Multimillion Beauty Brand Carol's Daughter Founder Shares How Her Family Has Made Her a Better Person
The people Lisa Price surrounds herself with -- along with knitting, old Hitchcock film and Soul Cycle -- help her through stressful moments.
Editor’s Note: Inspire Me is a series in which entrepreneurs and leaders share what motivates them through good times and bad, while also sharing stories of how they overcame challenges in hopes of inspiring others.
Lisa Price wants to make sure that every woman who uses her Carol’s Daughter hair and body products takes time they need to care of themselves. But sometimes, Price admits that she sometimes forgets that the only way she can succeed is to do that for herself too.
Every entrepreneur needs a support system to succeed, and for Carol’s Daughter founder Lisa Price, from the very beginning, that was her mom. Price got her start in 1993 after her mother suggested that she sell some of the perfumes and body butters she made in her Brooklyn kitchen at her church’s flea market.
Price did and quickly sold out of her products. She found herself on the craft festival circuit for the rest of the summer. Those weekends spent meeting customers at the festivals built up a devoted fan base. Twenty five years later, the company is still going strong. “I refer to myself as the accidental entrepreneur,” Price told Entrepreneur. “I kind of stumbled into [entrepreneurship]. I didn't know that that's where I was going to end up. But it was exactly what I needed. And I can't even imagine my life without it.”
In the early days of the business, Price knew that she could always count on her mom to advise her when things got hard. But in the wake of Carol’s death 15 years ago, Price found that she had to, and could, count on her inner resolve to work through obstacles.
“I realized that I had to embody the things that she used to say to me. So I started reminding myself that even though I was going through something difficult it didn't mean that I had to give in to it,” said Price. “It didn't mean that I had to let it define who I was.”
She learned that it wasn’t a weakness to prioritize self-care, but a strength. In order to give her all to being her brand’s leader and ambassador to the world, that means blocking out some of her schedule to do something as simple as deep breathing exercises, booking a massage or getting a manicure to help her feel refreshed when she is need of a reset.
“I realized that the better that I took care of myself, the better the business was going to run,” she says. “Take care of yourself before you take care of everyone else so you have the strength to do it, and then [don’t allow] the ups and downs of your business to drag you along with it. You have stay positive, you have to stay focused and you have to recognize this too shall pass.”
Today, Carol’s Daughter is a multimillion dollar private company. Price says couldn’t have accomplished this without the tools to work through her toughest moments, and she shares her insights.
What is a quote that inspires you and why?
“This too shall pass.” I always have to remind myself of that because I'm the type of person that gets caught up in the issue that's taking place right at that moment. Or the thing that I can't do right at that moment. And I always have to say, calm down because this is not forever. This too shall pass. This is not your reality. It's your moment.
What is a book that inspires you and why?
The Year of Yes by Shonda Rhimes. It was like I was in a master class with Shonda. It was fantastic. And things that she described about her personality reminded me so much of myself. Being introverted and things that you don't ask for and that you don't do. So it really was empowering to me to read how someone challenged themselves and work through a year of I'm going to have to keep saying yes. I really really enjoyed that book a lot.
What inspires you at work?
I really love the people that I work with. They inspire me to do better. I love having young energy around me, and it's not that I intentionally hire young people or anything like that. I think at the level that I am now in business that people who are coming to work within the brand at the marketing coordinator level or interns, I just happened to be the oldest person on my entire team. I've always loved it, because I feel like when I listen to them and when I see the things that they do, it's not that I'm trying to be them or try to act their age, but I feel like they keep me in touch.
Someone will mention something in conversation, and it might not be a television show that I'm even interested in or watch, but because I know that someone who's 25 is talking about that, it reminds me that I need to know what's going on. So that I can be in touch with my customer who's that age. They're just so brilliant, and they're so dedicated -- and I think they motivate me more than anything.
Are there lessons from earlier bosses or mentors that you think back on when you need an extra boost or bit of encouragement?
