Our guest is COO Alliance Member Rachel Pachivas, COO at Annmarie Skin Care.
Rachel manages all the behind-the-scenes operations that keep the company moving along smoothly – building love and culture, product research and development, branding and style, and ongoing education on organics and GMOs in the skin care industry. In an interesting conversation, Rachel shares about the approach Annmarie Skin Care uses in educating people to push for action. She tells about the balance they do to keep their products in a price range that works while pursuing the purpose behind what they’re doing, which is to provide safe, certified, and better products for everyone by getting chemicals off the shelves and out of the industry.
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Annmarie Skin Care: Getting Chemicals Off The Shelves And Out Of The Industry with Rachel Pachivas
Our guest is Rachel Pachivas who is the COO from Ann Marie Skin Care and she’s been with the company virtually since the inception. She joined is the third employee back in 2012. Rachel’s desire to create beautiful spaces and atmospheres brought her to education at design. Shortly afterward it inspired her to travel to see the beauties of the world. It was traveling in Australia that really sparked who she is today, learning about organic farming, permaculture, natural skincare, herbs and natural medicine. During her mid to late twenties, she spent time as a political organizer working on food transparency issues. She continues to work on projects around food, serenity, toxic chemicals in the skincare industry and our everyday lives, which is why Ann Marie Skin Care is a perfect fit for her. They provide organic and wildcrafted skincare to people around the world with a goal to move chemicals off the shelves and out of the industry. Welcome to our show, Rachel.
Thank you for having me.
How is it going? You guys are busy as ever and growing like crazy.
We are and I’ve been traveling every week for I don’t know how long. It’s been pretty intense.
The roadshow stuff. Are you at trade shows? What are you on the road for?
The travel component gets busy. How do you say no and how do you control your time?
I try to say yes often. I started saying no a little bit more based on who I’m going to engage with, what my value is and also what I can extract from it. I actually was saying no to one event in New York. I realized that I could actually meet cool people and then also do some personal things as well. It’s hard to not go everywhere but still go everywhere and find the time. I try not to burn out, which is what I find to do when I start going everywhere. Then at that point, I start saying no all the time, which works for me.
I noticed that years ago when we were building 1-800-GOT-JUNK?! and I was the COO. At the early stages, no one on the leadership team had kids. A bunch was married at that point, but we didn’t have the children responsibilities. As soon as we started to layer that into the business, saying no became a lot easier.
That’s how I feel. If I can do it right now, I might as well just do it. I’m going to make fun of it. I’m going to go to the beach while I’m at these events. I’m going to have lunch with people, have dinners, get facials and do things so that it’s enjoyable. I’m not burning myself out. I’m going to try to do as much as I can while I have energy.
Tell us how you got to where you are. You have an interesting career and getting into this space. Tell us a little bit about what occurred while you were over in Australia. How did you start to see what was happening with all the chemicals and GMOs we’re being exposed to? How that led us to where you are?
I went to school for design. It’s totally different from what I’m doing. I went to Australia to escape America, play around and explore. I actually got into living with a naturopath, learning how to make skincare and learning a lot about the agricultural industry in Australia. It made me want to take a look at what was going on in the US. When I got back to the US, I started volunteering in a few different organizations, which led me to work on a campaign here in California for labeling GMOs. That led me to meet Kevin and Ann Marie who were volunteers in the campaign. We became friends. A lot of what this company is based on his activism. It started from them having a blog, educating and talking about real issues that are often not discussed. That drew me to them, wanting to work, wanting to be with them and create something great. Skincare is just one aspect of transparency, clean beauty, health and eliminating toxic chemicals from my life.
How bad is the situation with toxic chemicals in the US specifically? How much stuff are we putting into our systems that were not even aware of?
It’s awful. There are 84,000 chemicals on the market and 1% of them are tested to give you a little bit of some idea. That’s just chemicals. If you’re thinking of skincare, then your furniture and flame retardants, you’re thinking of paints, you’re thinking of your bedding. You are thinking of children’s clothing, children’s toys, there are phthalates, then the fragrance industry. Every single thing that
we’re around, we’re inundated with toxic chemicals and we don’t even know it. The last cosmetic act that was enforced was back in the â€˜30s. For so long we haven’t had any regulation on what can be put out into the market.
