Photo:Courtesy of Carol's Daughter
Welcome to Second Life, a podcast spotlighting successful women who've made major career changes—and fearlessly mastered the pivot. Hosted by Hillary Kerr, co-founder and chief content officer at Who What Wear, each episode will give you a direct line to women who are game changers in their fields. Subscribe to Second Life on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, or anywhere else you listen to stay tuned.
Driven by a deep love of fragrance from a young age and an article she read about Prince (you’ll have to tune in for that story), Price spent her time off from the long hours of television production experimenting with layering scents and formulating her own recipes for lotions and other personal-care products. It wasn’t until 1993, when her mother, Carol, nudged her to sell her Fragrant Moisture Butters—as she called them at the time—at a local flea market, that Price met her first customers, who quickly bought up her entire inventory.
Her products were an immediate hit, but that doesn’t mean scaling the business came easy. Among the challenges of any startup, Price had an additional factor working against her. An improperly filed tax document in her past meant that for years, Carol’s Daughter was unable to secure business credit or outside investment, a constraint that forced the brand to grow solely by the means of its own profit. Though expansion was slow and steady in the early days, word spread quickly as products like Black Vanilla Hair Smoothie and Love Butter found brand evangelists to the tune of Jada Pinkett Smith, Halle Berry, and yes, Oprah. Eventually, Price made the decision to leave the world of television behind, and Carol’s Daughter went from side hustle to bona fide business.
Photo:Courtesy of Carol's Daughter
Turning a passion project into a nationally distributed beauty brand and a full-time profession is what many of us would consider “the dream.” But when Lisa Price started experimenting with aromatherapy oils out of her Brooklyn apartment in the early ’90s, that was far from the plan. At the time, Price was working in the television industry as a production coordinator on programs such as The Cosby Show and Here and Now, a profession that she not only adored but also credits with cultivating a creative passion that would eventually fuel the inception of her multicultural beauty brand, Carol’s Daughter. “I think part of it developed because my television gigs were enjoyable. So when I did have time off, I didn't feel that immense need to just escape. … I had energy,” she tells Hillary Kerr in this week’s episode of Second Life.
In 2014, Price faced another pivotal moment when Carol’s Daughter was acquired by L’Oréal, after a two-year process that Price describes as transformational for both the growth of the brand and herself personally: “I became a stronger person and better able to deal with those ups and downs. … So when I got put into that process of due diligence, whoa. I was ready.” Since the acquisition, the brand’s footprint has expanded nationwide, available in major retailers including Ulta, Target, and Sally Beauty.
When asked what advice Price would give to others looking to navigate changes in their own careers, her answer illustrates an ethos she’s honed throughout the years: balancing practicality and intuition. “I don’t think you can discern what you should do when you’re in a place of chaos. … Be still and be quiet and allow yourself time to think. And then when you start to think about things, write them down,” she says.