#SWAAYthenarrative

I Created A Trending Product And Everyone Ripped It Off

The Conversation (1)
Melissa Williams King08 Oct, 2019

I find this so interesting. I know One Two Lash is patented so how are the knockoffs able to do this? Is it just too hard to bother enforcing patents, especially in China? Or have you shut down some imitators? I am considering applying for a patent in China for a new product but am not sure if it is even worthwhile. Thanks, love your lashes!

Fresh Voices
4min read
Business

It all started on a Saturday evening. I was in the shower and thought to myself "do I have time to wash my hair AND glue on my lashes? Ugh, why do lashes have to take so much time?"


I had a demanding career and two young children who I wanted to hang out with before our dinner party. Lashes instantly enhance your overall look. I wanted amazing lashes in seconds, at home, and I didn't want to deal with the time or mess of glue. I thought that lashes should be just like your other go-to accessories…. Two seconds to put on and two seconds to take off, just like earrings or a watch.

The concept of the magnetic lash was born, right then and there – in my shower!

I knew if I wanted glamorous lashes in two seconds, other women would as well. If you've ever glued on false lashes – even once – you understand.

Thus began my two-year research and development phase as well as business development journey. I had a cushy real estate development sales career, but six months into R&D, I decided I needed to commit all of my bandwidth to One Two Lash. Yes, I was established, married and in my late 30s, but it was still very scary to make such a change. Now, I look back on that moment with pride – making the decision to become an entrepreneur was a huge moment of conquering fear (once you start doing it becomes addictive, by the way).

Many interviews commenced with chemists, engineers, and scientists. I had many trips to craft stores, Home Depot, and spoke to anyone I could reach via online searches that had knowledge on magnets. All the while I was looking for someone who would "get it" - and no one did. My patent attorney even recently confessed that during our first meeting he thought my idea was crazy. Most men do not understand the lengths women go to get great lashes.

I was an outsider to the beauty industry so I just relied on what I intrinsically thought it would take to create the product. It took every bit of grit I have to create the product and build a startup company around it. Pay attention to whatever inspires you! One Two Lash all started from my personal desire to improve a product I had used for years.

I will vividly remember the day my first magnetic lash prototype arrived for the rest of my life. It was clunky, but it worked! I knew I had something. A few iterations later, I was ready to share the One Two Lash you know today. Having an end goal is so huge for maintaining your motivation day in and day out on any venture.

When I launched sales of One Two Lash, all of the positive press was exciting. Not only did people get it, they were buying and loving them! After selling through the initial stock immediately, we now have tremendous U.S. production capabilities and ship worldwide. With success and demand comes a challenge many companies, especially in the fashion and beauty industries, are faced with – copycat, knockoff products. The prevalence and accessibility of e-commerce and social media have multiplied the effects of counterfeit products.

Meditation is part of my daily ritual and key, more than ever… After meditating, I check on social media – One Two Lash and my personal account. I see questions, confusion, and complaints from people who have been duped into ordering knockoffs of the product I worked so hard to create. It's heartbreaking because the motivation that inspired One Two Lash was to make false lashes easier! I always knew knockoffs would follow my innovation. I was as prepared as I could have been by advisors who had gone through similar experiences with their own startups. But I actually can't believe the extent of the copying – some imposters have gone so far as to use some of the first images and videos shot in my own home.

As the inventor of the Magnetic Lash, Making Beauty Effortless is more than a tagline. I know women are loving One Two Lash for how it enables them to enhance their natural beauty and simplify their routine. But as a leader, I'm also committed to making the One Two Lash difference clear. As sales have grown, so has our team. Everyone at One Two Cosmetics is devoted to premium materials, customer service, a warranty, and safety. I commissioned an independent consumer research study (long before knockoffs started popping up in my Instagram feed) to ensure the safety of One Two Lash.

Amidst the copying, I've learned that if you are continuously improving your product and have the desire to be a leader in your industry, copycats will fall to the wayside.

Despite imitations, our sales continue to grow. It's also refreshing that the major retailers we are in talks with are committed to working with only the original, official, patented product.

I love life as an entrepreneur. I start each day by waking up to the phrase “thank you" and then no two days are alike. Coffee and an intense workout are each essential. And I take a few minutes to call at least one customer – or as I prefer to say, Lash Lover – every day.

As with anything in life, I did not get to this point on my own - I have the support of friends, family, and the One Two Cosmetics team. My children's presence keeps me motivated in the many proverbial fires that burn daily in the entrepreneurial world. Most importantly, the satisfaction and fulfillment that come from doing something you're passionate about can't be knocked off by anyone.

4 Min Read
Business

Today, Companies Need to Retain Veteran Employees in Order to Survive and Thrive

In 2020, as the world turned on its axis, we all held on for dear life. Businesses, non-profits, government organizations, and entrepreneurs all braced for a new normal, not sure what it would mean, what would come next, or if we should be excited or terrified.

