For episode 4 of Brick & Order, we spoke with women who shifted their careers to build successful businesses. Inna Los, founder of eco-friendly and handcrafted beauty company SopranoLabs, and Carla Nikitaidis and Kathryn Humphries, founders of consulting business All You Need Method, told us how their previous high-pressure careers informed and impacted their current entrepreneurial endeavors.
Inna Los lived many lives before starting the handmade, cruelty-free beauty brand SopranoLabs. Upon receiving a degree in history and politology, she went on to be a pop singer, a model, and finally, an opera singer. After graduating from the academy of music in Moldova as a trained opera singer, she went on to have a long career on the stage. Inna sang opera in productions all over the world for over a decade. “When you’re standing in front of 2 to 4,000 listeners in the auditorium and you’re not miked, you need to deliver the voice, you need to deliver the emotion,” Inna said. “It’s a lot of adrenaline and I love it!”
Today, she gets that same rush from running SopranoLabs—aptly named after her soprano role in the opera—where she creates skincare products, soaps, bath salts, and more from scratch.
Carla and Kathryn, founders of All You Need Method, also held impressive roles early in their careers. Carla worked at a well-respected PR firm in New York City for over 15 years, where she worked with brands like Airbnb, Target, Williams-Sonoma, and more. “It was an incredible experience,” Carla said. “I was in the thick of it and it really jump-started my career, because I was able to make such strong media relationships.” The relationships she built with The New York Times, The Today Show, and The Wall Street Journal, fueled her career. She began her own boutique agency specializing in working with small businesses, and Kathryn joined her team early on. Both women went on to run their own consulting businesses successfully for several years before rejoining and beginning All You Need Method.
When Inna’s job as an opera singer kept her away from her son for long periods of time, she decided it was time to try a new path. With an entrepreneurial spirit, she began thinking about what a natural next step would be. “Growing up in Europe, my grandma taught me a lot about healing herbs,” she said. “So I always loved natural cosmetics.” She’d even spent a great deal of time learning about natural beauty products while working as a performer.
With her knowledge and passion, Inna began hand-making beauty products that would soothe customers. She brought them to street fairs and flea markets where she interacted with customers to learn what was popular in the industry. “The feeling I got when meeting those people and talking to them made it clear what I wanted. I wanted to make people happy, to make them feel joy,” she said. Some of the customers she met at those first street fairs are still some of her most loyal customers today.
Though her job as a business owner looks a bit different than her days as an opera singer, Inna has still been able to find that same feeling of adrenaline she loved so much on stage. “Maybe I’m not performing actively anymore in front of thousands of people, but I’m still in the creative mood,” she said. When Covid-19 hit and people began shopping exclusively online, SopranoLabs saw an increase in orders. As always, Inna embraced the pressure. “We’re fulfilling orders 7 days a week and working night shifts,” she said. “I’m fine with it because I’m an artist and this is how I’ve lived my entire life.”
Carla and Kathryn also found themselves switching gears after many years in traditional PR. In March of 2020 when the pandemic hit, both women were still running their own consulting businesses. When the world went into quarantine, they suddenly found themselves in high demand from friends, family, and clients looking for advice on bringing their business online. “Everyone was looking to social media,” Carla said, “Everyone needed a direct communication channel with their customer.”
The pair saw an opportunity to allow their consulting services to be more readily available to those in need. With traditional PR agencies often being too expensive for small business owners, Carla and Kathryn sought instead to make it easy for entrepreneurs to learn about PR and marketing on their own. “We wanted to help small business owners create a foundation so they can build their brand. Our goal is to give them the resources and tools so they are empowered and have the skills to navigate on their own.”
So began the All You Need Method—a consulting service that combined the collective knowledge of Carla and Kathryn, with a mission to teach business owners the fundamentals of PR and social media. Using their simple 7 step method, the women coach entrepreneurs through building their online presence. For Carla and Kathryn, teaming up to help small business owners grow was a fulfilling next step in their careers. “What I love doing the most is working with entrepreneurs and early-stage companies,” Carla said. “I heard the calling and I had to follow it back there.”
Bringing joy to customers
Watching clients find success after learning their 7-step method is what keeps Carla and Kathryn motivated. “It’s been incredibly rewarding to see these small business owners take the tools that we teach and build momentum and reach their goals,” Kathryn said. Starting your own business can be overwhelming in many ways, and Carla and Kathryn pour their energy into taking a little bit of that stress off their clients’ plates. “It’s been amazing to help founders and small business owners reflect on their journey and find how they stand out,” Carla said. Those who use All You Need Method’s coaching services often see large growth in their audience, their engagement, and partnership opportunities. “That’s what inspires us every single day is hearing that feedback,” Kathryn said.
Similarly, seeing the smiles on customer’s faces when they use SopranoLabs products is what keeps Inna inspired. “You cannot imagine the joy when someone takes your bar of soap and says it makes them feel good,” she said. Inna is a strong believer in the importance of self-care, and especially after the difficult year so many have had, she aims to bring relaxation to her customers. She particularly has a passion for helping young women cope with societal pressures and find beauty within themselves. “With all these images of ‘perfect’ beauty, it’s a lot of pressure on younger girls and women,” she said. “I think their imperfections are what make them perfect. I want to help them relax using all the natural stuff to get rid of that pressure, to be more true to themselves, to love themselves.”
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