Instagram takeover: The beauty of business

Nikko Lara, DMSB'15.

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​ ​launch​ed ​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​ ​insight​s do​ ​you​ ​have​ ​for​ ​the​ ​D’Amore-McKim​ ​community? 
  1. 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.

  2. 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.

  3. 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.