You’ve probably heard the age-old warning not to take your work home with you. It’s sound advice — no one wants to hang out when all you can talk about is how much of a jerk your coworker is.
Which is why the recent wave of buzzy indie beauty brands developed and run by families is so surprising — not only do they manage to stay cool and calm while working alongside their siblings/partners/parents/kids, they’re managing the admirable feat of creating industry-shaking products using an old-fashioned business model. Rather than the perceived impersonal touch of big business, the all-in-the-family approach creates a direct connection to the brand and the people behind it. What’s more authentic than founders who shared a home together — or a womb, for that matter?
Ahead, meet four families who take teamwork to the extreme. Hey, if they can fight over formulas and still keep the peace at Sunday dinner, maybe there’s hope yet for you and your gum-snapping, Slack-happy deskmate.
Growing up as one of seven brothers is enough to stress even the most even-keeled of us out. Fortunately, the Stanley brothers — Jordan, Jesse, Austin, Josh, Jon, Joel, and Jared (that must have been fun for their mom to recite when calling them in for supper) — are in the business of keeping calm. Their company, CW Hemp, produces GMO-free, non-psychoactive cannabidiol (CBD) supplements and treatments for everything from anxiety to inflammation.
legal tightrope around CBD supplements and federal versus state approval. To the point that CW Hemp inked a deal to sell its products on Target, until the retailer abruptly pulled it from its website — a decision that many business and cannabis experts speculate to be due to the uncertainty in this legal gray area.
But the brothers take it in stride, using the news about the brand to create a larger educational platform around CBD as a health aid. “I think hemp and cannabis still has stigma around it, so informing people of the benefits is the first step,” explains Austin, who serves as the project manager of new business development.
The ways in which they go about doing that — as well as the growth and positioning of the line — is where emotions can run, well, high. “Working with family is and always will be very difficult. I take things much more personally than I would with any other job,” says Jordan, the assistant director of cultivation.
“The biggest challenge is keep work and family life separate. This is probably the hardest part of what we do,” adds vice president Jesse. “We can turn a Thanksgiving dinner into a board meeting lightning quick.”
But by investing in a growing (albeit uncertain) industry, the Stanleys have had the opportunity to start a business that they hope can be a part of their future generations’ lives. “Family-operated companies generate a level of trust, quality, and heart into this industry,” says Jordan. “It seems that family-run companies have a higher code of ethics than companies formed to just make money.”
Jesse notes that there’s a reason many larger companies are keen to manufacture a culture of tight-knit coworkers. “People trust family-run business,” he explains. “Everyone likes to be a part of something special, and family is most assuredly special.”
Most parents believe in their child’s potential, but not many are willing to bank on it. Jenny Frankel wins the mother-of-the-year award for not only recognizing the promise of daughters Ally and Taylor, but taking that budding beauty talent and turning it into a booming business.
Jenny, a chemical engineer and former product developer, noticed her daughters’ proclivity for minimal-effort, naturally effortless makeup. Identifying a gap in the market, she worked alongside Ally and Taylor to create Nudestix, a complete cosmetics line consisting of neutral tones all delivered in an easy-to-apply pencil format.
Twenty-year-old Taylor and 17-year-old Ally serve as both “chief inspiration officers” and the faces of the brand, each drawing from her personal beauty experiences. “Being of different generations — I’m a Gen X, Taylor’s a millennial, and Ally is Gen Z — we have different perspectives, friends, priorities, and skin and beauty needs,” says Jenny. “So it’s a real age-diverse and inclusive focus group.”
As with any professional venture, not everyone is going to see eye to eye. Arguing with your mom is practically hardwired into teenage girls, but in the case of the Frankels, those arguments were less about curfews and more about the color payoff of an eyeshadow. So how do you flex your business muscles when your boss is also the one who birthed you? According to all three, everyone gets an opinion and ideas are bounced around, but in the end it’s majority rules. “What’s great about our dynamic is that if my mom and I are having a disagreement, I can always count on Ally to take my side,” says Taylor. But Jenny says she isn’t above pulling the “boss card” every now and then.
The women truly do have their hands in every piece of the business, from social media to education to product development. “We all talk about innovation constantly and what products we’d love to come out with in a Nudestix way,” explains Ally. “Once the product has made it past the development stage we all help brainstorm the shade and product names, which is always really fun.”
In addition to the fun stuff, Jenny makes sure her daughters also understand the business side and what makes Nudestix so unique. “[Mom] always says that a beauty executive with over 20 years of experience would never be able to launch a brand like Nudestix,” says Taylor. That’s because, she continues, most executives don’t value or have access to millennials and their unique perspective on beauty. That’s why she believes family brands like hers are becoming more popular—they create an authenticity and genuine connection that is a priority for young consumers.
