Nicholas Lara, DMSB'15, always believed he wanted to work in finance. After graduating though, his life took a completely different turn. Lara is currently the chief logistics officer for Beauty Bakerie, an e-commerce cosmetics company based in California. Here, Lara details his experiences with the startup life, offers advice to those thinking of a similar path, and looks back on his time at Northeastern University. Be sure to follow his Instagram takeover beginning March 5, 2018 on @damoremckim.
Q What is your current profession and what led you there?
I’m currently the Chief Logistics Officer of Beauty Bakerie Cosmetics Brand, an e-commerce cosmetics company based in San Diego, Calif.
After graduating in 2015 with a degree in Economics and Finance, I was most interested in pursuing a career in finance, but a part of me wanted to do something spontaneous, and at the time, the startup venture option was certainly feasible. It wasn’t long after I graduated when the CEO of Beauty Bakerie, Cashmere Nicole, contacted me about joining her three-person team, and I now oversee and manage warehouse operations, logistics, product development, and compliance for her company.
I was honored when she asked me to join her company, but also surprised because I was 23 years old, just coming out of college and had absolutely no previous experience in makeup! Nonetheless, I saw it both as a challenge and an opportunity to apply what I had learned from my classes and co-ops to building a new business.
Q: Tell us about Beauty Bakerie Cosmetics Brand. What is it, how did it start, and what is your role?
Beauty Bakerie is an e-commerce, cosmetics company sold in over 60 countries both online and through brick and mortar locations. The company started and operated out of CEO Nicole’s home in Indiana until 2015 when she decided to make Beauty Bakerie her full-time job and open the company’s first official headquarter in San Diego. Since then, the company has rapidly grown to 30 employees, has partnered with over 10 retail distributors globally, and it has been recognized by Forbes, Allure, Cosmopolitan, Huffington Post, Teen Vogue (2016 Beauty Game Changer), Essence, Elle, Byrdie, Nylon and Buzzfeed for their long-lasting, smudge-free products.
My day-to-day responsibilities include logistics, supply chain management, inventory, management, warehouse operations , product development, and compliance.
Q: What was it like being involved in the beginning stages of a startup?
I love what I do, and never in a million years would I have imagined that I would be in cosmetics overseeing logistics, operations, fulfillment, distribution, compliance, and most surprisingly, product development. Startups are emotional roller coasters that give you both waves of adrenaline and stress. There are no rules, no guidelines, and many uncertainties. You either have your hands in everything or nothing at all. I can’t attribute any single lesson, experience, or piece of advice that prepared me for this. It simply was a matter of sinking or swimming, and we chose to swim.
This start-up did not just teach me how to become an entrepreneur, it showed me what it was like to live like an entrepreneur. The feeling of raising $3 million of institutional capital as a 25-year old is surreal; one that I hope many other young entrepreneurs get to experience multiple times throughout their career.
Q: How did D’Amore-McKim prepare you for this career in the global business world?
The co-op program played a significant role in my preparation for my career after graduation. Working with companies like MFS Investment Management, State Street Global Advisors, Wellington Management Company and Iroko Pharmaceuticals, gave me a more holistic perspective on business and allowed me to apply concepts I was learning in the classroom to real-world situations. My co-op advisor, Elizabeth Chilvers, and the rest of the co-op office were tremendous resources for me when I found myself needing career advice. The program gave me a competitive edge and the professional experience that employers wanted to see coming out of college.
Show me your friends and I’ll show you your future. The people you surround yourself with, their goals, career direction, ambitions, desires, attitude, and motivation influence you and your decision-making. The D’Amore-McKim students, faculty, administration, and community motivated, inspired, and most importantly, believed in and supported everything that I wanted to do, regardless of whether it was far-fetched or not, and I’m forever grateful.
Q: What were you involved in while studying at D’Amore-McKim?
Outside of class, soccer was my full-time job. An average week consisted of 25 hours of class, 35 hours of homework, 35-40 hours of soccer, and maybe 45 hours of sleep (that’s on a good week!). I can’t say I regret any of it; it kept me disciplined, hungry and focused. Not to mention, all that hard work paid off in 2012 when we won the CAA Championship title and made an NCAA tournament appearance for the first time in a decade.
Outside of classes and soccer, I was always networking. At the end of my first co-op, I started Northeastern’s first Alternative Investments Society, also known as CAIS. With the help of D’Amore-McKim professors Nicole Boyson, Eliot Sherman, and Hugh Courtney, I launched the University’s first, student-run, alternative investments-focused conference. Since inception, CAIS has hosted over 1,000 students and professionals and garnered the support from notable institutions such as Wellington Management Company, UBS, Ernst Young, General Catalyst, Scotia Bank, State Street Global Advisors, as well as established academic partnerships with Chartered Alternative Investments (CAIA) Society and the CFA Institute.
After graduating, I formed an alumni advisory board consisting of over a dozen D’Amore-McKim alumni. We firmly believe that we can help positively impact the quality of our students’ experiences and education by taking an active role in providing guidance and mentorship to them as they prepare for their professional careers after Northeastern.
Q:What additional insights do you have for the D’Amore-McKim community?
- Your team is your most valuable asset
An old coach of mine once said to me, “I’m not looking for the best players; I’m looking for the best team.” Early on in your career, whether you join a traditional program, try to create your own company or join a young start-up, live by that code, understand your team’s dynamic, but more importantly, know your role within the goals of the organization. I’m sure many other entrepreneurs share a similar story to mine, but growing a company from four to 30 employees takes time, patience, but most of all, it requires collective perseverance.
- Always think critically and embrace information.
It should come to no surprise that the world has become increasingly more data oriented. The qualitative observations of yesterday are obsolete. Technology has given us more access to information, in turn, allowing us to drive more decision making based on quantitative reasoning. How you choose to manage and utilize the wealth of information in front of you is what will ultimately differentiate you from your peers.
- Be a network gatherer.
Most of the things I’ve been able to do, places I’ve been able to travel, and people I’ve been able to interact with have been a result of how I’ve managed my relationships and grown my network. Make it a personal goal to try and interact with someone new every single day, and I promise you, you’ll see and meet some incredibly talented and successful students that you would have never even known existed had you not had the courage to say “Hi.”
Q: What will you be sharing with us during your takeover?
My hope with the takeover story I’ve curated is that it provides not just a glimpse into my life after graduating from the D’Amore-McKim School of Business, but more importantly, conveys my story in a way that is easily relatable to any prospective, current, or past student. Each image represents a piece of the foundation I’ve built to give me the life balance I need not just to be good at what I do, but more importantly, continue doing what I love. Without balance, any foundation will inevitably crumble.