You spent your 20s working toward building your dream career, but now that you’re in your 30s, what do you do when you’ve, well, changed your mind? Or maybe you never quite figured it out, and you’re now ready to commit to something you’re passionate about, whether it’s a job, a city, or just a new way of life. To celebrate the career changes that can come at any age, we’re debuting a new series, Second Life. Each week, we’ll hear from women who got over their doubts and fears and made the biggest changes of their lives.
The California lifestyle has an undeniable lure all its own. It's sun-drenched beaches and bathing suit–clad babes—the stuff of Beach Boys anthems and enviable Instagram posts. Now, thanks to former Vogue stylist Shelby Wild, you can exude Cali-cool vibes even if you're landlocked.
After the search for a pared-down haircare routine left Wild empty-handed, the entrepreneur decided to take the plunge and launch Playa, a botanical-based brand with product names that evoke an endless summer state of mind. The simplicity of the five-piece line reflects Wild's transition from life in fast-paced New York City to laid-back Los Angeles. "I thrive on being connected to nature, so moving to Cali and slowing my pace of life—gardening, surfing, hiking—has allowed me to focus and achieve the work-life balance I want," she told MyDomaine of her decision to make the move and pursue her passion for beauty. Seeing as Playa is available in stores such as Sephora, we'd say her decision to take a career risk has been a resounding success.
In this edition of Second Life, a series dedicated to shining a spotlight on women who've made major career changes, we ask the former Vogue stylist about leaving fashion to pursue her passion for beauty, including the biggest risk she took that paid off, the self-care rituals that keep her motivated and inspired, and the one piece of advice she has for other women who want to take a leap but fear change.
Tell us about your first career path.
I've always loved being creative. I was a former fashion stylist working alongside Italian Vogue contributing editor Rushka Bergman, followed by joining the Intermix team before I left New York City.
How did you make the transition from a stylist to the founder of a clean haircare product line?
My dad was a scientist, so I always loved making things growing up. I remember creating my own beauty routines at home, and I quickly became a resource for my friends. As I grew up, I found there was lots of overlap in the products I was using. There wasn't anything to wash and go, a multipurpose routine to get out the door and spend less time in front of the mirror. I found my peers wanted a similar regimen, and while making beauty products is different than styling, you are still conceptualizing and developing formulations. That creative process is still very present.
Tell us about your current career path/business.
I founded clean hair care brand Playa, which is about to turn one year old. As the founder, I wear many hats—from product formulation to marketing to finance. I touch all aspects of the business. It has been an incredible journey thus far.
We just did our first price round with investment firm Revolution and launched with Sephora here in the U.S. Playa's global footprint has expanded with our Australian partner, Mecca, and in the UK and Asia with Net-a-Porter. It has been very exciting to see our products being accepted and adapted in a global sense. It's a complete dream come true!
What have been the biggest challenges in your many careers and why?
I think time has been a challenge. Both in the literal sense of having so many things to do each day, trying to prioritize and keep a work-life balance, but also in the sense that Playa is my baby, and my mind is constantly consumed with creative ideas and thoughts about the business.
Why is your current path suitable for your personality?
It is a creative outlet for me, and I like to wear many hats. I can manage the company—accounting, development, marketing—without an office, so it allows me to move around throughout the day and touch on all aspects of the business.
What's the most important thing you have learned in making a big change in your career life?
Taking calculated risks—they both pay off and teach you how best to make your next move.
Courtesy of Playa
What's the biggest risk you took that paid off?
Quitting my job, moving to California and launching Playa. I'm very lucky to have an amazing team working with me and retailer partners and investors believing in me since the beginning. An incredible support system helps you get through the tough times and the obstacles of launching your own business.
How did you move past the fear of change to pursue your passion?
As an entrepreneur, you have to be a little crazy. I am fearless by nature, and in this case, it's paid off tenfold.
Courtesy of Playa
What are some mistakes you made along the way that ended up helping your success?
In the initial stages, you aren't able to execute on every initiative possible. As we grow, we have arrived in a place where we are able to move forward on some of these, such as reformulating our packaging with sustainability at the forefront. I think this comes with both learnings of past mistakes coupled with the awesome growth of our team.
Courtesy of Playa
What do you love most about your current role and why?
It's been a dream to wake up and own my own brand that is truly my passion project. To see its success has been surreal and wonderful.
When you look back and reflect on your previous career do you have any regrets? Or are you still really happy with your decision?
I will always love fashion, and it's still a big part of my life. Working on Playa and making products people touch and use and love on a daily basis is a dream come true. No regrets.
Courtesy of Playa
What advice do you have for other women who want to take a leap but fear the change?
If you believe in your heart it's right and you have the support of people around you, don't be afraid to take the risk.
What mantras or affirmations do you use often to keep you motivated and inspired?
I try to breathe and relax if I become stressed or overwhelmed. I do a lot of hot yoga, hike and listen to music to bring myself back to me.
What's the most surprising thing you learned from becoming an entrepreneur?
Everyone is human. There is no such thing as mistakes, as long as you keep an optimistic outlook. You have to be open to change and adapting.
What's one thing you didn't know before you started that you wish you knew?
I didn't realize the importance of sharing the journey with a true partner. Now that Olivia, my SVP, is by my side, I've learned the true value of partnership.
Anything else you'd like to add?
I'm extremely proud to be surrounded by an all-female team. We empower one another every day, and they've made my passion project come to life.
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For more inspiring stories from successful women who've made major career changes, tune into MyDomaine's Second Life podcast.