women to watch: interview with ariella maizner: founder of theme

'women to watch' female founder interview:
ariella maizner: founder of theme

if you have instagram and love inspiring young entrepreneur stories + a splash of tie dye, chances are ariella maizner, designer and founder of theme is already on your list of women to watch. she started sewing when she was 7 years old [same] and 3 years later has become our favorite youngest designer ever.  each piece is designed + hand-made by ari, and is inspired by another female founder.

at just 10 years old, ari already has a lot to teach us about taking something you love doing and turning it into a booming business. read her story + how she’s grown her business in new york city below!

you started your company when you were 9 (!!!). talk to us about how you got started and how you grew theme to what it is today. 

i started sewing when i was 7. and loved making things that i would want to wear. especially for special events. then my friends started asking me to make them pieces too. i fell in love with it and begged my mom to launch my own brand when i was 8. we used to stay up late coming up with logos! then we started posting on instagram and people loved what i made and were really supportive of me. 

 

what was your first piece?

the robyn maxi was my first dress. it’s a candy color striped maxi dress with a purple belt. i still love it. i named it after @byrobynblair. she was the first founder that sat down with me and gave me amazing advice. i love asking her for advice still. 

 

a big part of growing theme has been your ability to put yourself out there and network. talk to us about different inspiring people you’ve met and how they’ve impacted theme.

of course…you both have been such amazing supporters of me and theme! thank you for being there for me since the very beginning! and helping me present theme in such a perfect box!! it made a major impact. 

really everyone i’ve met with are all incredible people. i am really really lucky to learn from them. everyone has really been so kind and given me different ideas and smart advice. i feel lucky to have met with founders, Ceo’s, influencers and the most supportive group of women. i’m so blown away. 

also amazing companies have been super supportive of me too. I partnered with @thetot for my first wholesale deal and just did a collaboration with @statebags. their founders have been so amazing. i’ve also done pop-ups with cool stores like love shack fancy, ever after and lester’s.

i’ve learned a lot about production and fashion from so many people who have done it before, and even got my own wework office and showroom! i’m also super lucky to have the support of the team at rent the runway and excited to now be on jetblack! both big time innovators in the fashion industry which makes me want to come up with new ideas too!

 

you started sewing when you were 6 for fun. how did you decide to turn it into a business? 

i just had this idea for making a brand! i wanted to call it theme from the start. i used to always ask my mom what the theme of the parties that we were going to was so i knew what type of dress i should make. once i had a name. i had a vision. 

 

what’s been the most challenging part about taking something from ‘for fun’ to a real business?

it’s hard work. but it’s also what i love to do. so it makes it worth it. and i’ve met so many amazing people. my mom always asks me are you sure you want to keep doing this and i always say yes.

  

you originally started theme as a collection of signature pieces, each completely different and inspired by a #girlboss. you now are focused on a collection of custom tie dye tees, barrettes and headbands. talk to us about how you balance growing the new tie-dye line while not losing focus on your original hand-made designs.

i am still making my one of a kind pieces. and very focused on that and making them for more people to wear too! i am working on something exciting for holiday! the tie dye just took off and it was something i could make without having to go into mass production. and i could still make it myself…which i liked. i love seeing it on so many people and how happy they are in it. 

 

what’s it like being only 10 and running a business? how do you manage your time with school, theme, and being a kid?

 

i have a lot of support from my family. i really focus on the design and learning. i get to go to cool events and meet amazing people. otherwise my days are normal and filled with things i always do. like camp in the summer. the beach and family vacations. and then back to school with after school activities and hanging with friends. 

 

what advice would you give to other young aspiring entrepreneurs?

 

if your serious about something….go for it. but get advice along the way and learn from people. it’s ok to make mistakes. and you may hear no but it’s ok follow your dream. 

 

we first met because you messaged us on instagram, and you’re always such an incredible networker. talk to us about building your confidence as a young entrepreneur. how has building your network helped you with theme?

 

i am lucky to have a lot of supporters and people who love what i am creating and building. i am learning along the way from them. it’s really cool. 

 

our signature question… how’d you choose ‘theme’ for the name?

