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Management Practices

Women on Having It All: Jan Arnold

Stacey Soble | October 2, 2012 | 1:10 PM

Women on Having It All: Jan ArnoldJan Arnold, Founder, CND, Los Angeles, California

A graduate of California University Northridge and the Fashion Institute of Technology in Los Angeles, Jan Arnold’s original dream was to pursue a career in fashion. Her life took a different path when her father, the late Dr. Stuart Nordstrom, developed the first cross-linked monomer formulation which create greater nail strength and flexibility. As a result of this discovery, Arnold and her brother Jim formed Creative Nail Design (now CND) in 1979. An innovator and a respected authority on nail technology, runway trends, and education, Arnold is also a recognized industry spokesperson in the and a mainstay at Fashion Week events in New York, London, Paris and Sydney. Today, CND products are sold in more than 8,000 salons and 50 countries around the world.

Do you believe a woman in the professional beauty industry can “have it all?” And, what does that mean to you?

“I’ve been in the industry for 33 years and I feel like it’s been the most amazing adventure—I have really traveled the American dream. Women in particular can have it all in this industry—we have an advantage. We love the products we represent and it’s not just that we believe in a brand, but in the concept and need behind the brand from first-hand experience. We have a unique position and insight into the brand and consumers we serve—we’re able to be passionate and enjoy the services every day.”

In the pursuit of “having it all,” what sacrifices have you had to make, if any?

“I think what it takes in “achieving it all” is hard work, first and foremost. Then it’s time, dedication and imagination. Your business consumes your life when you talk about these things. And if you allow it to take over your life, you make sacrifices. But if you make it a part of your life and bring your life into it, it becomes a passion/art form. For me, I have a husband and family who LOVE our business and love what I do, and they are a part of my world. I make sure they are also a part of the creative process. My wins are their wins. My failures—they own those with me as well. I think it would be a sacrifice if I felt like I had to do it alone, but I’m humble enough to realize to never ever believe it’s about you. It isn’t about you. It’s about the team behind me at home, at work and the synergy created. With that there are no sacrifices. It really depends on how you view your life and how you engage those around you.”

If we were looking through a scrapbook of your life, what would be your favorite page?  

“I think my favorite page is today. I am really guilty of not being one that looks behind me much. I don’t even like looking side to side. I love dreaming about tomorrow. My favorite page is the achievement and experience of today. And today actually turned out to be an amazing landmark. I’ve always been a huge fan of the design team Rodarte, and we’re here at Fashion Week where we just did the nails for their runway show. It was such a crowning glory achievement for my team and for the industry, and it came out of gaining the trust of the designers and working with my team. I have a mission of elevating the status of nails of women around world, and in doing so, elevating the status of nail professional. Today was a great example of walking out of the show feeling 10 feet tall and knowing what we achieved.

If we were looking through a scrapbook of your life, what page would you want to rewrite?

“There were a couple of innovations 23 to 25 years ago that didn’t go well. We had a great idea for a new product and we learned a big lesson to be thorough, over-test things and completely exceed customer expectations. The innovation was not a success. So instead of moving forward, we had to put life on hold and take the product back, make good on it and save relationships. People knew we failed, but we had to make sure they knew we were going to make good.

It was the biggest business lesson of my life—there are good times and bad times. If you learn from difficult times, they serve you well. Now when things get tough, I almost get excited because I know will learn a lesson.”

What’s your favorite tool or strategy for maintaining balance in your life? “Always having fun. Whether it’s a creative meeting or budget meeting, I try to approach it in a really positive way and have fun with it—embrace the challenge and make it creative. Also, I’m a runner. I run three miles every day and the mind/body connection keeps me sane, healthy and strong.”

What’s the best advice anyone ever gave you, and how did it change your life? “It was from my father. He told me: ‘No matter what conversation, meeting or interaction you’re having, God gave you two ears and only one mouth. So you should do twice as much listening as talking.’ Every time I have a good idea, I share it with my team and watch and listen to other people embrace and make it better.  

What wisdom would you share with a young woman entering a career in the professional beauty industry?

“I would say find your confidence, find your mission and be really clear about where you want to go. Stick to that plan, don’t get distracted and work your ass off. I find in business, distractions come at you all day long, but if you are 100-percent clear about who you are you cannot fail.”

What keeps you up at night?

“I really care about the nail professional and their clients. For me it’s about achieving their mission and staying true to what it’s all about in my company. That’s the only thing worthy of keeping me awake, but sometimes my subconscious talks too much to me at night!”

What makes you feel powerful?

“Success, winning, achievement, leading. When you can lead a team and be successful in it, that’s power. Feeling powerful means doing the right thing with integrity because I know I’m doing good thing. Power without integrity is weak. Good leadership represents an alignment of philosophy between you and your team.”

What’s the best thing anyone’s ever told you about yourself? 

“That I’m really a nice person. It’s so funny, I meet nail professionals all over the world and they say, ‘Oh, well you’re really nice.’ Of course! You can’t do what we do in our industry and not be nice. Some people think to lead and be powerful you can’t be nice. It’s exciting when they realize you’re likable.”

What do you hope to achieve in the next five years?

“My dream is to really take the CND philosophy and name to the moon! With our new innovation Shellac, it’s really a service that women globally, who would never think of wearing a nail design now can. My dream is to delight women everywhere with Shellac and let them be detailed down to their fingers and toes without worrying about it. From a salon service point of view, there are niches that speak to masses, but I’ve never seen anything like Shellac. It really does set you free. The power is in your hands. When you’ve got your nails perfectly high shined and intricately appointed, it gives you confidence and makes you happy. I look forward in the next five years to let the majority experience that thrill.”

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