As part of our interview series called “5 Things I Wish Someone Told Me Before I Became A Founder,” I had the pleasure of interviewing Lindsey Martin.
After noticing a gap in the market and being personally inspired by the joy that her skincare ritual gave her, Lindsey Martin swapped her cushy corporate job with $100K in savings to bootstrap an independent beauty brand. Lindsey launched Kiramoon in 2021 with the mission of creating a happier than average beauty company. Since its debut, Kiramoon has gone viral on social media, continues to roll out joyful skincare formulas and merchandise, and is stocked in leading retailers such as Nordstrom and ASOS.
Thank you so much for joining us in this interview series! Can you tell us a story about what brought you to this specific career path?
As a software executive overseeing a team of 30 people, I was very stressed and busy, working extremely long hours. I turned to my skincare routine, a calming 5 minute highlight that provided happiness and joy to my day. It was time to escape, to play, to be creative, to focus on me: which products do I use tonight, and in what order? When I realized the packaging and branding of my favorite formulas didn’t match the way they made me feel (joyful, magical, happy!) I felt the industry was missing something. I wanted to create a brand that looked exactly how my skincare routine made me feel, and to add some magic to any beauty routine and put a smile on each user’s face after a long day. I started researching back in 2016 and spent about a year educating myself on the beauty industry before making any real decisions. By 2021, I had saved $100k of my own personal savings over the course of 4 years and decided to launch Kiramoon.
Can you tell us a story about the hard times that you faced when you first started your journey?
In my journey, most of the challenges were a result of not only being a first-time founder, but also having no experience in the beauty industry. I had to learn by trial and error, and the first year felt like getting a masters degree in the skincare biz. One story that stands out is when we ordered additional inventory to fulfill a Nordstrom order. What an exciting moment as a business owner, right? Unfortunately, the manufacturer assembled the outer packaging incorrectly and about 50% of a 5,000 unit run was not sellable when we received it. I had never faced any type of manufacturing hiccups before, so I turned to my founder network for advice. This was a very scary and new experience for me.
Where did you get the drive to continue even though things were so hard?
I always focus on my “why”. I started Kiramoon because I genuinely wanted to offer beauty customers something new and joyful, and help them smile while they do their skincare routine. In addition, I wanted to build something that I am proud of and create a career that felt more authentic than when I worked in the tech industry. So whenever I feel down or frustrated, I remember my long-term goal and it always feels worth it.
So, how are things going today? How did grit and resilience lead to your eventual success?
Things are going really well! Looking back on our first 15 months, we’ve achieved so much more than I ever dreamed of, but we still have a long way to go. My grit and resilience definitely keeps me moving forward even when I feel like I have no idea what I’m doing (which I feel a lot of the time, to be honest). I’ve learned that being uncomfortable and facing unknowns means you are leveling up as a founder and a business, and you have to stay in that uncomfortable zone to continue growing. Without grit and resilience, that discomfort can be paralyzing, so they really go hand in hand in terms of success.
I know I will have to maintain this grit and resilience through every stage of our business growth, that’s just the reality of being a founder and CEO.
Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?
Oh boy, I’ve made so many funny mistakes. One of my favorites is not having barcodes on any of our outer packaging when we launched because I originally assumed we would be D2C. Then, big retailers started calling and I was in a scramble to add barcode stickers to all of our units. The lesson here was to be prepared for all business scenarios and be open-minded to where the business may go, even if it’s outside of your original vision!
What do you think makes your company stand out? Can you share a story?
I think one of the ways we stand out is how transparent and present I am as our founder. Before we launched, I would share stories and videos on social media showing our audience the process of creating products and bringing them to market. This was very powerful because it gave our future customers not just a brand, but a person to root for. One other way we stand out is how committed we are to our visual brand identity. Early on I knew we wanted to double down on the joyful, happy, bright branding and we will never veer from that.
Which tips would you recommend to your colleagues in your industry to help them to thrive and not “burn out”?
Prioritize rest and relaxation so you can be your best self for the business. The “hustle culture” definitely glamorizes grinding 24/7, but that eventually takes a toll on your performance and the business will suffer as a result. What has worked for me is having a morning and evening routine to start and end my days so I can maintain a healthy balance between work and play.
None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful for who helped get you to where you are?
At this point in my journey, the person who I am the most grateful for is my Dad. When I told him I wanted to quit my corporate job and pursue this dream, he was 100% supportive from the beginning. His experience and encouragement really gave me the courage to take the leap when I was very unsure. Thanks, Dad, I love you!
How have you used your success to bring goodness to the world?
We donate a portion of every sale to a non-profit whose primary goal is reducing the stigma around mental health. I have also used my platform as a founder to share my own struggle with Generalized Anxiety Disorder, and I hope it helps normalize other common mental illnesses and helps people feel like they aren’t alone.
What are your “5 things I wish someone told me before I started leading my company” and why. Please share a story or example for each.
- Mistakes are normal — I was very hard on myself the first several months and felt that if I made a mistake, I wasn’t cut out to be a founder, but that isn’t the case at all! Mistakes are inevitable, and how you handle them is what makes the biggest difference.
- Expect the unexpected — when I set out to build Kiramoon, I thought our first year would look very different. I’ve learned that a business is a living thing and, although you have to guide it where you want it to go, it may also head in a different direction than you expected.
- Build a strong support system — starting a business, especially as a solo founder, can be very isolating and lonely. Having a network of peers that understand what you’re going through can be a game-changer!
- Protect your cash at all costs — I made the mistake of putting too much capital into inventory last year and it hurt our financial agility. There are tons of great fintech resources that will help you avoid this error when starting out!
- Never wait until you’re ready — I think I held myself back in year one because I wanted everything to be perfect or “ready” before taking a business risk. What I’ve realized is that the only way to grow quickly is to jump before you’re ready, and figure it out on the way down.
Can you share a few ideas or stories from your experience about how to successfully ride the emotional highs & lows of being a founder”?
I think what helped me the most was accepting that the highs and lows are normal, rather than a measurement of how “good” I am as a founder. Once I made this mental shift I was able to use problems or mistakes as opportunities to level up.
You are a person of great influence. If you could start a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. :-)
I want to help reduce the stigma around mental illness so people aren’t afraid of getting help when they need it! And of course I want to help people smile twice a day while they do their skincare :)
How can our readers further follow your work online?
You can follow us on IG and TikTok at @kiramoonbeauty, or check out our website at kiramoon.com. My personal IG is @lindsey_martin.