 

i knew i wanted to call it theme from the beginning, but since i launched i realized theme has the words the me in it. and that is really powerful. i hope that all the girls that wear theme can be the best me they want to be.

*flashbacks to what we were all doing at 10 years old*

*all product images, press images, and headshot images are property of ariella maizner and theme
**this is not a sponsored post. all obsessions are 100% real

all images are property of respective companies

women to watch nicole ayoub founder + ceo of truly you skincare

women to watch: interview with nicole ayoub: founder of truly you skincare

'women to watch' female founder interview:
nicole ayoub: founder + ceo of truly you

nicole ayoub, founder of truly you has been on our list of women to watch since the minute we met her [through another female founder, obvi. so on brand]. we were instantly impressed by her grace + business sense….and that’s before we found out she’s only 16. when we were 16, we were doing many things but starting a company definitely wasn’t one of them. nicole started her company at age 12 [same] and set out to solve a real problem. 

truly you is a brand with a mission to free all you eczema sufferers (guilty) and sensitive skinners from the stress of finding products that work for you. read on to learn how this #girlboss solved the problem for you and how you can get ya hands on her products.

you started your company when you were just 12 (!!!). that alone makes you one of our women to watch, but you’re actually solving a real problem. talk to us about the inspiration behind the brand and how you teamed up with your mom to do this.

 

i started the company at a time in my life when my friends and i were first starting to get interested in makeup and skincare. the inspiration behind the company was the fact that, because of my eczema and extremely sensitive skin, i was not able to use the standard, name brand type skincare products. if i was to sample a product, say at bath and body works, i would get a massive skin reaction from all of the chemicals/fragrances used in the actual item. my company is based from 100% organic and natural ingredients so people, such as myself, can have and enjoy a body scrub for example without the consequences of a skin reaction.

 

in order to execute the startup of the company, i looked to my mom for guidance since she works full-time in business. she helped teach me about taxes, invoices, the difference between wholesale vs. retail, etc. 

 

we know a little bit about how your operations started but tell us more about the behind the scenes of truly you. what does your day-to-day look like?

 

day-to-day, i work to grow the company’s influence: reaching out to potential retailers, expanding the company’s presence on social media, and go about general marketing activities. when i get an order from a customer or retailer, i hand make, package, and label those products fresh so they can last as long as possible. i refrain from making a giant batch and then storing those products until i get an order since the formulas to all of the products do not contain any preservatives. 

 

it’s been two years since you started truly you. how has the brand evolved? what’s the most important lesson you’ve learned as a business owner? what do you know now that you wish you knew when you started truly you?

 

over the years, i would say truly you’s presence in peoples’ lives has definitely grown. i feel like more people know the name truly you and the story behind the company and that is really all thanks to advertising, social media, and a lot of word-of-mouth! the number of products has also grown tremendously. when i first started out i only sold body scrubs and now i have been able to add 6+ more lines. 

 

the most important lesson i have learned as a business owner is that you have to stay true to why you started the company in the first place. the story behind the company is the real selling point, especially in truly you’s case. without embracing the company’s story, you have no meaning behind the products you sell, there is nothing driving you or the business. as a result, i try to keep the true essence of truly you in the back of my mind at all times. 

 

one thing that i know now that i wish i knew when i initially started truly you is that even though people may misjudge and underestimate you because of your age, there is no reason to let that get to you. believe it or not, when i first started i was a bit embarrassed because i thought people would laugh at my ambition and think of the company as another “lemonade stand” run by another “kid”. now, i use those thoughts as a way to drive me in order to show people that even though i am fairly young, i am still a legitimate entrepreneur. 

what advice would you give to other young aspiring entrepreneurs and our other women to watch? 

to other young, aspiring entrepreneurs, i would give them the same advice i said in the previous points—your company’s story is everything and do not let your personal fear of others have any effect on your ambition or drive to succeed in business. 

what’s it like being a teenager and running a business? do any of your friends own their own businesses yet? how do you manage school, truly you, friends + family?

it is really cool being a teenage entrepreneur. no, none of my friends have their own company. in fact, i used to wish that i was sporty or artistic like a lot of them, but i have realized that my company is what sets me apart and makes me unique. 

