Renee Rouleau, an Entrepreneurs’ Organization (EO) member in Austin, Texas, is the founder and CEO of Renee Rouleau Skincare. She’s a thought leader and esthetician whose products and personalized skincare are respected by celebrities, bloggers and beauty enthusiasts. We asked Renee about her entrepreneurial journey and her strategy for continuing to love her work. Here’s what she shared.
Renee Rouleau’s eponymous skincare company is growing steadily—at a controlled pace. And that’s just how she likes it. She doesn’t believe bigger is better. “I’ve always wanted to build a great company, not a big company,” Rouleau shares. “People say yes to opportunities because they’re flattered. Or it would seem foolish for them to say no to an opportunity. They think, ‘More money, more growth!’ And after all, who doesn’t love opportunity? It’s the entrepreneurial spirit,” she explains.
“But I’ve seen too many people say yes to things that sounded great in theory. Once the honeymoon phase wears off, it ends up not being great.”
So before Renee says yes to an opportunity, she completes her due diligence. “Once you sign, it’s hard to go back,” she says. “Be very strategic and give it lots of thought before you say yes.”
1. Trust your instincts
As an example, Rouleau tells the tale of a high-profile celebrity who wanted to do a skincare line with her: “I had an opportunity to do a skin care line with a high-profile celebrity. She wanted me to do it with her. Her team didn’t think she needed me. They thought her star power and her name alone would do it. Later, they came back and wanted to involve me.”
It was a great opportunity and would’ve meant more money and a great brand opportunity for brand exposure.
But Rouleau said no to the opportunity. Why?
“This celebrity was not only my client, she was my friend. I said, ‘No, you don’t do business with friends.’ Business gets ugly sometimes, and I didn’t want to jeopardize that relationship for the sake of business. I wasn’t going to do it just to make her happy. It would’ve been fun, but it wasn’t worth the risk of losing a friend.”
Ultimately, the celebrity launched the skincare line on her own, and it failed. “I’m glad I said no; we’re still friends and she’s still a client and that’s the most important thing to me. I know the landscape of the skincare industry. And a big part of saying ‘No’ was my experience and a gut feeling that it just didn’t feel right.”
2. Never be scared to ask
That brings up an interesting question that Rouleau often gets: “A lot of people want to know how I connected with my celebrity clients in the first place. That’s fairly simple. If you don’t ask, you don’t get.”
“When I was first starting out, I would dig around to locate their contact information and get in touch with them and just ask if they’d like a facial. There’s nothing magic about it. It wasn’t who I knew or anything like that. I went on their IMDB page and found out who their manager or publicist was. And then I just asked,” Rouleau shares.
“The worst thing that could happen is that they just don’t respond. But it’s like fishing—every once in a while, you get a bite. I just reached out and asked if they wanted a facial, and that method worked a surprising amount of the time.”
3. Know the flow
So, what’s it like having celebrity clients?
“When you’re a celebrity aesthetician, you have celebrity clients. And the life cycle of a celebrity career can be challenging. When you have a celebrity client, you can use their name as long as they allow you to do so. And when they’re hot—on the red carpets and going to premiers—they’re shouting your name from the rooftops, and you get publicity and attention. But, between movies or events when they’re not doing anything in their career, they’re not getting as much press. Media wanes.”
“Some celebrities will hit it big, others won’t. If they hit it big, I’m carried along for that ride, and hopefully they’ll be talking about me and my products. If they’re in a slump, or they never hit it big, they’re not talking to media as much. When they’re hot they’re hot, when they’re not they’re not.”
4. Be choosey
“I’m very careful about which clients I choose to take on. I have a list of questions that I go through when making that decision. I have to really like them, enjoy being around them, and I have a strict ‘no diva’ rule. Also, I take into consideration where this person is in their career. Many times, when I bet on the up-and-comers, they love that I believed in them and that’s a really strong basis for our relationship.”
5. Prioritize trust
“Whether you’re working with an up-and-coming celebrity or an established one, the most important lesson to realize is that it’s all about having their trust. You can’t sell out and talk about them with the gossip magazines or you’ll jeopardize the relationship and your reputation.”
“And the gossip magazines definitely reach out, offering to pay me to talk. They promise, ‘We won’t use your name!’ But my answer is always no. My clients trust me, I’ve given them my word. It would never be worth it to break that trust. You have to stand strong if you want to have—and keep—celebrity clients!”