Join us as we welcome Rebecca Boston, chief marketing officer of True Botanicals, who shares reflections on her multifaceted journey. Themes touched on include leading by nurturing talent as a cheerleader rather than a critic, embracing opportunities whenever they’re presented, and giving 110% to any task, even If it’s just getting coffee. She also shares how, as the mother of three young sons, the work that takes her away from them every day must be meaningful and bring her joy. Listen to hear how she accomplishes all of the above.
|Esperanza Rosenbaum||Hi, Jodi!|
|Jodi Katz||Hello, Esperanza. Nice to talk with you today.|
|Esperanza Rosenbaum||Nice to talk with you too. This is our first intro together.|
|Jodi Katz||Yes. Thank you for inviting me into this.|
|Esperanza Rosenbaum||Well, thank you for having me as well.|
|Jodi Katz||So, I hope our listeners have gotten to know you and your voice. And all the people behind the scenes who are guests on the show, they get to engage with you as we plan for each episode.|
|Esperanza Rosenbaum||Absolutely. So, everybody, welcome to episode 210 with Rebecca Boston, the chief marketing officer of True Botanicals. She was amazing.|
|Jodi Katz||She was so nice. And I’m bummed that I haven’t known her longer. I feel like it would be so nice to have known her all these years. She seems like such a smart, lovely person to collaborate with, so I’m so glad to know her now.|
|Esperanza Rosenbaum||Absolutely. You know, something that I thought was really funny behind the scenes when we were all in the green room together, I thought it was so funny that all three of us had studied some sort of political science or government, and all three of us were like, “Uh, this is a little messy. This is a little, you know.” And we all switched over to beauty.|
|Jodi Katz||Yeah. When I started out in college, I was a government and law major, and by I guess sophomore year, I was like, “Nah, I’m not doing anything with this.” But I stuck with it. And that’s really the same situation for all three of us. And now, here we are, all in the beauty industry.|
|Esperanza Rosenbaum||Yeah. I’m really happy to be in the beauty industry, especially coming out of my politics job previous to this, so.|
|Jodi Katz||I thought what was also so interesting about Rebecca is she’s just been on the front lines of some of the coolest brands and launches. I don’t want to give too much away, but the list of celebrities that she’s collaborated with through the years is top. And I hope that you love hearing these stories the way that I did when we recorded this episode.|
|Esperanza Rosenbaum||Yeah. So, I think with that, we should just dive in.|
|Jodi Katz||Let's do it.
Hello, Where Brains Meet Beauty fans. Thanks for tuning back in to our show. Welcome to our fifth season of Where Brains Meet Beauty podcast. And I’m so excited, this is our 210th episode. I’m excited to introduce you to our fourth guest of our sustainability-themed quarter. She’s been behind marketing of many of your favorite brands with lots of celebrity names, so we’re gonna have a lot of fun here.
Please welcome Rebecca Boston. She’s the chief marketing officer of True Botanicals.