it does become difficult at times to balance truly you with other things in life, specifically school, but i find a way. sometimes i spend a saturday making products, but i make sure to fairly manage it all. sometimes my mom or my friends will come hang out with me while i am making products or we will facetime.

the first time i met you, we were at an event at luminary. how have you leveraged networks like luminary to help learn and grow your business?

well, i feel like this interview is a great example of how i have leveraged networks like luminary to help me learn and grow my business. it has allowed me to reach out to other startups, founded by women who are looking to network and make connections just as i am. those new relationships/connections can then lead to potential opportunities whether that means actual business or some version of marketing. in the midst of it all though, i am also just learning from the women i meet. the majority of them are older than me, and as a result it makes them mentors and bases of inspiration.

what’s the biggest challenge of your business? if there is someone reading this interview that could help you with that challenge, what would your ask be?

the biggest challenge of my business is growing it into other retailers and spanning truly you’s influence beyond my local market. this occurs mainly because i am a small business and i am a young entrepreneur. those two factors, i feel, have an effect on how people view truly you. they may see it as a bit less professional than other brands, in the end choosing not to bring truly you into their store. if somebody could help me with this challenge, i would ask them to help spread the word that truly you’s products are just as professional and effective as those, say for example, in sephora. these products are made by an entrepreneur who puts a lot of heart and effort into running her company, in turn, having an immense amount of dedication behind the products she sells. 

we saw you just released face masks! we’re so excited to try them! any other products in the works you can share with us? or maybe, ‘dream’ products you’d like to eventually develop?

so far, i am mainly just focused on spreading the word about the newly released face masks and getting others to understand how unique and personable they are than the majority of other face masks out there. they come in a powder state and all you have to do is add a bit off water and then apply. with that though, consumers can add their own oils, serums, etc. that work for them personally, making the face masks extremely unique to the person using it. in the future though, i am hoping to expand the line of lip balms i have and maybe do some travel size versions of the most popular products. 

our signature question… how’d you choose ‘truly you’ for the name?

when i was trying to find a name for the company, i knew that i wanted it to connect with each and every one of the customers on a personal level. to put it into context, it is true to you and who you are when you have sensitive skin and must adapt to that. it is truly who you are when you choose to refrain from using chemical based skincare products and live a healthier lifestyle starting with the things you put on your skin; in this case organic and natural skincare products. in essence, i wanted the name of the company to be true, hence “truly you”, to each and every person who uses truly you products. i wanted it to describe how everyone’s skin sensitivity or desire to maintain an organic/natural based skincare routine has a direct connection to them and who they are. 

this interview makes me want to face mask reeaaalll bad. on that note…

*all product images, press images, and headshot images are property of nicole ayoub and truly you
**this is not a sponsored post. all obsessions are 100% real

all images are property of respective companies

female founder feature: neha govindraj, co-founder + coo, glowbar

female founder feature: neha govindraj, co-founder + coo of glowbar

it’s an age old dilemma [no pun intended]: what is the secret to looking young forever? i say this with the full backing of my degree from sephora university: SKINCARE!!!! one strong skincare routine a day keeps the wrinkles at bay, and keeps us youthfully glowing with clear, beautiful skin in the meantime. yes, please. 
co-founder + coo neha govindraj is making glowbar the new secret weapon for your skincare: a cross between a spa and a dermatologist, they use clinical products and science-proven techniques to keep you glowing….and going. everything is under 30 minutes, meaning you can get in, get out, and get on with your day. read their story below!

first things first – you have a super cool story before glowbar. tell us! how did your previous experience help shape glowbar?

 

before glowbar, i was at bain & company as a management consultant and loved it! i primarily consulted businesses in retail / consumer in ideating and implementing strategic decisions. my experience at bain gave me perspective on how businesses grow, what problems they face and how to solve them. i also spent some time at glossier working with their executive team on growth strategy. these experiences helped set me up for success with starting glowbar because i felt so ready to build towards a vision and tackle any problems that came our way.

 

what sets glowbar apart from other facial spas? talk to us about how your differentiators helped you raise money. what questions did investors ask and were there any that surprised you?

