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September 12, 2017
September 12, 2017

I recently had the pleasure of sitting down one on one with Rosemarie Cirminiello, Vice President of Learning at Lancôme, to talk about her incredible career path, her love of the business, and her sheer determination to have everyone truly understand the importance of Beauty Advisors, now more than ever.

When you started as a Beauty Advisor for Lancôme, did you know you wanted a career in the beauty industry?

I started as Beauty Advisor in 1987, and I was just super excited to work for Lancôme, it was a fun job, but I wasn’t thinking about a career. It wasn’t until I attended my first seminar with Colleen Atkins, who was a trainer at the time, that I realized I was with my people. A light went on for me. I wanted to do what she was doing, Colleen showed me what was possible. From that point on I was fearless. I told absolutely everyone that came into the store from Lancôme about my goals and dreams. Every time someone visited my store, I’d say, “Don’t forget I want to be a trainer!” Eventually, I got my shot.

From the outside looking in, your career path looks like a “Cinderella story.” Was it really that smooth?

It was actually my personal life, not Lancôme, that brought me to New York. I wouldn’t say that my career has been without challenges and I wasn’t always promoted to positions when and where I thought I should. In those moments there’s always a choice—are you going to be sour grapes or be positive? I always decided to keep going. I learned I had to be open to the path I was on—when I was passed up for certain jobs, of course, I was disappointed, but I had to step back and recognize that it wasn’t my time.

Over the course of my career, I have changed jobs almost every 3 years. I never said no to an opportunity, but sometimes I was a fish in water, sometimes I wasn’t, and I had to work really hard because I wasn’t a natural. What I learned is finding your natural talents and being a fish in water is OK. Weaknesses are things I don’t like to focus on. It makes more sense to play to your strengths rather than trying to fix your weaknesses, but you have to do everything so you can tell the difference.

Were there leaders around you as you grew within the organization that empowered your growth? What did they teach you? Was it a specific person?

I learned something from every position I’ve held and from everyone I worked with through the years. You are going to work with people you flourish and get along with and those that you don’t but will learn from both. Sometimes the lesson is about what you don’t want to do or be—that’s important to learn too.

There was one person who came into my life when I had hit a wall. I was a Business Manager with a $2 million counter, we had just hit the #1 rank, and there was nowhere else to grow. Then I met Ramzy Burns; it was magic. She saw in me what I didn’t see—she saw my potential. As my career path wavered between sales and education, Ramzy was my consummate and continuous mentor. She put me in roles that didn’t always come naturally, so I had to work extra hard to learn the skills

I needed to continue to grow. Ramzy was grooming me for a career in sales until I reminded her of my dream—I wanted to be head of education one day. She was generous, let me go, put me on an education path, and here I am today. My dream came true.

Ramzy and I were two kids in a mall talking about beauty—28 years later we are heads of departments in the Lancôme corporate of office. I achieved my goal of being the head of education and she achieved her goal as head of sales. She was my mentor, and now we are each other’s mentors. We support each other always.

What is a “Day in the Life of Rosemarie” like now?

My client has changed from the consumer to our Beauty Advisors. It’s my job is to represent Lancôme’s 5,000 Beauty Advisors and be their voice on the 29th floor at the L’Oréal headquarters in New York. Our Beauty Advisors are my passion, and I want to make a difference for them. What excites me now is developing programs, training, and seminars that surprise and delight them.

Do new launches and the industry excite you as much today as they did during your first year as a Beauty Advisor?

ABSOLUTELY! Beauty products make me happy—I’m a girl! The industry is just as exciting today as it was on my first day. Colors and trends ebb and flow but the business is still really about products that make women feel good. The passion is for the product, but for me, it’s all about the impression you can make in a person’s day that I find most exciting.

What skills does it take to be a successful Beauty Advisor?

Hard skills can be learned. You can be taught how to be a makeup artist, how to provide customer service, or how to manage people. However, it’s the soft skill of understanding the power of the impact you can have by being kind that can’t be taught. That’s something everyone needs to experience and find within themselves.

Most of the people I know in beauty have all experienced that soft skill moment—I still remember mine. One day I noticed a pregnant woman walking around the perimeter of the department. She seemed hesitant, so I walked up to her and asked her how her day was and if she’d have a seat and let me treat her. My only motivation at that moment was to make her feel happy. I applied product, we chatted, I listened and what I learned was that her pregnancy had been difficult and she wasn’t feeling pretty. Several weeks later a man came into the department looking for Rosemarie, I said “That’s me.” He told me that his wife just had a baby and he wanted to buy her a gift from me. He said, “You changed her. You made her feel beautiful and special. You did what I couldn’t, and I wanted to thank you.”

To be successful, you must master the hard skills and do them well, but when you experience your moment, you’ll soar. It isn’t just about product or selling, it’s about listening and connecting.

What advice can you give on building a loyal customer base?

In a recent study, 60% of women surveyed are not loyal to a brand—they are more loyal to their own needs, and 90% of people value the advice of an expert. This study shows that it’s our Beauty Advisors’ time to shine. I know that how I treat the Beauty Advisors is how they will, in turn, treat the customer. We have to support each other, help each other, have fun, and make an impact.

The opportunity lies in how you treat a potential customer. If you continue to make them feel great every time you see them, they will continue to come to you. Have that connection for your fellow human being and have empathy. We have no idea what a person is going through, so we need to be kind. Sincere kindness is something that can carry you through your career.

What advice would you give someone who wants to grow within Lancôme?

The best advice I can give is to speak up. Be fearless. Listen to others. Never say no. And jump—the net will always appear. Sometimes it’s just a little further than you think. Never stop telling everyone around you what you want to do or what you want to become within the Lancôme organization. You have to be an active part of your journey—don’t just sit back and wait to be noticed.

What do you think about the changing landscape of technology and the role of the Beauty Advisor?

I believe it is the greatest time to be a Beauty Advisor because of technology. We now have the opportunity to connect with our consumers in new ways. We can address a client’s wants and needs where, when, and how they want to engage with Lancôme.

Consumers have never been more knowledgeable. Beauty Advisors want technology because it helps and supports them to stay relevant, to stay on top of trends, and to do their job. For example just because someone is doing something on YouTube, doesn’t mean it will work for everyone. Watch everything with a cautious eye. Make sure you can talk about the trend of the moment with your client but know you can also gently guide her to something that works for her.

Final thoughts?

The ability to grow the business and generate sales just by making women feel good, is such an incredible gift. We are in an industry where we can make women look more beautiful and leave us feeling happier! The job is about the connectivity, elevating that person, showing them you truly care and helping them feel more confident in that moment. Often we will never know how big of an impact we might have on someone but understand that it can be big.

And know, anything is possible, speak up, work hard, and share your dreams.


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