Janna Ronert: Founder & Chairwoman of IMAGE Skincare

Episode 369

Today's episode is terrific! We are joined by Janna Ronert, Founder & Chairwoman of IMAGE Skincare. If you have ever had a facial in any spa, chances are an esthetician has used their products on you as Image Skincare products are stocked in over 25,000 spas across the country. Back in 2003, Janna, a licensed esthetician, started the brand in hopes of showing others how her creations could help them after she had helped herself battle skin issues caused by rosacea. I just love Janna’s company and products plus how she took a problem that she had and created an incredible business! Her journey, lessons and stories are awesome. This episode is filled with so much inspiration and takeaways you won’t want to miss! On this episode of #TheKaraGoldinShow.

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Kara Goldin 0:00
I am unwilling to give up that I will start over from scratch as many times as it takes to get where I want to be I want to be you just want to make sure you will get knocked down but just make sure you don’t get knocked down knocked out. So your only choice should be go focus on what you can control control control. Hi everyone and welcome to the Kara Goldin show. Join me each week for inspiring conversations with some of the world’s greatest leaders. We’ll talk with founders, entrepreneurs, CEOs, and really some of the most interesting people of our time. Can’t wait to get started. Let’s go Let’s go. Hi, everyone. It’s Kara Goldin from the Kara Goldin show and I am so thrilled to have my next guest here we have Janna Ronert who is the founder and chairwoman of Image Skincare. And I absolutely am so excited to do this interview because Image Skincare has been on my radar for many, many years. If you’ve ever had a facial in any spa, chances are that an esthetician has used image products on you as Image Skincare has been stocked in over 25,000 spas across the country back in 2003. Jana, who is a licensed esthetician started the brand in hopes of showing others how she could help them after she had helped herself battle skin issues with rosacea. I just love the company, the products, everything about it. Jana is just a complete Rockstar. And I love all about her journey and so excited to hear more about it. So welcome, Jana.

Janna Ronert 1:47
Thank you, Kara. Nice to see you again.

Kara Goldin 1:50
Absolutely. And I’m I also want to give a shout out to C 200. We were both chatting a little bit about that we’re both a part of that amazing organization. And I know that many people if you don’t know about C 200 Definitely check it out. And it’s such a great group of ladies that are a part of it. So well before we get into hearing about Image Skincare and your journey in building it. I would love to hear about kind of the early years like Did you always know that you were going to become a beauty entrepreneur?

Janna Ronert 2:26
Beauty entrepreneur? No. Probably something related to skincare? Probably yes. You know, I I don’t know I growing up I always really had a passion for skincare and I have three older sisters and, and my mother and I think we were just constantly always in the bathroom using new creams and new scrubs and different things for our skin. And my mother. She is Cherokee Indian. And she has very she has a lot darker skin than I do. But she was such a big proponent of even sunscreens. So I kind of got I guess the beauty bug from her. And then my father is an immigrant from Poland. And he’s a farmer, entrepreneur. Definitely a self made businessman. So it’s kind of surrounded by beauty. And, you know, this whole idea of being an entrepreneur. So early on, I think those are the two little bugs I got that stuck with me. And when I went to college, I worked for a really great fortune 100 company for about nine years and worked my way up the ladder. Had a great job flew on my first private jet with clients. You know, here I was raised on a farm in Nebraska. I couldn’t believe that managing a whole bunch of people but deep down I hated it. I think I was a misfit probably in the corporate world. I’d never felt like I fit in, although I always put like the face that I did fit in. But I would go home and say what am I doing? I just hate this. And so I quit my job. And I went back and got my esthetic license. So I went from making a whole bunch of money to my first job out of school. I was making 15 bucks an hour at a plastic surgeon’s office doing skincare. I was like the first one and I would always be the last one to lock up. I just I just loved it. So I did put in the hard work. I did the treatments for many, many years. I learned about all kinds of our competition. And so I got a small loan from a bank and started a collection of about 18 products and some professional peels and we shipped out of my apartment in Houston, Texas, and a one bedroom apartment and I stocked every thing near the kitchen, they were just all up in boxes. And that’s kind of how we launched, you know, like, it’s 20 years this year. Wow. That’s how it went, you know?

