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A Skin Cancer Scare Led Lois Robbins on an Entrepreneurial Journey. Here Are Her 3 Best Success Tips. The actor and producer became an entrepreneur when she created a product she needed after skin cancer.

By Robert Tuchman

Key Takeaways

  • Necessity is the mother of invention.
  • Use passion and persistence as your guide.
  • Never take "no" for an answer.
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Watskin

Last week on How Success Happens, I spoke with accomplished actor, producer and entrepreneur Lois Robbins to discuss her UPF 50+ protective clothing brand, Watskin. The company has grown exponentially since its launch last year, and I wanted to sit down with Robbins to find out how it all happened.

You can listen to our entire conversation above, and I've pulled out three key
takeaways.

Answers have been edited and condensed for clarity.

1. Necessity is the mother of invention

"I never thought of myself as an entrepreneur, but they say necessity is the mother of invention," Robbins says. "About five or six years ago, I had a squamous cell on my face, and my dermatologist told me I had to have Mohs surgery, so you can imagine as an actor how terrifying that was. He told me, 'You must stay out of the sun.' I spend a lot of time outdoors. I love exercising outside, being on the water and hiking. One night, I bolted up in bed and thought, I'm gonna make myself a catsuit with a matching skirt. I went downtown, found this great fabric store and bought about six different patterns that I thought were fun. I called a friend of mine who was a tailor and asked her to make me a catsuit. She made me five or six outfits, and I started wearing them everywhere. I was stopped on the street countless times and told [by people] that they'd never seen anything like this and that I had to make these pieces for others. The rest was history. When you have a real need for something, a business is born."

Timestamp — 11:15

Related: This Fashion Founder's Company Will Take Back Any Piece of Clothing at Any Time for Any Reason. Here's Why.

2. Use passion and persistence as your guide

"Two summers ago, we had an unbelievable launch party where we sold a ton of our first collection out east. Then, there was a period of slowness — it was the end of summer when we launched," Robbins says. "I thought back then, this was maybe not the most timely thing to do. But that's where the persistence comes in, and that's where the belief in myself and what I had created had to take hold. It was a nail-biter, but we've been moving forward ever since with even greater success than I even imagined. I don't want to jinx myself, but I think that those days of worry are over. We've learned so much about what works, what doesn't work, what our customer wants and what they don't want. We've created new styles for four collections now, and the brand keeps growing. I have the Shopify app on my phone. The sale buzzer goes off many times a day, but I get excited each time. As an actress, I've always had to be persistent and creative in my approach; it's really helped me with the business. I just keep coming up with more ideas, and we just keep moving forward, and that's how we've grown."

Timestamp — 26:05

Related: Kim Kardashian's Skims Is Making Underwear for Men — But the $4 Billion Brand Could Soon Announce Even Bigger News

3. Never accept "no"

"When thinking about all that came into the creation of Watskin, what stands out is how I told myself, I'm gonna do this, and I just didn't accept the nos," Robbins says. "I'm somebody who will forge straight ahead and say yes to life, and this has been a key to my success. Whether it was to prove anyone wrong or to prove to myself that I could fulfill a dream from start to finish, I have always had a sense of internal tenacity guiding my decision-making. When I was a theater major in college, I started doing summer stock. I was cast on daytime television, and maybe it was the naivety about me, but I have such distinct memories of walking into the room and thinking, Well, why wouldn't they hire me? I just believed I was good, and I had enough confidence to carry me through. Looking back, I wish I had even more confidence at the time, but I wasn't afraid of the word no, and that is the key."

Timestamps — 6:26, 17:59

Related: Jeans Made Out of…What? One Company Dared to Go Where None Had Before — and Even Levi's Is On Board.

Robert Tuchman

Entrepreneur Staff

Host of How Success Happens

Robert Tuchman is the host of Entrepreneur's How Success Happens podcast and founder of Amaze Media Labs the largest business creating podcasts for companies and brands. He built and sold two Inc. 500 companies: TSE Sports and Entertainment and Goviva acquired by Creative Artists Agency (CAA).

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