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For Showing Us The Potential Of Our Beauty – Ann Kathrin Joos

Ann-Kathrin Joos is the founder and CEO of Standard Beauty.

A skincare brand that has been blazing trails recently in South Africa.

Ann-Kathrin noticed the modern trends in skincare and the hype around a particular skincare brand based overseas, and then had the idea of creating high quality skincare products that are affordable and accessible to everyone who is interested in skincare – rather than just focusing on the elite few who are able to afford expensive skincare products


What does modern leadership mean to you?

 Changing the perception of what it means to be a leader. Traditionally, leadership relied on established hierarchical structures, meaning that those at the top had more power and influence over the team, which I think is flawed. Modern leadership to me means a leader who is down in the trenches with their team and is not afraid to roll up their sleeves and lend a hand while providing a new perspective, direction, inspiration and motivation. A modern leader is a visionary who understands how everyone comes together to achieve a common goal. They have to be able to listen (with the intent to understand), learn and act. Simply put, a modern leader leads by example.

What lessons in leadership have you learned as an entrepreneur?

 To never lose hope. Even when things don’t go according to plan, never lose hope. But in the same breath, when plans fall apart, don’t just sit around waiting for better days ahead. Your fate is in your hands and your hands alone. Know your ultimate goal, but stay agile and be prepared to change direction in the face of adversity. When re-starting a business, you don’t start from zero. Instead, you begin with experience and what you have learned from your previous setbacks. In the past, I realised that everyone wants to feel heard. So, in my current business, I intentionally created an environment in which people can all contribute equally and have their voices heard

The Health and Wellness sector is one of the industries of today and the future. What inspired you to get involved in the industry and why do you feel this is an important sector of wellness and business?

 Before starting Standard Beauty, I saw a massive trend in demand for skincare. But I noticed a gap within the market for affordable, inclusive and accessible skincare products. I knew that South African customers purchased a lot of overseas beauty brands, which I think is unfortunate because this country has so much to offer. We have wonderful unique natural resources, a considerable talent pool full of people who want to do a good job and make a good living. I am also aware of the unemployment crisis that South Africa faces. So I wanted to create a brand “from South Africa, for South Africa”. I wanted to create a brand that could make a positive economic and social impact. A brand that would ensure that the customer’s money goes back into their economy. I also wanted to provide workplaces to empower women while strengthening other sectors by sourcing from local suppliers. Beauty is a fast-growing sector and therefore, it is becoming a key player within the Health and Wellness industry. However, this has not always been the case. Traditionally, the consumer focused more on make-up rather than skincare. In fact, skincare often amounted to only two products in the consumer’s entire skincare regimen. But all this changed during the pandemic. During the lockdown, the customers were forced to adapt and make do, as going to salons for face treatments was no longer an option. As a result, customers began to educate themselves and experiment with accessible skincare alternatives. During this time, ingredients and, most importantly, active ingredients became the customer’s top priority. Moreover, this overnight change in consumer behaviour subsequently led to exponential growth in beauty E-commerce, which I would say has put skincare and certainly Standard Beauty on the Health and Wellness map.

Which principles of leadership do you subscribe to?

 I am building a team of strong and independent women. As such, I like to use the following analogy to describe my leadership style: I tell my team to “build a house,” and I give them all the necessary tools to make that goal a reality. I see the potential within everyone in the team, and I want them to realise their potential too. So, I give them the freedom to build the house, I only lay down a sturdy foundation and then they figure out the rest. They do everything from laying bricks for the walls to insulating and finally setting the roof. The house may not always be perfect but that’s the beauty of it. I support my team throughout the process, give them constructive feedback, encourage them to make mistakes, and learn from them. There are four principles that I subscribe to:

 1: Focus on your people and put them first: A leader who fails to see the people behind the work fails their people. For example, at Standard Beauty, we have great people who work together as a team and excel in their positions, but it was not always this way. Lindi, who now works in Customer Service, used to work in production, but that was not her passion, nor her strength. She has strong communication, problem-solving and interpersonal skills, and she enjoys helping people. When I noticed this, I gave her the opportunity to try working in a different department, where she now thrives and is appreciated by our customers. So, focusing on her and what she needed resulted in a positive outcome for both Lindi and the business.

2: Trust and Reliability: I have a great deal of trust in every member of my team. Yes, mistakes happen, however it is important to learn from them, but knowing that I trust my team fosters responsibility and reliability for their work.

3: Character and Personality: When growing our team, I always look for personality, attitude and character over skills. Skills can be taught. It must be a great fit for both the company and the applicant. Our team at Standard Beauty has different personalities and backgrounds, but character and direction are all aligned. This is one of the attributes that make us great.

4: Up-skill others: A great leader recognises the potential in everyone and is not afraid to invest in people’s development. For example, when someone joins Standard Beauty, I like to see how I can help them grow and reach their full potential. Ma Suzan was my very first employee and assisted part time in manually applying the labels, when Standard was still operating from my kitchen. I noticed that she had a great sense of discipline and attention to detail. I am so proud of how far she has come, she started as a domestic worker and today, she is a Production Manager, who manages a sizeable team. I believe that it is better to up-skill and promote within my team, than to hire outside managers.

Who is your modern leadership icon and why?

 For me that’s easy, Brené Brown, because she normalises humanness in the workspace and advocates for brave and compassionate leadership.

What do you think is the greatest challenge modern Leaders face today?

 Finding and retaining great talent, especially amongst Gen Z and Y. But this is a challenge I think most leaders face today. The next challenge that comes very close is, the ability to be a great leader in an ever-changing environment. Currently, we are in a situation like no other, a fast-paced environment where lots of changes are happening in a short space of time. As a modern leader, this presents some interesting challenges. On the one hand, we must be transparent with our team. However, on the other hand, we have to find ways to manage and communicate change effectively and without harm, as too many changes can have an adverse impact on the team. It’s about finding a balance, which is something I am still navigating, both as a leader and a team player.

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