The Blog

Women in Business Q&A: Lisa Hoffman, Lisa Hoffman Beauty

Lisa Hoffman is an award-winning perfumer and avid world traveler. Lisa's love for fragrance began as a child, with some of her earliest childhood memories rooted in scent. What started as a love affair with fragrance, developed into a lifelong passion and business in perfume.

The inspiration for Lisa's collections begins with memories of her many world travels. The fragrances can be literal interpretations, like the scent of Clary Sage in the French countryside, or more emotional, like the feeling of utter serenity in Kyoto with Japanese Agarwood. Whenever Lisa works on a new scent, the goal is to truly recreate a scent experience that can be worn every day.

As a pioneer in the category of fragrance, the Lisa Hoffman brand is committed to creating new and diverse fragrances,and delivery systems utilizing innovation combined with a distinct and unique approach to beauty and style. Lisa Hoffman encourages women to enjoy fragrance in both traditional and new ways.

How has your life experience made you the leader you are today?

When I think of today's leaders, I think of the complex problems and unprecedented challenges of our world, so I'm a bit skeptical about referring to myself as a leader. However, as I thought more about your question, I realized I am comparing myself to traditional leaders whereas in my business, I am more of a collaborative leader.

A leadership 'aha' moment was when I began college. I felt intimidated surrounded by people that were more outgoing than I was; the louder and more aggressive they were, the more reserved I became. I saw this as a sign of my own weakness, but quickly learned my ability to hold in what others could not, proved to be valuable. It was empowering. That's when I started seeing the many different colors of leadership and understanding that one's "weaknesses" can be their greatest strength.

How has your previous experience aided your creation of Lisa Hoffman Beauty?

I was married shortly after graduating law school in my early twenties, and gave birth to the first of four children soon after. So from then, until my youngest went away to college (which is when I started Lisa Hoffman Beauty) I was the CEO of my household. Like most mothers, my focus was my family, and being married to a successful actor presented as many opportunities as it did challenges. My husband and I vowed to always keep our family together--wherever in the world his work took him and for however long--our entire tribe joined him. It may sound glamorous to some, but if you consider the logistics of relocating six young children (my four, plus two step daughters) to remote locals for months at a time, (before the time of atms and internet), you can begin to imagine the work this entailed. Managing their education was challenging, as was helping them adapt to new food, cultural differences, making new friends - and the list goes on. Recalling those memories now makes running my company seem like a breeze.

What have the highlights and challenges been during the course of your career?

Highlights: When women thank me for a product and share their story, it's a gratifying feeling, and I love the connection. When my children are proud of me. When industry professionals and organizations recognize my company, my products. Collaborating with brilliant designers and other visionaries. Having the most talented, hard working, dedicated team, who I call the Beauties.

Challenges: The 2008 recession, a challenge that forced me to define my company's purpose and make some tough decisions. The ups and downs of owning a business, still figuring out how to handle the roller coaster ride. Balancing being loyal and still making the best deal. Trying to keep everyone happy. Transitioning from being the little brand could, to rapidly scaling up.

What advice can you offer women who are seeking a creative career?

Whatever type of career you are seeking, the key ingredient is passion. Passion is the fuel to keep you going. Creative work is fun, however what many may not realize is it can be more difficult in many ways. For example, as a business owner I am the visionary, but constantly juggling responsibilities with leadership to risk management to informed decision making, which (besides exhausting), requires a certain mindset. Those types of responsibilities are not something you schedule into your day, and often I find myself needing more time to shift into a space of creativity. This requires a lot of focus and discipline; my passion is what fuels me so I can continue to create.

How do you maintain a work/life balance?

As passion fuels me with the energy it takes to be a business owner, love is what fuels me to nurture my family and relationships. When it matters, you find a way to make it work as best as you can. I often wish I could create more hours in a day and more days in the week, but even if I could, there would never be enough moments with my grandchildren or the time to execute every idea.

What do you think is the biggest issue for women in the workplace?

I believe women are emotional and sensitive by nature. And I believe these are gifts, positive attributes that allow us to nurture, be creative, intuitive and empathetic. That said, at least for me, this can sometimes be a challenge in hard negotiations, big business decisions, terminating positions, and anything that requires you to think without emotion. Being able to make decisions without emotion is something I am getting better at, but I'm not sure it is something I will master.

How has mentorship made a difference in your professional and personal life?

Being a mentor helps me validate the time I spend at work and away from my family. In turn, those who have mentored me have demonstrated the same amount of care and genuine concern for my growth. We are all part of a constantly growing and developing world, and the only way we can make it is with help from those who've gone before us.

Which other female leaders do you admire and why?

I have great admiration for female leaders that demonstrate the ability to be groundbreaking while not deviating from their core sense of self. This is always a challenge in any professional landscape, and I commend any woman who can achieve this life balance.

What do you want Lisa Hoffman Beauty to accomplish in the next year?

I'm really focusing on gaining fresh insights gathered from afar to inspire more innovation, both at Lisa Hoffman Beauty and in the fragrance industry as a whole. A discovery experienced on the journey often reveals itself as the answer to a challenge, a philosophy I'm keeping as the heart of my leadership and company values. We have a lot of exciting things in the works - including moving into new markets - I'm confidant the next year will be nothing short of thrilling.