Tara Foley was working at a law firm back in 2009, working long hours, working out and eating healthy, but she wasn’t paying attention to what she putting on her face and body. Realizing this discrepancy, she decided to launch Naturalchemyst, a blog devoted to asking questions related to natural beauty.
From that blog emerged Follain, the natural-beauty retailer launched in 2013. Follain wants to be the Sephora of natural beauty, selling brands like May Lindstrom, Tata Harper and RMS Beauty. In spring 2016, the brand put a major push behind relaunching their website and growing the digital business. That digital growth is now allowing them to further expand their physical store fleet across the country with Seattle; Bethesda, Maryland; and, a forthcoming Dallas store. Overall they are planning to grow to 10 stores by the end of 2019.
“When the concept won a national retail business plan competition during my MBA program at Babson, I knew we were on to something,” Foley said.
Foley walked us through a typical day in her life, which included a press preview event for the new store in Bethesda, meetings and phone calls with her staff, and dinner with her son.
6:00 a.m.: I wake up and get dressed super quickly. I’m usually in a “uniform” of all black and sneakers, but later today, we’re having an event for writers and bloggers to preview our newest store space, which means I have to look decent. I then do my morning skin-care routine, which includes splashing water on my face, spritzing on toner, moisturizing and applying SPF. I say goodbye to my husband and son — we are staying with my parents, who live in D.C., where I grew up.
6:30 a.m.: I grab an Uber to DryBar, which is next to the new storefront. I actually showed up before the DryBar staff, so I walk over to Joe & the Juice to grab some breakfast (an energy juice and acai bowl) while waiting to get in. I always bring my own products with me to DryBar appointments to avoid the fragrance and various other ingredients, but I love getting my hair blown out. Today, I’ll be with a lot of bloggers and Instagrammers, and I’m eight months pregnant, so great hair is going to help me feel a little bit better about myself.
8:00 a.m.: The VIP preview breakfast for Follain Bethesda begins. I try to greet and chat with the approximately 35 bloggers and writers there throughout the morning, and whenever the space is packed, I take an opportunity to address the entire crowd and share the Follain story of when, how and why we got started, and what makes us so different from conventional beauty retailers and other clean beauty retailers.
Cuteness side note: My husband, dad and son bike by to say hello and wish us luck during the event.
12:00 p.m.: The preview event is over, but my throat is sore from so much talking. And I’m starving! I always try to take at least 30 minutes to walk, meditate or decompress during workdays. Today is unique, though, so decompressing comes over a quick lunch. I run out to Bibimbap, order salad and miso soup for my throat, and eat most of it on a bench outside the store.
12:30 p.m.: Time to get back to reality, which means a lot of phone and in-person meetings, making decisions to keep growing the business. The first call I have, funny enough, is with Glossy.
1:00 p.m.: We have a standing weekly call with our videographer to discuss all the shoots coming up. Each video shoot has so many moving parts and requires so much advance planning. This week, we’re planning out videos for team education, website content and our “founder to founder” series, with some of our brand founders and myself. Then I move immediately into a call with our creative team about packaging; this is just a bunch of quick decisions on different options being provided. And finally, I have a call with one of our brand founders for a general check-in to hear about the new products launching later this year and update them on our growth. I do this all while walking around, tidying up and merchandising the soon-to-open shop, because I think better when moving.
4:00 p.m.: We have a meeting with the Environmental Working Group, which is also based in D.C. They come by to preview the new store and share their plans for their new EWG-verified product lines.
5:30 p.m.: We make final tweaks and finishing touches around the store before the big opening day tomorrow. We also wrap up product education. I’m still the lead educator for our new store teams, which means I’ve spent the past three days working with the team to understand everything from our customer service philosophy all the way through to product-level details and knowledge. By today, I’m just answering questions that have come up over the past few days.
6:30 p.m.: I try to get back to have dinner and some time with Henry, my 2-year-old son, before he goes to bed at 7:30 p.m. I give Henry a bath and read him a few books before putting him to bed.
8:00 p.m.: I’m back on the computer to sneak in more work. I love the energy and education involved in store openings, but these days are also tough because they keep me off email for so long. This means a lot of work has to get done at night. Luckily, my husband James and I were back on our computers at the same time, and used the time to crack jokes and catch up a bit while working.
11:00 p.m.: Now it’s time for my beloved nighttime skin-care routine before I go to bed. During truly crazy days, this is sometimes the only “me” time for some self-care. Sometimes my evening skin-care routine will include tons of steps. Tonight, I’m using a bunch of lab samples from our brands — new products that are still in development, which they want my feedback on before finalizing. Then I quickly hop into bed and read a page of my current favorite book, “Big Magic” by Elizabeth Gilbert, which is about being more creative in everyday life. Then I pass out blissfully, albeit a little nervously, before our big store opening the next day.