When we go to the grocery store and we’re looking at things like organic food versus normal food that we were used to ten or fifteen years ago, the price just seems to be so much more expensive. The other day I was looking at a dozen organic free range eggs. They were $7.15 and then the standard ones were $4. How do you build the pricing or the cost of everything into your products to be able to come to market with stuff that is so safe and still make a little bit of market?
Eggs are one thing. The food industry, it’s so backwards the way we look at food and health in this country. The way that genetically engineered crops and conventional farming is subsidized by the government. That’s one aspect. Looking at skincare, a lot of the skincare companies out there, conventionally, they’re producing products that have toxic chemicals in them. They’re cheap and inexpensive. When you use them, you’re also factoring into a health cost at the end. There have been studies done back in New York University Medical Center. They had a study showing an annual health cost of $340 billion linking to endocrine disrupting chemicals. That’s our daily exposure and that goes into a $340 billion a year annual health cost. Taking that alone in wanting to avoid chemicals in that way for your health bill, you feel okay spending $50 on a moisturizer that’s using pure, raw, amazing ingredients, well-crafted ingredients, avoiding fragrances, phthalates and chemicals that are harmful to your system.
My dad is probably one of the least healthy people out there, but he has always talked about how he almost thinks that the kids are getting more cancer from putting sunscreen on than they are from being out in the sun. That was the first time I ever even thought of what we’re putting on our bodies are in our bodies and what it’s going to do to us. Talk about your products and what you guys are building as a company. Are you strategically doing anything in terms of lobbying to help your industry or does that happen as you continue to scale? Do you think people are going to be moving towards this as the norm as we are towards organic food?
I definitely think it’s trending. That’s one thing. Some can argue if that is the right approach just because it’s trendy, you get on board. I’m happy that people are hopping on board because it’s a trendy thing to do. That’s one aspect, but education is a big thing that we can all do. One part of our platform is educating our consumers and customers about what’s going on, about herbs, what they’re doing and what they can do. It’s also getting involved with different acts that you can do. There is a group of companies called Counteract Coalition and we’re a part of that. They’re working on lobbying right now, legislation into Congress to revise the Cosmetics Act. There are a few things in there that we’re still researching to help fully on board with, but we’re part of that coalition working with twenty other personal care product companies in there working to push Congress, lobby and push for safer and cleaner products on the market, more testing and more chemical regulation.
That’s another thing. The last thing that we do pretty well and we’re starting to do more is to push for action, texting something to Congress, signing a bill or doing things like that, having little pushes here and there when we can. The last thing would be Made Safe Certified. All of our products are Made Safe Certified. I like to give them a little push here and there or plugin because they’re doing so much. They are such a good organization. They’re a nonprofit and they’re the first third-party verification system, where they’re looking at every single ingredient that’s in your product. They’re verifying anything from skincare, mattresses, baby products and toys. We’re Made Safe Certified. It makes me proud that every single product, every single ingredient in our products can be considered Made Safe and has the stamp of approval on them.
When you’re doing all of that, it’s building in a lot of additional costs into your product. How do you balance out the need to be able to sell to a consumer with doing it all the right way? I ask this hoping that the rest of us can learn how to continue doing it, but it’s the opposite of what we’ve been told so many companies were doing forever, which was offshoring, going to the cheapest market, using child labor and all the bad stuff. You guys are almost the exact antithesis of that. How do you do all that and still keep your products in a price range that works?
It’s interesting because it is expensive to do all these things. It is expensive to provide amazing paying jobs where our team members are super excited to come to work. It’s a great year that we have and at the end of the year, we were profitable. Thank goodness. We’re not making billions. We are not some massive corporation making tons of money where the CEO is off-shore making billions of dollars every year. We’re okay with having a quality of life that’s great. It’s having acceptance for that, having that balance, knowing that our purpose here is to create some things better and not to be greedy. To me, that is one of the most important things about it.
It sounds to me like Kevin and Ann Marie when they found you, they found a diamond in the rough for someone to build their company that was also completely aligned with their core purpose and their core values. When did you start with the company and what was it like coming on board? How did your transition work from then until when you’re running the business for them?
It’s funny because they actually met them a little bit before I started. I was using clean products and my eye cream was toxic. I was so vain. I don’t want wrinkles. I’m going to use my toxic ice cream. I found this eye cream. I purchased it and I started using it. I wanted to get it into my aesthetician’s office that I was going to. I attempted to do that. Ann Marie came out, that was the first time I met her. The second time was the meeting they were hosting. I was there and I said, “I remember you guys.” We became friends. Kevin asked me, “Can you work with us and help us build our company? At first, I said, “Absolutely not. I’m not working a nine to five job. I don’t want to do it.” He asked me again and then finally we had a meeting. Finally, I came on board. At the time there were two other employees and it was super small. I was great because they had this idea and that’s when Ann Marie was going on maternity leave because she was pregnant with her first son.
