- How the Founder of Take My Face Off is shaking up the face cleansing market
- How she learnt a great deal from a difficult situation that costs her thousands of dollars
- How it feels to be an introvert when the current COVID situation won’t allow her introverted time out
Amanda McIntosh is the Founder of Take My Face Off, creators of the world’s softest, most effective and long lasting cleansing aids. Amanda talks to 35 Thousand about juggling family, pets and business, and how she copes with constant distractions.
Describe yourself in 3 words…
“Brainy, detailed, sarcastic”
Tell us about your work
“I’m working to get more people to question their skincare purchases. Whether it’s packages of wipes, or harshness from multi-step routines, I’m getting people to question the habits that aren’t good for skin or the planet.
My company has a small workshop in rural Utah where we make our Mittys, which are small, cleverly-designed cloths that replace years of wipes, cotton balls, and washcloths. They’re easier, faster, better, and cuter than anything else out there.”
Do you work in the spare room, a skyscraper or other?
“The downstairs of our house in LA is the “office.” It has a separate entrance, so employees can come and go as needed. My husband also has a room for his work, but most of it is used for Mitty HQ. I’ve got a workroom where I prototype new products, a storeroom, a product photography area, and a new break room/meditation space I’m excited about.”
What parts of your work give you energy?
“1) Brainstorming new products – I love playing with materials and thinking about shapes and patterns.
2) Customer communications -I’m a talker. I love working on communications (email, social media, etc.), or even designing packages that people will want to read.”
What parts of your work drain you?
“Dealing with photography and images. Mittys are hard to photograph. Makeup removal is hard to capture. Every time I review what images we need, and every time I try and find some new resources, I feel the weight of every one of my past photography failures.”
Most pivotal point of your career so far?
“Realizing I don’t need to have “arrived” to be helpful to other people starting out.”
Best piece of advice you received that you now pass on to others…
“Don’t wait until it’s perfect to put your work into the world. Launch early. Launch small. I can almost guarantee you’re missing something or doing something wrong with your work. However, if you start getting feedback (lots of it, since not everyone knows what they’re talking about), you’ll spot the problem faster and fix it before you’ve wasted too much time.”
What event or situation is funny now but wasn’t at the time. Please expand.
“At the beginning, I couldn’t find anyone to sew my product. There was this factory I wanted to work with because they were ethical and did great work, which is surprisingly hard to find. The problem was, it was run by this obnoxious, self-important man. He kept finding new licensing requirements I had to fulfill that were expensive and time-consuming. The government office kept calling and asking, “Why are you bothering with this? This process is only for garment companies.”
Right when I finished the last, expensive, difficult hurdle in the process, the guy called to tell me he wouldn’t be making Mittys after all. He essentially said, “because you’re a nobody.” I wanted to kill him.
His shenanigans wasted several thousand dollars. However now, I realize that the hurdles he put me through, taught me a ton about the industry, ethical practices, and safe working conditions. I can spot a shady factory a mile away (so to speak). In the end, the annoyance has probably saved me ten times what I spent. That guy wanted to make me feel weak and unimportant. He would be annoyed to learn he had the opposite impact.”
Pets, hobbies, external commitments?
“I have one dog, two kids and one husband. Looking to add another dog to the mix ASAP. I’m always lobbying for a cat, but I think the only way I’ll get it is if I sneak it in while my husband isn’t looking. In addition to Take My Face Off (TMFO), I help my husband with his business coaching musicians on business skills and marketing.”
Describe your current day-to-day…
“Wake up, read the news while ingesting lots of coffee. Then I check my kids’ Zoom school schedule and make sure my husband knows what time he needs to manage the household. When I’m “on,” I fit tasks in between nagging my kids to do school work and managing the dog. When it’s my husband’s turn, I go to my office and close the door and try to make a few hours count for the full work day I used to have.”
How has your daily life changed since the pandemic, what’s your new normal?
“Distracted. Always distracted. I joke that I’m experiencing early-onset dementia because I think this situation is tearing up my brain. I hear some people talking about how quiet and lonely it has been for them. I have the opposite problem. I’m an introvert who really, really likes quiet time to think. I’m never alone now. It’s never quiet. I can never finish one task before starting the next. My single friends leave me Marco Polos and Voxxer messages. I often miss the messages, because if I can get away from my kids to a quiet space, I’m using that time to answer emails. And a gremlin keeps stealing my headphones, so that’s not an option.”
Has the Corona crisis impacted you personally and professionally? How?
“My husband, who is a musician with the Los Angeles Philharmonic, lost a lot of work. As a result, he is pouring more energy into the company he started a few years ago. The company helps musicians with business skills, and it was a godsend for us and for his clients who suddenly needed a lot of help. So many ups and downs. I’m grateful, but it was exhausting.
Our house in LA was just too small for all of us to be working there all day, every day. And then I had my biggest retail order ever (QVC) last summer. I was freaking out—our factory couldn’t make anything but PPE at the time. We found a way to manage with a set of home-based workers we have on call, and then I had to do a ton of the packing from home and boxing and palletizing in a friend’s yard! It was insane.
