A marketer is a storyteller who is a keen observer of human behavior with a sincere interest in creating solutions…is equal parts analytical and creative.”
It is so appropriate that my first post in this section is an interview with Smeeta Khetarpaul. Smeeta has been such an important part of my life. Not just career wise, where she’s had a tremendous impact in the way I think and work, but personally as well as she’s one of my dear friends and a constant source of inspiration and motivation.I worked with Smeeta for over two years and together with our team at Avon we launched Avon Nutra Effects—a new line of natural skincare suitable for sensitive skin. Launching this line was one of the proudest achievements in my career to date and during the process I witnessed firsthand her infectious energy, strategic thinking, and how she inspired people like a true leader.
Let’s start with an introduction—tell us about yourself!
Smeeta: Hi, I am Smeeta Khetarpaul mom of 2 of the loveliest kids, full time marketer, photographer by hobby and always trying to think of some entrepreneurial ideas. I also love vacations, food and fashion.
You worked in the beauty industry as well as outside of it, have you noticed any differences?
Smeeta: There are definitely some differences in my opinion. Beauty industry is highly influenced by trends and requires a high pace of innovation compared to say a Consumer Product Goods environment. To be successful in a beauty marketing career it helps to have a natural urge to be in the know (of trends, fashion, popular culture etc.). It also helps if one is passionate about beauty. I once met a fantastic and successful marketing professional who used to work on frozen burgers but was a vegetarian herself. However, if you are in beauty and you do not like using the products, it might become a challenge after a certain point.
Can you describe what a marketer is, based on your experiences?
Smeeta: In my opinion a marketer is a storyteller who is a keen observer of human behavior with a sincere interest in creating solutions. A successful marketer is equal parts analytical and creative.
What do you love most about your job?
Smeeta: I had a chance to create a lot of new products from scratch. It is often an unnerving experience because it is long with no guarantee of success. Creating something new and more importantly differentiated in the market is tough. It requires an open mind, team work and thinking out of the box. And for those reasons, I find it the most rewarding.
You’ve worked across beauty categories – Skincare and Color Cosmetics. Which do you prefer?
Smeeta: Oh I love both! At the end of the day beauty is about selling confidence and both these categories do that. For the sake of comparison, I would say that Skincare requires more work on the development side because of product claims. Presenting these claims in a consumer friendly language without over or under playing the benefits can be tricky too. Color Cosmetics, while also has to deal with product claims such as long lasting or non drying etc., has a good measure of fun built into it because you get to work with colors! However, its not always party time here. Think about how many ways you can say sexy! It gets hard 😉
Creating something new and more importantly differentiated in the market is tough. It requires an open mind, team work and thinking out of the box. And for those reasons, I find it the most rewarding.”
Do you have any advice for people who are interested in working in Brand Management?
Smeeta: It is one of the hardest fields to get into within marketing. So plan your path accordingly. If you are a young student, get into the right college/course. If you are looking for a career change, be vocal and network with the right people to charter your path. The right people would be your management as well as folks who are in the Brand Management role currently. Know why you want to get into the role and assess if you are setting yourself up for success.
You are a successful, career driven ambitious woman and also a dedicated mom—how do you juggle it all?
Smeeta: I have learnt over the years that feeling guilty does not help. We can either tell ourselves that we are failing somewhere today (either at home or office) or we can celebrate ourselves because we did the best we could as an employee or a mom today and then promise to take care of the other half tomorrow.
I have also learnt to live life fully. Don’t wait to go on a vacation or take an extra hour of nap or get your nails done or read a book or whatever else fancies you. Don’t be too scared to demand to live your life. Devoting yourself to just one thing will never be fulfilling in the long run.
And lastly, I did give up on sleep a little bit while I do not advocate this at all for anyone. But I love to do a lot of different things and sometimes I sacrifice on sleep to get the extra time. Sigh…
What are some of your favorite beauty brands?
Smeeta: Right now I am digging Urban Decay foundations, compacts and concealers, NARS Lip colors, Sheet Masks. For Skincare I am using Ole Henriksen, Clarins and Fresh products. I mix up my products and rarely use a regimen from one brand only.
Give us one beauty tip you live by.
Smeeta: Moisturize, Moisturize, Moisturize! It is the #1 thing that keeps you looking young, no matter what skin type you have.
If someone wanted to reach out to you, how can they get in touch?
Smeeta: The best place would be to connect via LinkedIn. I would be happy to help in anyway I can.