Episode 29: Maggie Ciafardini, Beauty Consultant

Meet Maggie Ciafardini. She’s learned a lot in her wide-reaching career in beauty. Listen as she shares her innovative ideas on how the giant beauty corporations can retain market share in this ever evolving industry.

Dan Hodgdon
AnnouncerWelcome to Where Brains Meet Beauty, hosted by Jodi Katz, founder and creative director of Base Beauty Creative Agency.
Jodi KatzThis is Jodi. I am here today sitting across the table from Maggie Ciafardini. Hi, Maggie.
Maggie CiafardiniHi, Jodi.
Jodi KatzMaggie is the CEO of her own consulting business called Maggie Ciafardini, Inc., is that right?
Maggie CiafardiniThat's it.
Jodi KatzThanks for joining us today.
Maggie CiafardiniI'm real excited. It's always fun to talk about me.
Jodi KatzWe're in New York City now in a studio. I want you to start with telling us how you spent your day today.
Maggie CiafardiniI had a lot of errands to do, and a lot of phone calls to make, and a lot of emails. The thing about consulting is that you kind of never know where the day's gonna take you, it just takes you. I didn't think I would like it, but I find now that I love it.
Jodi KatzI think of my days the same way. It's like there's no day that's the same; every day is really different. This morning I took my daughter and dropped her off at camp. She's going to sewing camp, so she's learning how to use a sewing machine, which is pretty cool. Then just phone calls, and phone calls, then it was like, oops, got to go hop on a train.
Maggie CiafardiniI did have a technology moment in AT&T, which was unpleasant, but we won't discuss. Thank god no one's hired me for my technology skills because that wouldn't work.
Jodi KatzMy company's IT person is my husband who like at night helps us with our computer.
Maggie CiafardiniI understand.
Jodi KatzYou and I first met at Women's Wear Daily Beauty Summit thanks to Allison Slater.
Maggie CiafardiniCorrect.
Jodi KatzThank you Allison. What's so cool about it is what I'm having so much fun in this business doing, which is meeting people, connecting with people. People that I either thought and dreamed of meeting or never even knew existed and they become like really important to me. This kind of sharing and community building is what kind of fuels me every day. It's what I'm finding to be most exciting about running my business, and you have a similar kind of experience meeting a lot of people every day. What gets you going when you meet new people?
Maggie CiafardiniWell, it's funny you say that, because even though I'm selling lipstick all my life, to me it's really an excuse and an opportunity to meet women, help women, and meet these incredible people. My journey just continues, and consulting has given me even a broader range of people to meet in different fields, and I really am having the time of my life to tell you the truth.
Jodi KatzTell us what you're currently working on.
Maggie CiafardiniWell, I'm into skincare. I love skincare. I'm working with a company called BIOEFFECT, which is an Iceland-based skincare company. They've been around for six or seven years, and they're in Harrods, and I think about to close Colletes, and Bon Marche, and really cool stores all over the world, and they feel ready now to join the US and see how we can platform this brand here.
I've been helping them and working with them. I'm the only person here to help them, so I'm kind of doing everything. We got them into Neimans, and Bergdorfs, and a few doors in Cos Bar, and we're launching in October. It's really thrilling and it's high-tech skincare, so to speak, and it's got a lot of ... It's got a great story and most importantly, it works.
Jodi KatzWhat do you mean by doing everything, like what are you doing?
Maggie CiafardiniWell, I'm doing everything from hiring a freelancer, to setting the schedule, to talking to the CEO of Neimans, and everything. You're a one man show and ... I learned long ago to leave my ego at home in my closet and you do whatever you have to do, whether it's stuff a shopping bag, or ... I've been known to honk at a truck to see if my order was in there, so you do whatever you have to do to get the business going.
Jodi KatzHow did you learn to keep your ego, I guess abolish your ego, right, hide an ego, or dismantle it?
Maggie CiafardiniI guess being around a lot of people with egos you learned, well, I can't do that. You know what I really found, I actually just mentioned this to someone this morning, you meet a lot of people that teach you how not to be.
Jodi KatzRight.
Maggie CiafardiniYou meet people and you think, "Oh my god, I hope I never act like that," and then if I ever find myself acting like that, I think, "Oh, that's just like so-and-so," and you kind of reboot and start all over again.
Jodi KatzRight. That takes a certain level of self-awareness.
Maggie CiafardiniProbably.
Jodi KatzAnd like commitment to evolving. I don't know that everybody has that.
Maggie CiafardiniOh, well, I think that's why we're here, right, to be the best we can be? At the end you've got to figure out who you've helped, so I'm like waiting for all these beauty advisors to come back and give me good references.
Jodi KatzWere there people in your career that were like astounding bosses where you think about following them?
Maggie CiafardiniYeah, great bosses and not so great bosses, but you learn from all of them, and you learn how to adapt yourself to that person's personality. One boss in particular was brilliant, but he didn't have a lot of time, and he didn't have a lot of patience, so you had to figure out how to talk to him on his way to the men's room and get what you needed in that 30 seconds.
Jodi KatzWow.
Maggie CiafardiniYou had to really think about it, because in that 30 seconds if he found a question and said, "Well, what about this?" And if you didn't have the answer, you were shot down, so you had to go back and restart. You learned how to think it through before you actually spoke to him.
Jodi KatzRight, which is a great skill, but I assume you also had to stalk out of his office and like wait for that minute.
Maggie CiafardiniYes, of course. Yeah, it wasn't just happened to be in the hallway at the same time.
Jodi KatzYou had the strategy of stalking in addition to a strategy of knowing what the next question was and being one step ahead.
