I love speaking with young entrepreneurs—it’s such an exciting (and important) time to be changing the world with new ideas, and I love that they’re just making things up, powered by sheer enthusiasm and energy. Now, I started Bobbi Brown Cosmetics 25 years ago with just a line of nude lipsticks, but I still remember how tough it was launch a new company, especially before social media was invented. (Can you imagine a successful beauty brand without Instagram these days?)
Yesterday at Bobbi Brown HQ in New York City, I had the honor of interviewing my friend Jeff Raider, co-CEO and co-founder of Harry’s, purveyor of fine (but not expensive) razors. Jeff was also one of four co-founders of Warby Parker, which he launched while he was still in business school at Wharton. Nowadays, Warby Parker is an international socially conscious luxury eyewear brand, and Harry’s razors are being sold in select J.Crew, Nordstrom, and Bloomingdale’s stores—in addition to an actual barbershop in downtown Manhattan. Now, Jeff is well-educated, but he’s also got street smarts, as evidenced by his success in business. Below are three lessons about entrepreneurship that he shared with me last night—I’m honored to share them with you:
- Failure is good—as long as you learn.
These days, startups tend to moralize failure as if it’s always a good thing—but Jeff and I both agree: it’s only OK if you learn from it. So, what does that mean? It means you should take risks but you should be ready to accept responsibility if you encounter failure along the way. Jeff recently launched H’University at Harry’s, which offers real-world lessons like these to college students. (And yes, I’m one of the teachers! Check out the video from my H’University debut below.)
- The best products aren’t always the most expensive ones on the market
Neither Harry’s razors ($15 for a Truman set) nor Warby Parker glasses ($95 for a pair) are the most expensive ones on the market, but they know what their customers want and they’ve developed brand loyalty in just a few years. “We felt like other razor brands were so serious and cold,” Jeff explained to me. “It was all about the perfect six pack and the perfect jawline—and this is not the usual shaving experience for guys.”
- Just find a way to make things work.
When his iPhone died in the middle of an important phone call on the street, Jeff didn’t panic—he calmly walked to the Apple Store two blocks away and used their chargers for a few minutes. That’s something I try to teach all of my own employees: if something doesn’t work out, do something else. “So what, now what?” is a mantra of author Liz Murray’s that I’ve co-opted for daily life.