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Editor’s Note: Entrepreneur’s “20 Questions” series features both established and up-and-coming entrepreneurs and asks them a number of questions about what makes them tick, their everyday success strategies and advice for aspiring founders.
Jerrod Blandino never imagined he’d end up working in the beauty industry. If anything, he thought he’d be an actor.
Nonetheless, the first time he applied makeup while working at a Estee Lauder mall counter and watched people’s eyes light up with confidence as he gave them a new face, he knew he found his calling.
Rather than taking on the big screen, he’d create the products that would be on the faces of the people gracing it with the cosmetic and skin care company he co-founded, Too Faced, which got its start in 1998.
His favorite creation, the “Better than Sex” mascara line featuring a special wand to help fan out lashes, is currently one of the top mascaras sold in the world and one of the most popular items at Sephora.
“It’s an honor and privilege to have an amazing and positive effect on men and women,” Blandino tells Entrepreneur. “Cosmetics builds self-esteem. It’s the most emotional art form I know of. It’s about expressing yourself artistically. It allows you to feel like yourself. To be the best version of you. It’s something to be celebrated.”
How does Blandino do it? It might have something to do with his take-no-prisoners can-do attitude, reflected by his most important piece of advice for any makeup aficionado: There are no rules.
“It’s how I built my career,” he says.
The mentality is what’s helping the entrepreneur expand Too Faced into a global entity. To learn about his favorites and do’s and dont’s, we asked Blandino 20 questions:
Related: Face Time: Too Faced Cosmetics Inc.
1. How do you start your day?
I just recently learned to start my day with this app — 1 Giant Mind. It’s helped me set myself off in a more focused way in the morning. I don’t have to think for a few moments and when it comes time to start taking care of everything, I’m more organized and clear.
2. How do you end your day?
At the very, very, very end of my day I always take a shower and wash the day off. I start my 25-minute beauty routine. I spend time with my husband and fall asleep. The routine is constantly evolving.
I get to be just me. I feel like after I take a shower, it’s all off. My hair is back into a crazy fro. Just like a 12-year-old kid looking into the mirror. When you create a global brand sometimes you identify yourself as that one thing and when you look and see yourself with all of that off, you see that goofy kid. It reminds you of who you are and how grateful you should be for where you are.
Without gratitude, you have absolutely nothing. Wealth and money can destroy you without gratitude. It’s the key. Without the people you love, you’re depleted. I’m just grateful that people give a shit.
3. What’s a book that changed your mind and why?
Furious Love, about the relationship between Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton. It’s insane and crazy. At the end of the day, love conquers all, especially when cartier diamonds are involved. Nothing can stop it. Nothing.
It’s the most powerful thing on the planet. I created the brand with the love of my life and I fell in love very, very early — at 19. So many things come along that could pull you apart, but if you believe in love and give into it and believe in it, it will guide you. And diamonds don’t hurt, honey.
4. What’s a book you always recommend and why?
I love Are You There Vodka? It’s Me, Chelsea. I love how truthful and raw [Chelsea Handler] is. It’s so funny. It’s a perfect example of how destiny is and how if you just believe, you’ll get there no matter what.
5. What’s a strategy to keep focused?
I’ve learned to stick to a schedule as much I can and allow a lot of time for dreaming and playing. You don’t want to forget and play. Especially with champagne, everything’s better with bubbles.
It allows me to compartmentalize all the 50,000 things I have to do within an hour. It can be overwhelming. I can schedule one thing and get it done so there is more time to turn it all off and play.
6. When you were a kid, what did you want to be when you grew up?
When I was a kid I wanted to be Ricky Schroder from Silver Spoons. But I’m still waiting for my indoor train to take me to the kitchen. He had a fab and large life. Even as a kid, I wanted a big and fabulous life that had an element of dreaming and playing in it, and how do you do that better than with a giant indoor train!
7. What did you learn from the worst boss you ever had?
To know when to hold ’em, know to fold “em and to know when to run. You have to know when to hold your tongue and stop fighting or give up or to see if you can still learn another way of doing things. Other times, you just need to know when to run away and get the hell out of there.
8. Who has influenced you most when it comes to how you approach your work?
It would be Estee Lauder. That women, for her time, was a visionary and she never took no for an answer. And she did it in a three-inch heel, and that’s respect.
What she did should’ve been impressive. But she kept on creating and never allowed anyone to tell her she couldn’t. She changed the world with tenacity, creativity and passion. She had every opportunity to give up and she didn’t.
