With over twenty years spent running global HR functions and coaching thousands of women, at the age of 45 Misty Reich stepped away from her successful corporate career to found 35 Thousand – a unique skincare brand for women on the go juggling careers, travel and family life.
With a shared passion for supporting women in business, it was inspiring to hear her views on female entrepreneurship, older women in the workplace, and what it is that makes 35 Thousand different from other skincare brands.
Can you tell us your inspiration and the journey behind founding 35 Thousand?
Years and years of travelling for work and dealing with the frustrating compromise of packing the skincare products that would keep my acne prone, sensitive skin happy but having to check a bag for all of my trusted liquids or traveling light with drugstore minis, and knowing that I would be sporting painful, embarrassing cystic acne and irritated inflamed skin by day two. I spent years searching for the holy grail of great skincare I could use at home and easily take on the road. I never found it, so here we are.
Tell us about OTG-7 Complex and what it is that makes 35 Thousand different from other skincare brands.
Before we even began working on the products we set out to understand why my skin is at its worst when I travel and especially when I fly. It is commonly understood that the environment in flight is very dry, but we instinctively knew there had to be more happening than a lack of humidity. We reasoned that if we could develop products that worked ‘up there’ in the harshest environment, then they would probably be effective anywhere.
Our pre formulation research started with our own study of 28 long haul flight attendants, testing their skin pre and post flying weeks, along with surveying them to understand their skincare routines at home and away and then gathering other research studies from Harvard and JAMA, which specifically looked at the effects of inflight environments on a number of health outcomes. The result of this is that we identified seven environmental issues that are more intense in flight/at altitude, but interestingly are also prevalent in modern urban life.
The OTG-7 Complex is a unique blend of clinically active, plant based ingredients that address these issues and keep your skin in a healthy equilibrium. The complex is in every one of our products, even the cleanser and mist, which wouldn’t typically be formulated with a heavy active load.
Beyond the complex and solving for good skin days at home and away, we also knew we wanted to develop products that serve multiple purposes to give instant and long term results, with textures that do not leave you feeling sticky and never pull under makeup. It was a tough brief and took four years, but we got there in the end.
One piece of skincare advice most women need?
Study your skin – notice what it likes, what it doesn’t like, what makes it glow or seem dull, what products you might have used, food/drink you have consumed when you are either given compliments or asked if you are tired. We all have different skin, but it gives us signals that will guide the best care it needs if we pay attention.
You’re passionate about women supporting women in business – what advice would you give to emerging female entrepreneurs considering a midlife change of direction?
Hire a great coach! It will cost you money up front but save you tons over time. Find one who is a great fit for you, who is commercially savvy and has start-up, fundraising and exit experience if you can. Take your time interviewing them and go with one who has the experience and who leaves you feeling encouraged and equipped in little and big ways.
Are we seeing a shift in ageist attitudes within the workplace and a better representation of older women, or do you think there is still a long way to go?
It’s such an interesting question. No doubt there have been glass ceiling issues that have likely more heavily impacted older women, but my own experience from 23 years of running global HR functions and hiring and coaching thousands of women, has been that older and younger women simply opt out of ladder climbing at a much higher rate than their male peers. I am a bit of a case study I suppose in that I stepped away from a successful corporate career at 45 years old, not because of a lack of opportunity or corporate support but because I wanted to see what I could do on my own. I wanted the freedom of time and I got to a point where I had the financial ability to do that. I could list some of my closest executive female friends who have done exactly the same, but I can’t think of any of my male counterparts who have or would have done the same thing in my situation.
So, no question, there is room for institutional improvement to facilitate more women progressing and finding their way to the C Suite or board roles, but I am hugely passionate about looking at the whole picture and recognising that it could be just as important to encourage high potential women to not step away as it would be to address systems that keep them from moving up.
What advice would you give to women who feel invisible and less confident as they age?
Confidence is a muscle, not a birthright. How do you build muscles? You have to strain them, stretch them, and push them out of their comfort zone. Confidence is no different. I sometimes see women in my coaching practice whose confidence is dipping and their mojo is floundering, and almost always they are stuck in daily and weekly routines that do not light them up or challenge them. I would encourage someone experiencing this to start by making a list of things they used to love doing as a kid and trying to re-incorporate some of them into their life in some way; or journal the things they haven’t yet done in life and challenging themselves to take a small step towards actioning one or more of them.
I love the saying: “You can’t be brave if you aren’t afraid.” Confidence comes through feeling fear, moving forward anyway, and observing your strength on the other side. And if all of this fails then get a makeup artist to colour match your perfect shade of red lipstick, call your girlfriends and hit the town – nothing like a well-executed red lip to dial up your inner diva!
Who has been your greatest inspiration?
Oh, so, so many people! But my instinctive response is always single moms. I have an amazing husband who is my biggest cheerleader and supporter – AND I often feel like it is all JUST SO HARD! Then I remember that everything I am dealing with pales in comparison to women who are doing it all on their own – getting their kids fed, bathed, dressed, off to school, back again, working, doing the housework, 100% of the adulating – it makes me exhausted just typing this and it’s not even the half of it! Honestly, I don’t know why we don’t see statues to single moms in every city centre.
Hardest challenged you’ve had to face?
Raising kids and constantly questioning if we were making the best decisions for them. It’s an entire human life you are responsible for protecting and shaping. That reality was never lost on me.
My marriage. I met Brian in 7th grade pre-algebra, and married him just after we turned 21 (we were still in Uni) and I still think he is the smartest, kindest, strongest and sexiest man in the world. Plus I really like hanging out with him and working with him – that says a lot for someone I have spent the better part of 40 years with.
Favourite travel destination?
Oh gosh – are you also going to ask which kid I like best too?!
But – I’ll go with Marrakech and South Africa (yes the entire country). Both are polarising in that they elicit a real visceral reaction from people – sort of the places you either really love or really don’t. For me, time spent in either place absolutely energises me and ignites my deepest gratitude and awe of life.
Top beauty ‘must-have’ in your makeup bag?
The 35 Thousand All-In Day Serum (aka ‘The Orange One’) obviously! It is my all star, never a day without, item. It gives just enough coverage to hide imperfections and discolouration without looking or feeling like I have makeup on. It also gives the all important broad spectrum SPF I need along with all of the actives in the OTG-7 Complex. Plus I have a legitimate addiction to the glow … I must have the glow!
And finally, what’s your favourite quote to live by?
“She must find a boat and sail in it. No guarantee of shore. Only a conviction that what she wanted could exist. If she dared to find it.” – Jeanette Winterson