|Rebecca Boston||Hi. Thank you so much for having me.|
|Jodi Katz||Rebecca, welcome to Where Brains Meet Beauty. I’m so excited to meet you.|
|Rebecca Boston||Oh, my goodness, the pleasure’s all mine. I love your show, and you’re an incredible host. I’m excited to be talking to you today.|
|Jodi Katz||Aw. Well, we’re super matchy-matchy, my fuchsia lip and your fuchsia blazer, so that makes it fun. And then my fuchsia microphone. I don’t know if you can see that clearly.|
|Rebecca Boston||I know. I was just thinking I need to get myself one of those, because that matches perfectly.|
|Jodi Katz||So, Rebecca, what I love to do on the show, because we talk about career journey and that’s our focus, is to really go back in time. If you can think about your 11-year-old self, what do you want to be when you grow up?|
|Rebecca Boston||Oh. Well, my 11-year-old self very specifically wanted to be a Mary Kay lady. I was going to drive the pink car, have all the pink compacts, and help all my friends and family look like their best selves. So, I had an interest in beauty from a really young age. I got to see—my mom was always really into beauty, and we spent a lot of time at beauty salons. And I would watch when women walked in, how they carried themselves. And then by the time they left, how they’d pull their shoulders back and lift their heads up, and they just looked so much happier and more confident. And I wanted to be a part of that and kind of help women feel like the best version of themselves from there on out.|
|Jodi Katz||That’s such an insightful observation in such a young kid. Why Mary Kay? How did you hear about that business?|
|Rebecca Boston||So, my mom used it, and then when I was 14, I was begging to be able to use makeup, so my mom brought over a Mary Kay lady. This is back in the day. And they gave me a full routine. And it was like, I kid you not, one of my core memories from my teenage years. And so, it was always just kind of a passion of mine, and that was just—my mom was like, “If you’re gonna do it, let’s pull back a little bit on the glitter, and let’s get you some decent stuff.”|
|Jodi Katz||That’s so incredible. And these imprints, these early imprints—how could you have even known this could have been a career for you? I mean, you probably didn’t, other than being a Mary Kay person or working in the salon. I would imagine you didn’t know what a career in beauty could be.|
|Rebecca Boston||I didn’t, yeah. And so, while I kind of had that dream, I didn’t end up initially pursuing it when I graduated from high school and went to school because I was like, “Maybe I’ll kind of go back to that after I go to school and do something else.” So, I actually went to school and studied public affairs, because then as I got a little older, I decided I wanted to take my path to politics.|
|Jodi Katz||So, you went to college to be in politics. And did you get a first job in politics?|
|Rebecca Boston||I did. I did. I had a couple. I worked on a show at Univision called [?Bossi Voto] [00:05:40]. And it’s a show that runs in California all about kind of local politics in our state. And then I went on and I worked at a bipartisan public affairs firm. And while I was there, I was a little bit disillusioned because I went in wanting to immediately change the world and make it a better place and have a positive impact, and politics was just a lot more—it was slow-moving, and it’s politics. I didn’t have the ability to impact the immediate change that I was hoping.
But while I was there, interestingly, I was organizing a lot of rallies. And this was back in the days of—before Facebook, there was MySpace, and before MySpace, there was Friendster. And I found it on Friendster. There were these self-organized groups of Democrats in Bakersfield and Republicans in Sacramento. And I would go into those groups and invite people to come and participate in our rallies. And Edelman, the world’s largest PR firm, actually saw me doing some rallies against one of their clients, and they approached me and said, “Hey, do you want to come work for our social marketing firm?” And I was like, “What? Your social marketing firm?” Because I’d never heard of social media before as a term in marketing. And that was kind of my big step into then consumer marketing and led by social. And from there, my career kind of took off to where it is today.
|Jodi Katz||So, Rebecca, we have a lot in common because I went to college, I studied, had a degree in government and law.|
|Rebecca Boston||Mm-hmm. That’s amazing.|
|Jodi Katz||I thought maybe I’d become a lawyer, maybe I’d run for office, maybe I’d support candidates, maybe I would work on campaigns. And I think actually working on campaigns sounded the most exciting to me because I always loved advertising and popular culture, and I just felt like that really tapped into my passions. But after one or two years of the study, and I decided that I too was disillusioned, and felt this internal conflict of seeing more behind the scenes of what happens there. And to do good, you have to kind of do some bad also. And I was really uncomfortable with that tension, so I just abandoned the idea and then got a job in advertising.|