Maggie CiafardiniRight. I guess if people would ask you ... If you would ask people about me, they would say, "She's relentless," but I do it with a sense of humor, I hope, and make people laugh as I'm badgering them.
Jodi KatzDo you think of yourself as a salesperson in any way?
Maggie CiafardiniOh, god, yes. Yes, I mean I go into Starbucks and I sell the drink, I mean I just sell. In a restaurant if I'm having a great soup, it's all I can do not to stand up and say to everybody, "You've got to try this, it's just amazing."
Jodi KatzThat's like a scene in Seinfeld where one character likes the soup and she wants to tell the waiter that she likes the soup, and Jerry's like, "What, do you think he's going to run back in the kitchen and tell everybody she loves the soup?" Like do they really care?
Maggie CiafardiniRight. I've often asked to send a note to the chef because he needs to know how great this is. I just sell whatever, all the time.
Jodi KatzWhy? What do you think motivates you to do that?
Maggie CiafardiniWell, I get excited, and if something's really great, I just want everybody to know about it, because you need to try this, it's unbelievable, and so I'm always selling.
Jodi KatzIn your career have you had to sell things that you haven't believed in?
Maggie CiafardiniOnce. I learned quickly, oh my god, you've got to really like what you do, because I remember ... It was a clothing company, which I won't name, but they shook my hand and they said, "You've got the job," and he said, "Now go down to the factory and get all your clothes," and I looked at him and I said, "Oh. You mean I have to wear the clothes?"
Jodi KatzOh, man.
Maggie CiafardiniI knew right then it wasn't going to work, and it didn't, and I would ... I was the VP of sales for half the country, and the retailers would come in and I'd have to show the line, and I'd actually pick up something and say, "This isn't so bad."
Jodi KatzOh, man.
Maggie CiafardiniYeah, it was not good.
Jodi KatzHow long did that job last for?
Maggie CiafardiniNine months and then I went back into the cosmetic industry.
Jodi KatzWas that the only time that you spent outside of cosmetics?
Maggie CiafardiniNo, actually I started outside of cosmetic. It's really funny, because anybody that knows me knows my passion is really fashion, but I love the business of cosmetics. When I started out behind the counter for 15 hours a week selling cosmetics, I got really involved with the fashion floor. One of my clients at the cosmetic counter was on the board of a [Sectera 00:07:34] school, and she told me I should teach a course there, which is in hindsight, unbelievable ridiculous, but I did, and teaching these young girls. Of course, I was 25 at the time teaching these young girls that were 20 what to wear after they graduated, and how to look, and so I brought my skincare background, and my makeup background, and then I brought my hairdresser in and he did their hair, and I talked about fashion, and I'd bring my own clothes in.
During that time ... This was in Bloomingdale's branch store on Long Island, and the fashion coordinator quit, and I went down to my store manager, and I said, "Look, you don't really know who I am, but I do much more than sell cosmetics. So, I want to be the fashion coordinator," and he said, "That's ridiculous. You can't be that; that's an executive position," and I said, "Oh, no, yes I can." I said, "Do me a favor. Let me do one show and let me show you what I can do."
I think there were nine or twelve shows scheduled from July through September. He let me do one show, then I did two shows, and before you knew it I had done the whole season, still keeping my cosmetic job and my business up. Then at the end he introduced me and brought me, told me to go downtown and meet with Marvin Traub.
Jodi KatzOh, OK.
Maggie CiafardiniWho I met with, and who had his feet up on the desk the entire time he interviewed me, which is kind of interesting. He gave-
Jodi KatzThat's right out of central casting, right?
Maggie CiafardiniYeah, exactly. I got the job and I loved that job. I had a little beeper and they called me all day long, "Maggie, come down to juniors," or come down to here, and what's going on the mannequin, and we have to do a show.
Jodi KatzWere you basically styling the store?
Maggie CiafardiniStyling the store, doing the boutiques, doing the fashion shows. I would go into the city with the buyers and say, "Well, purple really sells in our department, so we have to have purple. The garden city ladies love purple." Loved that job. One day the ... Well, I started doing seminars in the department about teaching people how to dress, and we would bring in a group like the PTA, and the Junior League, and different groups, and I would bring in a rolling rack and talk to them about the 10 most basic items that they need for the season.
Jodi KatzRight.
Maggie CiafardiniThey ended up buying everything I showed them, and suddenly everybody wanted the Maggie seminar in their department, and I brought in a cosmetic company, because whenever you're talking about how to dress you have to finish with the makeup. The only company that truly ever showed up and was truly professional was Estee Lauder, and so we became the dynamic duo. We would go into the departments and we would sell. I realized then your value is really what kind of revenue you bring, because as a fashion coordinator you're just kind of fluffy when around the store, not creating revenue.
Jodi KatzRight.
Maggie CiafardiniBut the minute I started being responsible for bringing in revenue and selling $5,000 and $10,000 in an hour, everybody wanted me in their department. That was a good guide to how to grow your reputation.
Jodi KatzRight.
Maggie CiafardiniOne day the regional from Estee Lauder walked in and said ... This is kind of a funny story. I'm kind of embarrassed to say, but she walked in and she said, "You know, you should come to the cosmetics side because I've heard so much about you. I can pay you $18,000 a year as an account coordinator at Estee Lauder," and I said, "Well, I need $19,000 because I'm getting a divorce," and she said, "No, I can't give you that," and she walked ... She went down the escalator. I ran after her and said, "You know what, I'm going to take it." I've since learned how to negotiate a little bit better than that, but ...
Jodi KatzYou could have gotten her to $20,000 or $21,000.
