This interview is part of the Chasing Dreams interview series. I’ve interviewed a variety of entrepreneurs and small business owners who have chosen a different path in life in order to go after his or her dream career. Have an entrepreneur in mind you’d like to learn more about? Let me know! Mia Bell is an entrepreneur who completely switched paths to pursue her dreams. She was studying to be an eye doctor when a professor unknowingly sparked the flame that would later become her passion and business helping natural, organic beauty and lifestyle brands get their spots on store shelves (and thrive when they get there).
So many of us are afraid to listen to our gut, thinking what we'd love to do is too hard, too late, or too different. But what's the cost of not trying?
Mia's story is proof that you can change directions, no matter where you are in the process.
Let’s dig in!
At what point did you know you wanted to follow this career path? How did you know this was the right direction?
My pivot into the Beauty Industry happened while going through my pre-med studies in college. I wanted out!
This was quite a shock because I had been so set on becoming an Eye Doctor. But none of it felt right anymore. My intuition was telling me that I was meant to serve in a different way. I finished up my Bachelor’s degree and moved to Los Angeles where I enrolled in FIDM's Beauty Merchandise Marketing program. While there, a teacher said something that turned everything I believed upside down. "Ladies, we are being exposed to toxins through our everyday beauty products." It sounded like complete crazy talk. But after taking a cosmetic chemistry course, it dawned on me how liberal beauty companies can be with the use of questionable ingredients. And how easily accepted it is!
There just HAD to be healthier options out there. For several years I did sales & marketing for mainstream beauty companies all while desperately searching for natural, conscious product alternatives. I even had a blog where I would write about my product discoveries in Spanish. It was the first of its kind at the time.
Getting to know many small natural brands through the blog, I quickly learned about their struggles with getting their products into more stores and ultimately getting them into the hands of more people. I knew just how to do that thanks to my work at larger companies.
Every fiber in my being pushed me to honor that call. Everything about it felt RIGHT.
What are the biggest struggles you've faced while trying to achieve your dreams?
Being okay with the unknown. Nothing and no one can fully prepare you for what you'll encounter on the way towards achieving your dreams.
Some days will test you. Some days will lift you. I’ve learned that you just have to keep going!
Owning your own business can be tough on the body and mind, between long days, instability and really putting yourself out there to reach your goals. How do you stay healthy? Do you have any rituals that help you stay centered?
I'm a recovering, busy body workaholic. To some this may sound downright silly. But it’s a real thing that if left unchecked can be crippling physically, mentally and emotionally.
I've finally learned from all of my burnouts. So, to help minimize anxiety, I cut out caffeine 4 years ago and I even make it a point to enjoy all meals slowly at the dining table (not on the fly, not in the car, not at my desk). I routinely listen to guided meditations so that I can reduce frantic thoughts and meet everything throughout the day with full energy and a clear mind.
And to recharge, I've been following a great piece of advice lately- do activities you used to do as a kid for fun! That's been a mix of tree climbing, hiking, hitting some softballs, reading every night, taking naps, coloring (yay for adult coloring books!) and making special trips to be near a river, lake or the ocean. I highly recommend doing this!
Speaking of putting yourself out there, overcoming rejection is a big part of chasing dreams. How do you bounce back?
My work is primarily in the sales realm. I've been rejected thousands of times!
It can be your biggest teacher. In the early part of my career, hearing "no" was devastating. But my mindset about it has totally changed. I get up every day not looking to avoid the 'no's", I get up looking for the people that are going to say "yes!" And if it takes me getting past 5, 10, 20 "no's" to find that 'yes' then so be it.
The 'yes's' to what you want are out there and you have to find them.
What do you do when you're having an off day—maybe feeling down, struggling with self-doubt, or just unmotivated?
I first process my thoughts out loud. So yes! I talk to myself! I then retreat to a quiet place, cuddle up with some tea and I read or watch something that will inspire me to get through it. I’m also incredibly fortunate to have tribe of strong, business women that I can text or call at any moment.
It's absolutely important to have a support system that can relate to you. You need your peeps!
What is one misconception people have about you and/or your profession?
That it's superficial. I'll admit that conventional beauty companies, their messaging and their sales tactics are completely profit driven but the blooming niche that I serve; ethical, health conscious, natural beauty has a more positive mission.
These small, independent companies are passionate about making the world a better place in so many ways. They sell their products in sustainable and renewable packaging. They use wild crafted, all natural and organic ingredients that you can pronounce (even eat!). Many are vigilant to source from ethical organizations that pay fair wages and respect this earth. They formulate high performance, effective products without harmful chemicals, questionable fillers, nono-particles and contaminating plastic microbeads. These brands don't believe in testing on animals. There are even vegan brands which formulate their products with no traces of animal derived ingredients.
And as a community, their messaging promotes the acceptance of your own authentic beauty. It’s a wonderful and exciting space to be a part of!
What is one of the biggest lessons you’ve learned along the way?
Oh do I have a big one! It's realizing that I am the only one in charge of my happiness and destiny.
I resisted this idea for a long time. We give too many external factors power over us (other people, the economy, the "I don't have's", the "I don't knows", the "because of x" excuse).
Once I took complete ownership of my path and life, I stepped into a place of knowing a truth- that I have everything within me to succeed. If I don't have it, I will find it. If I don't know it, I will learn it. If it's not given to me, I will ask for it. If it's not in front of me now, it will surely be there soon.
What advice would you give to someone who wants to follow a path similar to what you have?
Reach out to me! I absolutely love connecting with other like minded folks.
And additional advice I would give is this- START.
Don't wait for perfection. Start where you are today, with what you have and do the best work that you can.
To be honest, it will never be perfect because what you create and who you are will always be evolving. That's the beauty of the journey. Just START.
When do you feel the most inspired, alive and the most like YOU?
When I'm in a true place of service. This means giving of my time, heart, skills and knowledge to causes and entrepreneurs that are doing kind, generous and impactful work. And of course, being around other dreamers!
What people, books, music, etc. inspire you?
I've always been inspired by the works of Mother Teresa, Oprah and Maya Angelou. Marie Forleo (Marie TV), Hilary Rushford (Dean Street Society). Carrie Green (The Female Entrepreneur Association) and Angela Jia Kim (Savor The Success) have been business mentors from afar.
Must-have books on to have your list:
- The Soul of Money by Lynne Twist
- Go-Giver's Sell More by Bob Burg and John David
- Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit Of Less by Greg McKewon
And lately, Pandora's Tropical House station has been inspiring a pep in my step!
Describe your favorite moment or accomplishment in your career so far.
There have lots of great moments in my career thus far but my most favorite moment is now. MIA BELL BRANDS is in the middle of its 3rd year in business, my team is happy, my clients are amazing, our retail partners are wonderful and I have a family that supports me in all that I do.
Being grateful for the now is important. And I trust that the future will be just as beautiful!
What’s the most exciting thing going on in your life right now?
2 things: (1) My son just turned 2. He's quite the ray of sunshine! (2) I'm preparing for the next stage of growth for MIA BELL BRANDS which will be a combination of hiring additional staff, offering even more business classes for indie beauty brands and finalizing several new ventures. Can't wait to be able unveil everything!
About Mia Bell
Mia Bell is the CEO & Founder of MIA BELL BRANDS, a national sales representation and business development firm for brilliant, natural beauty & lifestyle brands. A beauty product lover since grade school, Mia was shocked to learn about the use of questionable, toxic ingredients by some of her favorite brands. Armed with her sales and marketing background she joined the growing Healthy Beauty movement. Today, Mia and her team help get safer products onto store shelves and teach conscious companies how to thrive in the marketplace.