|Rebecca Boston||That’s exactly what I went through. Mm-hmm. But I’m so glad I did it, because there were actually a lot of really incredible things I learned while working there that I’ve carried through my career, like the importance of storytelling and all of that. And one of the things that my mom told me as I was going to college and deciding what I wanted to study, and I was having so much anxiety about, do I want to do this or do I want to do that? And how am I going to decide? And she said, “Don’t worry about it, because every single experience you have, you’re gonna use at the next place and the next place. And so, there’s no wrong choice. And so, you’re just gonna keep building on all those experiences, and they will make you stronger.” And so, that’s true. So, I went on that detour into politics from what I originally knew at 11 years old was my passion, and I learned some really great lessons that I use today.|
|Jodi Katz||Wow. That was such beautiful, reassuring advice to get early in your career, that it doesn’t matter. Just go on the journey. I actually always thought of it as I have this backpack of experience, and I just keep filling it up. And I don’t need to know what I’m gonna do, like Dora the Explorer. You know, she has all this stuff in her backpack. I don’t need to know what I’m gonna do with it or when I’m gonna need it. I’m just gonna keep filling it up.|
|Jodi Katz||But how wonderful to have somebody say this to you so early in your career.|
|Rebecca Boston||It was honestly—it was the best advice I could’ve gotten, and I didn’t even realize it at that time. And I even to this day will sometimes realize I’m using something that I learned 15, 16 years ago. And I’m like, gosh, I had no idea that that was gonna be relevant today! And yeah. And it kind of just gave me a lot of liberty. My mom was like, “Especially starting out, just follow the opportunities. Just accept any opportunity that’s given to you. Do your very best. You’re gonna feel the most fulfilled in your life if you are just using your talents to the greatest degree, so just make that your goal for now, and then you’ll eventually get to where you’re supposed to be.” So, yeah.|
|Jodi Katz||I love that. Well, let’s talk about where you were supposed to be, because you’ve worked on so many fascinating projects. You worked on the launch of the Google Pixel global phone, so that’s interesting.|
|Jodi Katz||And then you worked on the launch of Fenti Beauty, which is next level. So, what about your career journey? What do you think is happening where it connects you with these kind of really momentous opportunities?|
|Rebecca Boston||So, hm. That’s a great question. So, I think that every single project that’s given to me, I give 110% since my very first internship. And another piece of advice I got early on from a mentor was like, “If you’re given papers to file, you file the heck out of those papers. Because if you file the heck out of those papers, they’re gonna give you more responsibilities because you’ve proved yourself on that task that you didn’t think was that exciting.” And so, I kind of did that. And I think that I built a reputation for myself by being someone who always give it 110% who you can trust, you who can rely on. And that’s probably how I’ve been able to be given such high profile projects and campaigns and brands, if you will, because I just—with each one, I keep kind of proving what I’m able to do. And nothing is ever beneath me. Nothing is ever something I’m not interested in. Just got to always give it 110%.
So, that’s always my advice to everyone, is like, even when it starts out—if they’re sending you to go get coffee, you nail that coffee order, because if you do it, you’ll come back and they’ll say, “Oh, you’re amazing.” You’re like, “Why? I just got coffee.” But the fact that you really—you did it, to plan, and all that, believe me, it builds a lot of trust, and that goes a really long way in any industry.
|Jodi Katz||I love that. So, let’s talk about Fenti, because I’m sure that’s the only thing anyone ever wants to talk to you about. So, I guess working on Fenti is the equivalent tack to working at Apple, or working at Tesla, or Google or something. It’s just something that everybody loves seeing on a resume and automatically says, “Yes, I want to work with you.”|
|Jodi Katz||I would imagine it’s really powerful to have that on your resume at this point.|
|Rebecca Boston||Mm-hmm. Yes, absolutely, because I think it’s probably the most—it is the most successful celebrity beauty brand to date. And we completely changed what was happening in the beauty industry in that launch and kind of pushed the entire industry to think and act and behave more inclusively. And so, it was a really powerful thing to be a part of.
And when I was at Google, when I was approached for the Fenti position, and when I got called, they were like, “We know no one leaves Google, but you have to think about this opportunity, because it’s going to change the game.” And when I heard about the mission that Rihanna had for her brand and what she wanted to do, and the change she wanted to create, it was this moment of like, oh my gosh, my entire life has been preparing me for this experience. Because I grew up as an expat in lots of different countries all over the world and was exposed to a lot of different forms of beauty. And in one country, I’d be too skinny; in the next country, I’d be too fat, and just always experiencing what that was like.