Maggie CiafardiniI don't know. Anyway, I started as an account coordinator at Estee Lauder and before you knew it I was a regional and account executive, and hence my career.
Jodi KatzRight, and always selling, so you're selling your team, you're selling your product?
Maggie CiafardiniWell, and when I became the CEO, I mean you're doing more than selling, although you're always selling on some level. But you're managing the team and you're selling them on the opportunity, and making them feel motivated, and helping them to think how do you present this to the French? When they come in, let's think about how we're going to position it and things like that.
I think the bottom line, no matter what you're doing, you're selling somebody. Even if you're a doctor, you're selling your skills to your patients, and so sales to me is the heart and soul of life.
Jodi KatzYeah. You were 25 years old getting a divorce and changing jobs.
Maggie CiafardiniRight.
Jodi KatzRight, so this is a lot happening all at once.
Maggie CiafardiniRight.
Jodi KatzI think this is probably very timely for young people who are listening to you right now. What gave you that, I guess, drive or confidence to say, "Oh, let me just try something new, let me just go take this job," when everything else in your life is a little more complicated?
Maggie CiafardiniOh, I've always leaped first and then looked second, I mean that's just what I do. I guess one of my strengths, or a weakness, it depends on how you look at it, I'm completely fearless and just jump into things and just have a lot of confidence. If you just figure it out, you'll do it. Can you ride a horse? Absolutely. No, I cannot ride a horse today, but if I had to by Monday, I would.
Jodi KatzWhy do you think you're so fearless?
Maggie CiafardiniI don't know. I really don't know. I have five brothers and sisters and we're all different. I don't think anybody else has the, I don't know, I guess my sisters and brothers would say I have an attitude, but I would say it's confidence. I don't know. I just feel that we all are responsible for ourselves and we can do whatever we set our minds to. There is no such thing as "I don't know how to do it."
Obviously I wouldn't attempt brain surgery, but just about anything else I think if you put your mind to it, and you want to do it, and you look at people that are successful. I've had great mentors. Tony Robbins was a big part of my life when I was an account executive and driving around all over the place. I used to put his tapes in the car, and I would listen to him, and he believes in himself.
I loved to listen to these stories where people were homeless, and they lived in their car, and now they're a famous chef, or ... You listen to their stories and you realize it's just about putting one foot in front of the other, not worrying about what if, because what if you fail? So what? Get up and start all over again.
Jodi KatzRight.
Maggie CiafardiniSometimes failure creates a new opportunity, because if something's not working and you realize, "Oh my god, I shouldn't have done that." Let's say you opened Sephora and you shouldn't have or something like that and you're not succeeding. OK, how do I succeed here, and maybe completely changing your business model or doing something very different and it turns out to be a great success.
Jodi KatzIt's so interesting that you talk about moving forward and moving through things so freely, because I mean in running my business for 10 years I've really noticed that I come to these walls, these obstacles, where it's like I'm afraid of financial insecurity, I'm afraid of just being uncomfortable sometimes, I'm afraid of not knowing the right answer, never been in this territory before, and I constantly get like butt up against the wall and then I have to like figure out how am I going to move through it.
It's not easy, like it's not like me moving freely through, or across the wall, or behind the wall. It's like I really have to study it and think about it, because I do suffer from this kind of fear that holds me back. It's getting better and better. I'm starting to realize that like life is short, just try new things, and all that stuff, but it's taken me like 10 of the 10 years to get there. I admire you for being able to just like move through things and not worry. I think worry ages us, right?
Maggie CiafardiniRight. Well, I think one of my weaknesses, or it could be considered a strength, I don't really think, I do it, and then I think about it later. I follow my heart, and my instincts, and I'm married to a man who's brilliant, and very educated, and he thinks things through, and he'll be thinking, and I always say to him, "While you are thinking, I'm going to go do that, and then I'll be back."
He's learning now to stop now thinking so much, because when you start thinking, then you just automatically think about, "OK, let me think about all the things. Let me think about the pros and let me think about the cons," and all of a sudden you have this list of cons. It's like having a child. If you ever really think about it, you would never have a child, because, well, what if they get sick, and what if I can't afford to send them to college, and then what if the school calls me in the middle of the day and I'm in a meeting? If you really think about all the things that could go wrong and do go wrong when you have a child, you would never have a child.
Jodi KatzRight.
Maggie CiafardiniThat's how I kind of run my life. I just, if it feels right, it is right.
Jodi KatzRight. I like to free myself from worry. I mean it's definitely releasing some of it, but I think that it comes down to a perfectionist tendency and I'm really trying to unravel it, and I am slowly unraveling it. I'm like OK. There's like clients that aren't the right match for us, it doesn't work out, OK, it's just the way it is. There's projects that go left when they should go right, OK. I'm trying to unravel it, but it's taking time.
Maggie CiafardiniRight. I think it's also about having a vision. Not that, OK, I want to be the CEO of the world, but more like, "Well, of course I'm going to be successful," and you just kind of put yourself in that position. Somebody once said to me, actually it was a guy that used to be the CEO of Saatchi & Saatchi, and he said that ... He asked me where I saw myself in five years, and I thought, "OK, that's a typical question."
Jodi KatzRight.
Maggie CiafardiniHe said, "No, no, no. I don't mean what job do you have. What are you wearing? Are you wearing high heels? Are you in a convertible? Are you driving along the Riviera? Where are you?" And I said, "I'm in an office in all glass with high heels with 20 people working for me." And he said, "And that's the vision you keep in your head and then you will get there."
Jodi KatzYes.
Maggie CiafardiniI thought that was really interesting.
Jodi KatzYeah, it is interesting.
