Lara Eurdolian has all of the ingredients to run a successful business – passion, talent, and a whole lot of hard work. From marketing for renowned brands like NARS and Kiehl’s to launching her own beauty brand, Pretty Connected, Eurdolian has become an expert of running her business and creating a positive impact for all of her followers. She even co-founded Share Your Beauty, an initiative that donates unused beauty products to shelters in NYC, in 2014.
Throughout her inspiring journey as an entrepreneur, Eurdolian took things into her own hands, researching the ins and outs of her product productions, and developed an incredibly successful business. By taking inspiration from strong women around her and having faith in her capability, Eurdolian worked tirelessly for ten years and used her expertise to create helpful and sustainable products. Motivated by challenges, there is no stopping Eurdolian as she takes on the business world. I had a chance to sit down with Eurdolian and learn more about her and her journey of creating her business, PrettyConnected.
Tell us a little about yourself
Give us a rundown on the history behind your business
I worked in marketing for brands including NARS, Jurlique, Kiehl’s and then started a beauty blog casually ten years ago that opened a lot of opportunities for me over the past decade. I now host a lot of media events and activations, do on-air segments, partner with magazines, and brands, judge beauty awards, and launched an accessories company (shop.prettyconnected.com).
In 2014 after seeing how much waste beauty brands were creating, I co-founded, Share Your Beauty, an initiative that collects unused, unopened hygiene and beauty products and delivers them to shelters in NYC and the tri-state area. Since launching in 2014, Share Your Beauty has collected and distributed over 140,000 products to those in need.
It sounds like a lot, but over ten years, I’ve worked on adding programs or creating things that were voids in the market. My accessories line focus’ around chains and straps that are fashionable for your camera and also work for water bottles, flip flops, cases (anything with a ring) and beyond. I’ve been carrying around a Sony A6000 mirrorless camera forever and could never find a fashionable strap, so I started making my own. I finally manufactured them last year. And as a fitness person, I had a strap for my yoga matt, but I hated holding a water bottle. Adding a strap has helped me stop buying plastic bottles or giving in to dehydration because I don’t want to be wasteful. We also have fun BOSS rings because making women (and men) feel empowered and reminded they’re a BOSS is important to me.
What has your process been like getting your business started to where you are now?
I do things very organically, but I’m also very scrappy and do my research. We live in the time of the internet, so anything is possible. For the blog, it was fairly standard in setting up and then growing it. As it grew though I did work with a larger agency for better hosting, web design, logos… and trademarked “Pretty Connected.” I also made it an LLC as soon as I realized it would turn into a real company. For the accessories line, it was similar. I pitched It Cosmetics before it launched and we partnered for a press trip and used my straps with Instax cameras. I used that opportunity to announce the launch. For everything else, I either googled or asked friends for recommendations. Whether it be lawyers to set up the company, how to get a tax ID, and sought out other designers to talk me through manufacturing… Ultimately, I learned not to put all your eggs in one basket. Spend a little more for a sample and make sure it’s great. Don’t over order because then you can be stuck with a lot of inventory.
Instagram has brought me a lot of opportunities from tv to campaigns and business deals. It’s a great tool for meeting and getting to know people virtually. However, as soon as Facebook bought it, and all the changes happened, I realized quickly it’s very hard to thrive when someone has control over your engagement. And the amount of energy and distress these algorithms has caused people, I knew early on I didn’t want that to be me. So now I use and appreciate it as a tool for all my other business’ and programs I’m launching instead of relying on it fully for my brands.
I think of my projects like a puzzle, and I don’t like to launch them until I have all the pieces. And some of the pieces I collected years ago, and some are new, but I finally feel like I’m in a good place to make things happen and living up to my ‘Pretty Connected’ name. I’m also getting back into event hosting and have a monthly event series with some really fabulous, inspiring women and brands. And I’m working on doing more reporting and fun and inspiring projects with brands.
Is there anything people misunderstand about your career or something that might surprise others to learn about your work?
It’s never been easy. Rewarding, exciting, inspiring, yes, but not easy. I had to climb a very tall 10-year ladder to get to where I am now. I’ve never had family money, investors, or people to do anything for me, so I had to be very financially savvy and learn a lot. Especially when I started my accessories line. I had to wait until I could afford to take that risk and start another company and pay for inventory. Debt has always made me nervous, and I don’t believe in spending money you don’t have so I’ve had to do things at my own pace. I’m also a long-term thinker. I did a lot of work for free or discounts if I knew it could potentially lead to something bigger or I could call in a future favor.
We all make them—what’s been one of your biggest professional mistakes or missteps so far? What did you learn from it?
I made most of my mistakes before social media. I feel blessed that I worked at corporations before starting my brand/blog that taught me how to behave professionally. It probably saved me from a lot of big mistakes I see all the time! My biggest learning, though, is don’t take things personally. I like to share my wins, but I get so many ‘almost’ big opportunities where I’m in the final running, and it goes to someone else, and that’s just life. I don’t freak out, I don’t rant on Instagram, I don’t open a dialogue with myself about how I’m not good enough, I assume it’s for the best, thank whoever for the opportunity and move on. Having a good attitude keeps me from making big mistakes. Being classy over rejection has even often come back with a different offer for something else. I try not to burn bridges.
My biggest fault, though is I can sometimes be dismissive, which I’m working on. I get very busy, and sometimes brands/people write to me really long emails with all of these sign-ups and things that I’m sure are great opportunities, but they are so long, and I dismiss it. And then six months later, I’ll read about something cool and check my email and realize it’s a brand that pitched me. At the end of the day though I’m one person and while I’m always striving to be better all I can do is my best.
