Monday Motivation from Karen Young, CEO and Founder at Oui Shave

Mondays can be rough and, sometimes, we can all use some motivation. Our #MondayMotivation blog series brings you tips and life hacks from industry leaders and some of the most creative entrepreneurs out there.

We sat down with Karen Young, CEO and Founder at Oui Shave, a brand that pairs beautifully crafted safety razors, made by a centuries-old German manufacturer, with rich shave oils, and all natural products created for women, by women. Karen discusses creating her brand to fill a void in the market, the motivation customer validation provides and changing the idea of perfection in entrepreneurship.

What inspired you to start your business?
I started Oui Shave because I’ve always experienced irritation from shaving. The current products available to women really didn’t take our needs, nor our skin, into consideration. There were no brands that were natural, tailored to sensitive skin, and actually taught women the art of a great shave. The women’s shaving industry is largely dictated by men (pink razors anyone?), and as a woman who has shaved most of her adult life, I know very well the lack of choices available to us. There was nothing well designed, nothing thoughtful, and nothing that provided more than a subpar experience for women. I wanted to create a brand that not only placed women first but also taught us how to make shaving an act of self-care.

What’s been the biggest challenge you’ve faced so far?
We’re growing faster than we predicted, so managing inventory has been a challenge so far. As CEO it’s also generally challenging to manage a number of aspects of the business at once, but somehow it manages to be thrilling as well, though.

What’s been the greatest reward?
We’re a safe place for our customers to ask us anything. I like to say we spend a lot of time talking about bikini lines, but it’s why we exist as a company. We want our customers to feel cared for, catered to, and as if they’ve found a friend they can get the best advice from.

What is the biggest thing you’d like to see changed in your industry, and how are you working toward making that change happen?
I’d like to see more design thinking and problem-solving applied to products that cater to women. We tend to suffer from “put a pink on it” as I like to call it, or “pink washing”. We’re working to solve that at Oui Shave by creating consumer goods for women, by women. We’re actively solving problems first and being thoughtful with our presentation, voice, and outreach.

Who or what motivates you to keep going, even when things get tough?
I created Oui Shave to fill a void in the market, and I’m grateful that every day our customers validate the product. When things get tough I think about the customers who email us to say they’ve never experienced a shave like this, or that we’ve solved their lifelong irritation from shaving. We’ve had customers ask us never to discontinue some of our products, and we use each of these interactions as fuel to keep going.

What’s one piece of advice you’d give to another entrepreneur just starting out?
I think we can often fall into the trap of perfection before we start, but in reality where you are right now, no matter how lean, is perfection. A company, a brand, an idea takes shape when it encounters your customer. We owe it to ourselves and our dreams to allow them room to grow. My advice then is to just start and remain open to change; your idea won’t be exactly the same in 1 year, 5 years, or 10 years.

What do you do every Monday morning to prepare and motivate yourself for the coming week?
I’ve tried a number of different organization methods, but the most effective for me is simply pen and paper. Seeing what I need to do makes all the difference. Every Monday I open my notebook to a fresh page and using my pen I divide the page into quadrants. In the top left quarter are my most important tasks, top right are somewhat important, bottom left are less urgent, and the bottom right are the very least urgent tasks. It’s incredibly elementary, especially when there’s an app for everything, but the visual helps me to see that not everything is an emergency although it can feel like it is.

For more #MondayMotivation, check out our interview with Nan Harris, Founder at WaterStop Carts, a socially responsible, for-profit company based on the simple proposition that people around the world need safe, accessible and affordable water sources. Nan discusses the worldwide water crisis, the current water industry, and her motivation to make water available to the public through their mobile water-carts.