Maggie CiafardiniBecause now I'm in a yacht in the south of France somewhere or so in my five-year plan.
Jodi KatzOh. I think a five-year plan for me I'm working less and making more and not apologizing for it. I just have more rhythm in my weeks to have like my gym days, easier days, and then my city days, and then my at home working days. Just having a little bit more of a flow of not like all work all the time.
Maggie CiafardiniRight. I think that's ... You laugh at that, like you think you're working less. The truth is, the higher up you go, the more people will pay you for your thinking not for your doing.
Jodi KatzRight.
Maggie CiafardiniSo, the higher up you go, the less you do, but the more thinking.
Jodi KatzYes.
Maggie CiafardiniIn a way you're always working, because you're in the shower, or you're washing. I do a lot of thinking apparently when I'm blow drying my hair, because all of a sudden I put down the blow dryer and I go, "Oh my god," and I go write down whatever I'm thinking, so apparently that's my good thinking time.
People pay you for your mind now because you get more and more experience and you see things differently. That's why they want to work with you. They don't need you to do things. They need you to help them think it through.
Jodi KatzRight.
Maggie CiafardiniYou're right. In that five years you'll have more free time, because while you're taking and picking up your kids at school, you'll be thinking about different things.
Jodi KatzRight. I want to like manage my time where I feel like the past 10 years I've given myself time for like being a mom, growing the business, growing stuff in my garden. I definitely give myself time for all that, but not like in an organized way. It's sort of haphazard, and I want less stress, I want more joy, so I think taking Fridays off.
Maggie CiafardiniRight.
Jodi KatzAfter 10 years I feel like I should just be doing it.
Maggie CiafardiniRight.
Jodi KatzI started to do it this summer. Most Fridays I really am not working, there's some where I'm doing a few calls, but just giving these little gifts back to myself of like it's OK, like things move on. They can continue on without me.
Maggie CiafardiniRight.
Jodi KatzTo find that pace and that joy that I'm looking for.
Maggie CiafardiniTony Robbins would say that all stress is caused by fear.
Jodi KatzYeah, I get it.
Maggie CiafardiniAnd once you remove that fear, like OK, what could go wrong? Well, you own your business so you're not going to get fired, but what could go wrong? Well, I'm going to get fired. So? I'll find something else.
Jodi KatzRight. That's right.
Maggie CiafardiniWhat could go wrong? I'll lose a paycheck. Well, I'll save up. I have a few dollars saved up, I'll use that. You always think about what's the worst thing that can happen, and once you, OK, I can survive that, then you become more fearless.
Jodi KatzYes. I am focusing on I'm grateful, like I have I'm healthy, Naomi's healthy, we have a warm home in the winter, and a cool home in the summer, and lots of fun together, and ...
Maggie CiafardiniAnd you're cute.
Jodi KatzThank you, coming from someone who's adorable. OK, so this is not the only thing that you're doing is running this brand in the US? You are doing other things? Tell us about that.
Maggie CiafardiniNo, and, well, I'm helping a woman, an executive recruiter, I'm helping her now in the beauty space because she's in the fashion space. That I find incredibly exciting because I do that anyway, and now to do it professionally it's really exciting, and she's a dynamic, exciting woman. I know a lot of people in the beauty business, she knows a lot of people in the fashion business, and I think that ...
I think beauty people particularly, because that's who I know, have a tendency to take control and see it through, like we not only put it into the store. We make sure it's sold, we make sure it looks good, we make sure the people are right to sell it, so you kind of take it from zero to a hundred. I think that personality can fit into many different businesses and so I'm excited to be working with her.
Then I'm working with our subscription box company, which is really focused on millennials, and everybody in the team is like 22. They're teaching me so much about social media. I met this influencer the other day, she was 16, and she quit school because she's so busy, and she has so many clients, and they're flying her all over the world.
Jodi KatzOh my goodness.
Maggie CiafardiniAnd I decided I want to get 70,000 followers too, like I wonder how I can do that, and so I'm thinking about ...
Jodi KatzShe's like the new version of a Disney star?
Maggie CiafardiniRight, exactly.
Jodi KatzRight, so like a Disney performer, or actor, or musician, she is an influencer.
Maggie CiafardiniYeah.
Jodi KatzAnd she has a career that young.
Maggie CiafardiniAnd she talks about her business like her business, and she said, "Oh, I can't possibly go to school, I don't have the time, so I'm homeschooling," and this vendor's flying her to California, this other vendor's flying her somewhere else. I mean I just had to keep my mouth closed, because I was just gaping at her, like she's adorable, but she's 16, I mean.
Jodi KatzRight, so it's just like being a performer?
Maggie CiafardiniRight.
Jodi KatzHer parents have to go with her and travel with her?
Maggie CiafardiniNo, I think she goes by herself actually.
Jodi KatzOh, really?
Maggie CiafardiniYeah.
Jodi KatzWow.
Maggie CiafardiniYeah, I was quite taken back with her, and very opinionated. I don't know how I feel about it actually. If she were my daughter, I don't know how I'd feel about her being that cocky at 16, and at what point do you hit the wall, and how long do you think these influencers will continue to dominate the space?
Jodi KatzRight. Well, let's talk about that. It wasn't on my list, but we might as well talk about influencers. I feel like we had many, many generations, and decades of TV being the way that we communicate brands, right, or face-to-face in a store, and everything's changed and it's changed so quickly. We get probably an email once or twice a week from publicists we don't know asking us to work on influencer programs with them. We just sort of see this like frenetic, frenzied, like almost desperation around how to have brands be a part of this conversation.