At the same time that everything is shifting, being put on hold, or expanding, companies have to evaluate current talent needs, empower their teams to work from home, discover new ways to care for clients from a distance, and navigate new levels of uncertainty in this unfamiliar environment. Through it all, civilians are being encouraged to lean into concepts like "resilience" and "courage" and "commitment," sometimes for the first time.

Let's contrast what the business community is going through this year with the common experience of the military. During basic training, officer candidate school, multiple deployments, combat, and reintegration, veterans become well-versed in resilience, courage, and commitment to survive and thrive in completing their mission. Today, veterans working in the civilian sector find the uncertainty, chaos, instability, and fear threading through companies eerily familiar.

These individuals do not leave their passion and sense of service behind when they separate or retire out of the military. Instead, typically veterans continue to find avenues to serve — in their teams, their companies, their communities.

More than ever before, today's employers who employ prior military should focus on why and how to retain them and leverage their talents, experience, and character traits to help lead the company — and the employees — to the other side of uncertainty.

What makes veterans valuable employees

Informed employers recognize that someone with a military background brings certain high-value assets into the civilian sector. Notably, veterans were taught, trained, and grounded in certain principles that make them uniquely valuable to their employers, particularly given the current business environment, including:

Leadership

It's been said that the United States Armed Forces is the greatest leadership institution in the world. The practices, beliefs, values, and dedication of those who serve make them tested leaders even outside of the military. Given the opportunity to lead, a veteran will step forward and assume the role. Asked to respect and support leadership, they comply with that position as well. Leadership is in the veteran's blood and for a company that seeks employees with the confidence and commitment to lead if called upon, a veteran is the ideal choice.

Commitment

The hope is that all employees are committed to their job and give 100% each day. For someone in the military, this is non-negotiable. The success of the mission, and the lives of everyone around them, depend on their commitment to stay the course and perform their job as trained. When the veteran employee takes on a project, it will be completed. When the veteran employee says there's an unsurmountable obstacle, it is so (not an excuse). When a veteran says they're "all in" on an initiative, they will see it through.

Strategy, planning, and improv

Every mission involves strategy, planning, and then improvisation from multiple individuals. On the battlefield, no plan works perfectly, and the service member's ability to flex, pivot, and adapt makes them valuable later, in the civilian sector. Imagine living in countries where you don't speak the language, working alongside troops who come from places you can't find on a map, and having to communicate what needs to get done to ensure everyone's safety. Veterans learned how to set goals, problem-solve challenges, and successfully get results.

Service

With an all-volunteer military for decades now, every man and woman who wore our nation's uniform raised their hand to do so. They chose to serve their country, their fellow Americans, and their leaders. These individuals do not leave their passion and sense of service behind when they separate or retire out of the military. Instead, typically veterans continue to find avenues to serve — in their teams, their companies, their communities.

When companies seek out leaders who will commit to a bigger mission, can think strategically and creatively, and will serve others, they look to veterans.

Best practices in retention of veteran talent

Retention starts at hiring. The experience set out in the interview stage provides insight about how it will be to work and grow within the team at the company. For employers hiring veterans, this is a critical step.

Veterans often tell me that they "look to work for a company that has a set of values I can ascribe to." The topic of values can serve as an opportunity for companies seeking to retain military talent.

The veteran employee may have had a few — or several — jobs since leaving the military. Or this may be their first civilian work experience. In any case, setting expectations and being clear about goals is vital. Remember, veterans are trained to complete a mission and a goal. When an employer clarifies the mission and shows how the veteran employee's role supports and fulfills that mission, the employee can more confidently and successfully complete their work.

Additionally, regular check-ins are helpful with veteran employees. These employees may not be as comfortable asking for help or revealing their weaknesses. When the employer checks in regularly, and shows genuine interest in their happiness, sense of productivity, and overall job satisfaction, the veteran employee learns to be more comfortable asking for help when needed.

The military is a values-driven culture. Service members are instilled with values of loyalty, integrity, service, duty, and honor, to name a few. When they transition out of the military, veterans still seek a commitment to values in their employers. Veterans often tell me that they "look to work for a company that has a set of values I can ascribe to." The topic of values can serve as an opportunity for companies seeking to retain military talent. Make it clear what your values are, how you live and act on those values, and how the veteran's job will promote and support those values. Even work that is less glamorous can be attractive to a veteran if they understand the greater purpose and mission.

Today, veterans working in the civilian sector find the uncertainty, chaos, instability, and fear threading through companies eerily familiar.

Finally, leveraging the strengths and goals of any employee is critical, and particularly so with veterans. If you have an employee who is passionate about service, show them ways to give back — through mentoring, community engagement, volunteerism, etc. If your veteran continues to seek leadership roles, find opportunities for them to contribute at higher levels, even informally. When your veteran employee offers to reframe the team's mission to gain better alignment across the sector, give them some runway to experiment. You have a workforce that is trained and passionate about and skilled in adapting and overcoming. Let them do what they do best.