Finally, when I went full time and I was like, “This needs to be inspiring,” because I was coming from working on a campaign where everybody was volunteers. Everybody was super passionate about what they were doing, they were excited. They were working long days and long weeks because they wanted to, not because they had to. I wanted to recreate that in our working space and I wanted to create an atmosphere, where people were inspired and they felt like there was a purpose behind what they were doing. Fast forward six years, we have 23 employees, some remote, some in house, which we’ve allowed over the years. There are flex hours, benefits, happiness conversations and the ability for people to feel empowered in what they do. Taking that idea from campaign work, fieldwork and plugging it into a for-profit company where people can feel this is their journey is exciting. That’s what we’ve created here.
How do you get the vision that Kevin and Ann Marie have for the company? How do you understand where they want the company to be and what is to look like in the future? I talk a lot in some of my books about the concept of vivid vision. What do you guys use as a tool to get alignment for yourselves and then for the rest of the team with vision?
That’s what we did, the Vivid Vision. We read your book. I remember when I came back from one of the COO alliance events and I said, “Kevin, I need you to do this.” Sometimes I’ll ask him for things and it doesn’t happen. Some things will linger, but when I come to him with something such as, “I need this.” He does it. He says, “I’m on it.” He wrote the Vivid Vision and I reviewed it. Backtrack years ago, we were at a manager’s retreat. Me, Kevin and Ann Marie talking about what we wanted to do, what was their goal as a company? Kevin was coming up with these ideas and these numbers. Ann Marie and I were like, “No, that’s not our goal.” We sat there and we had a moment, where we all agreed that our goal as a company is that we take care of ourselves.
That is our focus that we take care of us and that will extend out to everybody that we interact with. Our vivid vision is a replication of that at a much larger level where we’re going through and seeing everything that we do and how it plugs into the company at that core purposeful level. We have a vivid vision and the team is on board with it. We have applicants review when they’re applying. Then we also have our ASC culture guide, which goes into who we are as a team, our Dream Team, what we want to create, who want to become and our core values. We have those tools and the actions that we have in our everyday lives at the office play into those.
How do you and Kevin, stay on the same page day to day, week to week? What are your meeting rhythms like with him and how do you guys work through issues that normally occur with the visionary and integrator, the CEO and COO?
He and I have weekly meetings. Every Monday we’ll get together, sometimes we’ll go for a walk, which is nice because when you’re walking you already agree on things. You’re agreeing on walking. We’re starting off like that. We’ll sit down and have our two-hour meeting on Mondays. We have Asana. We have check-ins there and that’s for little smaller projects. Other times we hop on the phone. It might be over the weekend, something comes up or on a Friday afternoon after hours or whenever it is, “What do you think about this?” Maybe we’ll hop on the phone and discuss it there. He and I are open. We talk about everything which is essential. We don’t just have a working relationship. I honestly consider him one of my good friends. He considers me one of his. That’s an essential part of working with your CEO, forming that bond. You trust each other. I fully trust him and I hope he trusts me. He trusts me, where you can do any single task that’s needed at any time.
That is the core of it, the trust and open communication. Everything flows off of that for sure. Your role in the organization has obviously changed. When you joined, the number three employees and you’re 23 employees. The company’s eight times bigger than it was on the personnel side. How have you had to change and adapt as you’ve grown? How do you think you’re going to have to continue? Where do you think you’re going to have to continue to grow or change going forward?
When I started, I was doing wholesale account managing and I quickly realized that that should not be our focus due to our margins, which have changed over the years. I realized that should not be our focus and we need to get our systems in check. That’s what I started doing. Slowly he started letting the team know, “Go to Rachel if you have a question.” Slowly I moved into a manager role and then slowly into the director of operations. It came to representing the company and doing things along those lines. It’s managing the team on a much greater level that I didn’t think I was prepared for. I feel I’ve grown into this role.