It's kind of freaky to be on that side of it, because we were kind of the calm, cool, collected side of it, and we have people coming at us because they have demands on them from their bosses or their clients. Where do you see this influencer thing going? What does it mean to you?
Maggie CiafardiniWell, yes to everything you just said, and yes if you look at it from the outside in, but when you think about it, the truth is the customer hasn't changed. A woman still wants to know what shade of lipstick should I wear, and how can I be prettier, and how can I get the guy to ask me to marry him?
Jodi KatzOK.
Maggie CiafardiniI mean that's the truth. I think while the messaging has changed a bit ... Mrs. Lauder used to say, "Telephone, television, tell a woman."
Jodi KatzRight.
Maggie CiafardiniIt hasn't really changed that much. Tell a woman is kind of word of mouth, right, it's the influencers, and finding those people to organically love your product I think is the challenge. You could pay anybody, like a Kim Kardashian, pay her $10,000 and she'll tweet. I think customers are starting to see through that. I think organically having a woman believe in your product and she tells 10 of her friends is a lot healthier.
Part of it is making sure you support brands that you believe in, that you really think are bringing important difference and that work. Then part of it is trying to, as you said, being the calm person, and try to really think it through, and what's the fad, and what's not the fad, and how is this going to be sustainable?
Just like makeup was trending double-digits, now makeup's slowing down and skincare's coming back. You kind of have to have a constant in your life and just have core values that can support. You're running a business, so you probably do want the pops of, well, false eyelashes are in for the next six weeks and let me get behind that because I can help. You do some of those and then you do some of the basics.
Jodi KatzRight.
Maggie CiafardiniI think you have to make sure your portfolio has core brands that are sustainable. It's kind of like ... In my fashion days when we set up a department, we would do the four or five tee stands in the front of the department with the purple and the bellbottom pants or whatever they had.
Jodi KatzRight.
Maggie CiafardiniAnd in the back were the basic tee shirts and black skirts, which is really the bulk of their business, but you always had to have that tee stand to bring in the excitement.
Jodi KatzRight. This is the same philosophy in the grocery store.
Maggie CiafardiniYeah, exactly.
Jodi KatzRight, they're going to put those eggs and milk in the back.
Maggie CiafardiniRight.
Jodi KatzMake you walk through taco shells and the whatever.
Maggie CiafardiniRight, exactly.
Jodi KatzThe barbecue sauce or whatever it is.
Maggie CiafardiniYeah.
Jodi KatzWhen it comes to the influencer universe, we've been trying to really pull together our point of view, our like world view on this stuff, because we do have so many different types of clients coming to us for this, and like I said, there's this kind of like worry or fear kind of around it, like cause they're not part of it, are they part of it, how should they be part of it?
We're pulling together a best practices and one of the things we've been thinking about and has sort of like been kind of hitting me in the gut recently is this frenzy around influencer makes me feel like we're forgetting about the person who actually pays for the product, right, which is the customer.
Maggie CiafardiniExactly right.
Jodi KatzWhat we're trying to do, and I think it's going to take time, is have this conversation around influencer at a much higher level. Not at like the publicist level, or the junior marketing manager level, but really at the CMO level and for some brands CEO level, which is like if we're going to reach out to influencers, whether they're editors, traditional print, or digital, maybe they're really just makeup artists, or hairstylists, or whatever, just influencers like the 16-year old.
If we're going to talk to them, we also have to include our customer in that conversation. So, how do we talk to that loyal customer and how do we touch her and make her feel as special as we're making these influencers feel? Right, because she's the one who's going to buy the product, and if she's made to feel special, she's going to tell 25 of her friends.
Maggie CiafardiniRight.
Jodi KatzBecause she ... This brand loves me, right? I feel like we're ... I know brands are working hard to talk to the customer in other ways, but I feel like with this whole influencer conversation we're missing the most important influencer of all, which is the person who's using her money, right, spending her money on our product, and making her an advocate of the brand. I don't know where that's going to go. We're really like just dipping our toe into those conversations, but I would love to see the thinking expand around these programs to really start thinking about the end user who's purchasing products.
Maggie CiafardiniRight. I think a lot of that has to do with being with the customer where she is, and talking to her, and ... You know a lot of these brilliant marketing people sit in their office and they try to tell you what the customer's doing, and I kind of smile to myself all the time, because like, well, have you met a customer lately? Have you been in the store? Have you watched her? Have you spoken to her? Because that's the key.
There's a restaurant group ... An example of not knowing your customer. There's a restaurant group that recently eliminated tipping from their bill, so if your lunch for two costs $50, you go to put the tip on, there's no place for it. You say, "Well, I want to tip."
"No, no, no, there's no tip," And you kind of feel awkward as a customer, like well, that's uncomfortable for me. What this group is finding is that they're losing their staff. I think, and I don't know the answer, but I do think it's because a waitress or a waiter gets valued by the tip you leave, and I think when you tip them they feel satisfied, like they feel, "Well, this is nice. I got recognition from this customer because I treated her extra special."
When you take that away from anybody, the human condition, I mean you just feel unappreciated and undervalued. Even though they gave their employees a bit of a raise to compensate for no tipping, I think they lost something, and as a customer I'm so used to tipping that I don't feel it's a bonus.
Jodi KatzRight.
Maggie CiafardiniLike I don't feel, "Oh yeah, yeah, I'm going to go to this restaurant group because I'm not tipping anymore." It kind of feels I'm annoyed that I'm not tipping because I'm so used to tipping.
Jodi KatzRight.
Maggie CiafardiniSo, there's an example of they don't really understand their customer.
Jodi KatzRight.
Maggie CiafardiniBecause the customer didn't care about the tipping.
Jodi KatzThat's right.
