Home » Blog Posts » Chris Payne of jane iredale: Five Things You Need To Know To Succeed In The Modern Beauty Industry

Chris Payne of jane iredale: Five Things You Need To Know To Succeed In The Modern Beauty Industry

Be open to trying new things: Today, everything moves very quickly and with the introduction of digital, e-commerce, and social media, you must be open to the changing landscape and new technology. If you aren’t constantly watching and learning, you will simply miss out and get left behind. As an ...
Sam Jagusinski

Be open to trying new things: Today, everything moves very quickly and with the introduction of digital, e-commerce, and social media, you must be open to the changing landscape and new technology. If you aren’t constantly watching and learning, you will simply miss out and get left behind. As an example, I didn’t think SMS text messaging was right for jane iredale because I felt it was intrusive, but the team pushed for it and it turned out to be one of our strongest means of retention.


As a part of our series about “Five Things You Need To Know To Succeed In The Modern Beauty Industry”, I had the pleasure of interviewing Chris Payne.

Chris Payne is the CEO of jane iredale — The Skincare Makeup®, the pioneering clean beauty brand best known for makeup that improves the health of the skin. Having served more than 20 years in beauty executive roles, Payne has a proven track record driving brand growth and engagement with an eagerness to improve the status quo. Since joining jane iredale in 2019, he has worked to uphold the brand’s iconic role within professional beauty while fostering brand loyalty in a new generation of clean beauty enthusiasts, driving more than a 130 percent increase in retail account openings within one year.

Prior to jane iredale, Chris served as CMO for PCA Skin where under his leadership, the brand more than doubled its revenue within two years and was successfully acquired by Colgate-Palmolive. Chris was also Senior Vice President at Arcade Beauty and Vice President at Clarisonic. He helped build the Clarisonic brand into a household name and was instrumental in its sale to L’Oréal in 2011. He has held various roles with L’Oréal and began his career in the buying office of Dayton’s, Hudson’s and Marshall Fields. He credits this start in retail for his ability to deeply understand consumer behavior and improve the operational experience between retailers and brands.

Thank you so much for doing this with us! Before we dive in, our readers would love to learn a bit more about you. Can you tell us a story about what brought you to this specific career path?

I’ve spent almost my entire career in the beauty industry, but my path hasn’t necessarily been “traditional.” In college, I was an anthropology major at the University of Michigan and didn’t have a specific career path in mind. Throughout college, I worked at an outdoor clothing and equipment store. That experience was a lot more helpful than having an anthropology degree, although it’s an area I’m still passionate about. My first job was at Dayton’s, Hudson’s and Marshall Field’s in Minneapolis as an Assistant Buyer in men’s sportswear and then I was placed at Better Cosmetics where I was a Merchandise Planner. At first, beauty was outside of my area of expertise, but I immediately fell in love with the category and industry. It’s such an amazing blend of emotion and analytics — the perfect blend of the right and left brain. Shortly after, I became an Account Executive for the L’Oreal fragrance division and then moved to New York City, where I started a series of marketing positions across fragrance and skincare. From there, I transitioned to more entrepreneurial roles and companies, such as Clarisonic, PCA Skin and now jane iredale.

Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you began your career?

Earlier in my career I was at Ralph Lauren Fragrances DMI / global marketing, serving as head of men’s fragrances. In that role, part of my job was to present new fragrance concepts, launches and advertising to Ralph Lauren himself. I can still vividly remember my first opportunity to meet and present to him. As someone who grew up in the Midwest, Polo / Ralph Lauren was a really big deal. In the 7th grade, all I wanted was a bottle of the original Polo cologne, and in 8th grade I still remember getting my first polo shirt, so you could say Ralph Lauren was a big deal for me growing up. Fast forward 20 years, I never would have dreamed that I would be working on and developing Ralph Lauren Fragrances, let alone presenting the next men’s fragrance to the actual Ralph Lauren.

Are you able to identify a “tipping point” in your career when you started to see success? Did you start doing anything different? Are there takeaways or lessons that others can learn from that?