There were a lot of challenges there, which I definitely think COO Alliance has helped me grow so much. Thank you for that. Moving from where we are now to where we want to be at the end of this year and the end of five years, what I’m challenged with is taking a step back, looking at the big picture a little bit more and delegating a lot more. I feel like delegating has always been something that I struggled with because I’m always like, “No, I got to do it. I need to get it done myself.” That’s something that I’m learning to do better and having a good team in place to where I trust them. I can pass things off to them and makes sure that they’re doing what they need to do so I can focus on the larger things for growth.
That’s often the curse of the entrepreneurial company or the entrepreneurial early stage employees. We’re often so good at doing everything because we had to that we tend to be a little slower at delegating than we should be. I pulled a mantra years ago by one of my mentors and he said, “A leader’s job is to grow people.” The more that we focus on growing the people around us, growing our direct reports, growing our team, the more the company will scale and it’s up to us to grow them more than it is to do the job. It’s not, “I have to do this,” it’s, “I need to get this done.” Â Â
I was going to say I agree wholeheartedly. I heard that, it was one of the events that we went to and I was like, “I am on board with that 100%.” I’m happy my team feels that way as well. I want them to make the decisions. I want them to come to me and say, “This is what’s going on. This is my solution. What do you think?” They come to me with their solution first and don’t expect me to manage them. I want to lead them. I want to be an inspiration and guide them along the way when they need help.
That is what they want as well. They don’t want to just have everything delegated to them. Especially if they’re joining a company like yours, where they’re inspired by the vision, they’re inspired by the core purpose, they’re excited to build something and then they show up every day just being told what to do. That gets pretty boring pretty fast. What have you struggled with in your role? Have there any one or two areas that you’ve struggled over time?
It’s an ongoing thing that I’m playing with. It’s not that big of a struggle, but it’s something that I need to always find balance with. We’re such a close group. Out of 23, there are 21 women in the company. We all become such good friends and super close, where we’re hanging out on the weekends. I have to find that line, which I don’t want to because I want to hang out with everybody. In the same breath, I have to find that line on how to be friends and how to hold people accountable when things aren’t going properly. That’s been a challenge for me personally. It’s finding that happy place and happy medium on there.
It is a tough balance as well when you actually are leading a company and are friends with everybody. They all of a sudden start to blur the lines as well and it only comes up during a crisis. You mentioned the COO Alliance and how you’ve grown there. Anyone or two big takeaways from the times that you’ve been because you were actually at one of the very first COO Alliance’s events as well.
When I first went, Kevin sent it to me and he says, “Here.” One of his friends sent it to him and I said, “How much is that? Should we go? Is it worth it?” “Forget the price.” “No, I can’t,” because my whole thing is just the budget. He said, “Go. I think it can be valuable for you.” I got over the price thing and then I was like, “Do I have any value to add? Am I going to be extracting information here?” I went and I was like, “This is so good.” I felt really overwhelmed at first when I went because I felt this was so much out of my league. All this information and all these people, they are so much better than anything that I could be.
I was overwhelmed. After that first event, I was energized, fueled and I felt excited. I had a notebook full of ideas that I needed to implement. I was like, “This is so worth it.” I went back and just continue going back and keep thinking, “Should I continue?” Each time I go, I’m like, “I have to,” which is so freaking good. I can’t not do it. I keep thinking like, “When am I not going to learn more stuff?” I feel like I have so much information that I need to start plugging in. I’ve done things slowly but surely. I keep learning new information. Until I stopped learning, which I don’t think that will ever be, I’ll continue to be a part of it.
I talked to a few people over the last couple of years since we launched. It hasn’t even been two full years yet. Some of it is about learning and some of it is about more than the confidential network, the environment and the group that we get to just share ideas with. It’s a time to actually take pause three times a year to work on ourselves and work on the business. Even if it’s planning to do this stuff we already know we should be doing, sometimes it’s even less about learning new ideas. It’s more about putting some of those ideas into action. Sometimes it’s a bit kick in the pants or some of the accountability that happens too. If you were giving somebody who is coming to a COO Alliance event for the first time, if you were going to give them one or two things, tips to walk in with to make it the best possible, if they were coming and test driving, what would you tell them to make it the best possible first event for themselves?
