I had the pleasure of interviewing Jessica Postiglione, the CEO & Co-Founder of OLIKA (pronounced “oo-lee-kah”), a start-up that created “the world’s most beautiful hand sanitizers,” named Birdie and Minnie. OLIKA is following in the footsteps of brands like Method Products and eos Products, who have launched consumer goods which combine delightful packaging with formulations that contain high-quality natural ingredients. Until now, hand sanitizer never looked so good.

Thank you so much for doing this with us! What is your “backstory”?

As far back as I can remember, I have been interested in business. At one point in high school, I even tried selling homemade arts and crafts. It did not pan out as well as hoped, but a number of lessons were learned in the process!

After college, I was an investment banker and held a number of corporate strategy roles post-business school. I always wanted to do something entrepreneurial and jumped at the chance to build a lifestyle brand.

Why did you found your company?

We wanted to offer the market a better hand sanitizer alternative. As an avid traveler, I have visited more than 45 countries and hand sanitizer was always a lifesaver on my trips. However, the experience of using unpleasant, alcohol smelling gel drips left my hands feeling irritated and dry. I noticed there were hundreds of creams and serums to keep our faces young and glowing, but no sanitizers that cared to help our hands. I knew we could do better.

What is it about the work you’re doing that’s disruptive?

The hand sanitizer market has traditionally been an overlooked and forgotten as a beauty and personal care category. The packaging looks the same and the bottles contain a product that has seen little innovation since its inception. We wanted to design a sophisticated, design-centric hand sanitizer that contained a hydrating, formulation with better-for-you ingredients. The category was long overdue for a stylish, natural upgrade.

We all need a little help along the journey — who have been some of your mentors?

I’ve been fortunate to connect with other amazing founders in the consumer products space, who have become amazing sounding boards. Regardless of industry, we all navigate the same challenges– from hiring an accountant to understanding how best to use social media. It’s been invaluable to find a circle and discuss with others who can relate as well as share tips on building a business. We share the highs and lows of being on a start-up journey.

How are you going to shake things up next?

We launched our second product Minnie in April 2018 and Fast Company called her “a beautiful work of art.” Minnie is the little sister to big brother, Birdie, and contains 500+ sprays of germ fighting power. We look forward to continuing to expand our line of bird-shaped hydrating, hand sanitizers. Stay tuned!

Can you share 3 of the best words of advice you’ve gotten along your journey?

Really listen. We encourage every customer to tell us what they liked and didn’t like about our products. We take their feedback to heart and value the opportunity to learn and grow as a result. Listening is also a great way to find out how our birds fit into our customers’ lives. For example, multiple Facebook users commented on how our product is the perfect hostess gift– something that we had not thought of, but definitely agree with!

Fail often. We have had some brilliant ideas fall flat, and conversely we have had some throw away ideas that turned out to be huge hits. We learned more from the “bumps in the road” and are better for it. Many of the ideas that fell flat were later revised into winners. Failing allows room for more openness and creativity. Fail fast and fix quicker.

Be humble. We are a small but agile team in the midst of building a meaningful, lifestyle brand. All team members wear multiple hats. In my case, that means setting the strategy for the brand to also shipping product samples at the post office. No task is too big or too small. Taking on different roles provides me with a more holistic view of the business and all its moving parts.

What’s a book/podcast/talk that’s had a deep impact on your thinking?

The Method Method by the co-founders of Method Products really provided me with perspective on brand building. The book’s authors are very candid about their successes and failures. They were not afraid to share the struggles to prove that consumers truly value and crave beautifully-designed goods. These founders paved the way for brands like OLIKA and demonstrated what innovation could look like in the consumer space.

Some of the biggest names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might see this. 🙂

I would say Miley Cyrus or Jeff Bezos. While hailing from completely different industries, both are risk takers, courageous and think outside the box. They are examples of how a brand can stay relevant and fresh in this ever-changing, on-demand world.

How can our readers follow you on social media?

@OLIKAlife across social media channels.

Originally published at medium.com