Kara Goldin 5:14
That’s crazy. So how did you decide to actually launch a product, I mean, there’s a ton of people who are estheticians that have not launched products. So how what made you kind of think this is what I need to do? You know,

Janna Ronert 5:29
I, in this plastic surgery clinic in Houston that I worked, we carried all of the top brands that are still around today. So I got to see the formulas, I did the education, I did their training, I met the sales reps, I was sometimes visit their corporate offices, you know, as a big client. And I just saw, I thought, I think I can do this better, with better products that work better smell better, you know, are at a better price. And I think the missing the piece that I thought could could be improved in the whole skincare world is a bunch of passionate people. Because even in in high school and college, I sold Mary Kay, you know, cosmetics and American Mary Kay, yes, he was so inspirational. And I never got a pink Cadillac, or I was never at that level. But I would go to those conventions. And I would see these women, that this product changed their life, you know, as Mary Kay gave this, them this opportunity to be a housewife and have a pink Cadillac, and to gain recognition. And what when you have a leader that appreciates and you bring this fold of people that love it, I mean, who would have thought she could have built that that brand, right? So I knew that that was kind of missing in the professional world, I saw the sales reps, and they were just in it kind of like I was in that job, and it for the money in it for the title in it for all the perks that go along with it. But at the end of the day, they probably weren’t in it for the right reasons. And so I thought if you hired only estheticians to like be educators, and we have only estheticians answer our phone and customer service. And my kind of C suite are a lot of estheticians. It just creates a whole different atmosphere of people who know the skin and love it and really care people before profit, you know, so that’s kind of how I got that bug.

Kara Goldin 7:36
So smart. So in terms of the formulations, though, you had a backstory, I read that you had a reason that you really felt like what you were developing was super different than anything in the market. So can you share a little bit about that?

Janna Ronert 7:52
Yeah, so I suffered from really severe rosacea, which means you’re just red all the time. No matter what you do, whatever makeup you put on your red, sometimes you had really bad bumps that acne. And I just couldn’t get that cleared up. So my first products in the first collection, I, you know, had a couple of chemists that I work with still to this day, I still work with them. And we put together these products for rosacea that were not prescription, but were professional products, and then a treatment associated with it. So that collection was really the first formula that we brought to the market. And actually that collection is still number one after 20 years. So we’ve reinvented it, we’ve you know, reformulated we put better newer, cooler stuff in it. But that philosophy really works because a lot of people have dried, dehydrated red skin, and they don’t know why. No,

Kara Goldin 8:52
no, definitely. So your products are a staple in many facial or not just spatial spas, but in spas in general. So how did this happen? You I mean, people would love to be in as many spas as as your and I mean, how did that grow across the country. So you know, rapidly.

Janna Ronert 9:16
I mean, you know, it sounds pretty simple, but our philosophy was kind of, you know, tackling one wrinkle at a time. And I know that sounds so basic, like really, but when when I would hire estheticians or educators or anybody on the phone, we would just really treat that customer like it’s the only client or patient they had and you solve that problem. And then you go to a spa and you help them set solve a lot of problems. And then that spa talks to other people and that the business just grew so I think the the products were very innovative and very results oriented. And, and, you know, I think we built a team slow and steady, that took care of the customer and educated them. And you know, as a result, we just we kind of pretty much grew the business. But we all had a clear vision of what was the most important thing. And it was solving the problem in front of you.

Kara Goldin 10:21
That’s amazing. So what have you learned about the beauty industry over the years that has been if you had to break down some of the most challenging aspects of it, and how it’s changed, you’ve obviously had probably a lot more competition than even when you first started, what would you say is kind of been the most challenging and kind of just dealing with the beauty industry,

Janna Ronert 10:45
probably the most challenging is really to be the leader versus the follower and innovation, and to stay up on trends. And so I’ve been very fortunate that, you know, I’ve traveled a lot, you know, to all over the world, and specifically to kind of look at what those trends are, whether it’s in Seoul, Korea, or Switzerland, or, you know, Asia. And so I think if you kind of try to get a global view of how the beauty industry works, then you can kind of fine tune your ideas and formulas. But I think probably the biggest challenge just from a leadership issue is learning to follow your gut, and follow your instincts. And I have found that when I did not do that, whether somebody who I thought was smarter or more experienced, or how to better resume than me, or, you know, had had maybe had more success, but I didn’t follow my gut. Those are some of the hardest lessons I’ve learned. I think you need to follow your gut. And generally your first instincts are pretty right.

