How One of the Internet's First Fashion Bloggers Launched a Beauty Business
Julie Fredrickson started her first company right after college—and sold it by the time she was 23. Coutorture was essentially the internet's inaugural fashion blog, which she spun into a major media company (and then sold to an even more major media company). Then she started another company. And another. And at some point, between meetings and business trips, she realized she needed makeup that was as mobile as she was. So she launched Stowaway Cosmetics, a brand that makes pocket-size products, perfect for a purse (or backpack). Here's how she did it...
What were you like as a teen, and what do you wish you could tell your teenage self?
I was a pretty introverted teenager who was more focused on my studies, hobbies and my athletics than socializing. I had a pretty tight knit group of male friends (I had literally one female friend in high school) who shared my interests. We were a really nerdy group, so lots of Star Trek talk! But I was also an active equestrian, and after school I was getting dirty at the barn riding and doing chores. I felt like a real tomboy because of my interests and I wish I had a better understanding then that you can choose to be anything you like; one aspect of your interests or personality doesn't negate another. Trekkies love makeup! Athletic women love makeup.
Even as I got older and went to college, I didn't really "get" the power of style—fashion or beauty as something that could help you demonstrate your power, personality, and viewpoint. I wasn't really very attuned to the power of being a multifaceted woman, and how different aspects of my personality could intersect (and most importantly, co-exist). I'm still figuring out how to be a nerdy capitalist feminist who loves makeup and science fiction to this day! But I'm more comfortable being all of those things at once now.
How exactly did you get to where you are now, professionally?
I think we all WISH there was a step-by-step process to professional success, but I think it would be hard to ever pinpoint a blueprint that any one person could follow and successfully replicate time and again. Life isn't like that. I think for me, a lot of my ability to pursue my dreams is simply not giving up. Just take Finding Dory; I think the message in the film is that no matter who you are or what you might struggle with, "just keep swimming" is a really effective strategy. So I've kept swimming over the years!
What do you wish you had known then that you know now about having a career?
Don't be a pain in your boss's butt. You may be a super talented and capable human. Most people are, if they find the right fit for their personality and skills (and learn to love themselves for it). But you need to respect that you are part of an organization, even if you are the leader of it, and being the squeaky wheel or creating too much friction in a work environment can be problematic. I'm so lucky that my first real boss, Brian Sugar (the CEO of PopSugar), set me straight fast on this. He once told me that if I wasn't careful, the drama I created would outweigh the value I created for the organization. And you know what? It did. And over time I learned to fix it.
And I'm so grateful for the insight I learned from it, because he delivered it with such kindness, but also in that very "get your act together" way. Make your boss's life easier, not harder. Ask questions, figure out what you need to do to be successful, and then get on with the business of doing it. But remember that you are hired to do a job. So do it, learn to do it better, and then take on as much responsibility as you can. Don't ask for it; just find things that aren't being done and figure out how to do them and then present your results.
What advice about work do you have for teens or for people just starting out?
Make like Rihanna and work work work work work! (Or if you prefer Britney Spears, you better work, b*tch.) I really enjoyed two articles that are a little grown-up in nature, but I think they reflect my basic work ethic. One is "Six Harsh Truths About the World" and the other is from investor Jason Calacanis on leveling up your skills and succeeding faster than anyone else around you.
Anything else you’d like to add?
Don't freak out too much about any one thing! Life is short, and no mistake is ever that bad in the long run. Learn to be yourself, be confident in who you are and be serious about getting better at what you want in life.