Beauty Store Business magazine - June, 2019

Tips for Running Your Family-Owned Business

Beauty executives give their best advice to family-run businesses for working with their children.

Can you imagine what life would be like if your children worked for you? Whether it sounds like a dream scenario or a nightmare, these highly successful beauty brand entrepreneurs have made it a reality. We reached out to the parents and CEOs who have kept their business in the family to find out how they do it–and what you need to know if you’re considering it too. From taking a step back to adapting to new trends, here are their words of wisdom on building a family enterprise.

Bass Brushes

Bass Brushes
Ron Weinstein, founder and CEO
“The main advantage of working with your children in business is trust–you know you can trust your children. Sometimes they think my ideas are old-school, and they have newer, hipper ideas, so I tend to side with them more on that and say, ‘OK, try it.’ You have to bite your tongue sometimes and let your kids do it their way; you have to have confidence in them. There’s going to be ups and downs no matter what, but you can guide them. I think one of the nicest things is when they ask my opinion–80 percent of the time they don’t, but 20 percent of the time they will. My sons are 34 and 40 years old. You have to remind yourself they’re not 15 anymore (and they’ll say that when I’m talking to them), but there’s a whole different way you can communicate with your children versus an employee. I’d say working with your kids is a good thing, as long as you keep some control as you step back.”

Fisk Industries

Fisk Industries
Stephen Adler, CEO

“By no means am I an authority on this very delicate subject. In my opinion, the most important piece of a family business is that you never lose sight of the fact that you want the family aspect to be ingrained in the culture. The way we have chosen to run Fisk Industries is not only to recognize the ‘actual’ family, but to treat others in the business as part of the ‘extended’ family. We have managers who we rely on to run the business. Some of these managers are actual family and others, extended family. They are responsible for their own areas and they make their own decisions. There is mutual respect, tolerance and acceptance, which are at the core of any good relationship, whether it be a family business, marriage or friendship.”

Gamma+ Italia and StyleCraft

Gamma+ Italia and StyleCraft
Ken Russo, president

“We have worked as a father/son combo for over 10 years. Not only is there an unbelievable level of mutual respect and trust, but we have found an excellent balance of skill sets and strengths/weaknesses that complement each other. Our partnership is unique, in a sense, because it is a true partnership. In many family businesses, the patriarchal figure calls the shots and dictates the direction. For us, we work completely as a cohesive team. The best advice would be to have a mutual respect for each other and a deep understanding of one another’s strengths and weaknesses–not only to operate as efficiently as possible but also (for the most part) to work in complete harmony.”

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DeveloPlus

DeveloPlus
Kiran Agrey, president and CEO

“I find it very gratifying having my children work with me at DeveloPlus and watching them grow with the business. I found that it’s good for them to learn the business from the bottom up, as well as to include them in strategic meetings. That way, they have a better understanding of the business, how to manage it and make good decisions in the future. It’s important to meet on a regular basis and make sure that we’re on the same page and to know what the expectations are. Children should know that they are employees of the company and that they have to earn their position–that it’s not their right to be there.”

Spornette International

Spornette International
Alan Sporn, CEO

“I worked for my father, Walter, for decades and I can now see how working for him has made me the ‘boss’ I am to my children. Working with family
is very difficult. ... A parent has to be both firm and accommodating at the same time so you do not stifle one’s thought processes, growth, motivation or opinions. Sometimes a parent has to let their children make errors; learning from experience is often the best education. A parent has to make sure, however, that something learned is remembered permanently and not just temporarily; don’t pay lip service if something important comes up.
“At the same time, a parent has to try their hardest to make sure that a decision made by their children is not severely damaging or catastrophic. There are mistakes and then there are mistakes! A parent has to realize that this is a new generation. What the parent grew up knowing about media, correspondence and the way things are done are not the way they’re done now. A parent has to trust that their children know more than they do about many things and give them leeway to prove a point. Learn to listen. ... Our industry is full of families who no longer work together and, in some instances, no longer speak with each other. What a shame!”

Jatai International

Jatai International
Dean Wada, president

“Having family members in your business is a challenge because family relationships add a unique dimension to employment. My word of advice is to have patience and keep an open mind when it comes to your family members’ thoughts and opinions. You cannot get away from the family dynamics, but you must find ways to act as the employer–and not the parent. Treat your family members as valued employees and you will be respected as the employer.”

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Body Toolz

Joan Ross,
marketing director

“‘What!? You want me to work for you?’ That’s the line we heard from our three daughters. Finally, our daughter Marybeth and son-in-law John joined our business. What a happy day that was! When children decide to join the family business, it has to be because they want to. It is most important that children have the same passion and drive as you do in order to keep the business growing. We constantly try to set the example that we work harder and longer, and that they should too. Plus, a little humor and fun go a long way!”

Olivia Garden

Olivia Garden
Jean Rennette, cofounder

“Give your children the freedom to run the business as they see fit; they can do what they want but also have to assume the consequences of their decisions, be it positive or negative. They will learn from their mistakes, as well as their successes, which will help them grow into their leadership roles and contribute to their decision-making abilities, as well as help build their confidence. I recommend that you do not interfere with their running of the business; however, that you do remain available for advice and consultation when your children feel it’s necessary.”

Xtreme Beauty International

Xtreme Beauty International
Ali Mithavayani, CEO

“It’s good to have your family involved in your business. If, God forbid, something happens to you, they can take over the business. You can trust your own family and if they are able to manage and run the business, then that’s good for you because you want to leave it to your children. You want to have a family member who is reliable and knows what they’re doing.”

Denman Brush

Denman Brush
Dr. John Rainey, MBE, chairman

“It’s almost impossible to give others advice because everyone’s expec- tations and aspirations will be different. When I was a young man, our American distributor (Bud Feder of I. Sekine Corporation) told me that running a family business places you in a very privileged position. What he meant, I found out, was that you could work as hard as you like and no one can stop you. This I did and had a great working relationship with my father. It is important that everyone understands that working in your own business can take over your life. Therefore, you rely on a supportive family to allow you to do this. That is why it is extremely important to try to find some sort of balance between work and family life. However, we must lead by example and ensure that a culture is created in which everyone understands the importance of the individual’s contribution and how this forms the basis of a productive team. In anything you choose to do, if you work hard and relentlessly, you should be able to look back on something worthwhile.”