Lisa Price is cooking up a storm.
After her mother encouraged her to sell the skin and Hair products she brewed in her Brooklyn kitchen in 1993, Price went from selling at a church flea market to opening a local mom ‘n’ pop style shop. Now Carol’s Daughter — which Price so named because she “realized that the most special thing that I am is Lisa, Carol’s Daughter,” is now a multi-million dollar empire that L’Oréal acquired in 2014. The natural products, which incorporate pure oils like sweet almond, is sold everywhere from HSN to Target and Ulta, and Price remains a working fixture.
Today, the first national TV commercial for the homegrown brand will debut, signaling the next step in massive mainstream success. Yahoo Beauty caught up with Price, as well as the all-woman advertising firm behind the ad — Tag Creative — to hear how women have been so integral to this spotlight moment for Carol’s Daughter.
Yahoo Beauty: Coming from such humble beginnings, what are your feelings about your first TV commercial?
Lisa Price: I know it’s happening because I filmed it, but it’s still so surreal to me. I know it won’t really hit home until I’m sitting on my sofa and my daughter sees it on TV and says, “Oh mommy, that’s you — Carol’s Daughter!” I can’t believe we’re that grown up, to have our very own TV commercial.
You say in the spot that love is how Carol’s Daughter was born — what do you mean by that?
Price: Well, back in the early days when I was writing my own product labels and didn’t know anything about regulatory rules, I used to list “love” as an ingredient. It goes back to my grandmother cooking in the kitchen and not allowing negative energy to enter. If we were rough housing as kids, she’d say — “Get out of the kitchen, I don’t want that energy cooking into my food!” She always said not to cook when you’re angry or upset.
So when I began to make beauty products in the kitchen, I would focus on creating positive energy and I’d play uplifting music. If anyone working with me was agitated or upset about anything, I would make them step outside to calm down. Otherwise, it goes into the products and you’ll notice people drop and break things when they’re unhappy in the kitchen, too. Love in the creation of my products is very important to me, and everyone on staff approaches the brand and its development from a place of love.
(Photo: Tag Creative)More
What’s the most important thing you wanted to convey in this ad?
Let me be honest: You want people to know who you are, go to your store and try your brand. You can’t go through the incredible expense of creating a commercial just to be warm and fuzzy — you need return on investment (ROI). But at the same time, you want to impart a message in a way that is true to your brand. I wanted to show people why they will love my products without sounding like a hard sell.
While you feature natural African American hair texture in your ad, you also make it a point to show that your hair products are for everyone.
We’re not selling hair products based on your skin color. We have always positioned our products as solutions to specific problems. I’m an African-American woman and that certainly is part of our roots and our core customer, but we formulate based only on hair and skin types.
Celebrities like Will Smith and Jada Pinkett Smith, Jay Z, and Mary J. Blige have all invested in your company. What advice do you have for women who are trying to grow their own businesses, and who may feel intimidated by not having access to those kinds of investors and celebrities?
I know what you’re thinking — girl, I don’t have Jay Z! Today is a very different world. You don’t need Jay Z. When I started, there was no social media. I went the route of celebrities to get press attention for my products, because no one was interested in writing about them otherwise. Every person and business has its own path to follow. And today you can get your word out yourself on social media. There is so much more opportunity.
I was also very fortunate that my investors like Will and Jada actually used the products and invested from a place of love and wanting to help another person realize their dream potential, instead of just investing for financial reasons. When you look for investors and partners, you want to look for people who get you, understand you and believe in who you are and what you’re trying to do — not people who want to turn you into something else that fits only their needs.
Tag Creative is the woman-led advertising firm behind the Carol’s Daughter ad. Chief Operating Officer Terry Rieser and Chief Creative Officer Gina Delio shared thoughts with Yahoo Beauty on being a Betty in a Mad Men world.
Yahoo Beauty: A lot of people don’t realize that beauty advertising is still a very male-dominated field.
Gina Delio: Traditionally in advertising, the big beauty accounts have always had men in all the major roles: head creatives, photographers, directors. We’re not taking anything from what they bring to the party, but it’s been a big mountain to climb for women to get opportunities. People often look at all the social media influencers in beauty and assume that the industry is filled with women — but the higher you cascade up, the more clearly male it becomes.
We’ve been in business for 15 years and have women working in every aspect of our advertising, from directors and crew people to production design, stylists and producers. We believe we bring something different because it’s truly women talking to women.
(Photo: Tag Creative)More
Why do you think it’s important for women to be at the forefront of telling our stories?
Terry Rieser: Women tend to talk with one another while men tend to talk to women. It’s a different perspective to have women tell the story. And I don’t think men truly understand our stories to begin with — they often seem to imagine what our stories are!
Delio: Men are outsiders looking in. As women, we live and breathe our challenges every day and we look at one another in a different way. You see it on social media, with women sharing ideas and the latest beauty secrets with other women. We very much try to bring that element to our creative process. From the beginning of the creation of our agency, Terry and I have made it our goal to create places for women to express themselves. It’s so hard for women to get these positions in advertising, and it really changes the game. You see a different sensibility expressed.
How involved was Lisa Price in the ad campaign you created for the Carol’s Daughter?
Delio: She was very involved creatively, and we drew inspiration from her artisanal approach to the brand. She’s all about real ingredients, and so we went to the kitchen with the idea of showing a recipe. We borrowed from the food industry in a way that is unusual for beauty. We showed the ingredients, the writing of the “recipe”, the plate board with the elements laid out. We felt like this was really in line with Lisa’s creative process, and she loved it. It felt very true to who she is.
(Photo: Tag Creative)More
How did you find the women featured in this ad?
Delio: In the casting, we weren’t looking for the type of perfection you see in typical hair ads. We wanted it to feel a lot more natural and authentic, and more aligned with the way women see themselves today. We wanted to celebrate everyone’s unique beauty instead of showing perfect hair.
What was your objective in the creative aspect of the ad?
Rieser: We wanted to express exclusivity for all women. These products and ingredients are great for everyone and every type of hair. Carol’s Daughter has always had diversity at the heart of the brand, it’s the center piece of who they are. We wanted to communicate that. And we want to make you feel proud to go forth in the world and be the best that you can be.
What other women do you think are doing exciting things right now that inspire you?
Rieser: Michelle Obama, Elizabeth Warren, Hillary Clinton — I love women who stand up for what they believe in and who stand up for the rights of other women, too. I think it’s one of the most admirable traits. We try do that as much as we can at Tag. We mentor from the internship level right up through senior staff, and we even support women who have left us and gone on to other exciting positions.
Delio: I actually think Lisa Price is very inspiring. It’s her passion that is very special. She travels the world and finds these exotic ingredients in places like Tahiti that she can’t wait to share with other women. She pours so much love into her brand.
Rieser: I would say Lisa has even inspired L’Oréal corporate to take a real fresh look at what women think is important in the marketplace today. She’s been instrumental in a little bit of a pivot for them, from what they’ve always done.
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