Believe IT - Critical summary review - Jamie Kern Lima

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Believe IT - critical summary review

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Self Help & Motivation and Career & Business

This microbook is a summary/original review based on the book: Believe IT: How to Go from Underestimated to Unstoppable

Available for: Read online, read in our mobile apps for iPhone/Android and send in PDF/EPUB/MOBI to Amazon Kindle.

ISBN: 982157801

Publisher: Gallery Books

Critical summary review

‘’I’m just not sure women will buy makeup from someone who looks like you. You know, with your body and weight.’’ This is what a potential investor said to Jamie Kern Lima when her company's survival was in his hands. Before becoming the first female CEO in L’Oreal’s history, investors rejected Lima dozens of times. In ‘’Believe IT,’’ she shares personal and professional lessons she has learned during her life journey to help those who are often underestimated by themselves and others. So, get ready to be encouraged to believe in yourself! 

Launching the IT Cosmetics

    Before founding a makeup and skincare company, Lima’s dream was to become a talk show host because she loved the idea of sharing inspirational stories of other people to the world. Therefore, she began her career as a television news anchor and reporter in her late 20s. During that time, she developed a skin condition on her face called rosacea, which usually appears in the form of red patches. As there was no proven cure for rosacea at the time, she started using a lot of makeup to cover the redness on her face, and grew more and more insecure about it. ‘’Nothing worked. Either a product wouldn’t give enough coverage or, if it did, I would look like I was wearing a mask of makeup,’’ she writes.

    It was at this time she realized that beauty companies were not addressing the real skin challenges women faced, but were instead making them feel more insecure by promoting photoshopped images of models with allegedly perfect skin. ‘’When I looked at them, they made me feel like I wasn’t beautiful or like I wasn’t enough,’’ comments Lima. And then, she got the idea to found a cosmetics company that would sell makeup that gave natural coverage and worked on all ages and skin types. Her main aim was to ‘’to shift the culture around the images the beauty industry puts out as ‘aspirational.”’

    In 2007, Lima married Paolo, a Brazilian who had immigrated to the United States as a child. When she decided to marry him, she was afraid that marriage would put her dream of building a business empire on hold. To prove she was wrong, Paolo made her write a business plan for her future company when they were on their honeymoon flight to South Africa. 

    Upon returning from their honeymoon, they both quit their jobs and started IT Cosmetics in their living room. ‘’I was sad to give up the dream of hosting a talk show,’’ writes Lima, ‘’but I felt an even stronger calling in a different direction. Sometimes knowing when to let go of a dream is as important as knowing when to follow one.’’

The first breakthrough

    Lima and Paolo used all of their savings to launch their company and pay chemists, manufacturers, and package designers. As money was tight, they did as much as they could by themselves. Paolo, for example, built their first website with the help of the book called ‘’HTML for Dummies.’’ They learned a lot by using the internet and asking for advice from people in the beauty industry. ‘’I’d worked hard my entire life, but I had no idea how hard it is to be an entrepreneur, where you can’t just clock in and out or leave work at the end of the day,’’ Lima says. 

    After launching her product, Lima offered it to retailers and heard ‘’no’’ from almost every one of them. She did manage to get a deal with a few of them - however, they never made any significant profit. The only thing that kept her from not giving up was the dream she would one day empower all women to believe they were worthy and beautiful.

    After some time, the product started selling online. However, as it contained high-quality formulas with clinical testing, it cost a lot of money. For this reason, Lima’s goal was to sell in stores such as ULTA Beauty and Sephora that would carry both the quality and high prices of her cosmetics. Nevertheless, all the big distributors rejected her over and over - for years.

    The breakthrough for IT Cosmetics happened when Lima displayed her products at the CEW (Cosmetic Executive Women) awards show. There, she met a woman from QVC who liked her Bye Bye Under Eye concealer and arranged a meeting with QVC executives. And, after so many rejections, she finally got “yes”! She was invited to QVC to advertise her concealer. And finally, IT Cosmetics gained wide recognition - in the 10 minutes during the airing, Lima sold 6,000 units of her product! Not only that - she was invited to QVC again and got thousands of additional orders. She attributes this success to the fact she showed up on TV with no makeup (even though sales consultants advised her not to do so). This enabled her to clearly demonstrate the quality of her product.

The search for identity

    When she was in her late 20s, something happened in Lima’s life that would shift her perspective on everything she knew about herself at the time. While she was looking at old family photos at her mother’s house on Christmas Eve one year, Lima noticed something strange. Her parents had had a baby girl before she was born, who unfortunately died only nine days after birth. They had only one photo of her, which was dated March 1977. Another photo showing Lima as a baby, dated July 1977 - only four months after her sister’s death. When she asked her mother about the dates, she confessed that she was not her daughter - they adopted her shortly after her sister died! It turned out the doctor at the hospital offered her mother the chance to adopt a baby whose mother was hiding her pregnancy and did not plan to keep the baby. 

