When I was young, I would never have dreamed of working in the cosmetics industry. I have suffered from mild neurodermatitis from birth. In addition, in my teenage years it turned out that I was allergic to various fragrances and cocamidopropyl betaine. Cocamidopropyl betaine is unfortunately a very common surfactant, and finding a shower gel or shampoo without cocamidopropyl betaine has been a constant challenge. Often, I was left with just going to the pharmacy. So, while my friends were wandering through drugstores and perfumeries trying out the latest cosmetic products, cosmetics was a rather unpopular topic for me. Instead of colorful products that smelled of vanilla or tropical fruits, I bought odorless products in white bottles that looked more like medicine than cosmetics. There was no fun involved. In addition, people still liked to give me cosmetics. I don’t know how many bath foams, shower gels and massage oils I have given away with a guilty conscience over the years because I couldn’t use them without looking like a crumble cake. And who wants that? I then largely lost interest in cosmetics for a long time.
As I got older and had to think about what I would become professionally, a career in the cosmetics industry really wasn’t an option. Although I had successfully completed an advanced biology course at school and had a great deal of interest in biochemistry, I didn’t want to make a career out of it. Instead, I decided on my second passion, literature, and majored in German literature and history. Even during my studies, I worked regularly at theaters in my spare time, going through all stages from directing to marketing to dramaturgy. Finding a permanent job at the theater after graduating was initially not possible. Instead, I continued to do internships, supervised projects and wrote articles for theater magazines as a freelancer. It was exciting and varied for a while, but real career prospects just didn’t open up. So, eventually I went to a temporary employment agency.
When I walked into the CLR office for the first time in September 2008, I couldn’t even imagine what path lay ahead of me and how fundamentally this day would change my professional life.
When I walked into the CLR office for the first time in September 2008, I couldn’t even imagine what path lay ahead of me and how fundamentally this day would change my professional life. The marketing department was looking for support at the time, but initially only on an hourly basis. Since I was actually looking for a full-time job, I wasn’t very interested, but as there were no other offers at the time, I accepted anyway. For three months I only helped out in marketing irregularly, then with more and more hours, until CLR offered me a permanent contract for a full-time position in marketing. Although the offer was great, I hesitated whether I should really take it. On the one hand there was a company that put their trust in me and offered me real prospects after the hard years after my graduation, on the other hand it wasn’t actually the path I had dreamed of. I still dreamed that this position would only be a temporary solution on the way to a position as a dramaturge at a theater, and I was afraid of slamming this door too quickly. In the end, what made the difference that led me to accept CLR’s offer was the working atmosphere and the great team in which I was able to work. I just felt very, very comfortable with CLR.
Even though I was a classic “lateral entrant” in marketing, I already possessed a great deal of experience from the many jobs in marketing and public relations at various theaters that was important for my new job. Everything else I learned quickly at CLR. Right from the start I was supported in my personal development and, thanks to CLR’s high level of commitment in this area, I was able to attend many seminars in which I could further deepen my marketing knowledge.
My background knowledge also helped me in my private life to better understand cosmetic products, what they contain and what they can do.
My job also brought back my interest in cosmetic products. Suddenly INCI lists told me more than whether or not they included cocamidopropyl betaine, and I gradually got to know our active ingredients. My background knowledge also helped me in my private life to better understand cosmetic products, what they contain and what they can do. Even if I still didn’t dare try too much with my sensitive skin, I found joy in looking at cosmetic products and following trends. In the following years I tried out many formulations from our application lab which really impressed me with their tolerance and effectiveness.
I was the last to join a team of three and suddenly I was supposed to be the boss of two experienced colleagues. I’ve always dreamed of a behind-the-scenes job, and now I should be in the front row?
When the Head of Marketing left CLR in spring 2009, the position initially remained vacant. At that time, marketing was still part of the sales department, whose director was John Lofthouse at the time. After my boss left, John approached me and made me understand that I should take over her position in the long term. I got a year to prepare for it and to show that I was ready for it. Of course, I felt honored that CLR had so much confidence in me and was grateful for this incredible opportunity, but there were also many doubts. I hadn’t even been at CLR for a year and wasn’t sure whether I could learn everything I needed as a department head so quickly. I was the last to join a team of three and suddenly I was supposed to be the boss of two experienced colleagues. I’ve always dreamed of a behind-the-scenes job, and now I should be in the front row? Last but not least, I still hadn’t completely given up the dream of a job at the theater. The following year was very intense for me, but the doubts diminished and the joy of having such a great opportunity increased. I gratefully accepted the challenge, and in May 2010 took over the management of the marketing department as planned. At that point, I had finally arrived at CLR and in the cosmetics industry.
It was a great relief not to have to choose between child and career.
When my daughter was born a year later, my life was turned upside down once again. Staying at home after the birth was never an option for me, but I didn’t want to go back to work full-time either. But was it even possible in my management role to reduce working hours and balance job and child? I expressed my desire to work less after my parental leave with some trepidation, but CLR kept all options open for me from the start. It was a great relief not to have to choose between child and career. Many of my friends were far less fortunate with their employers when they became mothers. And the fact that CLR has given me so much flexibility despite my leadership position is unfortunately still the exception in the modern world of work.
Still, the first few months were not easy, but both our new marketing director and my team supported me. When I returned to work after the birth of my second child, I went back to full-time rather quickly. Without the well-developed care system in Berlin and my husband’s support, this would not have been possible.
During my absence, Harald van der Hoeven, who had previously worked as R&D Director at CLR for many years, took over as Director Technical Marketing. In the six years that we have worked together after my return, he has always supported me in developing my full potential and given me a lot of creative freedom. A great deal has happened in marketing during these past years. The team from my early days at CLR is still there, but has added two more positions, and together we have taken CLR marketing into a new era.
My relationship with cosmetic products is fundamentally different today. I still check INCI lists all the time when I go shopping, but today it’s just as much an occupational disease as googling a cosmetic product after watching a commercial. Friends whom I used to envy so much now often ask me for advice when they have a skin problem and don’t know which product will work best. The product range at home is no longer just white bottles—a lot has happened. I often find what I am looking for in natural cosmetics brands when I want to try something new without mutating into a crumble cake. And with all the knowledge I have gained about the skin and what it needs, I can usually keep my skin in good balance even in stressful times.
I am now Director Marketing and Corporate Communications myself and look back on twelve years at CLR. None of this would have been possible without people at CLR who have always believed in me and without the courage to leave my comfort zone again and again and to break new ground.
I am now Director Marketing and Corporate Communications myself and look back on twelve years at CLR. None of this would have been possible without people at CLR who have always believed in me and without the courage to leave my comfort zone again and again and to break new ground. And at some point, the day came when I realized that I not only no longer dream of another job, but that I see my job as a dream job. I love what I do and I have no regrets.
Thank you, Nathalia!