Women across Canada are kicking butt in the workforce, all while maintaining their cool and doing the things in life they enjoy. “Motivation Monday: How she does it” is a news series where we profile notable women working in various fields to find out how they juggle work-life, balance.
For this installment, we chatted with Jennifer Brodeur, Founder & CEO of Canadian skincare line JB Skin Guru. Brodeur has travelled the globe to study with the best in the beauty industry from cosmetic chemistry, advanced skin analysis, oncology aesthetics and organic skincare science. Her products are loved by the likes of Ms. Oprah Winfrey (YES, ORRAH!). She’s been her facialist since 2012.
Can you describe what you do?
What I do is always complicated to explain as I am a mix of skin strategist, life guru, business woman, and most importantly researcher. Over the last 20 years, I have taught and learned, and I have traveled the world in search of the best the skincare industry can offer. I am a researcher, first. I always want to know: why, how, when. I am somewhat skeptical of quick fixes and miracle potions, so I spend a lot of time reading. For me, JB Skin Guru is about celebrating beauty and expressing gratitude. I strongly feel everyone deserves great skin, and most importantly healthy Skin. I look at skin in a three dimensional way. Every time I look at someone’s skin I think to myself, how could I improve the skin, what will that skin look like in six months, a year or even ten. I think of all the links between lifestyle, cause and effect and the I add nutrition of course. The skin tells a story and I love to read it and share it with the person I am privileged to be working on. If I don’t have what my clients skin needs, that’s when I get to thinking and researching how I can help. What ingredients, applied when and how. There are so many amazing products out there. If I can not find it, then I create it. I then love to share my findings; so educating and lecturing is part of what I do. For me knowledge is power. Everyone’s skin is unique and needs to be treated as such.
What does a typical day look like for you starting from the moment you wake up?
I am what most would call an early bird. I am up at 4:30 am and yes, usually in the office a little before 6 am. I always start my day with a cup of coffee at my desk. It's non-negotiable. I take that time to review all of my emails, as with the time difference in Australia, New Zealand or Finland, for example, I have to be on top of things if not the conversations could last for ever. Morning is also my social media time. Then, I update my “to do” list and glance at the week/month ahead. By then I am on my second cup of coffee for sure. Around 8 am, staff starts to come in and we make a quick assessment of the day. I usually have a few phone meetings, followed by some clients like four or five, and end the day with a meeting. In between clients and meetings I am answering emails on Max+ or doing accounting and checking the bills. I still sign every check. I am OCD about things like that. That's a typical day when I am not travelling. My days usually end around 6 pm. I would say on average I do 12 hour days.
What are some challenges you face as a career woman?
I am a perfectionist, somewhat of and A type as many career women are. Younger I wanted to be the best at everything and I was highly competitive. It was not always well seen from my colleague’s male and female. Especially in 2003, with three young girls and traveling all over when we first launched Max+. People could not believe that my husband let me travel. That I would leave my daughters behind. I mean what would they become? Parent teacher interviews and other parents were not always easy. Most of the questions I got asked people never would have asked a man. It would infuriate me.
To be honest I never thought to ask him if it was ok. As we are and have always been a team, we work together. Most thought I was insane and wouldn't last but a few months. My daughters are older now 17, 20 and 21 so they are extremely self sufficient and independent. They were raised to be strong, smart and witty. Another challenge was my kindness – many would tell me I would never succeed because I needed to be more ruthless. Well, I never took that advice.
How did you overcome these challenges?
Worked as hard as I could to prove everyone wrong. Made sure the girls were ok and that I was ok. I stayed kind and helpful and reminded myself that if I continued to work hard in silence with integrity my success would be my noise. I also created my tribe, a group of women I admire and trust, when I feel the need I reach out. We try to get together and help each other. Sometimes it’s just being there for someone, ready to listen. It makes a huge difference. I think all women need a Tribe!
How do you juggle work-life balance?
This is where I decided years ago that balance wasn't for me. I will never be that Zen master. I am Zen in my own hectic way. It’s what makes me happy. I spent so many hours reading self-help books on how to improve this and that. Honestly, it was giving me anxiety, so I stopped reading those books. I decided to make everything count and let things go. When I am home I am with the girls, I make time. When I am at work I am committed as well and make the time to get what needs to get done. It’s not always easy, many sacrifices happen. That may mean a trip away during the holidays or an event, but that's part of the deal. As we can have it all, but not all at the same time.
How do you like to unwind?
Reading. It’s always been my favorite, especially in the bath. I just recently got a new candle - L’air de Rien by Miller Harris - as a gift. So I look forward to evenings where I can indulge in a good book, candle and bath. I am usually ordering new books online, while finishing a few I have going. I can never be “bookless”. I also love to laugh.
Choose one: wine or cocktails? Why?
I rarely drink. Sounds crazy, but my skin doesn't like it. My skin is like my calling card, so I am very rigorous about that. However, if and when I do it would have to be Champagne. Love the bubbles and so does my skin (laughs)!
What is the best advice you have ever received?
I am fortunate to get such great advice from incredible trailblazers. My first piece of great advice: Learn to take compliments. This was something I had difficulty with. I always had the “impostor syndrome”. Every time I had a compliment I would find fault, re-evaluate. I have since worked on this very hard. I think experience and getting older is helpful as well. And then, there’s Ms.Winfrey; every time we speak I learn, I become a better person. One of the things that has stayed with me over the years was “Honey child, don’t dim your lights – Shine.” I use that advice often. Sometimes I will be attending an event, party or even a meeting, and I remind myself to stay authentic and shine! I shouldn't ever have to dim my lights, those around me just have to shine brighter. As we are 100 percent responsible for our own lives, no one else!
How do you define success?
Success is being happy and knowing who you are. When in business things can turn fast and you can be on top one day and the bottom the next. It takes grit and a true sense of self, an ability to be humble and to listen to your intuition, your gut. We spend most of our lives looking for answers, looking for validation from others really hungry for accolades. For me, success can not always be defined by the amount of dollars in your bank account or the people you know. It’s being authentic, having integrity and wanting to help those around you succeed. That's true success. All things desire to love.