While our mission is to end suicide, more specifically we believe this can be accomplished by suicide prevention knowledge becoming common knowledge. When most people start a job, they may learn CPR, how to avoid sexual harassment, or laws around confidentiality. Rarely is mental health discussed, or what the signs of potential suicide look like. Our far-reaching goal is to bring knowledge of suicide prevention into homes, schools, and workplaces in order to reduce and eliminate the likelihood of suicide and other mental health crises.

As a part of my series about strong female leaders, I had the pleasure of interviewing April Peck, a beauty entrepreneur, busy mother of three and wellness advocate, is passionate about empowering people. After majoring in Health Promotion: Fitness/Wellness Management, April served in roles selling nutritional supplements and pharmaceuticals to treat depression before founding HydroPeptide, a global skincare company. After selling her successful brand, she set out to develop a new beauty company, LIV LUX LAB™, that would be based on principles of wellness, sophistication and results. This company ultimately would have to solve real beauty problems while empowering people and positively impacting their lives.

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

My adventure began in 2016, when my husband and I sold our skin care brand. With a new start, I set out to make a big impact in two ways. First, I wanted to help women solve their beauty problems with products rooted to wellness and proven to perform. Second, I wanted to create a brand that could act as a platform for my important mission to raise suicide awareness.

After losing my youngest sister to suicide in 2013, I was determined to find a way to help save others from her same fate. I consulted experts in social work and became a trained instructor on suicide prevention myself. It took me three years, but I learned that there were signs that my sister needed help, I just didn’t know what they were or how to respond. It was upon these learnings that I developed the foundations of my brand, SAVE ME FROM. Once I realized that beauty can be a powerful source of self-expression and empowerment, I knew that a haircare line would be the perfect platform for raising mental health awareness and advocating for suicide prevention.

After taking cosmetic formulation courses and learning about ingredients, hair biology, structure and function, I identified attributes that make up great hair. My belief is to truly solve a problem, you have to address the whole system — you can’t just slap a band-aid on it! I wanted to create tip to root solutions. I searched for clean ingredients that would supplement what was lost in damaged hair and nourish a healthy scalp. I traveled to India where women have the most amazing hair. I felt inspired by Ayurvedic principles, and I discovered fenugreek — the star within our Fenugen technology. We dedicate 10% net income to organizations who help people in real crisis and save lives.

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

I’m going to get really personal, really fast. I wouldn’t normally tell this story, but it is somewhat ironic, more than interesting. I lost all my hair (emphasized with a loudly crying face emoji) and I’m launching a hair care line. In August of last year, I found out I had stage 3 breast cancer and would have to undergo a series of treatments, including chemotherapy. Three weeks into chemotherapy, my then 7-year-old son said, “Mom, I don’t think you’re going to lose any of your hair.” The very next day, my children were eating the added protein from my hair in their food and within days I was completely bald. It’s been interesting for me to wear a wig and watch the brand videos we recorded in India just a month before losing all my hair. I miss my hair, but I’m thankful that treatments exist that make my diagnosis temporary.

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?

When I brought my content creator onto the team, we started to make a few videos here and there about how to react to a mental health crisis, and some about our brand and team. We both felt so awkward, as this wasn’t the norm for us, and it definitely showed! We learned that it’s okay to try and try again and again, especially while your following is small.

In addition to this, I have a knack for totally mixing up common phrases. For example, just today I was caught saying, “Street on the feet.” I knew what I wanted to say but my mouth didn’t quite keep up with my brain! Someday, I’ll get these common phrases right!

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

How can I pick just one way SAVE ME FROM stands out? Our damage-specific approach to treating the hair is truly unique yet intuitive. Until now, other hair care brands have cared for damage with one or two different “damage-repair” products. Those products have been designed to primarily coat the ends of the hair while leaving the scalp and top section of the hair untreated. We know that hair is damaged differently based upon its source and damage can happen anywhere along the hair shaft, even at the scalp. By not caring for the scalp, new emerging hair can be weaker and more exposed to future damage from the start. With damage specific hair care, we treat damage based upon the source of damage hair is exposed to most. This is a completely new way to look at treating the hair.

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

SAVE ME FROM in general is still so fresh and new. It’s very exciting to launch our line and see what progress we can make in raising suicide awareness. People have been very receptive to the concept of our products and very supportive to our mission. People love the tip to root concept behind our hair masks also. They love our textures and they’re seeing great results. When our customers experience this hair transformation, it’s empowering in itself, but the added benefit that they know their purchase is doing more to help save lives is what is truly exciting.

