Just a few weeks ago, I attended one of the most prestigious events in the beauty industry, often referred to as The Oscars for beauty products, the Cosmetic Executive Women Beauty Awards. The first award winner of the luncheon? Jane Park, Founder and CEO of Julep Nail, was recognized as Best Indie Brand. I couldn’t have agreed more with this verdict. When I first met Jane, I was simply impressed by the fact that she left the security of a big VP job at Starbucks to launch her own company, which has quickly become a big deal in the beauty world. From the vast shade range and sleek bottle design of her nail colors to the excellent quality of her hand and foot products (The Best Pedi Creme Ever!, $20, is my fave), Jane has been on a mission to makeover the manicure experience, whether it be for at home treatments or in one of her “clean green” social parlors in the Seattle area. On top of that, she’s committed to helping other women. Her company’s mantra is “Powered by Girlfriends” and they contribute $1 of every product sold to organizations that improve the lives of women. Ok, I’m even more impressed now. Then, when I found out she also has two kids, Elie, 10 years old, and Yumi, 8 years old, I had to find out how she juggles all those balls with such style, making it look so effortless. As if!
Pretty Impressed : Your days must be like marathons. How do you find the energy?
Jane: I like to think of it as energy management. One day I thought, if I always have a cup of coffee before I go to work to have the energy for that, then I should do it before I go home too. I don’t look at going home as the end of my day, but the beginning of the second half of it! I also love to take a five minute dance break at the office around 3:30 p.m. and sing along to something like Take A Chance On Me or I Will Survive! It’s so energizing if you just jump around the room.
PI: On the days when you’re dead tired, how do you fake looking more awake?
Jane: Cream blush is my best friend. It’s the easiest way to look awake. I take a bight color and rub it in. Next to that is mascara because long lashes make you look less tired and younger. I’m Asian, so my lashes are short and stubby. It’s one of my obsessions. The other thing I do when I’m really tired is was wear sequins. It’s a great pick-me-up and you get so many compliments, it helps your energy!
- 1. 3.1 Phillip Lim Trompe L’Oeil Fitted Dress, $650.00 2. Stephen & Co. Facet Statement Necklace, $16. 3. J Crew Collection Printed Floral Shantung Dress, $525. 4. Julep Nail Color Nudes and Neon Collections, $14 each.
PI: You obviously love style and have to look polished for business meetings, but I bet you have zero time in the morning. What’s your work wardrobe strategy?
Jane: My uniform is a dress—it’s a great time saver because it’s just one thing to put on. Finding pants that fit are always a challenge, then I need to find the belt, the top, maybe a sweater. Dresses are stylish and easy. I find A-line dresses the most flattering because I have a little tummy and that cut is surprisingly forgivable and flattering. 3.1 Phillip Lim (shown below) and Rag & Bone are some of my favorite dress designers because their cuts are so elegant. On the weekends I’ll wear J. Crew (shown below), Anthropolgie and Banana Republic dresses. I wear dresses a lot!
PI: What about accessories?
Jane: Yes! I buy them everywhere. A dress without a bracelet, necklace or earrings just won’t look as finished. But I don’t think accessories have to be expensive. One of my favorites places to shop is in the teen section of Nordstrom. They have a lot of fun trendy stuff and it’s very affordable.
PI: What do your kids love about your job?
Jane: My daughter has a “Yumi’s Spa” sign on her door and we named a bright sparkly nail polish after her. She loves it! I also think she’s the most excited “customer” to see what’s in the Julep Maven box each month. They also like to hear stories about what’s going on at work, and it’s actually a great seguey into talking about their day and the problems they have to solve.
PI: What do your kids hate about your job?
Jane: The main thing they hate is when I’m working on my laptop. They’ve actually slapped it closed! I’ve really tried to stop multi-tasking so much. It’s not always doable, but if I have to send an email when I’m with them, I try to go into another room. They don’t like being second and I understand that. We also have e-free dinners—no phones, no emails, no laptops.
PI: You’ve made an admirable commitment to charity. What drives that?
Jane: We always talk about how girlfriends have been a big part of what we do, so we have a focus on giving back to organizations that support women, such as the Polaris Project which helps survivors of human trafficking. Nail salons have been used as a gateway for human trafficking and the whole idea of our Julep Parlors is to change the working condition of women in the service industry.
PI: Wow. A lot of working moms find it a success when they make it to their desk on time without peanut butter on their blouse. You seem to keep going and going and going!
Jane: Actually, I think I’m the opposite of the perfect mom. I’d love to be role model on how you can screw up a lot of times, but still have really loving, well-balanced kids!
PI: Amen to that!