Which is why Jenny credits her daughters as being both the inspiration and the heart of Nudestix. “My girls inspire me every day — their vision is clear, brilliant, and innovative,” she says. “Unlike my parents’ generation, which wasn’t very social with their kids, my generation talks to their kids, shares ideas, gets inspired, and are more open to being friends and collaborating.” Sounds like the secret to business and parenting success.
When your family business consists of a 100-year-old plum farm, the obvious next step is a jump into the skincare world. Or at least that’s what sisters Elaine, Allison, and Jacqueline Taylor decided. As the fourth generation of the Taylor Brothers Farm in California — the largest organic plum producer in the world — the sisters grew up harvesting plants and manning the family’s farmers market stall. This gave them an up close and personal look at all aspects of the business, from growing and operations to offsetting plant waste.
Le Prunier luxury face oil made from, you guessed it, plums. They worked with development labs to research the benefits of topically applied forms of the fruit. Naturally rich in fatty acids and polyphenols, organic, cold-pressed plum oil, the sisters discovered, serves as a powerful antioxidant booster and glow enhancer for the skin.
While the familiarity with their source material was obviously integral, it was the sisters’ individual backgrounds that helped propel them so seamlessly into the skincare market. Jacqueline is a pre-med biopsychology major for dermatology at UCLA, Allison is a former magazine editor and experienced digital marketing manager, and Elaine is an international business administrator. Together they form a power trio with science, creative, and operational skills that encompass every element of the brand.
“Each of us brings a unique perspective to the business,” notes Allison. “Sometimes things clash, but it wouldn’t be what it is without the combined efforts of each of us listening to those opposing views.”
While the sisters might not always agree, one thing they have consensus on is the importance of what family-owned businesses bring to the proverbial table. Says Elaine, “As a family we’re the closest to the source of the product, and we monitor the process to ensure what we offer is just as safe to use for your family as it is ours.”
It’s this intimacy with every aspect of the business, says Allison, that allows them to innovate and move the family business forward. “The wonderful thing about working with your sisters is knowing you always have good intentions and only want the best for each other.”
You might not think skincare, goat farming, and TheAmazing Race have anything in common, but that’s because you don’t know the Beekman Boys. Longtime couple Brent Ridge and Josh Kilmer-Purcell followed a not-so-typical (read: completely surreal) path to beauty. Brent was a physician turned health and wellness director for Martha Stewart’s company, and Josh was an advertising exec turned writer. The two purchased a farm in upstate New York as weekend getaway that, post-recession and subsequent fancy job layoffs, became a full-time hustle.
As for the goats, Brent says the two had taken in a farmer and his herd of homeless goats “to be neighborly,” and started using the goats’ milk to make soaps. “We noticed how amazing our skin felt [when using the soap] even during the harsh upstate New York winters,” he explains. And so Beekman 1802 was born. (They took the name from the farm’s history, which was built in 1802 by William Beekman). Josh and Brent started with a stint selling their handmade soaps at Henri Bendel, and were then picked up by Anthropologie. In between all of that, they also competed and won season 21 of TheAmazing Race— as one does. Suffice to say they’ve got this partnership thing on lockdown.
“We are together 24 hours a day, seven days a week, which would be a challenge for any couple,” says Josh. “We’ve been working this way for almost nine years, and it has actually enhanced our communication. We know when to back off and when to proceed and when to push the buttons to get the best creative outcome.”
This creative-button-pushing has led the couple to branch out beyond soap. Which is why they’ve expanded into facial skincare with the recent launch of a cleanser, peel, and moisturizer. Like the rest of their line, the products give goat’s milk a starring role, an ingredient which both men say is nothing short of miraculous. It has the ability to hydrate, soothe, brighten, and nourish skin.
“Our development process really is influenced by life on the farm,” says Brent. “There’s a certain level of pragmatism in everything we do. That idea of efficiency, self-sufficiency, and sustainability can really only come about when you are actually living it.”
And while an idyllic farm, cute goats (seriously, if you have time to kill, go to their website and watch an adorable goat bounce around a kitchen — it’s magical), and gentle skin creams might seem like a dream job, there are still some storms the couple have to weather as their business grows.
When dealing with disagreements, the men have worked out an ingenious strategy to get things done but still keep the peace. It’s something they call the 51 percent rule. “Before we start tackling any new product we decide which one of us is most passionate about it,” explains Josh. “We grant that person 51 percent of the decision-making process right from the get-go. If there’s ever a disagreement, the person who has the 51 percent gets the final decision.” We bet those frolicking farm animals also have a small part in easing decision-making tensions. Remember, there’s a reason goat yoga is thing now.