And then to have this opportunity to be able to make everyone feel beautiful regardless of their skin tone or culture or size, I was like, oh, my entire life has been preparing me for this, and I know exactly what to do, and I really want to be a part of this. And so, it was a dream come true and felt like honestly fulfilling one of my purposes in life.
|Jodi Katz||That’s so beautiful and amazing. And I’m just so curious about the hiring process. Were they allowed to tell you in the very beginning who was behind it and what the goals were? Because I imagine it was kind of top secret.|
|Rebecca Boston||Yeah, it was really top secret. So, before Google, I worked at Bare Minerals. And my CMO of Bare Minerals had gone to be CMO of Kendo, which is the company Fenti was at. And so, we already knew each other, and there was a lot of confidence and confidentiality. And so, she was able to tell me a lot about it before I came over.
Google, on the other hand, was totally different. My interviews at Google were like, “We’re gonna do something huge and we need help reaching women. Will you come on board?” And I was like, “Sure.” And then on my first day, they were like, “We’re launching a phone. It’s called Pixel. And good luck.” And I was like, “Oh, great.” “And it’s happening in two months.” And so, it was really nice to know what I was getting into with Fenti Beauty, for sure.
|Jodi Katz||I bet. So, do you have a favorite moment from your time during the Fenti launch?|
|Rebecca Boston||Oh, absolutely. So, my favorite moment was the day that we launched was absolutely insane. It was a 24-hour day. We had a huge launch party. It was happening all over the world. And we had planned out all of the content we were gonna be posting on social media, and we had planned that once people got their hands on the product, we would start regramming people’s looks. But we actually hadn’t had any talks about what the looks were going to be that we regrammed and what we were gonna prioritize. And so, it was 3:00 in the morning, and I was sitting on my hotel bed with one of my colleagues. And we were looking through all of the content that people were starting to post of themselves in their Fenti Beauty makeup. And we stumbled upon this beautiful image of this woman in a hijab, and we said, “Wait, that’s the one. We are going to show the inclusivity of this brand by making this the very first person that we regram.” Because at that time, honestly, almost none of the beauty brands were ever posting people from that culture.
And so, I couldn’t call Rihanna and check with her. I couldn’t call up any of the big bosses. It was 3:00 in the morning, and we just held hands, and we made the decision to do it. And more than 90 news articles around the world were published about it, and everyone lost their minds, and people were moved to tears to see that that was the first person the we regrammed. And it was so meaningful. I’m like, okay. And that just kind of set the tone for what we were gonna do from there on out and how we were gonna make women who hadn’t felt seen up until that point feel seen and feel beautiful.
|Jodi Katz||I mean, we have to go back to this career idea of being in politics and supporting candidates that you believe in. I mean, I know beauty is not politics. But look at how much of an impact you can have through makeup.|
|Rebecca Boston||Mm-hmm. Absolutely. I mean, I’ve always believed that we need really responsible, good people in marketing roles, because marketing does have a big impact on culture and on society and on the things that we as a society think are valuable, what we think is important. And I’ve always taken my responsibility in that kind of role really seriously.
And I remember when I left to leave politics, I was talking to one of my mentors. And I was like, “Oh, I just don’t feel like this is where I’m supposed to be. And I have this opportunity over at Edelman. But I don’t know, I just want to be impacting positive change in the world.” And he was like, “Girl, you’re crazy.” He’s like, “Then this is exactly where you need to go. You’re gonna impact more change if you are at the big companies, and you’re with the one creating stories that are out there on TV, in billboards, that are impacting what people are thinking about.” And he’s like, “And the marketing world needs more people like you.” And I really took that to heart. And I’ve carried that with me throughout my entire career, and made a lot of my career choices based on that, for sure, including, most importantly, I would say, my most recent choice to come and be CMO of True Botanicals, so.