This is easy because I said this to someone who’s coming in February, which is great. I told her to go in with an open mind. You might be overwhelmed and you might be scared. Going in with an open mind like a sponge and absorb everything you hear. Second is vulnerable and talk to people about what’s going wrong with you, but also help others in what they need help with and make friends. It’s a time to connect and open up with people. That’s one of the best things about it, that you make these connections and these friendships where you can call somebody and be like, “I need your help. What would you do about this?” Shoot them an email, “Do you have any system for this?” Those connections, those are valuable. Those are so helpful and has helped me along the past two years or year and a half, however long it’s been. That’s the advice that I gave to this woman.
When you were starting off in your role as COO, is there anything that you wish you’d known before you started looking back that you would have done differently?
Possibly hiring, that’s a big one. I feel like we’ve honed in on our hiring and onboarding process. I wish I had had what we have back six years ago to hire that team. The first couple of years, we’ve gone through a few team members. We haven’t had much turnover, which is great. That hiring and onboarding process would be something that I wish we had more of.
What did the hiring and onboarding process do? What mistakes did you stop making it because of what you put in place? What is the hiring process you’ve put in place?
It’s pretty intricate. It’s long and lengthy. We send them our vivid vision and our culture guide and we make sure they’re aligned with that. We want to know that they’ve read it. We might reference that during an interview. We have them do a phone or Zoom interview with the direct supervisor if it’s not me. We’ll have them do an in-person interview. I like to take them into some public settings, see how they interact with the service industry, which I think is great. We might have the same move forward. We’ll have them do a team interview. It’s where they meet the entire team and we get an idea of who they are and how vulnerable they can be, if they jive with us. That’s a big thing because we have such a huge team. We want everybody to feel so comfortable coming into the space.
We do things like the Kolbe Test in the Color Code Test. The onboarding is a week to a two-week-long process where they’re getting fully trained in the products, story or a mission and their role. They’re doing shadowing sessions with all the other team members to get to know them. I don’t think we did any of this. We just did an interview. We didn’t do any of it. It’s so useful to have all of these tools. All of this stuff I’ve learned over the past couple of years being at the COO Alliance and meeting people there. You pick one thing from one company and a person that you meet. Maybe you all try another thing from another person. We have quite a few different things that we do to bring somebody on board and have them be a part of the ASC team.
I was speaking to the COO and he’s been twelve years in his role as the second in command. His dad actually runs the company, but they’ve got 80 employees. He’s literally been in running the company, his dad CEO for the last twelve years. He had no idea that any groups or existed for entrepreneurs, let alone the COO Alliance. He was completely blown away. He’s like, “For twelve years I have been trying our best, working hard and reading a book. I had no idea that this stuff existed.”
That is so hard. I can’t imagine. Everything we ever have is not from us. It’s from other people. I couldn’t imagine not having the support that I have with the COO Alliance and then also that Kevin has with his group.
You’ve got some unique traits or some unique abilities that have allowed you to excel in your role. What do you think your one or two strong superpowers would be that allows you to excel as a COO?
The first thing that comes to mind is connecting with our teams. Getting on a deeper level, I don’t want to see myself and I don’t want them to see me as somebody above them. I want them to feel that they can come to me with anything and they can talk to me. They could connect with me, get advice, feel inspired and not have me get mad for silly things, but also to the point where they want to do things because they respect my opinion. It’s being open and having that policy that if you ever need something, you come, bring it to me and we’ll make it work. That’s one of my superpowers. Being direct gets me into trouble from time to time, but I think be very direct and clear in communication with people when something happens and not ever letting it go longer than a short bit. That’s another good quality I don’t ever want to lose.
You just touched on something which is that you being direct is probably one of your strengths but it can also get us trouble at times. It’s often that our strengths are big biggest weaknesses as well. I did another personality profile called the PRINT Profile. I did a call with the company who walks you through it to understand it. It’s all about how you’re showing up and then also how others might be perceiving, your shadow side that you’re not even seeing and what triggers you into those moments as well. It’s intriguing to keep learning. Do you guys do anything at your leadership team level with personality profiles at all? In terms of the interview process, do you do it in terms of how to work better together?
We do the Kolbe and the Color on how to work better together. The Kolbe, it’s more for your skills, but it’s nice to know when somebody asks a lot of questions even though that’s part of their personality. I like a lot of details. Before we had done the Kolbe, Kevin would always get frustrated. He would say, “Why are you asking me so many questions?” We did the Kolbe and I was wondering, “Why don’t you tell me anything, why don’t you not give me the details?” We did the Kolbe and he’s like, “It makes sense. That’s just who you are.” That was nice to see. The Kolbe’s definitely one of them. Then the Color Code Personality Test lays out in terms of there’s blue for loyalty, white for something with patience and non-confrontation. Then yellow is somebody who has shiny object syndrome and then red is power. If you’re hiring somebody who might be a red, if somebody is going to be managing them, they can’t be a white. Working in that sense, you don’t want to put people together where they’re not going to thrive.