Last winter, we said “ENOUGH” to the crowding. We left our home of eight years and moved to a small town in Colorado to be near family. We needed space and fresh air and a change. We’re moving back to LA now, and we found a new house with a lot more room. Hopefully, we’ll go back to our “normal” work and school places, but if we don’t, I’ve finally got a little more space so I don’t lose my mind.”
What, if anything, keeps you up at night?
“My stomach. I seemed to have developed an ulcer this year. Good times. Otherwise, I’m too exhausted to stay awake.”
What have been your best coping strategies over the past year? Do you have any objects, routines or tools that you found particularly uplifting? Gin or Gym?
“I feel most “together” when I’m managing my life with my Passion Planner. However sometimes, I’m so busy I just manage by what’s most urgent. I hate that.
Here’s my favorite strategy—it’s kind of weird, but it WORKS. You write your mega to-do list and put everything down. Then, instead of freaking out about how many things are on the list, you zone out. Either meditate, or read a book, or go for a short walk. Then, go back to the list. Don’t think too hard. Whatever seems like a good idea, whatever sounds like you WANT to do it, or whatever sounds interesting in that moment, do it! I swear, my brain subconsciously points me to the thing that would be most productive or helpful. If I just attack the to-do list with a sense of duty and “gotta get this done,” it’s all uphill. When I do it that way, I run into problems and everything is hard. If I use my woo-woo method of picking tasks, everything goes easily and often leads to lots of great coincidences and conveniences. Crazy, I know.”
What has kept you sane? And kept your family sane?
“Weekday family days off. I recently started building them into the family schedule. These are days when the kids ditch Zoom school and my husband and I make no work commitments. It’s hard to do, since we’re getting less work time than ever before. But I’m not going to take my family somewhere on a weekend when there are crowds everywhere. Also, we’ve gone nuts being housebound all the time. So we go off on outings in the middle of the week. In this year of rules and regulations, which I totally understand—I’m for them!, I feel like this kind of “naughtiness” is actually good for us.”
Did 2020 change your outlook on life in any way?
“I do a lot of pretty crazy things with my life. I’m not a 9-to-5 routine follower. However the pandemic made me look more closely at all of my choices. I was surprised to see that I had allowed a few things into my life over the past few years that didn’t suit me. So this year was a gift in that it made it easier for me to notice and make changes.
Looking around at friends and work acquaintances, it seems like this is a year when people either make big changes or they shrink into old roles. I understand both reactions. It’s a really, really scary year, but I want to keep making changes.”
Are you ready to travel ready? Where do you want to go, with who or would you rather stay home?
“I’m an introverted extrovert and I LOVE travel. I don’t like being busy or out and about, but I love to dive into new places. So it’s either at home for me, or off to somewhere big and new. I love traveling alone or with one person. My husband is a great travel companion, as is my godfather. Right now, I want to go anywhere. Just anywhere. The more foreign to me, the better.”
Finish this sentence “If you look in my handbag at any time you will ALWAYS find….”
“A million lip products. I have the world’s driest lip skin. My nightmare is being without lip balm. Hand cream is a close second. I particularly love lip balms from BITE, Sara Happ, and Sisley.”
What are your work from home saviours?
“My fancy espresso machine (espresso is easier on the stomach than drip coffee). My two monitors. My fancy trackpad that allows me to do graphic design work without getting carpal tunnel. My bone induction headphones (when I can find them), since I can hear the Zoom call AND any screams my children are emitting when I wear them.”
Describe your style?
“I’m Gen X. I have very short hair, which is usually pink or bright red. I wear lots of black, with bright splashes. I recently realized my lifelong aversion to animal prints was really dumb. I love jewelry, but I never remember to put it on. Same with dark nail polish.”
Name your 5 essential items of clothing:
“My chunky green-rimmed eyeglasses, black BCBG vegan leather shirt, black Stuart Weitzman boots or loafers, cashmere sweater from Vince and a pair of stretchy yoga pants that look like “real” pants from Athleta. Also, leather jackets (or vegan leather jackets)! I have one for every occasion.”
How do you see your business or career in two years from now?
“More employees. A lot more employees. I’m dying to delegate. I will be forever grateful for all of the skills I learned while being frugal with my business, but I want to be more profitable so I can hire and train other people to do more. I love leading a team.”
What’s something you haven’t conquered yet but really want to?
“I have a TV pilot I want to write. I also have some wonderful friends who are ready to help me do it. I don’t know if it will go anywhere, but I’m always up to try new things. But first, I’ve got a lot of new employees to hire and train so they can run the business.”
What could you say to your 20 year old self that would help her the most?
“Your differences are your strength. Your weirdnesses are what make life interesting. Don’t smooth those things over—enjoy them.”
Do you have a life motto or mantra that really resonates with you?
“I’m a recovering perfectionist, so, ‘Done is better than good.’ Also, ‘I just want to see what I can get away with,’ from the amazing author Jen Sincero.”
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