angst. So, I think it's just doing those things that you know keep you in a calm, quiet mindset. If that's meditation, if that's sleep, if that's time with your family, exercise, some combination of those things and just focusing on one thing at a time.

It's easy to get overwhelmed and it's easy to get then really fearful. So, just try to chip away, chip away and keep going and focus on the things that are going well, celebrate the things that are going well, look for the things that are going well. Even when things are all mostly not going well, look for that one thing, "Hey, you know what? It's not going well, but I truly believe in what we're doing. And I truly believe we're helping people or we're healing skin or we're doing," whatever it is that you're about and that's important and I'm going to keep believing in that. So, I think that helps.
Jodi KatzI wonder also if after all these years of making mistakes or maybe I'll call them opportunities for you, Amy, or challenges.
Amy GordinierThanks, Jodi, you're generous.
Jodi KatzSo, after eight years of doing things that are not always working in the way you wanted it to work, I'll say it that way, that your body realizes that even though things didn't go that way, that it was still fine in the end, because our bodies start to recognize that like, "Okay, things happen, bad things happen. And then they unhappen or circumstances change and everything's still okay." Do you think your body and your cells can learn from that and just go with the flow more?
Amy GordinierIt's so true. Yeah. I'm reading a book right now called How to Do the Work, Dr. Nicole LePera I think it is, anyway, she talks a lot about that, about that sort of fight-or-flight response and how to... It's going to happen because it's natural and sometimes it needs to happen, but to just help to mitigate that over time. And I think you can train yourself not to get so reactive to every twist and turn, because if you can't, it will kill you. I mean, it really will. Especially if you do what you and I are doing, and a lot of the listeners are doing, which is do your own thing and be your own boss and have your own business that you have to keep going and keep paying people.

It's going to be really hard if you can't find a way to mitigate it. I mean, it's going to happen. It still happens. I mean, there's some days you have a really good day, like yesterday was a really good day for me. I'm like, "I've just totally taken everything in stride, everything's cool. Nothing's flapping me. I'm just so rock solid." And things were coming at me and I was like neutral, "Today, not so much." This morning, I'm like, "Why can't it just be like yesterday? Why can't I just go back to that zone? I did everything the same. I ate the same. I worked out the same."

Sometimes you just can't. So, you have to also understand that you're going to get stressed. You're going to be worried. You're going to... But just try to be conscious of it and mitigate it, because it's just not helpful. It doesn't improve the outcome, that's for sure. If anything, it can make it worse.
Jodi KatzI'm smiling, because you're reminded me of all these emotional hangovers I have, from when things in the moment are fine with me and then I realize the next day or the next week that like, "Oh my God, my body was not feeling like it was fine, even though my head was."
Amy GordinierYeah, yeah. Your body hadn't caught up with the trauma of whatever was happening, literally. I mean, it is a trauma. I mean, obviously there are different levels of trauma, but stress is a trauma to the body, for sure.
Jodi KatzSo, with the time that we have left remaining, I want to talk about this other passion of yours, which is how food becomes our health. What we put into our bodies impacts the way that we can move through the world. So, I know you said you're probably not going back to school to become a naturopathic doctor, but how does this interest show up in your life today?
Amy GordinierWell, I devour podcasts and material from people like Dr. Mark Hyman and Dr. Will Cole. I'm just really passionate about it. Maybe if I went back to school to study it and it was my vocation, I wouldn't be as passionate. Sometimes it's better to keep it a hobby or an interest. I mean, I certainly don't have the brain power that they do. My chemistry and biology grades would never have led me into any sort of medical profession.

But I just love the connectivity and I love the fact that the medical community, Dr. Mark Hyman is an MD and a naturopathic doctor, an ND. So, he brings that training and that knowledge and those years of education. And then he brings us new way of thinking, and he dives deep into all of the research and the studies and he brings facts. That's what I love about him. He brings facts, but he shows just direct connectivity between what we eat and our environment and all the things that are going on in our health and direct links to disease.

He also has, over the years that he's been practicing as a functional medical practitioner in addition to an ND, shown how he's healed people from really serious issues using different types of food and supplementation and some lifestyle shifts, but mostly food and supplementation. That is so awesome and thrilling and exciting for me, because obviously we need pharmaceuticals and we need traditional medicine and there are therapies that just we need to stay healthy and safe, things like vaccines, but it's that marriage of medical science and this more functional approach that I think is going to win. I think that's the future.

You can eat tons and tons of junk or fill your body with glysophate, which is a pesticide that's in all kinds of food we eat and it's causing all sorts of systemic issues and then take the medication to treat that. But what if we never got there to begin with, that's cool, that's exciting. Our food supply is sadly really full of toxins. So, it's going to take some time. It probably won't happen in my lifetime and hopefully my children's lifetime for us to really untangle it and start over and go back to regenerative farming, and go back to practices that are going to make our food and water supplies cleaner. They're actually more sustainable practices that are actually going to be able to feed more people in the world too.

So, I get very passionate about it and things like, I gave up gluten and dairy and cured my own eczema. Now, it flared up again in COVID, probably because of stress and other things, but not as badly as I used to have it and I definitely think that mitigating dairy and gluten for me helps tremendously. So, even as someone that sells topical skincare products for skin issues, if someone can cure or at least seriously mitigate an skin issue with diet, go for it. I mean, that's the dream.

Acne, eczema, there are a lot of skin... All skin issues, ultimately, that are linked to the gut and often linked to what we're eating. And if you can fix it with food first and have it be gone, that's awesome. Sometimes it's chronic or it's autoimmune, and it's not that easy. But if you can fix your eczema, fighting, removing something from your diet, that's the best way to go in my opinion.
Jodi KatzWell, Amy, it's so great to see you again and to catch up and learn from you. I'm so grateful that you shared your wisdom with me and our listeners today.
Amy GordinierThank you, Jodi. It was so fun. Nice to see you.
Jodi KatzAnd for our listeners, I hope you enjoyed this interview with Amy. Please subscribe to our series on iTunes and for updates about the show, follow us on Instagram @wherebrainsmeetbeautypodcast.
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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