Kara Goldin 11:57
Yeah. I couldn’t agree more. Yeah. And it’s, I think, also the, what is the saying that, you know, hire slow, fire fast. I mean, when you see somebody, I think that most founders I know, have a pretty good gut, they do on on people. So maybe that’s not that’s not the case in every founder, but many of the founders I know, have a pretty good gut. And I think that that’s something that they, when they look at sort of growing their company, it’s definitely they can look back and say I should have been, right.

Janna Ronert 12:36
And, and I think we talked about this a little bit before we jumped on here today. But I think the other thing that I’ve learned is, you really have to surround yourself with people that you trust, you know, trust is not a chapter in a business book. Trust is not a chapter in a formula book, you know, trust is not a chapter in really a marketing book. But you really have to trust those partners that you associate with. And trust the people that you’re surrounded with, to make sure they’re just good people. They’re honest, they’re, they have some integrity, they have a track record of integrity. I mean, look, everybody makes mistakes, and nobody is perfect. And there’s never 100% of anything. But I think that trust is, is really, really important. You know, because I mean, you talk about growing, and I mean, image is that overnight, 20 year success, it took 20 years, you know, and that that is a lot of circle of trust, with a lot of people down to every aspect of your business, like you like the cap on the bottle, your vendors, your suppliers, the supply chain, you know, it goes down to those levels where you got to have you want to want to go to dinner with people you work with. And if you don’t, then you probably don’t like it very much. Yeah, you know, so think you really, you know, we talked about this earlier, whether it’s a vendor, a supplier, your board members, your trusted advisors, if you don’t want to go to dinner with them, or have that cup of coffee, or that extra glass of wine, then you maybe need to rethink that relationship.

Kara Goldin 14:17
Yeah, no, it’s, it’s true. Well, and I think that the challenge for so many people is that they think that they’re doing their due diligence, and, you know, they’re calling around, maybe you’re checking references on people or not only for employees, but also for people that you’re having in your company as investors and it’s tough. It’s really, really hard to be able to, you know, see whether or not they’re going to be the same cultural fit or, you know, I feel for people as they’re growing their businesses, because I think it’s, it’s really challenging, and that there’s no easy answer for it either.

Janna Ronert 14:55
There isn’t, but I’ll tell you, there’s so many tools available now. from, you know, online tools where you can get some sort of a psychological profile, to looking at the color of people looking at their decision making skills, looking at their judgment skills that we didn’t have, you know, or I didn’t have in those early days where I didn’t utilize it. But I think those taking those extra steps on those important hires, or important relationships that are going to blend together, I think are really important. Because I’ve had situations where high level people initially I was on board, everything ticked and tied. But then if I had done that little bit deeper dive that may have been a little costly, I would have probably seen some red flags. So I think I encourage listeners to really do as much as you can with the funds you have on those important hires to make sure it’s the right cultural fit. And it fits in your, your, your judgment rails.

Kara Goldin 16:02
Yeah, for sure. Well, I also think in terms of tools that just seeing, I get calls a lot from people who know that I’m connected to different people on LinkedIn, or somewhere on social, I think that just really understanding how, you know, people, you know, do you really know these people? Or how involved? Have you seen them make decisions? Do you know other people that have worked with them? I think that that is those are areas that you can check out even, that don’t cost you any money, right? Those are just phone calls. And I think we need to definitely do more of that as entrepreneurs and building the company. So being an entrepreneur is brutal, it’s definitely got sort of a glamorous halo over it. But as you know, it can be super challenging, and not only developing a product or a series of products as as you’ve done, but also scaling it, it can be really tough. How do you stay motivated on those really, kind of challenging days where, you know, there’s been a screw up and, you know, you’re you’ve got to jump back in and, and fix things or, or else, you know, you’re gonna really have a more challenging day ahead.

