Women in Business Q&A: Jaunique Sealey, CEO, Cosmedicine

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Jaunique Sealey

Jaunique Sealey continues to build a distinct reputation when it comes to her career. A graduate of Harvard Law and Duke University School of Engineering, having held prominent positions in the music industry with a specialty in technology, Sealey quickly became one of the most sought-after thought leaders in brand development.

In 2013, Sealey followed her true passion - beauty - and joined Cosmedicine as CEO at the end of its first decade where she committed to establishing the company as one of the world's leading beauty innovation brands. Sealey dedicated herself to learning the ins-and-outs of the skincare world and the hallmarks of healthy skin. In the process, she received her formal aesthetician training and licensure in order to best serve the needs of Cosmedicine customers; thus, ensuring the quality and enhancement of each formulation, and elevating Cosmedicine amongst competitors.

How has your life experience made you the leader you are today?
One of my earliest memories, from when I was very young, is of my mother dropping me off at school in the morning and each day telling me "Be Excellent and Think for Yourself."

Fundamentally, this motto has been echoed by many of my mentors, teachers and role models and has carried through from then until now in what I do. As a leader, I push myself and those around me for our own personal "excellence" in our respective roles and deliverables. It makes me excited to see what new kind of excellence can be delivered from the talented people that I work with in terms of product, customer service, design, content and innovation. Guiding my team towards delivering something unique and of superior quality into the marketplace, I believe this inspires everyone to keep working toward their personal best.

Beyond this I feel that the diversity of experiences that I have collected, educationally, culturally, and professionally have allowed me to relate to a wide swath of humanity and find commonality with my teammates to encourage and support when and how needed.

How has your previous employment experience aided your tenure at Cosmedicine?
If nothing else, my professional path has been unconventional. I was working at a startup in another city while in my 3rd year of law school and would commute for classes and exams. I transitioned from law to running a digital marketing agency to establishing my own branding and product development agency. Over the course of this, I worked for and with the likes of Lady Gaga and Prince, amongst many other well-known artists and brands. I've had jobs I've loved and jobs I've hated. And from the collective experience, the most important take away I've gained is perspective. It's as important to be able to examine obstacles and opportunities at ground-level as well as 30,000 feet. Because of the range of roles I've held, I have a more integrated and organic view of my business. I came to the beauty industry as an outsider, but I know business and I know how to learn the specifics of a niche industry. In every role I've held, I've tried to do as much as I can and push boundaries beyond my particular job function. I've always wanted to know how the entire operation works - and this allows me to identify opportunities for improvement and optimization. Cosmedicine is a company that had a rich legacy before I arrived and the resources of incredible science and outstanding skincare formulations. Ground-level and 30,000 foot perspective allowed me to match the core of the business to additional resources to augment its natural growth and evolution path towards becoming one of foremost beauty brands in the near future.

What have the highlights and challenges been during your tenure at Cosmedicine?
When I first came aboard Cosmedicine, it wasn't clear what the direction would be. I had to establish a vision that I believed reflected the true integrity of the brand and the intensive science and development that had gone into the creation of its original formulations. It's not as obvious to marry hard-core science with a true luxury product experience, but I felt that this is what Cosmedicine's customers wanted.

A daily challenge is to distinguish our voice in an increasingly crowded landscape of beauty companies and products. We've decided to do what we do best, which is to focus on delivering results and anticipating and meeting our customers' needs and concerns. It's a tremendous highlight to see the passion of our team in the commitment to superior product development and customer service.

With a new launch, especially one as comprehensive as Cosmedicine's "Gold Standard Collection" that comprises intensive anti-aging skincare and our upcoming launch (to be shared soon), each day presents its fair share of highlights as well as challenges. We're just as thrilled when we're recognized in a publication as when we receive a customer service question or comment on our Facebook page. And there's nothing better for me than to hear from a customer that one of our products has changed her life or helped improve her or his self-esteem.

