Boss Babes: Janine Lee Founder of Floss Gloss

As a company created by two women, we know how important it is to celebrate female founders. That’s why we’ve started our Boss Babes series. Each month we’ll highlight one woman who’s built a cool company and is absolutely crushing it, in business and in life. Here, they’ll answer questions on everything from how they started out and advice they think every woman should know, plus how they take care of themselves. This month: Janine Lee Founder of Floss Gloss. 

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Starting your own business isn’t easy (take it from us!) and starting one fresh out of school is even more difficult. When she graduated art school in 2010, at the height of the recession, Janine Lee and her friend Aretha Sacks decided to go for it and start their own nail polish brand, Floss Gloss. Since then, she’s helped Floss Gloss become a cult-fave destination for the coolest and most innovative cruelty-free and vegan polishes (seriously, just look at their 3D lacquers), and has collaborated with some amazing brands like NYLON and Flosstradamus. We’re so inspired by her talent and drive that we even asked her to be one of our models in our new pineapple campaign.

Tell us a bit about yourself. How did you start your business? Why did you choose this as your passion?

A/S/S/L: Janine Lee, 30, Leo, Brooklyn via California. I met fellow my fellow co-founder Aretha Sack in art school in San Francisco and we started Floss Gloss ‘the biz’ after we graduated in 2010. We were obsessed with all things nails, nail art, and color. We knew there was a void in the retail nail polish market and just went for it. We wrote a business plan, pitched investors, and actually got a lil cash for an initial production run of 11 colors, top, and base coat and launched our first collection in July 2012. And Floss Gloss just snowballed from there! I didn’t choose the game, the game chose me.

What were some of the challenges you faced as a female founder?

How did you overcome them? Definitely being underestimated and being taken seriously—still—to this day. I face this challenge head-on and maintain my focus and professionalism to gain trust and respect in the room.

Are there any particular moments that stand out as a defining moment for you personally/professionally?

Its been super rewarding to see the growth and success of the women I’ve hired here at Floss Gloss. The fact that they can take the skills and experiences they learned here and achieve their own personal goals in and outside of the brand makes me like a proud mom! Honestly, being a manager and/or mentor was never something I thought could be so rewarding!

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Nails by Floss Gloss, obviously.

What was your biggest achievement, the one you are most proud of?

Honestly for just trying! For getting out there. It’s like looking back is even scarier! Why do you think it’s important for more women to start their own business/lead companies? To normalize the norm and continue to chip away at the glass ceiling of societal expectations.

What do you do to unwind?

In the winter, I unwind by taking long, hot showers and slathering myself in essential oils. In the summer, find me on the beach with a good paperback read and no cell service.

Any beauty secrets you want to share?

I recently started daily jade rolling and gua sha. I *think* it’s keeping my face toned?! And I seriously do try to drink all the water possible and try to get 8 hours of sleep a night. (I go to sleep at 10pm at the latest most days!)

Who is your biggest personal/professional inspiration and why?

My biggest personal inspirations are the many strong women of my family. They persevered and were homeowners, had incredible work ethics and were/are dedicated to their families. Professionally I’m inspired by entrepreneurs like Wende Zomnir of Urban Decay and Moj Mahdara of Beautycon. When I think about their paths and authenticity, it really reinforces the thought “Why not me? Keep putting it out there!”

What is something surprising people might not know about you?

I honestly love sports, especially live sporting events! Invite me to your next tailgate 😉

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