Jeanette Sklivanou is the founder of Safe ‘N’ Beautiful, a revolutionary company producing a range of safe, non-toxic cosmetics products, with their most popular being Snails nail polish, a product designed specifically to be safe for children to use. Snails is a global phenomenon, selling in seventy-nine different countries.
Jeanette has been featured in Fortune as one of the forty most successful Greek entrepreneurs under forty and is now celebrating the launch of her new book, ‘Nailed It!’, the story of how she turned her dream business into a global success, and how others can start their own businesses too.
I’ve always been an entrepreneur at heart, so Snails was an idea I brought to life together with my husband while I was running another business. The core premise of that business was organising spa parties for kids, and having two daughters of my own, I wanted to use only the kind of products that were completely safe. Safe nail polish? Nowhere to be found in Greece at that time!
So what initially presented itself as a problem, I chose to perceive as an opportunity. That opportunity became my calling, to provide safe and healthy beauty products for our creative, artistic little ones. The name “Snails” is a playful combination of “safe” and “nails”, to embody the purpose of our first and primary product for kids in the brand name, even though we now offer a variety of additional beauty products, too!
Had you spent some time in Greece around the time I built my career, you would already anticipate the answer to this question! My country was in the middle of a severe economic crisis, my family was affected by it too, and we had to think on our feet. There was no way to plan my career, let alone an entire business, as the future was extremely uncertain. We did, however, take risk in an already saturated industry we had no prior knowledge about, we learned a lot on the go, and we worked hard, adapting quickly to all the challenges and hurdles we came across – and there were many. A plan would have been useless. I had to learn to build my career one day at a time, and one learning curve at a time.
So many I’ve lost count! But I’m grateful for each and every one of them. These challenges have helped me shape Snails into the brand that it is today. They’ve also helped me grow as a person and a professional, allowing me to help other women entrepreneurs to accomplish their goals, which is precisely the purpose of my new book, Nailed It! – and mind you, the challenges never stop, no matter how successful you become!
Becoming a role model for my daughters and so many other women that I believe goes beyond building a good business. It’s often hard for me to even comprehend that I’ve accomplished that. However, it’s a never-ending process, and I do my best to keep building upon that achievement, because I know it’s not about perfection. It’s about being the best possible version of yourself with all the imperfections you have, and in all the imperfect circumstances life throws your way.
People. My friends and family who have both supported me and doubted me, they pushed me to become who I am today. My co-workers, employees, business partners, customers, all the people I choose to surround myself with – they are the ones actively living our shared purpose through Snails. Without them, it’s impossible to imagine achieving anything at all.
First and foremost, integrity. Every person working with Snails and every product we’ve created is true to our core values, and people respond to that.
While I don’t have one favourite thing, I’d say: relationships. The relationships I build with my co-workers, partners, with my family through all the work we share, and of course, those with our customers.
I’m a big supporter of the idea! I’ve found mentors and role models in many women around me, and I believe it’s important for every aspiring entrepreneur to be open to learning from others. That’s why I wanted to contribute with my own experience, and I’ve started mentoring in the science and healthcare industries, as well as a Cherie Blair mentor. The book is another take on mentorship, allowing me to reach more people.
If one thing would be enough, I’d most likely dedicate my career to that one thing, but complex issues demand multifaceted changes that often take many generations to take effect. If I could, however, contribute by changing one thing in that respect, it would be education. Equality needs to be rooted in knowledge. That knowledge needs to be equally shared, it needs to reflect reality as we know it today, but it also needs to equip us with the tools and skills to create the world of equality that would benefit us all.
Don’t give in to the naysayers. It’s often easier to start your business than it is to grow it and build it into something truly successful. That takes dedication, grit, and often resilience. Don’t listen to the people who try to put you down. This is a big, wide world we live in. Find your professional calling and use the inevitable criticism and doubt to learn and adapt, not give up.
Oh, dear! Most likely to trust my instincts more. They’ve never failed me thus far, and yet I remember many instances in which I found myself doubting them. Yes, sure, it’s important to make those pros and cons lists, to research your market, to infuse your goals with real-world data, but it’s also very, very important to trust your gut.
There is so much in store both for me and for my brand! So, I’d like to invite you all to stay tuned, but I won’t reveal anything just yet – I believe actions speak much louder than words, and I’ll allow my actions to do the talking! It should make this upcoming period an exciting one for all of us!
I’d just like to remind people that great stories can come from the most unlikely places and moments in life. You may feel your story and your idea to be “small” compared to what the world already has to offer, but the truth of it is, each story is unique, and worth telling. It’s best to stop the comparison game and to focus on how that story of yours lives up to your own desires and expectations. Make sure you’re the one proud of it. Then the world will be, too.