Innovation has always been at the forefront for CND’s Jan Arnold and there’s no telling what’s next.
From the very beginning, Jan Arnold believed she would be successful. How do you have such a strong belief and confidence in something you have never done before? In large part, Arnold credits her father with cultivating that confidence, which encouraged both her and her brother to follow their dreams. “To have your parent believe in you—to use those actual words—is the most powerful thing,” she shares.
Arnold’s ability to drill into the details with her team continues to make her a notable voice in the industry. Even with her jammed schedule, we managed to carve out some time to speak with her while she was on set, and got her insight on artistry, business, and how to motivate your team to bring their very best at all times.
Salon Magazine: When you look back, did you see yourself at this level?
Jan Arnold: When I harken back to the foundation of the brand, I think we realized we were going to be holding the patent on crosslink polymers in nail. It was something logical and truly needed in the industry that was based on single-link chemistry. We knew it made good sense.
SM: What have been some of the most important pieces of advice you have taken throughout your career that still apply today?
JA: You need to do twice as much listening as talking. When you observe everything you see going on around you, it fuels you from a business, creative and innovation perspective. We can translate what we hear on a scientific level. My father’s original vision started with believing in the science and having the confidence we could translate it into something meaningful for both the professional industry and clients.
SM: How have you been able to push past your comfort zone?
JA: When you are building a business, you need to go to that edge, find that creativity, find your voice and find your confidence. Every time we were able to have success, it fueled our confdence and pushed us farther next time. When we would go to my father for advice, he would tell us we could go to the moon, that we had the creativity and intelligence. He gave me the guts to push.
SM: What is the secret to overcoming challenging times and staying the course?
JA: As hard as we have worked, there were always roadblocks along the way. When times got tough, for me it got more fun because it was a challenge that we could meet. One of the trademarks of breaking through is being positive. Being able to not be stricken with fear when you reach roadblocks, but realize that a roadblock reveals to you who your team members are around you who can help get you to the next level. I try to surround myself with positive thinkers, with solution-oriented people, with creatives who have no boundaries, and that becomes fuel in this mission.
SM: You speak a lot of the people you surround yourself with. How do you utilize those positive people?
JA: I do a lot of travelling with them. My greatest joy is spending time with them. I run sessions where I bring the best thinkers, educators and creative minds and we work with the product. We create with it and it is during that time that I’m tuned in to their emotion and what they like and don’t like. If there is something that needs to be changed, we explore. We ask, “Is there a way you can play with it that works better?” which makes us step out of the boundary.
SM: Shellac changed the game for nail professionals, so how essential was that group of people you’re talking about for that process?
JA: It was the nail professionals who told us that we didn’t have a removable gel but we have a power polish. What they saw was a nail polish that went on like a polish and cured like a gel and removed easily. They identified it as a hybrid product. It changed everything. Eight years later, it is a category with 93 players. It really taught us that we need to remove the rules and regulations and set them free, and that is where the biggest breakthroughs come.
SM: What fuels your creativity?
JA: It is important to clear your mind. I try to drag my top folks to galleries; we took sketch pads to the Noya gallery and did a workshop on how to create various textures. Also, sometimes words can conjure creativity. For instance, ‘fringe,’ and I can translate it from runway to real way. We have relationships with stylists and if we can’t see the collection, I ask them to say a few words and we create templates for them.
SM: How has fashion week involvement changed the game for nails?
JA: We started in fashion 26 years ago, and I remember looking at Vogue, thinking how weird that, in these runway shows, the makeup, the hair, the clothing, everything is perfectly appointed, but nails are bare. We went to Cynthia Rowley with her first show and eventually we got the guts to talk to Oscar de la Renta. It was a process. In doing that, the role of the nail professional elevated with the acceptance of the medium and the different beauty aspect. Now, we do fewer shows with deeper partners who respect my team as much as I do.