2014 Women of Vision: Terri Taricco

Terri Taricco
Vice president of marketing, Helen of Troy/Hot Tools

Like many women, a young Terri Taricco originally chose a career in beauty because of the flexibility it offered her as she was raising a family. Obtaining her license in 1984, she worked in a few salons, before finally opening her own salon. Taricco enjoyed expressing herself creatively and bringing beauty and self confidence to women. Although no longer in the salon, she continues to be involved with salon professionals on a daily basis in her marketing role with Helen of Troy, as she exhibits at trade shows and solicits feedback from salons and clients on the new tools the company produces. She enjoys leading a creative department that is always developing new packaging and designing new products.

Since you started your own business, how have your motivations changed?
Taricco: Before it was to make a living, now it is to make a difference.

Who or what inspires you?
Taricco: Many people inspire me, but I think it is actions and deeds that inspire me more than people. When I read an article about someone doing something in a completely new way I am shocked that there are still ideas out there that have not been thought of or tried. And, I challenge myself to be one of the ones who thinks of the NEXT big idea.

What is the most important lesson you’ve learned from running your own business that you would share with other women?
Taricco: When I had my salons and beauty supply, and even just in the course of my life as a manager, it was my people skills that were more valuable to me than any other skill. If you are difficult to work for and a “shrew,” no one wants to work for you, let alone do a good job. But if you are truly interested in helping those around you move up and get ahead and develop new skills, then the payback is more than you are actually paying them for. Leave your ego at the door every day and work with your team like you are a member of it.

As you grew your company/brand, what “Ah-Ha” moments of clarity helped you shape its future course?
Taricco: Don’t sweat the small stuff. A series of books I read that made me realize that not everything that happens along your path deserves an immediate response. I am a serious hands-on person, and I used to stress if everything was not just as I planned, but yet it all worked out in the end.

In developing your company, what is the biggest roadblock you’ve faced, and how did you conquer it?
Taricco: People underestimate me all the time. I can only guess why that is. I think it may be because I am LOUD and excitable and passionate about almost everything I am involved in (except paying bills and boring meetings). I think some people may regard that as inexperience or immaturity, but to me life is too short to do something you do not like to do. So why not be excited about what you are doing this very moment? It’s infectious and “if you don’t sweat the small stuff,” who cares what people think of you? The ones who know me know my worth and that’s all that matters.

How would you describe your management style? What do you think makes you a good leader, and in what areas would you want to improve?
Taricco: I embrace a team approach to everything I do (if possible). I have my own ideas, but I can recognize better and just as good ideas from others. I do like to be in charge BUT I want everyone to row the boat and pick its course. I gently point out the easiest path. The thing I would change is my inability to stay calm when someone repeatedly does things they have been told not to. I get loud and angry. I am not abusive, but the loud voice scares people. I calm down in minutes, but I am trying to practice keeping my voice lower when I am not happy. I am never angry long and mistakes happen. It’s just the same mistake over and over that pushes my buttons.

Throughout your professional history, what’s the best lesson you’ve learned after making a mistake?
Taricco: That I was given the opportunity to correct it and learn from it … and I got to keep my job!

What is the number-one quality you look for when hiring employees, and how do you evaluate if they possess that trait?
Taricco: Honesty, kindness, common sense and a hard-work ethic. I can teach every skill I need a person to have who works for me. But I can’t teach those four traits, and they are critical elements to be a part of my team.

Share something personal that very few people at your work would know about you.  
Taricco: I joined the Air Force when I was 18 years old and I lived in Germany for three years. That experience made me who I am today and helped me grow up fast and rely on myself. I have two daughters who are both in the beauty industry, a step daughter and two beautiful grandchildren (and dogs and chickens).

What’s the best thing an employee/colleague ever said about you?
Taricco: That I am the best boss they have ever had and they come to work every day because they know I will be there. It made me tear up.

If you were training another woman to take over your job, what’s the most important advice you would offer her?
Taricco: Be kind, but don’t let anyone push you around. They will try.

If you were to look at scrapbook of your professional career, what would be your favorite page? Which would like to remove?
Taricco: When I opened my salons. I remember being so excited that I could be the master of my destiny and give my clients a great salon experience. Now the past 11 years at Helen of Troy have been my most recent favorite pages. I feel I impact the beauty consumer every day and that’s exciting. I do not have a page I would remove...because every experience gets you to the place you are today...good, bad or ugly...LOL!

If you weren’t in the beauty industry, what would you be doing?
Taricco: I think I would start a food truck. I love to cook, and when I retire I may do that someday. Women have many options today...we can do anything we want.

For reprint and licensing requests for this article, Click here.