There hasn’t been one specific moment, it’s been more of a series of events and actions. After working for about 10 years, I started to realize that sometimes you are in good situations, where the business is doing well and everything feels great, and sometimes you are in tough business environments, where you feel like different factors are working against you. When things aren’t working, it’s not always your fault, but it can certainly feel that way. This can lead to questioning your abilities and strengths. Over the years, however, I’ve learned that you have to take success into your own hands, and you can’t expect to always be winning. What is more important is to always learn — from the wins and the losses — as both are valuable opportunities to grow, develop new viewpoints and evolve your skillset. The insights and learnings I gleaned from that time in my career led me to leave big corporations and shift into more entrepreneurial experiences which led me to Clarisonic (a then privately held brand), which proved to be a life-changing decision. It was in this role that I started to trust my instincts and gain the confidence that I could do more.

None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person to whom you are grateful who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?

I have so many people that have been instrumental in getting me to where I am today, it’s impossible to narrow it down to one. Serge Jureidini, my boss while I was at Armani Fragrances — was a true coach who taught me to achieve and reach beyond my potential. At Clarisonic, I worked for Jack Gallagher, who was instrumental in elevating everything about me. He helped me become a better manager and showed me what it takes to move the needle. At PCA Skin, I was fortunate enough to work for Mike Larrain, now a great friend, who let me operate independently, but assisted when needed. He was responsible for taking my career to the next level and helped prepare me for my next role as CEO. He pushed me to “think big/dream big,” which I still live by in my role at jane iredale.

Ok super. Let’s now shift to the main part of our discussion. The global beauty industry today has grown to more than a half a trillion dollar business. Can you tell us about the innovations that you are bringing to the industry? How do you think that will help people?

jane iredale is a classic, natural beauty makeup line, so our innovations might be different than other “trendy” brands. This fall, we’re launching a rich and hydrating cream lipstick and a creamy concealer. However, our largest area of innovation is how we support and foster our partner’s growth — we call it “partner integration.” Not only is jane iredale recommended, used and sold by skin professionals, but it is integrated within professional treatments to provide an enhanced experience for patients and clients. Our signature “After Glow” treatment is the perfect finish to any professional skincare treatment. We are also evolving our “brow bar” as a turnkey solution for brow design services at spas, as well as adding a “lip bar” as part of our ongoing strategy to deliver professional makeup services for our accounts to provide to their clients. We are also launching an entirely new suite of merchandising displays and tools that will showcase jane iredale in a new, fresh and modern way to help further engage partners with clients.

Can you share 3 things that most excite you about the modern beauty industry?

  1. There has never been a time in the beauty industry with more brands, great products, and ways to experience, try and shop. As a result, the consumer is in charge of finding exactly what they are looking for with so many options to help inform their decision.
  2. I also love the trend we’re seeing with the “Professionalization of Beauty”. Whether it’s dermatologists, estheticians, med spas, salons, or day spas, it’s such a rich environment with true experts, exceptional service and treatments with real results. We have a long history in this dynamic channel and are excited to be a part of burgeoning growth.
  3. Finally, I’m glad to see transparency more and more prominent within the industry. With consumers more educated and engaged in their purchase decisions than ever before, it’s integral that brands/companies provide clear and credible information, as this helps to make better, more confident decisions. At jane iredale, credibility and trust with our audience is our main priority. We explicitly state that each of our formulas is carefully crafted alongside skincare professionals with ingredients that benefit the skin, guaranteeing trust and retention within our community. Educating our customers is one of our top priorities.

Can you share 3 things that most concern you about the industry? If you had the ability to implement 3 ways to improve the industry, what would you suggest?

Things that concern me about the beauty industry are:

  1. “Clean beauty” has no real established rules or regulations creating a lot of fear mongering. It becomes confusing, and even frustrating, to consumers as they don’t know who or what to trust. This can ultimately turn consumers away.
  2. Although this is somewhat contradictory to what I shared above, there are too many brands and choices. Both online and in retail is a battleground, with a sea of brands that are hard to navigate and decipher one from the next, causing a lot of confusion and making it difficult for the consumer to find the product that is right for them.
  3. Sustainability is a real concern. At jane iredale, we are reducing our impact on the environment through refillable and reusable products, but we want and need to do more.