Have you had any major setbacks along the way, or did you have a moment where you wish you’d done something differently?
All the time! Over a decade of blogging, the world changed. I’ve had writer’s block, been overwhelmed by consumerism, uninspired, overwhelmed. I would question if I made the wrong decision working for myself instead of being in a career path at any of the amazing brands I worked for prior to starting Pretty Connected.
There are days when I still question it, but at the moment, I’m doing so many passion projects that until I hit another roadblock or get a fabulous full-time opportunity that feels like a dream job, I’m just staying open.
How did you handle those setbacks?
During all of those stagnant points, I changed something. I evolved in one way or another to get back on track and inspired. It’s probably why I’ve launched so many programs.
I remember being at SXSW four years ago in a total rut. I was overwhelmed at the time, my niche was beauty, but it had become such a saturated space. I started my site 10years ago because there wasn’t enough good information on beauty on the internet and suddenly there was so much noise. And when you go from one of ten to be the first to get a product to one in what feels like hundreds, it’s not unique content. Anyways, it was a roadblock.
Rosario Dawson was speaking at a Neiman Marcus event, and she blew my mind. Something came up in the panel about how do you pick which projects and stay consistent in your niche. And she was like screw that. I do whatever project sounds awesome, and I have time for. I don’t pick one cause to care about, I pick as many as I’m interested in. I’m not doing a good job paraphrasing her words but the meaning stuck with me. From tv roles to spokesperson work, to charities she was involved in.
It made me realize that I didn’t need a perfect feed, or just do beauty or stay in my lane. I can do anything I’m passionate about and can change courses because I’m in charge of me. So that’s basically a sum up of my last five years. I care about beauty (that hasn’t changed), fashion, wellness, the environment/sustainability, and since rescuing a senior dog unexpectedly, I want to make a change for animals as well. I care about small business’ and women entrepreneurs. I care about equality and a kinder world. I might not be able to tackle everything at once, but I don’t feel limited or like I have to worry about something being ‘on brand’ for me. If I care about it, it’s on-brand for me. And hopefully, I’m inspiring others to feel in control of their lives and create whatever they want.
What’s your best piece of advice for women looking to work or build a career in your field?
Surround yourself with smart, kind people. Grow together. Build your relationships. Figure out your strengths but also your weaknesses and find others to fill those gaps. Look ahead… is this what you want to do when you’re 30, 40, 50, 60… What are you reaching towards? Invest in yourself but be smart. Get a part-time job or make sure you can take care of yourself before being impulsive or have a backup plan. Treat people well and not just when they are on top, and especially when they are at their lows, they’ll remember that.
What’s something you wish your younger self had known when you were just starting out?
It’s okay to ask for help, and it’s okay to say no. Never assume the worst. If someone doesn’t return an email or call, assume they are busy. Don’t internalize it or assume it’s something more unless they communicate that.
What one thing do you wish someone had told you before you started your business?
Run. Jk. Probably that it’s going to be a huge personal sacrifice and a lot of work, so you better love it. Most people think what I do is so easy and fun! And the easy and fun part is easy and fun, but I miss out on so many family moments, so many hangouts with friends. And that’s not an uncommon story when you talk to a lot of entrepreneurs or people hustling for their dreams.
Social media can be both a blessing and a curse. How has your social media platforms helped and/or hurt your career?
We get really mad at Instagram (myself included) for their algorithm changes, but at the end of the day it’s an amazing platform to get your brand out there; share your work, and meet people. You have the opportunity to DM people and brands you otherwise may never hear back from if you email and so many other positive attributes in that arena. I use my Instagram to share my life and the cool things I’m doing. I know a lot of people that don’t because ‘it doesn’t fit their feed.’ That’s fine, but it’s limiting. When I’m on TV or live streamed across Time Square or sitting on a panel, or launch a collection at Urban Outfitters, I talk about it. And then inevitably someone in PR or at a network sees my work, likes it, and then reaches out to collaborate. If I didn’t share my accomplishments, then I’d never be on their radar. So from that standpoint, it’s amazing and a major blessing.
If all I cared about was likes/comments, then it can be a curse. Instagram has too much control that it’s discouraging. That algorithm is only getting crazier, and it’s annoying to work so hard and then have your work be shown the percentage of your followers. It makes it harder to build a community, but it is what it is and also why I changed my Instagram strategy. Of course, I care about likes/comments, but it’s no longer the main appeal of the platform for me. Using it to spread my messages is and convert online strangers into real-life collaborators.
Instagram is usually used to show a positive highlight reel of what’s going on in your career. What are some of the less glamorous things and tasks you don’t usually get to share with your audience?
At the end of the day, my platform is about my work, my partnerships, and brands I’m excited about. That’s only half of my life. The other half isn’t glamorous at all or bad. It’s just me in sweatpants getting coffee, or binge-watching Netflix with my boyfriend and running errands.
What’s next for you?
I’ve been working with Patricia Field on a big project that launches in a few months that I’m very excited about.
Otherwise, positivity, entrepreneurship, wellness, sustainability, more brand storytelling, and reporting is what I’m giving my energy towards. It’s hard to know what’s next when you don’t know what opportunities are hiding around the corner, so I just try to stay very open.
Two goals I have for the end of 2019/early 2020 is I want to collaborate with a major water bottle brand with my straps and also write a children’s book. Those aren’t spaces I’m highly connected in so when my schedule opens up in August/September I’ll start trying to meet people and get advice. If other projects or my priorities change, I’ll adjust the calendar.