The phrase “girl boss” has been big for a few years, but it wasn’t really a thing in my native country. Growing up in the former Yugoslavia, women and men were considered equal in everything. Being a woman and a boss just came naturally to women there. I brought this perspective on leadership with me when I moved to California at the age of 19.
At the time, I had no money, but I had a passion for all things beauty, especially skincare. I landed an entry-level job in the industry, worked my way up as an esthetician at a couple of top-notch LA spas and eventually opened my own spa in 2003. Seemingly overnight, I went from being an employee to having 35 of my own employees! The transition required a lot of hard work and adjustment, but the most rewarding part of my job as a business owner has been training and employing more than 200 women over the years.
I’m often asked about the challenges of being a woman and being the boss. These are my top 5 tips.
- I’ve never hired an employee based on gender, only capabilities. It’s important to let your employees know that if they are smart, capable and driven, there is no glass ceiling. One of my proudest accomplishments is being able to self-fund and pursue my biggest passion-creating skincare products. I wouldn’t have been able to do this without ignoring so-called ceilings.
- Letting an employee go is tough, but don’t dwell. Remind yourself at the end of the day, it’s about taking care of the business. Think of yourself as a mother surrounded by super nannies who are all making sure the child (the business) grows up healthy, productive and purposeful.
- Being a mother to your business and your actual children is the hardest part for many women. Remember that it’s okay to ask for help. Most of the successful beauty brands owned by women have been supported in some way by family, friends, spouses who believed in them. The key is to put yourself out there and make the ask.
- The best boss is one who has the emotional intelligence to know when to step in and when to stand back. Actually caring, rather than pretending to do so, allows you to anticipate team needs and be an effective leader.
- Not everyone will like you and that’s okay! You will occasionally have a disgruntled employee. The important thing is to set yourself up for success by surrounding yourself with a team of passionate, capable people who you respect and with whom you have good chemistry.