 

glowbar is all about real results and professional skincare, offered in 30 minutes. we’re truly an intersection of a spa and a dermatologist: all the brands we use are clinical / professional grade and we aim to do things in the treatment room that you can’t easily do at home–– that is why we even have you cleanse your face for us (at our gorgeous wash bar)!

during the fundraising process, it was so important for us to stress how our differentiators would translate to the consumer. it wasn’t enough to just state what the differentiators were – that was an interesting learning, and it led us to build a strong strategy on educating our potential customers.

 

how do your investors come into play in the day to day of the business (for example – are they more focused on growth or are they ‘in the weeds’, helping you guys decide on what products to sell/hiring/marketing strategy, etc?)?

 

our investors really expand our existing network. they are the best people to go to with any growth-related (or sometimes even, ‘in the weeds’-related) “asks” –– which we often do!  they either weigh in themselves, or put us in touch with whoever they think is best suited to answer. 

 

signature question – how did you come up with the name for glowbar?

 

rachel (my co-founder) actually did in her apartment one day, and it stuck! we love it because the name ‘glowbar’ gets people in the right mindset of what to expect–– a destination that leaves you glowing.

what advice would you give other entrepreneurs looking to open their first retail location? any lessons learned?

 

ask a lot of questions. and continuously follow up with people. brick and mortar was a new beast to me–– there are so many moving pieces, and a lot of instances where things might slip through the cracks. understanding what those are and being on top of it is tough but important!

 

you launched just over a month ago. tell us about the experience – the great, the good, the bad, the ugly.

 

it’s been incredible seeing all the thought and work behind building glowbar starting to come to life. beyond that, watching people experience the brand and build new habits is truly the most rewarding part–– they just get it and it works. the tough part? being consistently on your a-game. we’re open 7 days a week, 11-14 hours a day. that means making changes real-time to continuously optimize for providing the best possible experience for clients and our team, while simultaneously thinking about the future!

 

since launch, you guys have executed super unique and creative marketing strategies. talk to us about them. what marketing strategy has seen the best roi so far? 

 

thank you! one of our favorite initiatives right now is the “tear one” flyers we have posted throughout the city. we’re continuously replenishing them and people have been loving them! they’re a nod to those babysitter flyers back in the day. and hey, they work. some of them have “lucky you” written on them which let you come in for a treatment on us!

we also have a few ‘face it forward’ cards floating around–– if you land your hands on one, you come in for a treatment on us, and then… ‘face it forward’ (aka pass it to a friend to do the same!)

 

you co-founded the company with rachel – what were you looking for in a cofounder and talk to us about your strategy for tackling different roles. 

 

i couldn’t love mine and rachel’s relationship more. we are both so different in what energizes us (making it easy for us to tackle different roles), but are so similar in our values and goals. it was clear off the bat when meeting rachel that she was ego-less, sharp, and in this to start a great business that people needed. with that, i quickly knew she was someone i wanted to build with–– i am forever grateful to have taken the leap and now be in a founder relationship centered in confidence and respect. we continuously put our brains together to make sure that glowbar is the best it can be and nothing slips through the cracks.

 

what’s next for glowbar?!

 

so much. but first, more locations! 😉 

where are you from? south florida

 

favorite brand other than glowbar: peloton

 

biggest mistake you see startups making (drawing on mgmt consulting experience): not questioning every, single, part of what exists today.

 

skincare routine: cleanse, tone, treat, moisturize + spf (am only). morning and night.

 

self-care activity: dancing in front of my mirror by myself.

 

female founder you admire and why: kirsten green. what she’s built with forerunner is incredible, in a space where few female founders exist.

 

favorite place in nyc besides glowbar: my apartment. it sparks so much joy and i love hosting.

 

words you live by: ask enough of the right questions and you will figure it out.

now imagine if you could get a facial in the time it just took you to read this. thanks to neha + rachel, now you can! book glowbar here!

*all product images, press images, and headshot images are property of neha govindraj and glowbar
**this is not a sponsored post. all obsessions are 100% real

all images are property of respective companies