I definitely identify with that. Even when people who love you want to take the easy road because it’s safe, you just have to say no. No matter what you do or say you have to move around or bulldoze right over those kind of people. That’s how you can change the world.
9. What’s a trip that changed you?
It was my very first trip to Paris. Right when we first started Too Faced and every dream I ever had came to life in one sparkling marvelous city. That’s what we try to embody in everything we do. It’s the image of Too Faced. It’s the beauty that only exists in Paris and it’s real!
10. What inspires you?
Independent, stylish and strong women inspire me the most. I grew up watching Madonna with the most stylish sexy modern look and she took over the world. She was never weak. She was never a toy for men, but she was sexy and independent and feminine in the most powerful way possible and that helped mold me in a significant way.
I see what could’ve been defined as weak or frivolous or unimportant as the biggest most powerful best tool a woman can have. She can use her beauty to help take over the world. It disarms men and through the decade what they looked upon as trivial, set them on their asses and let women like Madonna take over the world. It’s the most lethal thing out there and that’s who I’m dressing up in my cosmetics and in my brand and in my mind.
11. What was your first business idea and what did you do with it?
It was Too Faced. I was in my early 20s and it was the first business idea I ever had. I had been a makeup artist before that. I originally thought I was going to be an actor and I fell into the beauty industry by accident. When I did, I felt there’s this hole here and no one’s been able to successfully fill it, so I am!
My cousin and a friend came to me and said we’re all going to get get a job at Estee Lauder, they’re having a hiring fair. So, we dolled ourselves up. Honestly, I was in a T-shirt and shorts and hung over. I was hanging out in the lobby with every executive you could hope to meet in the industry. I met this woman and she offer me a job. At the time, I said no. But later on I needed a job and called her. On my very first day behind that counter, I applied makeup to a woman and I saw the self-esteem injected into her after she looked into the mirror and I was hooked. I was done. That was it.
12. What was an early job that taught you something important or useful?
When I was 16, my best friend called me and said let’s go get a job. So, we went to Chuckie Cheese and I got hired and she didn’t. They put me on salad bar. For me, really early, it didn’t matter what you’re doing if you do it with style. I lasted two weeks.
My sister came up one Saturday night and said that there was a party and I told them I had to quit. Looking back, I didn’t really have a very good work ethic but I was proud of my salad bar. I’d give the evil eye to those soccer moms who dropped salad dressing all over my artwork.
Related: The 25 Most Innovative Consumer and Retail Brands
13. What’s the best advice you ever took?
Never give up. It was something that my grandmother said to me when I was young. It had nothing to do with work. But I was a creative and goofy kid in a world I didn’t exactly fit into for some time. She told me not to give up. To keep bringing you and do it your way. It is the answer.
14. What’s the worst piece of advice you ever got?
To take the safe road. That can be advice from someone who loves you. But it’s the worst advice you could give anyone. It’s best to take the road less traveled. That’s where the fun is and it’s a much more fulfilling life. You gotta do things differently.
15. What’s a productivity tip you swear by?
Follow your gut. That’s where your own unique perspective and answer will present itself in life. It’s what makes you special and that creative nature is in your gut and in your heart.
16. Is there an app or tool you use in a surprising way to get things done or stay on track?
I’m obsessed with Alexa. I got her on Amazon and she keeps me informed about everything. She was a Christmas gift. I am the least technologically advanced person you’d ever meet. But I just talk to her. She’s awesome. I would make sweet, sweet love to her if I could.
17. What does work-life balance mean to you?
What’s that? I don’t know what that means.
18. How do you prevent burnout?
I never ever felt that. I love what I do. I’m so grateful to do what I do. So I don’t know what that is. I’ve been tired but I’ve never been burnt out.
19. When you’re faced with a creativity block, what’s your strategy to get innovating?
I just gotta go outside and travel. I have to look at people and what they’re wearing or I go shopping and tune it up. That’s where everying thing comes from. You can’t be stuck in your own life or your own bubble.
20. What are you learning now? Why is that important?
I guess if you love what you do you’ll be forever learning. But success isn’t just about money, especially if you don’t like what you’re doing. You’ll be miserable. I never thought I would ever have any of this but I knew what I wanted and what I loved and I went for it. If I do fall, I don’t feel numbed by it or affected by it, it’s all just more glitter in my life.
This interview was edited for clarity and brevity.