…Another piece of advice I’d give is don’t be afraid to be yourself and embrace your femininity. Sometimes we buy into the idea that we have to adopt tougher, more masculine traits to create success and to be taken more seriously, but that’s not necessarily true. Use your natural empathetic strengths.

As a part of my series about strong female leaders, I had the pleasure of interviewing Mia Fiona Kut. Mia is the founder and owner of Vegan Skincare Brand Luna Nectar, and a director, screenwriter, and actor. She started off in the film industry, nabbing awards for her directorial films and appearing on shows such as ‘Supergirl’ and ‘Wu Assassins’, while simultaneously balancing her company. In 2019, she was a winner of the BC Business 30 Under 30 Award, and Luna Nectar’s flagship product Moon Boost Lash & Brow Enhancing Serum was named a Runner-Up in the Clean Beauty Awards for ‘Best Hair Treatment’.

Thank you so much for doing this with us! Can you tell us a story about what brought you to this specific career path?

Thanks for having me! Certainly. I was working in the film industry at the time as a disillusioned actor, screenwriter, and director. The industry was in a slump at that time, and I had just turned 25. I remember feeling really old at the time (hah) and I had better get my life together. I wanted to create something that merged my interests of helping women, and of natural beauty.

My sister came home one day with very long, spidery lashes that seemed to have grown overnight. When she told me she used a chemical lash serum with a component that was meant for glaucoma patients, I was intrigued. I started researching and found this was quite a popular product with women of all ages, however these types of serums came with side effects. I initially intended to have just the lash serum as our sole product, but had so many other recipes to share. I decided to expand into other skincare and haircare categories as well.

Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you began leading your company?

The most interesting part of starting Luna Nectar that I did not expect is the recognition I receive from young women. I’ve had quite a few young girls reach out to me asking if I offer any mentorship programs, which is very humbling.

Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?

Anything that I find funny now was probably very stressful at the time. I remember being quite freaked out about the smallest details, for example how to make an invoice or a line sheet look professional and inviting, and I would do endless research and revisions. Now that I look back, I wonder why I panicked so much.

What do you think makes your company stand out? Can you share a story?

I think our company stands out because of our transparency and authenticity. We have passionate, intelligent, young individuals on our team and instead of offering a polished, glossed, hard-to-maintain version of green beauty that is prevalent in the industry nowadays, we prefer to keep it real. Because we also do have a film/theatrical background, we try to incorporate a sense of artistry with our brand and are open to spreading our brand across other avenues such as movies and music, not just the beauty industry.

We also do a lot of local markets to meet the community, and we have a great team that makes a lot of personal connections at these events. It’s so interesting to meet our customers and foster relationships face-to-face. We keep in touch with our regular customers via social media, and sometimes we go out of our way to personally deliver products to them.

Are you working on any exciting new projects now? How do you think that will help people?

We just wrapped up a short film called Heliophilia, which is a tie-in behind the inspiration of our Heliophilia Glow & Fix Serum. Although the film is more sci-fi and Black Mirror-like, it explores the themes of Heliophilia the serum’s packaging and design. I think that the beauty industry and film are transcendent, and old retail and marketing methods are changing — products need to be brought to life.

Otherwise, we are whipping up some new concoctions in the lab, constantly testing to see what could be a staple in one’s beauty routine in a busy world.

What advice would you give to other female leaders to help their team to thrive?

Show your passion. The more passionate you are about your work, the more contagious it is for your team.

What advice would you give to other female leaders about the best way to manage a large team?

I would say make sure everyone knows their role, and maintain open communication. Also, go for team building activities that gets the adrenaline going! It goes a long way in building camaraderie, and making everyone feel welcome and comfortable enough to contribute.

Another piece of advice I’d give is don’t be afraid to be yourself and embrace your femininity. Sometimes we buy into the idea that we have to adopt tougher, more masculine traits to create success and to be taken more seriously, but that’s not necessarily true. Use your natural empathetic strengths.

None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?

Yes. I am grateful for a certain person who was my cheerleader all the way from the beginning. He believed in my vision, and not only was he a source of emotional support, but he got us our start with building our laboratory and implementing off many of our operations processes when I had limited resources and experience.

How have you used your success to bring goodness to the world?

If anything, I believe my success shows other young women that it can be possible to shape your life the way you want it. I’ve always been a bit of a rebel against the standard 9–5 and societal norms, and have always followed my passions. I wanted to pursue something that I was excited about, while helping people, as I’m sure many people do, so I hope my work inspires them.

What are your “5 Leadership Lessons I Learned From My Experience” and why. (Please share a story or example for each.)

  1. Fuel yourself before you can fuel others. You have to find balance and build yourself to be the best you can be, before imposing ideals on others.
  2. Lead by example.
  3. Don’t step in with solutions too quickly.
  4. You’re not always the smartest person in the room — your job is to promote trust to build experts within your team, and to provide direction for the vision.
  5. Be present — leaders need to be in the moment, listen, and engage their team into action.

You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂

I think the most pressing movement I could possibly start right now would have to be preserving and restoring the environment. There’s many policies we can adjust and implement for climate change and infrastructure for renewable energy sources.

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?

“Don’t adapt to the energy in the room. Influence the energy in the room.” — this can mean so many things — a literal room full of strangers, or metaphorically, life. And to influence energy, you have to develop a great sense of self-respect, self-awareness, boundaries, and to be thoroughly comfortable with yourself and your vision.

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 with whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might just see this if we tag them 🙂

There’s a few! I would love to meet Emily Weiss from Glossier, who is the ultimate inspiration in building a beauty empire; Nicola Kilner of Deciem, I admire her strength and upbeat energy; Rihanna with her double career in music and Fenty Cosmetics; William Kamkwamba, who built a windmill from scraps and brought power to his town at the age of 14; and also Olivia from Organic Olivia — a successful young woman whose enthusiasm about herbalism is so contagious, and I admire how she truly personally connects with her audience.