Maggie CiafardiniSo, they tried to create an experience for the customer that they felt was going to be of great value, and I've spoken to a lot of people about this, and nobody likes no tipping because it's something we do.
Jodi KatzRight, and it's a language, right?
Maggie CiafardiniRight.
Jodi KatzIt's part of the language of the service industry, which is thank you so much for greeting me warmly, thank you so much for keeping this dressing on the side, thank you so much for making me feel special, because dining out it's not transactional, it's an experience.
Maggie CiafardiniRight.
Jodi KatzNot just transactional, it's an experience. It's our custom to say thank you in a warm way, whatever way we choose to do it, and especially at this group that I ... I know what you were talking about. I mean these are customers who have money to tip.
Maggie CiafardiniRight.
Jodi KatzThis is not fast food.
Maggie CiafardiniRight, and I always try to give the greeter money anyway, and you get, "No, no, no, not allowed to take it."
Jodi KatzRight.
Maggie CiafardiniI was like should I go buy him a gift, like how can I thank him?
Jodi KatzWhat's your shoe size?
Maggie CiafardiniYeah, right. I always wish I had a product in my bag that I could just hand him something, "Well, here, try this skin cream. You'll like it."
Jodi KatzOh, that's so interesting. It could be a trade, right?
Maggie CiafardiniYeah.
Jodi KatzYou mentioned knowing the customer and you mentioned the word stores, so if we can just shift gears a little bit and talk about what it's like to be in an actual brick and mortar store these days selling beauty. I've been in some. I actually don't shop a lot in stores anymore and it's been like this for some time.
Maggie CiafardiniI don't think anyone does.
Jodi KatzI think it changed for me with FreshDirect, god bless them, and www.Diapers.com, right? This was like 10 years ago, I was having kids, all of a sudden shopping for diapers and body wash for the baby and all that stuff became easy, FreshDirect became easy, and I really haven't looked back since. Going to stores feels like a drag for me. I appreciate brands who want me to be a digital customer, that shower me with love for being a digital customer.
Maggie CiafardiniRight.
Jodi KatzBut I don't think stores are going away. We still need places to come together as a community, experience things-
Maggie CiafardiniIt's going to come back.
Jodi KatzYeah, there's like nothing like experiencing beauty firsthand; it's like a magic show. But I've been in a bunch of stores and they're empty.
Maggie CiafardiniRight.
Jodi KatzSo, I wanted to hear your thoughts on what it's like to be, well, what you think beauty brick and mortar retailers can do.
Maggie CiafardiniRight. I wish I had the answer to that one. I've given this a lot of thought, but just when you were talking it just made me think of something, as you were talking about FreshDirect, and I was thinking, well, we should do BeautyDirect, and I thought, "Oh, wait, there is BeautyDirect, like Avon, right? Well, why isn't Avon working if everything else direct to your home is working, like GlamSquad, and ..."
Jodi KatzRight.
Maggie CiafardiniI mean I think Avon's problem is the product, but I think maybe if it was Chanel to your door, it might be a little different.
Jodi KatzRight.
Maggie CiafardiniI don't know. Anyway, I was just thinking about that. I think people like customize, they like service. I think that they'll many times go into a Neimans, or a Saks, and try products, and then replenish it either online or in a Sephora. I think that the customer wants it when she wants it, wherever it is, and I think the stores are ... I don't think there is an answer, like I can't say, "Like OK, maybe you should just do this."
Jodi KatzRight.
Maggie CiafardiniI think services are important. I think stores like Cos Bar and Bluemercury are the future because it's a specialized store, you get to know the person behind the counter, and not even behind the counter, in the store, and most of the people that work in a Bluemercury or a Cos Bar are, I want to use the word old, but I don't mean to ... Literally, they're former beauty advisors for the Chanel's of the world, or the Estee Lauder's of the world, so they're experienced people, and they think of Cos Bar or Bluemercury as their home now, so there's not as much turnover.
Jodi KatzRight.
Maggie CiafardiniAnd if I lived in a neighborhood and I wasn't in the cosmetic industry, I would just run into a Cos Bar and pick up my stuff because they're editing the brand for me; I don't have to think about what's new.
If I were a beauty junky, I'd go into a Sephora to play, so you have that experience. I also think that if you look at Saks now, they've put in an apothecary and it's fast growing. I think the customer has now seen through going into a Saks store, or a Neimans, and going to the La Prairie, or the Chanel counter, or any of the name brands knowing that that beauty bride is going to sell them everything from that brand, and I don't think any of us use one thing.
I mean if you look in my cosmetic case, it's a mixture of Hourglass, and Yves Saint Laurent, and Tarte, and a little Lipstick Queen; a lot of brands. I don't want to go to one counter anymore. I want to know what's ... So, I think Cos Bar and Bluemercury support that kind of, and Sephora, support that kind of thinking.
Jodi KatzRight, so shopping across brands is certainly a defining change for our industry.
Maggie CiafardiniRight.
Jodi KatzBecause even if you do buy everything, let's say at the Lancome counter, that that's sold to you, you know you're not going to use all of it. It's just sort of part of the intoxication of shopping.
Maggie CiafardiniRight.
Jodi KatzYou're buying it, you're believing in it for a minute, but you leave the store and you know you're probably not going to use that product.
Maggie CiafardiniRight.
Jodi KatzThe idea of Saks or other larger footprint stores bringing in smaller brands that don't have glass cases and defined employees behind those glass cases, it's interesting, but I don't know that it's enough. I'm not convinced that just diversifying the products mix is enough to get people there.