What advice can you offer to women who want a career in your industry?
I've worked in two very niche industries in my career, the music industry and the beauty industry. Competition in both is extremely tough and how to enter is a question I get often. I have two answers. First, become really good at what you do. If you're an expert in digital media and marketing, become the best at that. Business is business. No matter the industry, many of the roles are transferrable and we all want to make competitive hires - we want those who are the best at what they do. The specifics of an industry can be learned. Second answer, if you have a vision and a business foundation, why not start your own company? There are so many opportunities for ancillary businesses, not just beauty brands, but marketing consultants, product and brand development, event marketing, or becoming a skincare expert or makeup artist. Being unique and great at what it is that you do is a valuable asset. Finally, every significant opportunity that I have been offered has come through some form of networking and active management of my professional relationships. There is no substitute for good old fashioned networking- joining industry organizations, attending conferences and events and meeting those that work in the beauty industry. If you're interesting and great at something, chances are you'll make some lasting connections who will keep you in mind when the right opportunity comes up.

What is the most important lesson you've learned in your career to date?
Likely an unconventional answer, but I'd say the most important lesson I've learned is how to fail. Most people stay so singularly focused on success, but the reality is that in a daring and challenging career, things often don't go the way that you expected or intended. What you do at that point is so very important - not just what you do, but your mindset about it. I had to learn a skillset of 'failure' to navigate the waters of unexpected outcomes. My philosophy is comprised of the three f's: 1) Stay Focused on the End Goal; 2) Be Flexible; and 3) Find the Next Logical Step From Where You Are Now.

How do you maintain a work/life balance?
I operate professionally and personally based entirely on a system of priorities. Usually that translates for me to a list. If something is important to me, I make it a priority. That can be something as granular as finding 30 uninterrupted minutes to just think through an issue or write a blog post to our customers. If it is a priority, I do what I have to do to make it happen. Also, I'd rather get up early than go to bed late. I find that sleep and morning exercise is the key for me to the endurance I need to make decisions and find and create options and opportunities for the company. Finally, and perhaps most important, I strive for excellence, but not for perfection. At some point I had to let perfectionism go - it takes up energy I need to get actual work done.

What do you think is the biggest issue for women in the workplace?
From my vantage point, while traditional roles are in the process of shifting, it seems that whether self or otherwise imposed, women still contend with the expectation of carrying a disproportionate burden when it comes to managing the affairs of family and the home. I don't see that the traditional workplace is very conducive to one who carries such a burden, whether it is a male or female. I think that if we could evolve the modern workplace to a point where caretakers can also find an environment of balance and support, we'd be making strides in a positive direction. I think that we have to combat the mentality that prioritization of the company's needs is always in competition with prioritization of an employee's personal needs. I'd like to see a workplace where employees are not forced to make those kind of choices.

How has mentorship made a difference in your professional and personal life?
Professionally, I've been fortunate to have wonderful mentors and advisors who have invested in my development and success. I think as a business leader, it's absolutely important to have close association with a role model after whom you can pattern your career, your management philosophy and your strategy. I also have entrepreneurial parents, both of whom have run their own business endeavors at various points in my life, which has been not only inspirational, but instructive as well.

From my perspective, mentorship is not just informational, but also should serve to help position you for advancements in your career and serve as a resource and operative to resolve obstacles and issues along the way. This has been my experience, thankfully, and I look forward to providing that to others coming along as well.

What other female leaders do you admire and why?
I think that we are fortunate at this time in history to have such a diverse range of women leaders to look up to, and in whom to find unique models for how to pursue the totality of our dreams and aspirations as professional women. I look up to Sheryl Sandberg and Marissa Mayer for being examples of highly-visible women in corporate leadership who have found a workable balance between family and professional success and who never felt they had to compromise either. I look up to Oprah and Shonda Rhimes for providing examples of not only professional excellence, but also alternative family structures for professional women; and I look up to my mother who started a business in her 60's as an example of perseverance, showing that anything is possible and you can always reinvent yourself to follow your dreams, no matter your age or other circumstances.

What do you want Cosmedicine to accomplish in the next year?
This year is a very exciting one for Cosmedicine. It will be the time of establishing and integrating ourselves into the lives of our customers in a much more visible way. We were incredibly proud that the Cosmedicine "Gold Standard Collection" was so well-received last year with significant editorial features and high "best of" accolades for various products in our offering. We're now in the process of formalizing our retail partnerships, which we've pursued in a very deliberate way in finding those who share our goals of quality for the customer, providing education and context, and the highest standards of service. It will be exciting to see Cosmedicine broadening its footprint, through direct customer interactions as well as in beautiful places at physical retail.