|Jodi Katz||Well, let’s talk about the green and clean world, right? Our theme this quarter on the show is sustainability, and that shows up in a lot of different ways. It can be—we’re all trying, right? Well, not everyone. The brands that are featured during this segment are trying, right?|
|Jodi Katz||And trying looks like a lot of different things a lot of different ways, and sometimes it’s about supply chain or the origin of ingredients, or packaging, or whatnot. How different has it been in terms of what your leadership skills need to be when you’re talking about green and clean versus performance?|
|Rebecca Boston||Oh, that’s a great question. So, I mean, I think—we talk about performance as well because—and the reason I came to True Botanicals, so I really wanted to work for a brand that put sustainability and safety at the core of its values. But I’ve also always known and believed that consumers aren’t going to start buying sustainable products until there’s zero trade-offs. And so, I knew that no one was going to buy sustainable and safe skincare unless it performed just as well as their other stuff. And when the True Botanicals opportunity came to me and I looked at the products, I saw how they performed. I saw that they had clinical proof that they performed at the same level or better than a lot of conventional bestsellers. I said, “Okay, this is where I want to be.”
And our business has been on fire the last few years, and it’s because we lead, actually, with the performance story, and we talked about what it does for your skin. And once we get people’s attention with that, then we’re like, “Oh. And it’s also MADE SAFE, certified to be sustainable and safe for you and the planet.” And MADE SAFE is the most comprehensive safety certification process available for personal care products. And so, I think that that’s kind of, for me, where I see kind of the sustainable brands that are succeeding and those that are not, is that you can’t—people don’t only care about sustainability. They still care about all the other—the performance, the experience, and all of that.
|Jodi Katz||Well, let’s transition these ideals to leading your team, right? Performance and experience. We can’t make great work without great people. And I’m sure you’ve experienced a lot of different leadership styles in yours in yours, across many different jobs,|
|Jodi Katz||I certainly have, and I use that to influence how I choose to lead today. So, paint a picture for us on your leadership style and what your mission is with your team.|
|Rebecca Boston||Yes. So, I have an amazing team right now. I like to take people—I have one person with me who this is our fourth company together. Another one, this is our third company together. So, I’ve got a rock star team. People follow me from company to company. For me, I have three young boys. And when I leave my kids every single day to go to work, I want it to be worthwhile. And it’s worthwhile when I’m getting to use my skills to the greatest extent and I’m working with people that I really enjoy being with. And so, that’s the kind of work environment I try to work in and that I create for my employees. I always—I tell everyone, “Let’s focus on your strengths rather than your weaknesses,” and always leaning and doubling down into what you do best. And if you’re not good at—if you’re really good at—I think a lot of people in marketing today act like you have to be a jack of all trades and you have to be good at everything, but I don’t personally believe that. And I feel like everyone on my team knows what they’re really good at, and I feel like they’re bringing their talents to—they’re using their talents to the greatest extent. And so, that’s what I always focus on.
But I do always tell people when they’re interviewing and when they’re first talking, one of my employees told me this, is that I am like an Olympic training coach. And if you are looking to work really hard and do your very best to become the very best marketer you could possibly be, then I’m the manager for you, because I’m gonna be—as you’re running your very fastest, I’m gonna be next to you going, “Run faster! I know you can. Do this better! I know you can,” as opposed to if you’re just looking to cruise. That’s definitely not my leadership style. And so, the people who love that absolutely love that, and that’s why they follow me from company to company.
