Name: Alexis Irene
Job Title and Description: CEO and Founder of Static Nails and Volunteer Wish Granter for Make A Wish Foundation. I develop and launch innovative brands whose products produce real, good-for-you results—tested and proven.
College Major: Marketing
Instagram Handle: @staticnailsofficial, personal is @itslexirene
What does your current job entail? Is there such a thing as a typical day?
AI: There is nothing it doesn't entail! Owning a company requires wearing many hats, so no day is the same, and the work load only grows. My days can involve tasks like trend forecasting to generate new product concepts, sourcing fantastic factories and chemists to work with, working with auditing firms to ensure the people and places we work with are safe and ethical, managing social media and securing retail partnerships. I also get to do a good amount of traveling for business meetings, pop-up shops and special events.
What is the best part of your job?
AI: I love everything I do, but a big reason why I got into this industry was to make a difference. There has always been an abundance of replication, not enough innovation, and sadly too many products that don’t live up to their promises. A lot goes into trying to be different and trying to be better when it comes to making products. Whenever a customer writes me an email or comes up to me in person with a big smile on their face, telling me how much they love the products or how the products have benefited them, it makes my day.
What was your first entry-level job in your field and how did you get it?
AI: I became the country’s youngest professionally signed makeup artist. I took my portfolio to Bloomingdale's at my school’s career fair where I interviewed and was given the position “contingent” until something opened up in cosmetics.
I came in when they needed me and did everything they asked, from auditing areas of the store to selling clothing. After a few months I was finally put in the makeup area (as a contingent), floating around, helping every counter from Chanel to YSL. I loved working for Bloomingdale's and being surrounded by cosmetics, so I took extra care of the counters, gave people some pretty fabulous makeovers, and had great sales.
I’ll never forget the moment when a head of the store came up to me and said, “There’s a management position open, are you interested?” I was 16. After a month of interviewing I become Macy’s corporation's youngest Business Manager for one of their top performing Bloomingdale's stores.
What words of wisdom do you find most valuable?
AI: “Actions speak louder than words,” is a personal quote I live by everyday and apply to everything. Whether it’s dating, friendships, or the workplace--people can tell you whatever they want, but if their actions don’t follow those words in a timely manner, leave them in the past. Talk is cheap.
“If there is a will, there is a way.” My mother has always instilled this in me and it again, applies to every situation. If someone really wants something, or someone, they will move mountains to make it happen and won’t stop until they get it (or get you).
“You’ll never get what you want if you don’t ask for it.” Although it sounds harsh, I cannot stand when people are timid. Some things are easier than others, but I believe in mind over matter, and being afraid to do something or ask for something will hold you back from SO much. If you want something, you should shamelessly go after it no matter how uncomfortable you may feel in doing so. The only person that can hold you back is you, and that’s why I love this quote so much. The more you push yourself the easier it gets.”
What is one mistake you made along the way and what did you learn from it?
AI: Not trusting my intuition. Always go with your gut feeling. I was 20 and excited to get an online store built. I searched several days for web designers/developers, and finally found one that seemed promising. Long story short, after spending my life savings--I started to get sales and the website barely worked on the back end. Turns out, they had lied about their work and scammed other companies as well. If something doesn’t feel right, don’t do it--and if you are a small business, it’s totally fine to start with a DIY web building platform. A LOT of huge businesses actually use them. It will save you tons of money in the beginning.
What has been the most surreal moment of your career thus far?
AI: That’s really tough. It's a tossup between winning a big award for Static Nails when I was 22, getting into large retailers, or being featured in Forbes recently. I haven’t “made it” yet, but these have been really nice confirmations to keep pushing forward.
What do you look for when considering hiring someone?
AI: I am actually looking to hire some new employees in product development, operations and social media. Feel free to send resumes to email@example.com (Must live or be willing to relocate to Chicago!)
I speak for all employees when I say this, because it’s extremely hard to find. Someone who is first an expert in the role they are applying for and also very knowledgeable of the beauty/fashion industry. That means actively reading and researching credible business, beauty and fashion sites, magazines and databases to see what's going on surrounding trends, marketing, advertising, product launches, ways people use social media to grow a business, etc.
It’s very important in today's work world to be a well-rounded employee, because everything connects at the end of the day, and it will make your performance stronger and more valuable.
The second thing I look for is someone who will treat my brands as their own and someone who wants to make something of themselves and grow within my brand long-term. Who will come to me with big ideas and ways to grow the business and contribute to it. I find people who put in extra effort, regardless of who they work for, go further and faster in life.
What advice would you give to a 20-something with similar aspirations?
AI: Innovate. Do not replicate or rip off. Have real points of difference. Always ask for advice from those more successful than you. However, know there is something to be learned from everyone. Working efficiently will get you places faster. If you’re a natural procrastinator (like me), set a challenge for yourself. Work like you’re cramming for a college final 5 hours before the exam. Focus, work quickly and pay attention to details. Anything very important, move to the side to spend more time on.
With that said, sprint after your dreams. The only person that will hold you back is yourself. If you want to start your own brand, be sure to have a solid game plan on how to grow, and ensure your product/service is one a lot of people actually want. Most business fail for lack of one or both of those reasons
What's the one thing that's stood out to you the most in a resume?
AI: Cover letters! Don’t ever apply to a job without a cover letter. If you do, it automatically signals the hirer that you’re not as interested in the position as other candidates. If you’re too lazy to write one, you should not be applying for the job. It’s obvious when people copy and paste cover letters and resumes. I trash those. Custom tailor both to make you shine for the roll you want, and keep things to the point. Only feature what directly applies to the role. Your cover letter is your first conversation with the company. Tell them what you’ve done in the past (if it applies) and how you will use those skills to produce results for them.