The more of these that I do and the more that I encountered with others, it’s interesting to learn the different layers that make us who we are. You can’t change the other person. The strength is to learn how to work with them so that you can leverage each other’s strength and how to tie into those. You talked about Kevin and his Kolbe and I would guess he starts things and plans later. He even said, “Go to the COO Alliance. I’m not even sure what it is, but I’m sure it’ll be great.” Whereas you’re like, “What is it? What am I going to get out of it and how much does it cost?” He’s like, “It doesn’t even matter. Go and run with it.” That’s a real balance to play with the COO and the CEO. What do you do to allow Kevin to be that quick start, to be entrepreneurial, to be visionary and who want to start things, but to a point? How do you keep that under control because you’re executing on a plan towards the vision and towards the goals? How do you allow him to stay in his zone but also not allow too much of it to hurt the company?
We have planning meetings. We have quarterly planning meetings and annual. We get our goals set for that. We got individual goals and company goals. It’s been interesting and he’s been following it. It’s been easy, where he’ll come up with this grand idea and I’m like, “Where does that fit into here? What are we going to remove from here in order to plug that in and how much time is that going to take?” There is the Impact Filter Sheet. We have it with you guys as well in COO Alliance. He actually sent it to me and he’s like, “Have you seen this?” That’s something that I’ll bring to his attention when he has a new idea. How much time is this going to take and where do we need to plug this in? If we’re fully at capacity with our team, we can’t plug it in. We need to push it back. That’s been helpful for him to see. Allowing him that opportunity to get it all out and saying, “Okay, let’s create an idea. We’re going to do it. We’re going to do it here though and moving it back a little bit.” He’s okay with that. Just knowing that his ideas heard and then it’s going to happen is all that he needs.
That’s the key. As long as they know that their ideas have been heard, are captured and they’re being kept somewhere, they don’t necessarily need to start them. In the absence of a system to keep track of their ideas, they want to start them. I love that you’re using the impact filter. I’ve adopted that and called it a decision filter where I’ve added some ROI Analysis as well to take a look at. It sounds like this project is a good idea, but what groups is it going to impact? Is it going to increase our revenue, will it increase profitability? Will it increase customer engagement, will increase employee engagement? What’s it look like if we get this project to completion? Is it worth the effort, time and money that we’re going to put into it? It’s great that you guys are using that. Tell me, is there one area right now that you would like help within your role? Is there anything that you’re struggling with on day to day currently that you would like help with?
It’s finding the time to do things. We’re at this moment, where we’ve been not a small company but smaller. We’ve had some of our team for four or five years to where they were with us at a certain number and a certain revenue level. It’s training them to get on board with where we want to be. That’s been a challenge and it’s that challenge of who’s that employee who stays with you when you get to a certain revenue. How do I know if they’re supposed to leave? That’s been the challenge that I’m working through. We’ve gotten it. We’re working with them on if they want to be involved at a certain level. We’re having those conversations with them, making it obvious on where we want to go and plugging that in every chance that Kevin and I have. This is where we are. This is where we want to go. I could always do better at it. That would be one area.
One thing you’ll start to see is that as the company continues to scale and necessity is the mother of invention, employees will start to figure out for themselves, “The company’s twice the size that it was. I don’t fit.” They won’t see themselves in the next role. When it’s going to become apparent is when you put the next layer of management in. When you get to about 50 employees and you’re starting to put in the layer below you and above the current team, some will rise to the top and some will be reporting to the direct reports. All of a sudden, some will be reporting to someone who comes right in from the outside. That’s when you start to see the people who are going to be there for a long term who decided to stay and the others decided to opt out too.
That’s something that we’re challenged with and we’re working on. We’re hiring more remote team members. We have been in the house for so long and we’ve started hiring a few people here in southern California and allowing people to move. The Bay Area is expensive. We want people to live happy lives. I’ve seen some cool resources for that for having remote team members. I’m going to put together a guide. Any tools would be helpful.
Have you met Mae Steigler? Do you know Mae? Did you introduce Mae to us?
Mae with Organifi? We met at the Alliance.
