This week we interviewed Allison Moss, a successful marketing professional in the beauty industry who has hired countless creative professionals for different beauty campaigns. She is currently an Executive Marketing Consultant at The Marketing Arm, where she also acted as the Head of Global Marketing for Toppik Cosmetics.
What is the most interesting aspect to you about your position? It’s such a particular sector of the industry.
I think the part I like most is working on products that impact people’s every-day lives. At the core of it, that’s what motivates me and that’s what I truly enjoy— seeing the products that I bring to market, the products that I support and promote, immediately affecting someone’s life. At this point, I’ve worked in every beauty category—whether it is cosmetic or makeup products that make you feel more put together, prettier, more you, or skincare products that affect the health and looks of your skin, or hair-care… there’s just a lovely tangible benefit, an impact to the user’s every-day life, and I love that.
How do you choose the people you work with—how do you build your team?
It’s a bit of a learning skill, to be honest. Hiring someone for a team, it’s always tough. You’re going to learn a lot from a few conversations, but it’s not like having more conversations is going to help you learn more. You just have to start working together. Over the years I have learned to ask better questions and read people quickly to get a sense for whether they will be the right fit for in-house needs.
In terms of hiring external partners—photographers for photoshoots, ad agencies, anyone supporting the business as an external third party— that is a bit different because you can stick your toes in the water. You can see samples of their work, and you’re usually looking for a defined scope. I always look for specific examples in the person’s past relevant work. I want to know about their prior experiences, their successes, and how they constructed their successes. Are they resourceful? Are they nimble? Ultimately, can they listen and take in information as they are working through a particular challenge or launch, to drive out the best result?
On another side, honestly, it’s all about attitude for me. I hire based on positivity. I hire people who are enthusiastic—who see problems and challenges and are oriented to solving them and not being defeated. That person tends to be someone who is willing to collaborate: engaged, resourceful, honest— someone you want to work with.
This said, which advice would you give to professionals getting started in the creative beauty industry?
The number one thing is to be able to understand the business’ needs and objectives and design compelling creative that simultaneously satisfies the business and resonates with the target audience. It’s about having a creative perspective—there is a talent piece to that—but it is also about being able to listen and collaborate and ultimately recognize that this isn’t art for the sake of art.
This is creating beautiful and compelling design that also has a purpose—being able to understand the objectives no matter what level you are coming in at, is extremely important and something I spend a lot of time looking at. That is the biggest piece. The other thing goes without saying, but being able to get feedback, use it, serve the business, and work collaboratively.
What are some things you would advise creative professionals to NEVER do?
To turn that around, I would say: stay positive.
Saying “no” to someone immediately shuts them down. It’s not that you can’t say “no.” There are more productive and fruitful ways to ultimately have a conversation and reach an agreement. “No” stops a process and a collaboration. Try to be thoughtful in your response. When asked to do something, the answer should never be no—it doesn’t mean it should always be yes.
Let’s say you have a lot on your plate, you’re working extra hours, you feel stuck, and someone asks you to do something you don’t have time to do—explain. Say: “These are my priorities. This is what is on my plate. I’d love to do that for you. I just don’t have the capacity. Can we trade something off? How can we get this done, if this is urgent?” That opens up the conversation in a really productive way, rather than just “no.”
What is the most helpful advice you’ve ever received?
I’ll give you two answers. I am not the most patient person. A couple of mentors have pointed out times where I should have taken a step back and found it in myself to have a little more patience, because more time would have yielded a better result.
Another thing: trust your gut, and communicate effectively. Don’t trust your gut and then silently walk away. If something doesn’t feel right— if you’re having trouble deciding between several options to present— find a quiet moment, almost meditative, to let it go and see what comes to you—usually there is a gut instinct. This comes up for me all the time.
I’ll have two different creative directions in front of me, and I’m looking at them and I like both of them, and I try to logically work out which makes the most sense based on the business objectives and what we are trying to achieve, but at the end of the day when I quiet my brain down and take a minute to breathe and not think about it, I usually have a gut instinct. I’ll have it in front of me, and I am more drawn to one of them. Ultimately, once I figure that out, I can better articulate why I think it’s better for a business perspective, as well.
What inspires you creatively?
I find inspiration in beautiful design. I know it when I see it. When I need creative inspiration, I go out in the world and I seek it. I will spend a day going places. Even if it’s just going to the mall—to go see a whole bunch of other brands and stores that aren’t in the space that I am working in, and just observing what jumps out to me from the crowds of hundreds of brands and products I am looking at. Or I’ll go to a museum and look at art. There are always one or two things that feel different and fresh and beautiful and exciting, that I gravitate toward, thinking “I love that.”
To what do you attribute your success?
Dedication and persistence. I work hard, but it’ not just about hard work— it’s about working smart. When I see an opportunity that I am interested, I go after it. If it doesn’t pan out, I regroup and think of another way to go after it, and also evaluate why it didn’t work. More often than not, it does pan out, or it pans out in a way you wouldn’t expect. It’s also about going along with the ride.
I didn’t sit down at the beginning of my career thinking this is where I’d be right now. I just kept doing what I enjoyed doing and progressively tried to do and learn more and was proactive in seeking out opportunities that felt exciting and interesting where I was learning and growing—and taking the ride. It’s a combination of being open and being dedicated.
Allison Moss – Bio
Allison is a passionate marketing executive with a background in brand management, operational marketing and eCommerce across the Beauty/CPG and Technology/Digital sectors. Areas of expertise include brand strategy, business & sales strategy, brand awareness, media strategy and execution (advertising/PR/social media), retail marketing, digital marketing & eCommerce. Strengths include leading teams, a strategic approach, and an ability to connect with consumers. Also known as a resourceful marketer who gets things done, and sets high standards for quality in execution.