|Jodi Katz||Rebecca, I feel like you and I have similar paths. For Base Beauty, my day job, I describe it as like a really, really fun pool to swim in, but you have to be a strong swimmer, and you have to want to be in the environment. So, maybe it’s like one of those wave pools at water parks. It can make you really unsteady, so you have to be a really strong swimmer. You have to be able to get knocked down and swim out of the wave, and want to laugh through it, because otherwise, it’s just exhausting. And I like this analogy, because if you need a life jacket, we’re just not the right place for you, right? Because then everybody has to take off—everyone around you in the pool has to come and buoy you, right? Which means that they can’t focus on their joy and their swimming skills. So, I love the way you paint it as an athlete, because it makes me think of my swim analogy.|
|Rebecca Boston||I love it. But yeah, it brings me a lot of joy to—I think for me, one of the things that gets me out of bed every morning, and again, motivates me to leave my kids for many hours and come to work is watching the women on my team just really feel fulfilled by using their talents to the greatest degree, and feel smart, and feel like they’ve accomplished something every day. And we’re accomplishing really, really hard things. And that is honestly one of my greatest joys of what I do now.|
|Jodi Katz||Well, I want to segue to this topic of the pursuit of success. And I have a book coming out next month which is called Facing the Seduction of Success, where I take in the wisdom of my 200-plus podcast guests and these themes that keep coming up year after year on the show. And it’s really about this idea that we’re in this industry that, if you’re in this industry, you love it. You’re here for a reason.|
|Jodi Katz||You’re super passionate about it and you find joy in it, even if not every day, but overall. But because it’s fun, reaching that next goal can kind of take over, right? It becomes seductive to need another goal or reach your ambition. And that seduction is wonderful because it’s joyful, because it can also pull you away from other things in your life, right, that make you a dynamic, well-rounded person.|
|Jodi Katz||So, I’m curious, right? So, you’re a mom of three. You’re making this conscious choice to work in an area that you love, right, because there’s other things that you love as well. Do you find growing in your career seductive? And how have you navigated that tension?|
|Rebecca Boston||Oh my gosh, I absolutely love that term, “seductive.” I mean, that’s like the perfect way to describe it. So, I try to live my life really colorfully. And I always preach that that makes you a better marketer, too. I know that when I show up to work on Monday, I have better ideas and I do a better job when I unplug during the weekend, and I went to a museum, or I went to a show, or I did something outside. I’m gathering ideas and inspiration from all those different places all the time. And I’m truly recharging.
And so, that’s something that I always encourage my team to do. I’m always encouraging everyone, live colorfully. Have hobbies outside of work. I know it’s gonna make you a better marketer and a better employee for me. And so, at my office, we work really hard, actually, not to email each other on the weekends or late in the evenings, unless it’s a true emergency, honestly. And we work really hard to compartmentalize our work into insane, intense work hours during the day so that we can all do other things in the evenings and the weekends. And selfishly, as the boss, I want them to do that so they’ll come back with great ideas on Monday. And so, that is definitely how I achieve balance. And it’s just—everything’s happier.
I’ve also heard this term called—that there’s different levels of quality of leisure time. And I always encourage everyone, “Don’t just Netflix and chill this weekend, even if you’re really tired. That’s not going to really rejuvenate you and make you feel happy when you come back to work. Get outside. Go do new experiences.” And so, that’s kind of the way, again, that I do balance.
But in terms of seduction, yes. I mean, I, to use another—even though I’m not particularly athletic, another athletic analogy, it’s like when you climb a mountain or a crazy hike, and it’s so intense, and the way you feel at the end. You just feel so happy and accomplished, and you have this rush of endorphins. And that’s how I feel after really, really doing really challenging things at work.
I’ve worked on brand and product launches that were both really easy and some that were insanely hard. And always later, it’s the insanely hard ones that I’m like, “That was awesome. That was so—it felt so good when I accomplished that.” And also, the camaraderie that I built with my team after accomplishing that together is just so, so intense. And sometimes I tell people, “You know you’re growing, that you’re gonna look on this with so much fondness when you’re like—from my analogy, is like when you’re crying, when you’re sitting on the floor at the airport crying because you’re so tired. That’s when you’re probably about to experience your most exponential growth and really feel it.”
|Jodi Katz||Rebecca, I wish I’d known you longer. I feel like we could have had these amazing conversations for the past 20-something years together. But I’m very, very grateful to know you now, and this was incredible. And I love the analogies. I’m into those climbing mountain analogies, because literally, I’ve climbed mountains, and I’ve been really tired. I’ve been on my hands and knees. But then I finish it, and then I’m so proud, right?|
|Rebecca Boston||Mm-hmm. That’s right.|
|Jodi Katz||And none of this would be fun if it was too easy. It really wouldn’t.|
|Rebecca Boston||Exactly. Yeah. I agree.|
|Jodi Katz||Well, I’m so grateful for your wisdom, Rebecca, so thank you so much for joining us today. And for our listeners, please subscribe to our series on your favorite podcast app. And for updates about the show, follow us on Instagram @wherebrainsmeetbeautypodcast.|