How the Founders of Rodan + Fields Built a Billion Dollar Skincare Brand
Unless you’ve somehow managed to totally quit social media over the last few years, you’re probably familiar with Rodan + Fields. While the journey to launch the skincare company began 30 years ago, the products have experienced new levels of success recently. A few bold moves from founders Dr. Katie Rodan and Dr. Kathy Fields — along with the line’s highly touted products — are largely responsible for the fact that so many people have come to recognize the brand today.
First, a brief history lesson: Dr. Rodan and Dr. Fields (yes, we’re talking about the actual people now) met during their dermatology residencies at Stanford University. The doctors launched the first iteration of their shared skincare company Rodan + Fields by distributing products through boutiques and department stores, ultimately selling it to Estee Lauder. Shortly after that, they realized that business in those retailers was not booming as they would have liked. They decided that the traditional department store model wasn’t right for their products… and bought the company back.
“The biggest misconception [about success] is that business goes according to plan,” Dr. Rodan tells us. “Success is not a straight line. You need resilience and grit. People often look at me and only see the end result, thinking that I ‘have it made.’ But what they don’t realize is I made what I have. It wasn’t easy, but nothing worthwhile ever is.”
For Dr. Rodan and Dr. Fields, the not-so-straight line to success led to a full revamp of their business model. Having regained control of their company, they recognized the power of mobile technology and started marketing and selling their products via social media. It paid off. In 2016, Euromonitor named Rodan + Fields the best and fastest growing skincare brand in the US. The company also surpassed $1 billion in revenue in 2016.
The founders’ unique approach to business has gained them individual attention as well. They currently share the #27 spot on the Forbes list of America’s Richest Self-Made Women. Dr. Fields credits this recognition to the duo’s agility, open-mindedness, and courage, while Dr. Rodan chalks it up to a special sort of business sense. “For as long as I can remember, I’ve had an entrepreneurial mindset, which is driven by a sense of purpose,” she says. “I believe that, in general, businesspeople are about profit, [while] entrepreneurs are driven by purpose.” Doctors Rodan and Fields put their heads together to compile this list of seven tips for anyone who dreams of being self-made entrepreneurs — not just successful businesspeople — themselves. Follow their lead, and maybe Forbes will recognize you someday too!
1. Do the right thing. This sounds like a given, of course, but actually doing it is about more than just being able to pat yourself on the back for being “good.” When it comes to business, Dr. Rodan and Dr. Fields remind us that you have one reputation, which you’ve probably spent your whole life cultivating. Even one instance of failing to practice the golden rule of “do unto others as you would have done unto you” can destroy that reputation, so be mindful of your actions!
2. Be open. You never know where you’re going to learn the single nugget of information that will change your business — or your life. Resist the urge to rely solely on the people and sources that feel comfortable to you, and keep yourself open to others. “Be open-minded, and leave your ego at the door,” Dr. Fields encourages. “If you have a problem, find an expert to help, and be open to receiving information from different sources.”
3. Future-proof yourself. If you’ve managed to dream up a disruptive business, that’s surely something to celebrate. But before you get too pumped up about it, Dr. Rodan and Dr. Fields recommend you step back and consider other disruptions that might be around the corner in your industry. By learning to anticipate other innovative entrepreneurs, you successfully put yourself a step ahead of the competition that’s inevitable for every company.
4. Plan for problems. No rise to success is obstacle-free, so come to peace now with the challenges that await you. Having coping mechanisms in place in advance will ensure you’re ready to face those challenges without fear. Doctors Rodan and Fields suggest that you stave off being overwhelmed by breaking seemingly big tasks into smaller, more manageable ones. The best way to regain control is to focus on solving one problem at a time.
5. Put your aces in their places. As an individual, you probably won’t have all the answers you need to build the ventures to turn yourself into a rock star, so don’t be afraid to reach out to others who can help you and your business be their best. Then, once you have those people in place, you need to get comfortable trusting them.
6. Do your homework. You should know more about your field or product than anyone else. In this hyper-connected world, each of us has access to infinite educational resources. Use them!
7. Realize that entrepreneurialism isn’t a solo sport. Dr. Rodan and Dr. Fields feel confident that their partnership has been key to their respective individual success. “Dual partners are better when there is a shared vision and passion,” they explain, “as this helps keep entrepreneurs and the business focused and accountable.” Consider your social and professional circles: There might be someone just waiting to kick butt right alongside you.
What self-made successes do you admire? Tweet us @BritandCo!
(Photo via Rodan + Fields)