Janna Ronert 17:27
Yeah, known entrepreneurs, not easy. It’s certainly all the glitters isn’t gold, right? You kind of see the end product, but you don’t see all the hard back end work it takes to get there. But I think what keeps me motivated is, I guess, a vision that we’ve that I’ve always had of what what do I want this company to be? And we’re number one now in the spa channel, but what is the vision for the future, even 10 to 15 years ahead. And so that’s the first thing that kind of keeps me motivated. I think the second thing that keeps me motivated is, I just always ask myself, Is this really where I want to be? Now I can be anywhere in the world. But is this where I want to be today? Do I want to be doing this? Do I like working with these people? Do I like the challenges that that that are, you know, facing me? And I think if the answer is yes, then you have to take a deep breath, maybe unplugged for the day to kind of regroup and then tomorrow, you know, start again. But I think to stay motivated, you’re not motivated every day, every day isn’t a great hair day, every day is not a great skin day. It’s just not. And to think it’s just all roses every day. Is is not you know the case. But I think that you also can’t be so hard on yourself about mistakes, because the only way you know success is you have to have a lot of failure a lot. And you have to pick yourself back up. And I think that’s what separates people is those people who don’t quit, and you see where they quit and a lot of things you know, could be business, it could be relationships, it could be marriage, it could be a lot of things, but usually people who quit one thing quit it a lot of things. Yeah, no,

Kara Goldin 19:20

Janna Ronert 19:21
it’s that easy. Yeah. Beauty business. It’s not easy.

Kara Goldin 19:26
So what are your favorite ingredients at the moment that you are just like you were so excited to finally see the ingredients were found or the technology is finally there. What is it that you think is just the be all and end all of ingredients in beauty cosmetics today?

Janna Ronert 19:44
I think in skincare for me it’s really retinol we all know retinae but now and Retin A I don’t know if you’ve ever tried it but it can make your skin very red and irritated. You can’t go out in the sun but retinol or, you know, derivative of retina is really the holy grail for anti aging. And I think now they’ve they’ve kind of encapsulated it, they’ve made it just as strong, but no more irritation. So I’m very enthusiastic about using retinol every night if you can bet at least as much as you can, because I think that is probably the most anti aging product. I’m also super excited about the future of sunscreens. Because now we can, you know, trying to get away from all chemicals in a sunscreen using like just zinc, or titanium dioxide, which before used to be like really white and pasty. And like that lifeguard look, remember that? Yeah. And now they can make these formulas super elegant, super beautiful. And you can guide kind of get a sunblock with a moisturizer that’s really creamy and beautiful, along with like a tent. So you can kind of get three products and one that looks beautiful. And I’m very enthusiastic about the future of sunscreens, because it also kind of saves lives. So it’s a deeper meaning for me.

Kara Goldin 21:12
Definitely. So best advice you’ve ever received,

Janna Ronert 21:17
probably from my father. And he used to tell myself and all of us girls that the lazy are never lucky.

Kara Goldin 21:26
I love that. Oh, that is? Yeah, that’s a that’s a really, really, really, really great one. Well, this has been so much fun. And we’re gonna have all information for your products in the show notes. And thank you so much for coming on and sharing all your wisdom with us and lessons learned along the way. I really, really appreciate it. And I know that our listeners did as well. So thank you again.

Janna Ronert 21:55
Thank you, Kara. Bye. Thanks a lot.

Kara Goldin 21:58
Thanks again for listening to the Kara Goldin show. If you would, please give us a review. And feel free to share this podcast with others who would benefit and of course, feel free to subscribe so you don’t miss a single episode of our podcast. Just a reminder that I can be found on all platforms at Kara Goldin. And if you want to hear more about my journey, I hope you will have a listen or pick up a copy of my book undaunted, which I share my journey, including founding and building hint. We are here every Monday, Wednesday and Friday. And thanks everyone for listening. Have a great rest of the week, and 2023 and goodbye for now. Before we sign off, I want to talk to you about fear. People like to talk about fearless leaders. But achieving big goals isn’t about fearlessness. Successful leaders recognize their fears and decide to deal with them head on in order to move forward. This is where my new book undaunted comes in. This book is designed for anyone who wants to succeed in the face of fear, overcome doubts and live a little undaunted. Order your copy today at undaunted, the book.com and learn how to look your doubts and doubters in the eye and achieve your dreams. For a limited time. You’ll also receive a free case of hint water. Do you have a question for me or want to nominate an innovator to spotlight send me a tweet at Kara Goldin and let me know. And if you liked what you heard, please leave me a review on Apple podcasts. You can also follow along with me on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and LinkedIn at Kara Goldin. Thanks for listening