Businesswoman Jennifer Rock, aka The Skin-Nerd, took the crown at last night's The Pitch 2018. The skincare aficionado had five minutes to prove to the judges she could hit targets, reach milestones and push to new goals; all the while inspiring the team around her. Jennifer’s online skincare consultancy has been going from strength to strength, and now thanks to IMAGE and Samsung, she’ll have €100,000 worth of products to expand her company even further. Here's what she said about her career in the beauty industry...
Can you give us a brief history of your career in beauty?
"I started off as a clinician working in laser clinics and dermatology clinics, and I have worked in salons, spas and in make-up artistry. To be honest, I tried a bit of everything before settling into lecturing. I worked as a lecturer for brands and accrediting bodies such as CIDESCO and ITEC all over the world. After that, I was in the media, marketing and PR side of things as the Image Skincare ambassador and brand manager. The Skin Nerd, my online consultation company, started from my passion to give educated information in regards to skin (as opposed to opinion-based).
How did you take the plunge to starting your own business?
"The Cleanse Off Mitt started very much as 'the cart before the horse'; without a lot of time to prepare in terms of marketing and brand, the physical Mitt was driving itself. The demand was beyond what I had ever anticipated. While my parents were at home assisting my business, I was working for someone else. Gradually, it became the most obvious and logical decision to solely focus on my own business."
Is there much you've learned from working in the industry that's helped in your own start-up?
"I've learned more about business in the last seven months than I have in my whole life; in terms of content, social media, accounting, customer service, advertising, legal situations and IT. The skincare industry taught me about being a professional and being a skin expert; that's definitely the fundamental basis of The Skin Nerd and the Cleanse Off Mitt. However, going out on my own and diving headfirst into the world of entrepreneurship is what has made my businesses successful up to this point."
The Pitch finalists, photo by Kieran Harnett
What part of your job do you enjoy the most?
"I love the satisfaction of seeing projects come together, guiding people in their skin journey and helping with their confidence. With the Cleanse Off Mitt, I take great pleasure in convincing people to bin their facewipes with a view to promoting long-term skin health."
What would be your number one piece of advice for young, female entrepreneurs in Ireland?
"I never realised the difference between being female and being male before this year. Because the skincare industry is predominantly female, I've only noticed in the last few months that I have to conduct myself differently. I have to be more concise, less emotional and not dwell on some points. These are not necessarily female qualities but it's how I've personally interpreted it. What really matters though is believing in yourself; just do it, plan and go for it. You'll get a job doing something else if you don't make it. If you have the hunger for it; if it's viable and if there's demand for it, just do it."
Where did you get the idea for the Cleanse-Off Mitt?
"I wanted to create an affordable reusable alternative to face wipes. There was a gap in the market for a microfibre-based make-up removal tool that was inexpensive and accessible, and I decided to fill it. The Cleanse Off Mitt is specifically designed to appeal to a broad demographic and be as attractive to teenagers as it is to people in their mid-thirties."
Tell us about your new website.
"The Skin Nerd offers online skin consultations, meaning you can take your first step to skin health from the comfort of your own couch. We're the first company providing this service in the world. The primary aim of The Skin Nerd is to provide the actual consults, but we also have an online cosmeceutical department store. We stock more than thirty brands so our product suggestions are unbiased and impartial.
"The products we recommend are chosen for each client depending on their specific concerns. We always follow up with a repeat consult to ensure the success of the prescribed regime. Our philosophy is one of the things that makes us different, and it stems from my own beliefs: a thorough consult must take a 360º approach, meaning it should deal with the inside, the outside and on top."
How do you carve in free/family time when you're so busy?
"My son is currently thirteen and sometimes scheduling can be difficult, but we make a huge effort to make the most of the time we get to spend together. When I get home to Matt, we put our phones on the hall table until he goes to bed most of the time. If I have an opportunity to bring Matt somewhere interesting with me, I'll take it.
"I recently took him to Tayto Park when I was filming for Ireland AM and he's also appeared on Ireland AM as my model. He reads my articles, he gets facials every Friday and texts me after important meetings. As I spend so many Saturdays being piddled on by the rain at his soccer matches, he understands that support is a two-way street. Spending time together as a family is easier than it seems, to be fair. We just base it around each other's priorities."
Congratulations to Jennifer and all the team at The Skin Nerd.