In The Path, we spotlight different women making a difference in the beauty, fashion, wellness, and medical aesthetics industries. Here, Sio BeautySM founder Gigi Howard shares her road to success.
Some people are destined to run a business, but others become entrepreneurs out of sheer necessity. Former model and beauty publicist turned SiO BeautySM founder Gigi Howard falls into the latter category. In her mid-to-late twenties, she started noticing wrinkles on her décolleté and cleavage exacerbated by years of sun exposure and side sleeping. “My face didn’t match my décolleté and I was embarrassed,” Howard tells Spotlyte. “I tried to hide my wrinkles under my clothes, basing my outfit choices around how bad my wrinkles looked when I woke up.”
Driven to seek out a solution, she spoke to doctors, slept with oddly-shaped chest pillows, and tried every skincare potion on the market. “I became so desperate, I even thought about duct tape,” Howard laughs. It was at a lunch with a friend that she had her “aha” moment. Her friend had just undergone minor surgery and had been prescribed silicone adhesive sheets to help heal her post-surgical incisions. “I thought to myself, ‘a scar is like an upside down wrinkle — if the medical grade silicone could help smooth a scar, then it could help smooth out a wrinkle.’”
After trying a piece of the silicone and experiencing transformed skin literally overnight, she knew she was on to something big. She worked with medical experts and a chemist, going through 60 prototypes of silicone adhesive sheets until she made her vision a reality. Her SiO SkinPads ($30) were born — a comfortable, medical-grade, skin-like patch that helped improve the look of chest wrinkles in just one evening. “My favorite clothes came out of hiding,” she shares. “I was raised to always confront life head on. By doing this, not only did I find the solution to my own worries, I created the solution for those experiencing the same issues I faced.”
At 48, she now has an entire range of skincare solutions under the SiO brand, proving that Howard is both a savvy resource for both career and beauty advice. But she also offers thoughtful, caring insight into other arenas, including what it’s like to go through postpartum depression, her perspective on medical aesthetics, and more. Discover it all when you keep reading, below.
Spotlyte: What is your advice to anyone who wants to start a business?
Gigi Howard: If you have an idea, put yourself out there and go for it. You have to be really motivated, so make sure it is something that really inspires you. It takes a lot of investment — in terms of time, money and hard work — to turn an idea in to a successful business. You definitely have to do your research, too. Research your idea, your market and your competitors. The good news is that Google is your friend.
Spotlyte: In your opinion, what are the perks of being your own boss? What are the challenges?
GH: In my experience, when you are a founder you do not have the luxury of thinking of yourself as a boss — you are a teammate; no more, no less. As far as challenges, there is never enough of anything. Never enough capital or people, and there is never enough time. But you have to make decisions with what you have, even if it's not enough, because the business never stops.
Spotlyte: You’re a brand founder and busy single mom. When you have limited time for pampering and self-care, what do you do to treat yourself?
GH: When I feel like treating myself, I order Domino's ExtravaganZZaTM; thin crust pizza and watch sports with my son, Southworth. I'm not really much of the pampering type — I’d rather spend my free time with my son!
Spotlyte: You’ve spoken openly about experiencing PPD after the birth of your beautiful son. What advice do you have for women going through it?
GH: I didn’t just have postpartum depression (PPD) — I had a mega dose of it. Unfortunately, it's a reality for a lot of new moms. Being a single mom, I decided I needed to be with my family back home in Georgia for the delivery of my son. The day I came home from the hospital, I got in the shower, sat on the floor, and just burst into tears, wondering “why did I do this?” I would look at him and just think, “now what?”
My instinct was to suffer in solitude but fortunately, I had a doctor in New York who was a PPD specialist. She called me every day while I was in Georgia and really helped me through it. She promised me that I would come out of my PPD completely and love my son more than anything. My doctor prescribed medications to help me stabilize so that I could pull myself out of my depression. I truly believe the combination of support and the medicine I used to treat my PPD really helped me. My advice to new moms is to always to get help and to not be opposed to medications. With your doctor's advice, there are tons of options.
Spotlyte: If there’s one piece of beauty or skincare advice your son retains from you, what would you like it to be?
GH: My most important beauty and skincare advice is use SPF all year round!
Spotlyte: What is your skincare philosophy?
GH: Simple, clean skin.
Spotlyte: What is your skin type? What are three products you love and use for your skin?
Spotlyte: What do you eat or avoid for your best skin and why?
GH: I avoid the sun and keep my skincare routine as simple as possible. As far as my diet, I eat everything from kale salads to fried chicken.
Spotlyte: When do you feel your most beautiful?
GH: As a woman and an entrepreneur, I feel most beautiful when I am in command, sales are up, my team is happy and my customers are loving my products. I'm happy to say I have been feeling more beautiful on the inside than I've ever felt before, largely due of the success of my brand.
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