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

It’s important to involve your team when developing plans to attain your goals. No one likes long meetings, but people on the team want to feel their opinion is valued. When you involve your team, you get their “buy in.” There is a shared clarity on what the plan is, and a deeper understanding of the goal. In addition, your team becomes more creative, more engaged and more loyal.

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

Relationship building is an important part of any business, and not only for the sales department. It’s important for your team to understand that you care about them professionally and personally. As you’re developing meaningful relationships with your team, set clear expectations, celebrate successes, and address mistakes.

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?

My husband likes to say I would have never started our first business if it wasn’t for him. We cofounded HydroPeptide together. I hate to admit it, but he’s probably right. He’s always the one to jump first and I’m always the one making sure we’ve dotted every “I” and crossed every “T”. Starting our first business, learning and growing helped me develop the confidence to start SAVE ME FROM. No matter if I’m stuck trying to make a decision, or if I feel I have a solid plan, I greatly respect the advice and insights my husband has. He always looks at things a little differently than I do. I agree with the old adage, “Two heads is better than one.”

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

After selling my first company, HydroPeptide, I was itching to move onto something else. I started creating our unique formulas and intricate damage-specific SAVE ME FROM line. Additionally, I knew I wanted to be doing more to help advocate for suicide awareness and prevention. With the success of this company, my hope is to raise farther-reaching awareness about suicide and the role each of us can play in preventing these unthinkable losses. We do this through offering resources on our website, and in the near future, we hope to offer incentives to our customers to become QPR Gatekeeper Certified. SAVE ME FROM additionally donates 10% of our net income to organizations who help save people in real crisis.

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

Be resourceful. I fully believe in the adage that “Time is our most precious commodity,” and prioritizing a task list daily is one of those things I don’t take lightly! When I can get my own task list done, I am able to lead my team with more competence and inspire them to implement good work habits, as well.

Be the expert in your business. As an entrepreneur, I don’t take advice without being as informed as I can, as well. There are a lot of industry experts, successful people, consultants- but I know that the consequences of the business decisions I make rest solely on me. So, at the end of the day, I always do what seems best for my company with the most information I can gather.

To be a good leader, self care is incredibly important. This last year, I was diagnosed with breast cancer and have undergone many treatments and doctors’ appointments. I’ve been told that I’d have to put my life on hold, but I was determined to make sure that wouldn’t have to be true. Even in this process of getting rid of the cancer I still exercise, eat healthy, and balance my life out in order to keep going. Although I have had to slow down a little, my goals and life haven’t had to be put on hold just because of the cancer.

Take feedback like a champ. For example, while I may be the expert in my business and my brand, I can learn from others how to try things a different way or improve efficiency. Not only have I found that this inspires my team to take my feedback well when I offer it, but I have found that they feel valued and more likely to collaborate with me without much pushback. When I started this brand, I felt like my knowledge of mental health was lacking, and hired my amazing PR and Digital Marketing liaison, Maddison, to fill me in as she is currently pursuing her Master’s in Social Work. Her expertise in mental health and suicide prevention has brought a huge asset to the team. 🙂

Don’t sweat the small stuff- really. This mostly goes into my beliefs about being grateful for what you have, but when it comes to leadership, taking things as they come is part of the job. By allowing the little things to happen as they come, I have learned that most of the time things work out and you don’t alienate your team with an overreaction to something. I do believe in addressing mistakes, but when I turn them into learning opportunities for all of us, then we can all grow together and make sure not to make those mistakes repetitively.

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.

While our mission is to end suicide, more specifically we believe this can be accomplished by suicide prevention knowledge becoming common knowledge. When most people start a job, they may learn CPR, how to avoid sexual harassment, or laws around confidentiality. Rarely is mental health discussed, or what the signs of potential suicide look like. Our far-reaching goal is to bring knowledge of suicide prevention into homes, schools, and workplaces in order to reduce and eliminate the likelihood of suicide and other mental health crises.

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

The poem “Anyway” by Mother Theresa has been a major guiding light in my life. It has taught me how to find true peace in my life even when others, or life in general, treats me unfairly. I believe that any success I have experienced in life is due to the perspective that, no matter what, I am the one who determines my own course.

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!

I enjoy watching Shark Tank as much as the rest of them, and I would love to pick Lori Greiner’s brain!