Maggie CiafardiniWell, I think that the brands hold so much power in having the feeling that they're controlling the customer. I think it's almost laughable, having coming out of big companies and now you look at them and you just kind of smile to yourself, because why can't I go on L'Oreal website or Estee Lauder website and go across brands? Go to a MAC and buy lipstick, then hit another button and go to Bobbi Brown and buy a blush. I can't. I have to sign out of MAC, and I have to sign in to Bobbi Brown, so they're almost stifling the shopping experience in a way.
Jodi KatzRight.
Maggie CiafardiniAnd I think ... And they're going, "Oh no, we'd never do that, you know, because we don't want to encourage that," but the customer is already doing it, so ...
Jodi KatzRight, she's doing it at Ulta.
Maggie CiafardiniYeah.
Jodi KatzShe's doing it at Sephora.
Maggie CiafardiniRight.
Jodi KatzShe's doing it in all kinds of things.
Maggie CiafardiniAnd she's doing it at Saks.
Jodi KatzRight.
Maggie CiafardiniI mean she's going from one counter to the other, but the brands don't want to release that feeling because they feel that they're controlling the shopping experience, which is the biggest problem.
Jodi KatzI never thought of this until this moment, until you said it, that like Lauder has the opportunity to talk to me the way that I want to be spoken to, and saying that we are a family of brands, and we know your beauty mood changes daily, right, like my skincare needs changed daily, like one day I look great, the other day I look crazy. My skin could be going nuts. My lipstick needs change. Everything changes. And they're not giving me the opportunity to be part of the family of Lauder brands.
Maggie CiafardiniRight.
Jodi KatzOr L'Oreal brands, or whoever, Coty brands.
Maggie CiafardiniRight.
Jodi KatzWe can go on and on.
Maggie CiafardiniAll of them. Yeah, all of them.
Jodi KatzAnd this is sort of like light bulbs are going off in my head right now that this is a huge opportunity. Have you spoken to anybody yet at [inaudible 00:35:08] about it?
Maggie CiafardiniYes, of course. The brands are very protective. "No, no, no, we're MAC. We don't really talk to Bobbi," and ...
Jodi KatzRight.
Maggie CiafardiniL'Oreal doesn't, Lancome doesn't talk to L'Oreal in the drugstores, so no, they don't, and to me it's such an easy fix. It's just a welcoming thing. The customer would go, "Oh, thank god."
Jodi KatzRight. I mean if I'm trying to put myself in like a regular customer's shoes, which I have to remove my [inaudible 00:35:33] to do that.
Maggie CiafardiniRight, me too.
Jodi KatzI think I'd probably feel really good if I thought I was being embraced by the Lauder brands, like the Lauder family of brands, right, because it is a family.
Maggie CiafardiniRight.
Jodi KatzOr in L'Oreal, or pick one. I'd probably feel very special if I thought they were talking to me as a family of brands.
Maggie CiafardiniRight.
Jodi KatzHeritage brands, then there's new brands, there's [inaudible 00:35:55] brands, there's conservative brands, and talking to me maybe not ... Maybe ecom is too hard for them and too scary, but maybe if they were just talking to me, right?
Maggie CiafardiniWell, they have chats. I mean imagine if you wrote to an Estee Lauder site and said, "You know, my skin feels very dry today."
"Well, you know, why don't you try this product from Estee Lauder, and Bobbi Brown has this other thing that you can put on top of it," or ... I mean I think you'd feel like, "Oh, wow. This is great. I'm getting incredible advice from a very experienced source and I trust this."
Jodi KatzRight. That's right, and I wouldn't feel like I'm being pushed the whole regimen.
Maggie CiafardiniRight.
Jodi KatzRight, which is like ... I had a friend, when we were in our 20's we went on a cruise for spring break, and she is such a skeptic in every way of her life, but she went into the spa, and she had a facial, and that aesthetician sold her like 15 products. My friend who's such a skeptic that would never buy anything from anybody, she couldn't be sold, was like, "OK, I'll buy all 15 things," but she left there knowing like, "This is all junk, and I can't believe I did this to myself, and I spent all my money." Right, we're in college so we don't have money for this. Spent all of her money on this regimen that she was sold to.
People see through that, like you said. So, imagine being able to be like, "Well, you know what, I think this Bobbi lipstick would be great for you because you have really dull lips and this is a really nourishing formula," or Stay Put, or whatever, and then moving me to another brand, maybe Rodin or whatever for another need.
Maggie CiafardiniRight, exactly.
Jodi KatzIt would feel less sloppy.
Maggie CiafardiniRight, and you trust it. You trust it more than you trust going into a Sephora where you have a beauty advisor who just started last week. I mean I would trust it more if I went to a heritage site like that and I got that kind of advice.
Jodi KatzRight. I mean it makes me think, "Oh, wait, Lauder has the opportunity to have like their own Cos Bar."
Maggie CiafardiniYeah, of course, online.
Jodi KatzRight? They could have done this.
Maggie CiafardiniYes, online.
Jodi KatzOr they could have done a brick and mortar and had 15 great shopping destinations in different countries.
Maggie CiafardiniWell, I think they do have the Estee Lauder store in these outlet malls and things, but I think it's not the same. Imagine if you were given your own concierge at Lauder, like Suzy's my beauty advisor and she's going to recommend all the different products to me but across the different companies. I would have no need to go any place else.
Jodi KatzThat's right. Oh my god, I love this, I mean like my ...
Maggie CiafardiniYeah, we're revolutionizing the industry, Jodi.
Jodi KatzRight now on this podcast. This is amazing. This is history making.
