312 MINISODE TL Robinson: Anoint Yourself Successful
Women Innovating Networking Growing Scaling – that’s WINGS … I’m Melinda Wittstock, my mission is to help women take flight to soar to the success of our dreams in business and in life– and create and grow businesses in alignment with our passion and purpose.
On this special advice Minisode of Wings of Inspired Business … we talk about the challenges of getting awareness of your brand when you’re competing in a crowded field – in this case, the green and organic beauty space. Plus, why women often wait to be “anointed” like Queen Elizabeth or something when in fact you have to create your own coronation – make your own space, sing your own praises – when you launch a startup. Plus what has to change in business to support women in tech and women of color in tech and entrepreneurship generally.
Here with us today to provide her insights and inspiration is …
TL is the Founder & Owner of MASS EDEN – a fast-growing body care brand for skin-sensitive and health conscious consumers who won’t sacrifice on quality or compromise their personal identity.
In just 2 years, she has built a successful online boutique specializing in green beauty and skincare products, as well as a blog whose readership now spans 80 countries. She’s ready to educate and empower you to take charge of your health and wellness through a green body care regimen.
Like many “accidental entrepreneurs”, TL’s story began with a personal challenge. She was climbing the ranks in corporate finance and tech … and at the same time suffering from an “invisible illness.” Misdiagnoses and ineffective treatments took a physical and emotional toll. In just 5 years, her health deteriorated to the point where she couldn’t keep up with her once-active lifestyle. TL visited several doctors, did her own research, and soon found the right physician who successfully diagnosed and treated her.
It was a trip to Cuba that changed everything for her. She discovered green body care products and her symptoms disappeared while traveling only to return again when she came home and went back to using her regular products. TL began to connect the dots between clean foods/beauty products and her wellness.
Melinda Wittstock: TL, welcome to Wings.
TL Robinson: Hi, Melinda. Thank you for having me. I'm excited to be here.
Melinda Wittstock: I am so excited to have you, too. I always like to start these Minisodes, as everyone knows, by just asking, “What is inspiring you right now?”
TL Robinson: Oh, wow. There are a number of things that are inspiring me right now, but the biggest thing is the wave of green beauty that we're seeing in the mainstream markets and the fact that we are seeing so many diverse players and brand owners in the market. That is very encouraging, and the fact that we're looking at the same industry and the specific niche in the industry different ways is very inspiring.
Melinda Wittstock: Ah, yeah, that's great. It's such a big, growing industry, and so important, too, and important for our health.
Of course, as we know, entrepreneur to entrepreneur, there are always challenges along the way at any stage in your business. A lot of people think, “Oh, God, once I get to this milestone, it's all going to be easy,” but it never is. It never is. What are some of the challenges that you're facing right now?
TL Robinson: We are definitely in startup phase for the company, so the biggest challenge is when you don't necessarily have brand awareness. You don't necessarily have the big-name connections in the industry, definitely getting your foot in the door. It's definitely building credibility.
That becomes even more difficult when some of us are in a space, and we have skillsets. We have knowledge and we have a lot of things to bring to the table, but we still feel like imposters. Imposter syndrome. Those are some of the biggest things that are a challenge. So, it's the challenge in the industry, in the workspace, but it's the challenges that we have internally, that we struggle with of, “Should I be here?” “Do I have what it takes to make it?” Then also looking at competitors and trying to get a leg up and trying to get those wins.
It's really a double-edged sword, but through that challenge, you have to be persistent. You have to keep moving and have faith in yourself. Do the research. Put in the time. Do the work. I would say there's always going to be challenges, but right now, in startup, those are the two biggest ones.
Melinda Wittstock: Yeah, it's true. It's interesting what you were saying about imposter syndrome, though, too, because I think sometimes we're waiting for someone to anoint us like we're Queen Elizabeth or something, and somebody's going to come along and put a crown on our head, and then it's all going to be okay. And, of course, we need to anoint ourselves.
TL Robinson: Absolutely. Give yourself a seat at the table. Bring your own chair. Wiggle in. Get that space and start talking. Make yourself visible. Make yourself known. Don't wait for the invitation, don't wait for the pat on the back, don't wait for the validation, because if we don't believe in ourselves, no one else is going to believe in us, and that just makes the struggles that much harder.
Melinda Wittstock: Yes. Oh, my goodness, this is so true. Don't wait. Absolutely. TL, what are your top go-to pieces of advice? If you had three things you could tell a sister entrepreneur, either starting out or maybe a later stage, whatever stage that she's at, what would those three be?
TL Robinson: These are my solid three. Before I got into body care in the green industry specifically, I was a woman in tech. We know there's not a lot of women in tech-
Melinda Wittstock: Oh, gosh, yes. Me, too. I know.
TL Robinson: And there's not a lot of women of color, in particular, especially as you escalate up in the management ranks.
Melinda Wittstock: Yeah, that's got to change. That just has to change.
TL Robinson: It absolutely has to change, but I think there have to be people who are willing to put up a fight and they have to be people who are willing to go through the ranks and pull sisters up as we make it great. I was lucky enough to have amazing mentors along the way.
One in particular, and I'm going to shout out her name, Bridget Cravens-Neely, she taught me a lot in that space. The three things that I learned from her in particular that keep me moving forward and that I share with the young ladies that I mentor …
The first one is, get comfortable with sharing your voice. That's what I was saying about the imposter syndrome and bring your own chair to the table. Share your voice. You have something to say. You deserve to be heard. But, in sharing your voice, be comfortable with receiving feedback on how you can improve.
Melinda Wittstock: Yeah, that's very good advice. You got to just speak up and go for it. What's number two?
TL Robinson: Number two is don't be afraid to escalate. We're in situations and you expect people to bring their best selves to any work environment or project, but sometimes, that just doesn't happen. Outside of that, maybe you need help to improve it and do a better job, so, escalate. Raise the flag. Let someone know that you need help. Get an ally. You don't have to go through this alone.
Melinda Wittstock: Yeah, that's really true. Asking for help can be really difficult for a lot of women who end up in perfectionism. Perfecting it, like my mom used to do. She used to clean the house top to bottom before the cleaner came.
TL Robinson: Yes, yes. [crosstalk [spp-timestamp time="00:05:26"]
Melinda Wittstock: Don't do that.
TL Robinson: Number three, be comfortable saying, “No.” A lot of times, as women, we're raised to deprioritize ourselves, and be polite, and be a lady, and don't be difficult. I think for myself, growing up with those expectations, it was difficult for me to say, “No. No, I'm not going to do that,” “No, that is not within the scope of my role,” “No, I don't have capacity to take that on.” I was, “Yes, I can do that,” and always wanting to make people happy. Then you run yourself into the ground.
I had to get comfortable with “no” and not feel bad about saying no, and understanding that saying no doesn't mean that you don't like someone, or you don't want to help, or you're trying to hurt someone's feelings. But you have to preserve yourself to fight another day.
Melinda Wittstock: Gosh, very, very good advice. You've got these amazing products. How can people find you, TL? Find your products, buy from you, and then also read your blog, and all the great ways that they can connect with you?
TL Robinson: Okay, perfect. Products are available at masseden.com. That is M-A-S-S-E-D-E-N.com. People can learn about the brand, our focus for green beauty, and specifically people with sensitive skin and their health needs. They can learn about myself and my role on this journey, and what was the catalyst for starting the brand, and also they can sign up for my newsletter and access my vlog through masseden.com.
Melinda Wittstock: Wonderful. Well, thank you so much for putting on your wings and flying with us.
TL Robinson: Thank you for having me.