I think they’re exclusively remote team. She might be the one to talk to. Another one to talk to is Matt Wool from Acceleration Partners. All 70 of their employees are remote. They have no head office at all. Their head office is effectively their CEO’s house, but 100% of their employees work remotely. They’ll work remotely over a video together just to be hanging out and have the video open as if they’re sitting in an office together. They’ve got some good tools and systems for accountability, for leveraging each other, for building community and even having an amazing culture. They keep ranking is a great place to work, but they all work from home. That will be a great one to talk to you for sure. How about failure? What about one area that you really struggled with or that you really dropped the ball on that you learned from?
Our co-packers, that’s one area I could have done better. I feel in a moment, I’m rushing myself to get something and get it done right away, which has never been my thing. I’ve always wanted to get it done perfectly. I found using companies that weren’t ideal, causing price increases, causing delays, causing whole slew of issues that weren’t necessary, which if I would’ve put more time in the beginning, researched a little bit more, made the effort to go visit them in person and shop around for price quotes, that was one area where I rushed it. I didn’t do what I typically do. Not that I regret it, but now there’s a process for it. It’s more in place that way where we go and meet them. We fact check a lot of things. We make sure that we have a dedicated facility. We have so many things in place to where those can’t happen again. Maybe it happens for the best. I would say that was one area where I put aside what I typically do to get something done. I should have done it well from the beginning.
We often do a lot of work on the recruiting side that you’ve perfected, the recruiting, interviewing and onboarding of employees. I’ve seen so many companies not do anywhere near enough work on finding suppliers and doing that same groundwork to find your lawyer, your accountant, your bookkeepers, suppliers and third-party contractors that were hiring. Even remote employees or hiring people off Upwork, they tend to just go with the first person to apply. No wonder it’s hard. It’s harder to find those contractors or suppliers as it is to hire employees, but we tend to not do the work. I’m glad you’ve already figured that out. If you put the systems in place for that, almost the same process that you’ve done for recruiting, you’ll probably never have issues again are they’ll be so much rarer.
When you think about it, you want them to be partners. That’s going to make your life so much easier. At least for me, having this one co-packing facility that we can trust that they’re an extension of Anne Marie Skin Care is so ideal. The fact that we didn’t do that for so long is quite silly.
You’re definitely getting ready to grow the next level. What would be one word of advice that you would give a CEO for helping to remove obstacles and helping a COO excel in their role. What would the advice be that you give to CEOs to help their second in command?
I want to say trust them. Not only trust and listen to them, but tell them what you need from them exactly, explicitly in order to trust them and trust what they’re saying. You may not trust them and you may not trust in the small sense, but maybe you want to question something or get extra advice on something. Find out what you need and tell them what exactly you need from them in order to trust every single thing that they’re doing, so that they feel empowered to do it. Most COOs that I’ve met, they’re similar to me in the sense where their hands are in a lot of different pots and their brain is constantly thinking. They want their systems in place and they want to be organized. They want all the details and the CEO doesn’t necessarily do that. Get to know them and get to know that that’s part of who they are. Find out those little details about them and know that that’s for the better of the company and that’s for their own growth as well.
These are huge insights and it’s interesting we often take for granted this unique ability. We look at what our own skill set is and we say, “That’s not that big of a deal.” It’s why it’s our unique ability is we tend to take it for granted. You and Kevin had developed an unbelievable relationship, which is why Ann Marie Skin Care is growing at the rate it’s growing and why you’re going to continue to be successful. Rachel, thanks so much on the Second In Command Podcasts. It’s great hearing from you and I’m looking forward to seeing you at the next COO Alliance event too.
Thank you so much.
Thanks very much.
- Ann Marie Skin Care
- Expo West
- Made Safe
- Vivid Vision
- COO Alliance
- Color Code
- Mae Stiegler
- Acceleration Partners
- Impact Filter Sheet
About Rachel Pachivas
Has a passion for standing up for what she believes in – testing the lines of acceptable behavior with activism regarding GMOs, fracking, air, water and soil degradation, the toxic skin care industry, corporatocracy, and whatever else sparks her soul.
Other than creating positive action around these issues, she loves painting, gardening, or just mellowing out in her apartment with a cup of tea and good music.
Behind the scenes operations: Keeping this company moving along with grace – building love & culture, product research and development, branding and style, and ongoing education on organics, GMOs, the skin care industry, etc.