When Jamie O’Banion turned 10 years old, her father, Dr. Terry James, invited her on a business trip to his new skincare lab in Germany. Jamie’s unofficial MBA – a “master’s in beauty administration,” as she calls it – began. At the dinner table, the two would discuss everything from absorption science to the skincare needs of people in Singapore versus Italy.
“Entrepreneurship is not the easy way out.”
Jamie grew up in the skincare industry, modeled professionally and joined her father’s lab after graduating from Brigham Young University. In 2011, Jamie and Dr. James launched their own skincare brand, Beauty Bioscience. In 2016, they introduced their signature microneedling device, GloPRO®, which increases absorption of skincare products by 200x. In this post, I analyze the most memorable stories and lessons from my conversation with Jamie. Her entrepreneurial style is worth studying because it challenges the norms of marketing a brand, work-life balance and Silicon Valley’s failure fetish.
1. On ‘lightbulb’ moments
‘Lightbulb’ moments arise when we don’t demand them. You can’t force a realization, but curiosity can guide you to unexpected analogies and inspiration from unrelated fields. The story behind microneedling, Beauty Bio’s key innovation, illustrates this idea.
Jamie: The upper layer of your skin is called the epidermis, and the lower layer is the dermis. Skincare ingredients don’t work unless you can get the ingredients down into the dermis. Your skin is like an airtight lock. If it weren’t, you’d come out of the swimming pool looking like a balloon.
Microdermabrasion, peels and derma-planing, a fancy term for shaving, came about to trigger the skin’s wound healing response. Those techniques, however, can be costly and have serious downtime and risks associated with the treatment because they horizontally strip the skin.
One day, my Dad was watching his yard as it was being aerated. He had the ‘lightbulb’ moment. Instead of going horizontally, we had to move vertically into the skin. Microneedling, his invention, does that in a painless fashion. We did a study that showed if you apply your skincare products within the first 30 minutes after microneedling, you absorb the ingredients 200x more effectively.