Lindsay Miller of LYCON Cosmetics North America
Meet Lindsay Miller, Owner of LYCON Cosmetics North America, a mama of three and a powerhouse entrepreneur with a background in B2B who has never slowed down in striving to reach her business dreams.
Describe your business and your role within your company:
I am the Owner of LYCON Cosmetics North America, which I started eight years ago to exclusively distribute LYCON cosmetic products. LYCON Cosmetics is an Australian based cosmetics manufacturer that focuses on selling products to spas and salons (B2B). Our main focus is on products that are used during waxing services (hair removal). LYCON’s products are sold in over 80 countries around the world and are known for their high level of quality. I began my business by first introducing LYCON products to the Canadian market. After two years, I became the exclusive import agent for all LYCON products for both the USA and Canada. My role has evolved over the years, but I continue to be involved with all aspects of the operations of the company, including working in the warehouse to pack orders, and managing all of our marketing initiatives, finances and business development.
At the time, I was six months pregnant with our first child and I pitched the idea to my husband of quitting my secure finance job to become the distributor of this wax line from Australia.
Can you tell us a little bit about your journey in getting to where you are now?
I completed my undergrad at the University of British Columbia in Human Kinetics. I honestly had no clue what I wanted to be when I “grew up” and chose Human Kinetics as I loved fitness and sports. I chose to focus my degree in Sport Management while at UBC, which gave me some initial business training. I then worked for a small sport marketing agency in Vancouver, which managed many sporting events including the Scotties Tournament of Hearts. I loved the fast pace and constant problem solving that organizing events required and decided I wanted to gain some more business specific knowledge. I then went to the Richard Ivey School of Business at The University of Western Ontario to complete my Masters in Business Administration. I remember showing up to my first class terrified. I felt totally overwhelmed and wondered what on earth I had signed up for. I quickly gained my confidence back and the experience ended up being one of the best years of my life. I am so thankful for the education as well as the friendships I gained while I was at Ivey. From there, I moved to London, England. I am fortunate enough to have dual citizenship and decided to make the move overseas to gain some international experience. While I was there, I worked in finance as an Investor Relations Manager. During my time in England, I would go to a wax bar (this concept was new to me and it intrigued me how a spa could focus on only one service and remain profitable). I remember sitting in the seating area observing the business as a new client would walk through the door every 15-20 minutes and I thought “what a great business model”. When I returned back to Canada one year later, I was searching for a spa or wax bar that offered a similar service with the products that the wax bar in England had used. I did some research and realized that LYCON wax was not yet in Canada. When I contacted the manufacturer (LYCON Australia) they said they were looking for a distributor/import agent for Canada. At the time, I was six months pregnant with our first child and I pitched the idea to my husband of quitting my secure finance job to become the distributor of this wax line from Australia. He paused to think about it and then without hesitation told me to go for it. I did. I quit my job and began to do as much research as I could about waxing. I watched webinars, listened to speakers, and interviewed spa owners. My first shipment arrived on a single pallet a couple months later, which was also the same time our first child arrived. I continued to work (when I could) to start my business while caring for our newborn. I remember taking our daughter to spas and putting product in her stroller as I hand delivered shipments.
Over the years, the business grew (and so did my family! We now have three kids) in Canada and then into the US. We now ship a 40’ container of wax every eight-10 weeks from Australia to the USA where I have a third party warehouse that I work with.
I believe that people come into your life for a reason and I am always mindful of this when I meet new people.
What has inspired you over the years?
I have been fortunate to meet many inspiring people over the years, both women and men. I believe that people come into your life for a reason and I am always mindful of this when I meet new people. I had an incredible role model when I first started my career. She was a working mom, an entrepreneur and just an all around accomplished person. She taught me to never give up and that you can have a family and still pursue your career. She would always say that it is important to find something that you love and then make it your career. I think about this often and how grateful I am to have found a business that I am passionate about. I often joke that my business is my fourth child and it has become so much part of me that it does not feel like work.
Do you have any mentors?
My dad. From day one when I told him I was going to quit my job to start importing wax, he has played a key role in the success of my business. He is an entrepreneur himself and has been able to offer guidance and advice along the way.
I think that everyone has a different journey and that you can learn a lot from reading books and listening to others stories and how they got to where they are.
Which businessperson do you most admire?
This is a really challenging question, as I have so many businesspersons that I respect. I admire the entrepreneur who owns the small grocery store in our community, while I also look up to the CEO of large corporations. I think that everyone has a different journey and that you can learn a lot from reading books and listening to others stories and how they got to where they are. I follow Tim Ferris and read his “5-Bullet Friday” email every week. He always has some good quotes and podcast recommendations included in each one.
What are your favourite career / business moments?
I was at the Toronto airport leaving on a trip to Colorado to meet with my largest distributor. Our second daughter was only a few months old and it was my first time leaving her. I was emotional and felt guilty, even though it was only for two days. I remember questioning myself and wondering if I was doing the right thing by leaving. I knew it was important for my business, but I was still questioning myself. I remember standing in the little bookstore at the airport and I had picked up the book The Happiness Equation by Neil Pasricha. At that moment, I looked up and Neil himself was in the store doing a meet and greet. We chatted briefly and he handed me a handwritten note that said “You’ve Got This”. To this day, I carry it in my wallet and every time I start to doubt myself I look at it. I walked away and got on that plane with confidence and never doubted myself the rest of the trip.
What has been the biggest challenge you’ve faced so far?
The biggest challenge I’ve faced so far was was when the COVID-19 pandemic hit in March 2020 and everything had to shut down. My sales dropped significantly and I was forced to lay off two of my employees. It was an emotional time as we really did not know what was going to happen and when things would get better. Additionally, in my personal life, it meant all three children (all under eight years old) were now home. My husband and I were trying to balance all three kids at home while still each trying to work. It was a challenging time and it took a lot of compromise and communication to get through. In relation to my business, over the past year, I have had to change my marketing strategy to continue to grow as things reopen in the USA and Canada. Previously the majority of my business development and sales growth came from trade shows. With trade shows basically becoming basically non-existent, I have had to refocus my strategy on social media and online brand awareness.
I often go for a run and when I return I write down all that I have thought about.
What do you do when you’re stuck creatively or need a break?
I go for a run. I love to be outdoors and active. For me, running has always provided me a space to gain clarity and generate ideas. I often go for a run and when I return I write down all that I have thought about. I have had my biggest marketing ideas come to me while out on a run!
What type of self-care do you prioritize in the midst of a busy workday, especially in the midst of the pandemic?
I try to take time to work out in the morning before the kids wake up. I love early mornings and that alone time allows me to focus on what I want to achieve for the day. By the time the children wake up, I have started my day and am energized and ready to take on all the “mommy” requests and work demands.
I have learned that putting too much pressure on myself only makes these challenging times more challenging.
What has the pandemic taught you?
It has taught me a lot in terms of letting go and not letting the small things bother me. I have learned to “let things go” more easily. It’s ok if the house isn’t perfect all of the time. It’s ok if the kids eat macaroni for lunch AND dinner. I have learned that putting too much pressure on myself only makes these challenging times more challenging. I also constantly remind myself that this is just a period of time and that this too shall pass.
What are some words of wisdom for fellow ambitious women in business?
I have a framed quote in my office that I live by “No matter how you feel….get up, dress up, show up and never give up.” I think this is important especially now. We all have days when we feel overwhelmed and exhausted. But, the most important thing is we just show up and give our best.
What’s your next big professional goal?
Continue to grow LYCON and launch LYCON Skin, which is a new skincare line under the LYCON brand umbrella.