Annie Lawless is the founder of not one - but two - successful businesses. She started her career as the co-founder of Suja Juice, one of the largest organic juice companies in the country. Now, she’s building a clean makeup empire with Lawless Beauty. Annie has become an expert in two different industries, and she gave us her tips on how to break into a new field.
Annie told us how to learn as you go, what you need in order to start a business, and how she thinks about partnerships.
On Learning As You Go
Danielle: Who did you turn to for advice as you started something, got this incredible opportunity, and then you were negotiating or navigating a sale process?
Annie: That's a really interesting question. And that's something I always get asked. I feel like a lot of times people will say, like, "Who was your mentor," or "Who did you look to?" And if I'm just being completely honest, I don't feel like I really had anybody. I was 24 at the time. None of my peers were doing anything similar. I feel like a lot of the older people in my life… didn't really take me seriously, what we were doing. So I really just relied on my partner at the time, and we would just go back and forth. And it really just came down to ultimately trusting ourselves, and figuring out what felt right.
Sure, you make tons of mistakes that way, but I feel like it was the biggest period of growth because I was able to learn as I was doing things. And if anything didn't work out it was really on me, which is kind of a cool thing because at least at the end of the day you think, "Well, it didn't work out but that was my decision."
On Starting a Business
Annie: You don't have to have a business plan to start a business. You don't really have to know what you're doing. But there's this idea that you do. And so I think that hinders people from just doing things, because they feel like they're not in the position. They don't know enough, they need this, they more money… and you don't.
Carly: So you think the key is passion?
Annie: I think it's passion, and also a uniquely differentiated idea. You need to find a white space in the market. What are you bringing that's different? And you have to really kind of know yourself, and what you can do that someone else can't.
Carly: What are mistakes that you made at Suja that you have avoided making this go around?
Annie: I would say just choosing partners wisely. You have to remember, you can get money from so many sources. There's only one you, and one idea. So you're actually the valuable one in the situation. And when you take an investment, it's like a marriage. So you really want to get to know each other. You want to understand that you’re aligned with your vision for the business. Because if you're not, there will be heads butting and there's no way out of it.
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