I did have a boss when I worked for the City of New York who I disliked for the first nine months to a year I worked with her. I felt like she was the biggest pain in the ass ever. I worked at Health and Hospitals Corporation, and she happened to be a registered nurse. One morning I just had one of those mornings where I was like, I need to take the day off. And I called in sick. This woman calls me back. ‘What's wrong?’ Oh I just don't feel so great. I wasn't sick but what am I going to say, right? Then, she starts asking about symptoms and whether I took aspirin. She said, ‘Listen, take two Tylenol. Get yourself some orange juice. Squeeze some garlic into it.’ Long story short, I came to work. She was not giving up.
When Christmas came, she bought me a Christmas gift, and it wasn't anything expensive or extravagant, but it was absolutely 100 percent who I was and what I would have purchased for myself. And I didn't even realize that she knew me that well. I realized that I didn't know her that well, because I wasn't giving her a chance. And once I let go of fighting her and accepted her, I learned that she was pushing me to be better, and she was teaching me. She was giving me autonomy and giving me lots and lots of responsibility. She always giving me work to do. And I just wanted her to leave me alone. I had to sit back and look at all of the things that I now knew how to do, because she taught me how to do them.Related: The Entrepreneur Behind This Popular Travel Brand Shares How to Keep Your Sense of Adventure Alive
What has inspired you to be a better person?
My daughter is 11 years old. She is a child that we adopted. I've had her since she was three and a half months old. But there's a lot of things that I've learned about children who are adopted, where they cannot specifically articulate these feelings. But because they do not in certain cases have the opportunity to connect with a birth parent, or because the birth parent situation was not a good one and they were potentially taken away from their birth parents, they have a longing to know that person and they they don't necessarily know how to trust when someone loves them and the relationship can be challenging.
My daughter has said to me before when feeling angry, ‘Well, you don't really love me anyway, because you're not even my real mom.’ And we are in therapy as a family. She, my husband and I, we have been for three years now, and I have had to completely redo my style of parenting. I have two children older than her, I have two sons that are 22 and 20. You kind of feel like you know what you're doing, but I'm a completely different parent now. I'm a parent who doesn't really yell anymore. I'm a parent who has conversations because I had to, in disciplining her constantly, reinforce that she is loved.
I feel like being her mom and and having the relationship that she and I have together and watching her fight to be a better person and watching her fight to not be angry and not lash out at people really inspires me to be better and to be more in control of myself, because I see how hard this 11 year old works to be be mature
When you are feeling at your worst, what inspires you?
If I'm feeling at my worst, I have to first look at what's going on around me and say do I have the time right now to pull away? If I have to do a presentation or I have to sell on HSN then I might not be able to pull away. But if I can pull away and watch old movies on Turner Classic Movies or, you know, looking at something I have in my library, like old Hitchcock films and [old movies I love], I'll indulge in that. I love to knit. Knitting helps to keep me sane, and it gives my hands something to do.
I love SoulCycle, and I love going into the room and turning myself over to the instructor and not having to figure anything out and just riding in the dark and listening to the music and listening to the words of the instructor and leaving my stress all over the floor in the form of sweat. Those things help to keep me balanced and help me get through. I also get inspiration from my family and my team.
For those women who are looking to start a business, or have begun one, but are feeling discouraged, what advice do you have for them to keep going?
To recognize that when you feel that way it doesn't mean that you feel that way because you've done something wrong. Entrepreneurship, for a lot of women, is a new thing, and it's different. There's sort of this expectation that you're not allowed to make mistakes. So when something goes wrong there's [a feeling of] “Oh my god, what did I do, how did this happen? See I knew I shouldn't have done this. I wasn't ready. I wasn't prepared." But in every other part of your life, you make mistakes. You're walking down the street you might trip. You spill something on your clothes. Because you spill something on your clothes that doesn't mean that you're a clumsy idiot. You spilled something, so go clean it up.
When you make a mistake in business, the point of it is to accept that you made a mistake, look at the mistake and if there's something that you could do differently next time, take note of what that is and do that different thing. Just learn from it. The mistakes are how you learn. Don't get caught up in trying to be perfect and figuring it all out. You can't figure out something you've never done before. Recognize that by taking the step to be in entrepreneurship you're already being brave and courageous.
Nina Zipkin is a staff writer at Entrepreneur.com. She frequently covers leadership, media, tech, startups, culture and workplace trends.