How Success Happened For Beauty Entrepreneur Jennifer Walsh
Jennifer Walsh shares insight on her rich history as a serial entrepreneur in beauty and wellness.
Entrepreneurship is defined as the bearing of significant risks to reap the subsequent benefits. In 1997, when Jennifer Walsh was mapping out plans to create something new and very unique, she wrote something on her whiteboard that stayed posted until the day she sold that business in 2010. She wrote, "Risk is what you take to encounter possibilities." And boy did she ever take some major risks in her now 25-year career as a beauty/wellness entrepreneur.
When asked about Jennifer Walsh and her rich history as a serial entrepreneur in beauty and wellness, two words come up again and again: pioneer and futurist. When Jennifer created her first business, there were very few female founders and not one was undertaking what she set out to do. Her goal was to change how people shopped for beauty — forever — with her creation Beauty Bar.
Walsh started her career in investment banking and soon realized that she wasn't cut out for the corporate world. She became a make-up artist and became well known, especially amongst celebrities. That work led to an invitation to a television segment in February 1997, where she talked about the independent and unknown brands she used in her work. One segment led to another, and the breadth of the response inspired her to risk it all and open her own store. Jennifer knew instinctually that having a weekly TV presence was a great educational tool. Opening a store would be the perfect sales channel for that show. The internet and its application were just beginning and so she created the very first omnichannel beauty brand in the US and it became a multi-million dollar business that was ultimately sold to Amazon in 2010. During that time Beauty Bar created many firsts for the industry and became the industry go-to resource for newness.
In 2004, Jennifer and her team were the first to market in retail with Curbside service. Jennifer got the idea in an odd place, Outback Steakhouse. She thought if a restaurant can do it, why wouldn't we? It became a very big part of her customer loyalty program. Jennifer even created the very first vlog for the Entrepreneur Magazine website! She pitched the concept of doing a daily video and diary of what it was like to run a booming business while also being 30 days out from opening a brand new location in a brand new mall. If there was such a thing as going "viral", this daily diary was it. Her videos reached around the world a few times over and it became a great story of how hard it is to run any size business, but especially a small business and one that was quickly expanding.
After the sale of Beauty Bar, Jennifer was in high demand for CEO roles in beauty as well as many other endeavors within the beauty space. Jennifer chose an opportunity to help build out the US footprint for a beauty brand based in Amsterdam under a year-long contract. When that project wrapped she began consulting for many other brands and all along continued her on-air work but now she began appearing on business shows almost daily to discuss retail, entrepreneurship, and marketing strategies.
Jennifer, the consummate creator, had her next big idea and one that surprised many. By 2014 Jennifer put, as she says, "all of her chips in" on her next big endeavor. She created another first-to-market, a full bath and body care line for the collegiate market. She quickly created products for 8 Universities in the SEC ( South Eastern Conference). Being a part of a licensing program, especially at the college scale was immense. Jennifer was speaking at all of the schools about women in business and entrepreneurship. Looking back now, Jennifer saw the writing on the wall quickly that she couldn't scale at the speed that she needed to keep up with the market; her runway wasn't long enough. At this point, Jennifer was leading in a headspace that wasn't one of growth, but more of desperation and brought on two people that were the wrong fit in every way for what she was setting out to create. It took Jennifer longer to create the brand and the products than the actual lifespan of this brand. She was not only heartbroken but also had to figure out what to do next. It was a huge blow to not only her own personal finances but it took a toll on her personally and what she thought of herself. Jennifer took a big step back in 2015 and that step back to lead her to find healing in walking in Central Park. It was the only place where she could block out the noise of what was happening in her own world, that so few people knew about.
When she shuttered Pride & Glory, she returned to nature and found solace and purpose and began to sow the seeds of her current work of encouraging people to understand the benefits of getting outside. She created Walk with Walsh—a video series of conversations with thought leaders and many confided to her that they spent so much time indoors and that this walking interview felt great. After a dozen or so interviews, all with the same sentiment from her guests, she questioned why weren't these healthy leaders going outside especially when they know it feels so good. This question and Jennifer's insatiable quest for knowledge on any subject had her diving head first into whatever she could get her hands on. What was happening to us in nature and why weren't we going outside?
This aha and questioning was the beginning of Jennifer's next chapter and where she resides today. Jennifer always knew that her decades in beauty and wellness coincided with nature. Looking back 20+ years Jennifer can reflect and say nature was a part of her life and her business in such deep and profound ways. Even her brick-and-mortar locations were so unique that people often asked to purchase her displays. Everything in her stores was deeply connected to nature and became the first multi-unit retailer to implement a biophilic design, which in the past few years has exploded. Biophilic Design is about bringing nature indoors for health and wellbeing. All thanks to the pandemic, Jennifer has become the go-to source for understanding the health implications of time spent outside vs. what happens when we experience nature deficit disorder.
With friend Monica Olsen, she created the podcast "Biophilic Solutions" that explores how businesses and homes can incorporate more nature into our daily lives and has become one of the highest-rated nature shows, globally.
On any given week, Walsh might give a keynote speech, be a guest on a podcast, appear on television, lead multiple Wellness Walks for corporate teams, or counseling brands on how to be more regenerative vs. just sustainable and how to position their products. She is also working with hotels around the US on their outdoor and walking programs. Her Back to Nature wellness programs for corporate clients has had her the busiest all due to the pandemic. That is when all of her work thus far became the conduit to why she is always called the futurist. The explosion in the nature economy which is just being seen now in 2022, began for Jennifer in 2015, but if you really think about it, It began in 1997 with, Beauty Bar.
Jennifer recently partnered with Prevention Magazine to author a book, Walk Your Way Calm. She has become an advisor to the Brain Health Initiative, as well as UPenn, Center for Neuroaesthetics. Jennifer has quite a bit more up her sleeve with our connection to nature and human and planetary health, so stay tuned for all that is to come. The best place to follow Jennifer is on IG, @thejenniferwalsh or her website, www.walkwithwalsh.com
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