If I had to implement anything to improve the beauty industry, it would be:

  1. The industry can be improved by continually expanding the pool of candidates — from internships to entry level jobs to development within the company. There can be a little “sameness” as you look up the ranks, but I do believe it has evolved and is continuing to. The more diversity from all angles we have, the greater we will be in the future.
  2. We should be cleaning up legal issues when it comes to ingredients and government agencies. There’s a lot of confusion, and at times lack of substance to regulatory issues when it comes to ingredients. Yet we aren’t seeing any real change, instead, frivolous litigation to generate legal fees and not better the population.
  3. I would like to see more regulations regarding influencer marketing. There used to be a lot more clarity as to what was an ad (paid for) and what was editorial (earned). With the growth of influencer and affiliate marketing, there is now more of a grey area as to what is authentic and what is not, causing customer confusion. Ultimately, I just want to help people find the products that are best for them. The goal should always be “consumers-first.”

You are an expert about beauty. Can you share a few ideas that anyone can use “to feel beautiful”?

It might sound cliché, but I truly believe beauty on the inside matters more than beauty on the outside. If you’re a good person who is doing what makes you happy, you’ll radiate beauty no matter what. But if you want to increase your confidence and “feel more beautiful” on the outside, find what works for you and stick with it. You don’t need to follow the latest makeup trends. If you’ve been doing your makeup a certain way, and it works for you and you feel good, keep doing that. Individuality is beautiful.

Here is the main question for our discussion. Based on your experience and success, Can you please share “Five Things You Need To Know To Succeed In The Modern Beauty Industry”.

  1. Be open to trying new things: Today, everything moves very quickly and with the introduction of digital, e-commerce, and social media, you must be open to the changing landscape and new technology. If you aren’t constantly watching and learning, you will simply miss out and get left behind. As an example, I didn’t think SMS text messaging was right for jane iredale because I felt it was intrusive, but the team pushed for it and it turned out to be one of our strongest means of retention.
  2. Be open to failure: When you try something new, be open to the fact that not everything is going to be a success. There are learnings in failing and you have to create an environment that gives people the opportunity to fail, or they won’t “think big/dream big”. When we first started dabbling with influencer marketing at jane iredale, we tried several areas. One was a mega influencer who was lovely to work with, produced great content, but it didn’t really move the needle. It wasn’t a bad or wrong decision, but we learned that sometimes you need to walk before you run and figure out what’s right for the brand at the time.
  3. Dedicate yourself to making good products that work: This may sound obvious or cliché, but in today’s world, it’s all about the customer and the re-order. It’s no longer about sell-ins or pipe orders that fuel a big media budget. Today, everything is a click away and if the product isn’t good, the consumer knows immediately. Conversely, they know when something is really good. The marketplace has become incredibly efficient, and the consumer has become incredibly savvy, so it’s never been more important to dedicate resources, time, and money to create truly exceptional products.
  4. Don’t try to make everyone happy: The most successful brands today know who they are and don’t try to be something they are not. jane iredale isn’t trend based, we are “skin first” based. We are thoughtful and prioritize how we can help our clients. We’re ok with not being a part of every color trend that takes place. Our aesthetic is timeless, and if we deviate from that, we will alienate our partners and customers. We prefer to stay true to who we are and just keep doing it well.
  5. Real success means growing with profit: I believe we are seeing a real shift in what success means for a brand. Not that long ago, success meant growth — maybe with a specific retailer, category, or age group. When profit was eventually needed, and the brand wasn’t “buying sales,” the growth slowed or even stopped. In today’s world, success is really measured by profitable growth, as this is a true measure of your brand’s value.

You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂

I would inspire a movement of empathy. I must admit, I’m not always the best at it, but I aspire to be better every day. It’s important to put yourself in the shoes of others — how can I help them? What can I do to make their day easier? How can I improve their life? It’s not always about you.

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?

My favorite life lesson quote is “things are never as good or as bad as they seem”. As previously mentioned, you need to experience winning, and you need to experience losing in order to grow. In the moment, it’s easy to let your emotions get the best of you, whether positive or negative, but it’s more productive and will yield a more positive outcome if you can simply to reflect on a situation and evaluate how your actions brought you to that place. When you’re faced with the next situation, you’ll be that much more equipped to handle what is in front of you.

Thank you so much for joining us. This was very inspirational.


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