Maggie CiafardiniWell, one of the benefits of having worked for these fabulous companies, and I give my ... I was 15 years at Estee Lauder and to me that's my Harvard education. Now being outside of it, I get to see as a customer and also as an industry person who has exposure to at least small brands, and you realize the positive impact and the reputation Estee Lauder has, but to me they're not leveraging it the way they need to, because the customer so trusts them.
Jodi KatzRight.
Maggie CiafardiniAnd there's so many brands within the Estee Lauder house that there's something for everyone for every mood of your day, whether it's Too Faced, or Bobbi, or MAC, or Creme de la Mer, I mean there's something for everyone.
Jodi KatzRight.
Maggie CiafardiniAnd it depends on your mood, and your needs ... You could say like, "My daughter has bad skin now. What should I use?" And you get an educated response.
Jodi KatzRight.
Maggie Ciafardini"Sorry, Maggie, you're having this problem. I know how it is, we have kids too, but ..." That kind of thing.
Jodi KatzRight. I just love the idea of personalizing the experience from a corporate level, right, in a way that's never been done before. This is a genius ... But we only have time for one last topic.
Maggie CiafardiniOK.
Jodi KatzI wanted to mention to you that when I first spent time with you ... So, we met at Women's Wear Daily, but then we spent time together over coffee, and I was really struggling, like in my head I felt like kind of messy, and this happens from time to time, maybe once a quarter I get like a little mixed up and ...
Maggie CiafardiniThat's good. Uncomfortable means you're growing.
Jodi KatzYeah, I'm like alone in my head all the time, right? It's like really nice sometimes to spend time with someone who gets it, and in that moment I felt like you became my like guardian beauty angel.
Maggie CiafardiniOh.
Jodi KatzLike really helped me unravel my problem in like literally 30 seconds.
Maggie CiafardiniOh my god.
Jodi KatzYeah, it was amazing, and then I was able to like go from that meeting and be like, "Oh, OK, I get it," and move forward. I just, I was in a hole and you helped me get out of that hole. Do you have this effect on people quite often?
Maggie CiafardiniI don't know. The red carpet always comes out. I don't know, how can I answer that question? I like to think I have insight. I do like to think I have insight, and sometimes when you're not so close to a situation, you have clarity. If I could control the world it would be a wonderful place, but I want to go fix Estee Lauder, and I want to go fix that one, and ... I have all these ideas.
Jodi KatzYeah.
Maggie CiafardiniBut I like to brainstorm, and when I'm sitting in a Starbucks or whatever, I always think, "OK, if I ran this place, what would I do, and how would I change it, and you know, I could franchise this, or I could do this, or," so I'm always thinking about business and how to take it to the next level. I come up with these great businesses in my head and then I get in a taxi and go someplace else.
Jodi KatzRight. Then how ... Like I said, I'm alone in my head a lot, which means there's a lot of ideas floating around similar to what you spoke about. How do you decide which lane to move forward with, like which area are you going to move forward with and try to make it happen?
Maggie CiafardiniWell, I think you're running a business so it's very different and you have to stay focused on your business, so you can't ... Let's say your focus is prestige and you want to be prestige, then don't go try to help Wal-Mart, I mean stay in your field, be an expert in what you're doing, and sometimes it means narrowing your scope of clients.
I mean if you have, let's say, clients in beauty, and then you have clients in fashion, you have clients in shoes, and you have clients in technology. I mean you can't be everything to everybody, so you have to pick your core and either farm out the other ones or find somebody else that can do that.
Jodi KatzRight.
Maggie CiafardiniI think you're an A player with an A personality, so you like to control from what I can gather, and sometimes ...
Jodi KatzBut I can't control everything, or anything.
Maggie CiafardiniI know, but sometimes learning to let go and letting your people do it, and to me that was the hardest thing I've ever done was I went from being an account executive to a field sales director, and I had nine account executives under me. John Demsey, who was a great leader and mentor to me, said to me, "Maggie, you're a super duper account executive," and I'm smiling, and he goes, "But I need you to be a field sales director. You can't do their job for them. You have to tell them, like you have to say, 'Well, there's a promotion coming up, Suzy, have you done this, this, and this?' And then let them it."
Jodi KatzRight.
Maggie CiafardiniHe said, "You can't do everything." And I sat back and I realized, "Oh my god, they're not paying me to do. They're paying me to think."
Jodi KatzRight, think.
Maggie CiafardiniAnd it was a big shift.
Jodi KatzIt's a much better job though.
Maggie CiafardiniWell, yeah once you figure out what it is, but it was scary because I was so uncomfortable, because I was a doer.
Jodi KatzRight.
Maggie CiafardiniAnd I like to do everything, and it was very hard to let go and trust that your people were doing it, and of course then my nickname became "Did you do it?" Because, "OK, do this and do that. Did you do it?" And they'd say, "Well, you just told me 15 minutes ago," I said, "Well, you've had 15 minutes, like did you do it?"
Jodi KatzRight.
Maggie CiafardiniSo, I laugh, now my nickname is "Did you do it?" So I guess I can be annoying.
Jodi KatzWell, I love it. Thank you, Maggie. It's been so incredible hearing your wisdom and for you to share it all with us.
Maggie CiafardiniOh, it was so fun. Thank you so much.
Jodi KatzAnd now we have this like warpath to be on which is evolving Lauder, L'Oreal, whoever, into different types of thinkers.
Maggie CiafardiniWell, if you think about the customer first.
Jodi KatzYeah, that's right. I love it. Thank you, Maggie.
Maggie CiafardiniThank you.
AnnouncerThanks for listening to Where Brains Meet Beauty with Jodi Katz. Tune in again for more authentic conversations with beauty leaders.

Want to sponsor the pod?

Available On:

Apple Podcasts