Feb. 25, 2019
As a #ByWomenForWomen company, we love celebrating brands that are led by fellow female founders. Our new series, Founder Friday, is a chance to get to know some of these standout women, including our very own Heidi Zak!
In 2009, Tara Foley was working long hours in a law career and trying to stay healthy. She realized that she focused on fitness and healthy eating but not what she put on her face and body. She started asking questions and launched a blog called Naturalchemyst. The response showed her how many people wanted to understand what they’re putting on themselves and where to find effective and luxurious nontoxic options. Several years, one MBA and a few months on a lavender farm later, Follain was born. We sat down with Tara to learn more about her nightly skin care routine and what’s next for her beauty brand.
Why did you start your company?
To educate women on the benefits of clean beauty and in turn, get as many women as possible to start their own clean beauty journeys.
What was one challenge you overcame during the early days of your company?
I’ve always been the Founder & CEO of Follain but that title has meant such different things over the past five years. I started as a little corner shop operator right out of grad school. Now it means leading a team of 20+ in an office, and many more people in our stores across the country. Learning how to wear different hats — on the job and very quickly — has been the biggest challenge that I continue to overcome by surrounding myself with people that are incredibly smart and passionate with not a lot of ego, so they let me lead them and teach me at the same time.
Was there anyone who helped pave the way for your business or your path as an entrepreneur?
I’ve been lucky to have some great mentors along the way. The first real supporter of Follain, who I met through a business plan competition in 2012 when I was in business school, is still a close mentor and friend. She’s a CEO in real estate — a male-dominated industry — and she has really seen it all. There’s no way I’d be able to move and grow without her and the many other mentors I am lucky to have, from our board members and advisors to customers and friends.
What are some of the ways entrepreneurs today can help raise and inspire the next generation of women entrepreneurs?
By being very open and transparent about the fact that you can’t “have it all” because you’ll risk major burnout. You can choose certain parts of life and be great at being present and giving them your all. Social media is so curated and makes it look like everyone is doing it all. They’re not. And if they are, they’re not doing it well. At this point, I think my life can be divided into three parts: Follain, family, and friends. I’m really only dedicating time to growing Follain and family at this point in my life. Fingers crossed that my true friends understand this and will still be there on the other side of this journey, because I know I will miss them and need them more than ever.
Why is it important for entrepreneurs to put time into helping the next generation of women founders?
There are so many women founders out there but if they aren’t supported in growing their vision, goals, and in turn their companies, then we’ll continue to have a bunch of companies that make products and services for women, but are run by men. For so many reasons I believe this is what gets us into trouble. I think daily, “What if the biggest beauty conglomerates all had female CEOs instead of male CEOs over the past decades?” I certainly believe that conventional beauty products wouldn’t be so toxic if that were the case!
How would you describe yourself in three words?
Passionate. Resilient. Empathetic.
When and where are you happiest?
I’m the happiest when watching my two young kids starting to interact (My 2.5 year old is starting to make his 5-month-old sister laugh and smile, and it’s the best, most rewarding thing to watch.) Also when working with customers at Follain to match them with the best clean beauty products for their unique skin.
If you could give your younger self advice, what would you tell her?
Stop taking things so seriously. Make sure to have more fun along the way!
What is your motto?
What are the advantages or benefits of being a founder that many people may not realize or know about?
You get to work every day on creating something that you are truly passionate about.
Why is it important to understand both the challenges and benefits of being a founder?
I think a lot of people want to become a founder because they “don’t want to have a boss.” That’s probably not the best reason to start a company, because founder success means you’ll end up with lots of stakeholders and bosses along the way, in your customers, investors, board members, and others!
Do you think founders should take time to reflect on the pros, even if they’re constantly putting out fires?
Yes! You must celebrate the wins. When we started doing hat tips and celebrating the wins at our company meetings I was impressed by what a positive impact it had on our team…and thought to myself that I wished I had done that all those years before we had big company meetings!
What motivates you to keep going in the toughest of times?
In the toughest times at Follain, I’m motivated by conversations I’ve had with customers — about how we made such a positive impact on someone’s skin and on their outlook on their own health. These one-on-one conversations and the reviews we receive on our website make me realize how important our role in the beauty industry is and how important is to KEEP GOING!
What are your favorite ways to practice self-care?
My evening skincare routine! It’s my only daily self-care commitment these days, but the beautiful, real, plant-based scents and textures of the clean products involved make it something I look forward to luxuriating in every night.