    When she walked out of her mother’s house that day, Lima was determined to find her biological mother. ‘’I needed to find out who I was and where I really came from,’’ she says. The only piece of information she had about her biological mother was her name - Rosemary Ryan - which Lima was not even sure was real. She spent the next five years calling every person across the country with that or a similar name. Unfortunately, she had no success in finding her.

    In 2010, Paolo signed Lima up for an adoption TV show, which encouraged people to submit their own stories for a chance at getting help from expert locators in search of their families. Shortly after Lima appeared on the show, she got the information about her biological mother. Lima immediately sent her an email. They met, had a great time, and started building their relationship. Lima says she realized her search for her birth family was also her search for identity. ‘’My quest for where I came from led to discovering what I’m made of. And that prepared me to see through a whole new lens while building IT Cosmetics, and to help millions of women as they struggled to embrace their own identities and be reminded for themselves what they’re made of too,’’ she says.

CEW Awards

    Eight years after being in the cosmetic business, Lima received one of the biggest honors in the beauty industry, the Cosmetic Executive Women Achiever Award. On top of that, the CEW also invited her to join their board. As Lima puts it, ‘’In the beauty world this is like being asked to join the most exclusive sorority.’’ 

    She decided she would use the acceptance speech to try and make an impact on the audience. She wanted to tell everyone her success was proof that the beauty industry could abandon advertising their products using highly unrealistic images of women. Lima knew she risked a lot in speaking out in this way, such as losing some of her friends from the beauty industry. Despite that, she decided to be brave and stand up for her beliefs, rather than be popular. Lima believes we should always try to use our energy to be courageous and to take risks, rather than staying in our comfort zones.

    So, she talked about how she decided to launch IT Cosmetics to change the perceptio n of beauty the cosmetics industry nurtured. When she began her business, numerous retailers and beauty experts told her that what she had been doing was not luxurious enough. ‘’Today,’’ Lima said in her speech, ‘’almost all of those same retailers now use real women in images. And I am proud of that.’’ She also said that she did not feel her mission of changing the photoshopped images of women was over. She felt like IT Cosmetics and L’Oréal had just scratched the surface of what needed to change. Therefore, she challenged all representatives of the beauty companies in the audience to set new beauty standards by abandoning the photoshopped images of models they used in advertisements. She urged them to use those images to make a positive change in women's lives - not to disempower them.  

Something has to give

    Do you often feel anxious about an exciting event you have to attend because you do not know what clothes to wear? Maybe you have felt anxiety that the clothes you had planned to wear would not fit well? Lima says women often waste their time and energy on their physical appearance out of fear of what others might think of them. 

    After becoming a successful entrepreneur, Lima became a frequent guest at glamorous parties, such as the Oscars Night Before party. One of the famous people she met at one of these parties was Meg Whitman. The two of them started talking, and Lima asked Whitman if she had ever been insecure about her body, weight, or appearance. ‘’In fact,’’ Lima told her, ‘’almost all of the incredibly successful executives I know, and other hugely successful women - lawyers, CEOs - they all admit that they often measure their self-worth on any given day by what dress size they fit into.’’ To Lima’s astonishment, Whitman said she did not worry about those things. “Something has to give,’’ Whitman said. ‘’With everything in my life I had to decide what had to give. I have kids. And a career. I couldn’t keep my house the way Martha Stewart would. Things have to give. And that wasn’t something I worried about.” Whitman’s answer made a profound impact on Lima. She realized she should not worry about her weight or how her house looked just because that was important to other people. All women have a choice not to spend time feeling insecure, but rather use the energy on things that move them forward, such as their career, parenting, education, or something else they are passionate about. 

    Therefore, figure out what is right for you, and set your priorities accordingly. Be aware that achieving balance is rarely possible - something always has to give, as Whitman put it. ‘’If we’re trying to balance it all perfectly, likely everything will lose, and we’ll be feeling like a failure all the time,’’ Lima concludes. 

Final Notes

    ‘’Believe IT’’ offers a behind-the-scenes look at success, therefore enabling readers to connect to Lima’s story and apply the lessons she gives to their lives. More importantly, Lima shows that success is not only available to people with extraordinary abilities. Anyone can fulfill their dreams as long as they dare to believe in them.

12min Tip

    Do not attach your sense of worth to your physical appearance, because you will make others only value your looks.

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Who wrote the book?

Jamie Kern Lima is an American entrepreneur, co-founder of IT Cosmetics, and the first female CEO of a brand in L'Oréal's 100+ year history. She is on the Forbes list of Richest S... (Read more)

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