Welcome to Byrdie's new series, The Hustle. We're profiling BIPOC women and woman-aligned folks in the beauty and wellness industries who are usually behind-the-scenes. From the cosmetic chemists formulating your holy-grail serum to CFOs driving the biggest beauty companies forward, these women are the definition of career goals, and they're getting real about the journeys that led them to where they are—the highs, the lows, and everything in between.
Amina Pasha is one of the brightest marketing minds in beauty and wellness. She’s worked with some of the most recognizable brands in the industry, helping them connect with consumers and make a radiating impact. Pasha began cultivating her business savvy at Procter and Gamble and spent over ten years working across brands like Pantene and Crest. But in 2017, she was ready for a major career shift. "I had my son, and everything changed," Pasha says. "I started to think about all the products I put in on and around me and re-evaluated what I wanted from both my life and career."
Her soul-searching led her to take on a role at The Honest Company as the vice president of marketing. For Pasha, working at the impact-driven and eco-conscious company felt like the perfect marriage between her passion and purpose. After spending two years there, she made another leap. She joined Thrive Market’s marketing team and currently serves as the chief marketing officer. The e-commerce platform strives to provide high-quality, healthy, and sustainable products (ranging from food to makeup) to all. Needless to say, her new role was another natural fit. "The brand felt even more in line with my life’s calling," Pasha explains. "I felt I needed to share this incredible brand story with others and fuel its mission further."
Ahead, Pasha discusses the ins and outs of her role, how entry-level marketing professionals can make a splash, and the effortless beauty products she loves as a busy mom.
What are your day-to-day responsibilities in your role?
It includes some of everything. In my role, I am a mission and brand champion. I help drive our vision and strategy forward and ensure every asset lives up to that, so we have a cohesive brand experience. I have a large team, so most of my time is spent inspiring them with our vision, aligning on priorities, and sharing progress weekly. It also involves being in touch with Thrive Market members and analyzing their feedback and the ever-changing landscape.
What's the most challenging part of your job?
Prioritizing and pivoting! Given our ambitious brand and mission goals, the projects can be infinite. The impact we can make is endless, but in the end, if we don’t focus on the big swings, we won’t drive the biggest results. I call it “let’s work smart vs. just hard,” and I spend a lot of my time ensuring we have the right goals, projects, and team driving it forward.
The landscape changes so fast that you need to be incredibly agile. You need to be able to respond quickly in an agile team and culture to ensure you are in touch with the market, consumer, and changing realities—which the pandemic only took to the next level. Last year, we must have changed our plans almost every month as something new was happening in the world around us. It's so important to be in touch and not tone deaf.
What's the most rewarding part of your job?
Driving our mission forward at Thrive Market with the incredibly passionate employees across the company. It’s the reason I joined the company and why I’m still here. The fact that we focus on ‘acts’ vs. ‘ads’ makes the role so profoundly meaningful. The brand values of being healthy, eco-conscious, making better choices, driving transparency, and sustainability are tied closely to my own life goals. I also love our team and enjoy spending time with them to find better solutions for our members and consumers. I’m truly grateful for each day here.
What's the project you're most proud of working on in your career?
Our “Food Equality Now” campaign that we launched last year was the most exciting project yet. Understanding how the pandemic exacerbated the food inequality in our country, with over 54 million people now food insecure, has made it no longer a nice to have to fix but a must-have fix for our nation. And we turned it into our rallying cry. We shared our goal of raising $10 million in healthy groceries last year and excitedly have raised almost half of that due to our generous community, members, employees, and founders. It shows the multiplying effect we can have when we bring everyone together. We wanted to help families who genuinely needed the funds and access to healthy groceries.
What's the most interesting story from your career?
I don’t know if it is the most interesting, but it’s the one I will never forget and the transition I learned the most from. Moving from a big corporate institution like P&G to a small, entrepreneurial company like Honest was the toughest one in my career. So much changed, and there was absolutely no rule book. I went from always coloring in the line to now being able to create my own masterpiece. While incredibly exciting, it was also very nerve-wracking.
At times like this, I remember what one of my mentors told me: Focus on what you know vs. what you don’t know and start adding value there immediately. I also learned the importance of building the right team. If you have the right plans and processes but the wrong people on the bus, you will never get to your destination.
I also was a new mom with a five-month-old baby. So, that was the toughest. I was trying to pump in between meetings and rush home late at night to only find him fast asleep. It was tough, but again I tried to focus one day at a time, and before I knew it, he was already a toddler. Many people told me you could only change one aspect of your career at a time, but I showed I could change several and still succeed. The reality is you have to believe in yourself, set realistic expectations, and just be a little patient. I also wasn’t afraid to ask for help. Knowing I was taking on a big career transition, I ensured I had the help at home from my family to help me get through it.
Have you had any mentors or anyone who has helped you get to where you are?
Definitely! Being a minority female leader, I have learned it’s not easy to make the journey up. Often, it can be quite challenging at the top. So, it’s been incredibly important for me to build a mentorship base amongst my peers and leverage strong relationships with mentors who helped me in the early part of my career to avoid those blind spots. I had several mentors at P&G, and their guidance was always to focus on the business and results, and the business will take care of you. That advice has been very true. I have also learned the importance of establishing expectations with your manager. For example, if there are goals or roles you want to accomplish, do not be shy to share them and ask how to get there. You will be amazed how many people don’t even understand the expectations needed to succeed. That ends up holding them back from the next stage of growth.
How do you stay motivated and positive during stressful times at work?
I focus on the big picture. Oddly, it has kept me calmer even though my role size, scale, and stress level have increased. When you realize your day-to-day goals ladder up to a bigger mission, it makes the most stressful situations much easier to handle. I also think it’s important to have a healthy work-life balance. That way, if you’re going through a rough patch at work, you have your friends and family to look forward to, and vice versa. I also remind myself and others that what we are going through is temporary and that we are in it together. It’s amazing how when we rally the whole team together, we can troubleshoot almost any challenge.
What advice or words of encouragement do you have for anyone looking to break into your field?
Go for it! Marketing has changed so much in the past 10+ years. It is no longer the traditional sense of “marketing,” and there isn’t a rule book anymore. It used to be about sharing simple information about a product or service, and everyone would just believe you. Now, it’s about having a purpose, connecting with people of like-minded values, and building trust with your community. My advice would be:
First, focus on what you are passionate about and where you have inherent strength. If you love Instagram, start with social media as you will naturally be better than most at it because you already know the ins and outs of the channel.
Second, know your consumer. It sounds obvious, but I don’t see enough marketers spending time with their consumers to understanding their needs and values. You need to be a consumer fanatic if you want to win with them.
Third, know your whitespace. Join or start a brand that truly is building something no one else has. To do this, you need to understand the market and how you are going to differentiate yourself. And when you do, be ruthless about your execution. Don’t just delegate that to anyone. In the end, execution is the only part of the strategy that the consumer sees. So, it is undeniably the most important.
And lastly, have fun and enjoy the ride. We are all too serious with our careers and often forget to ask ourselves, Are we enjoying this? If you find yourself saying no more often than yes, it’s time for a change.
What does beauty mean to you?
As a busy working mom, beauty to me means healthy made easy. I want to put in the least amount of effort and achieve maximum results. Mornings are my busiest time, and I often literally have five minutes to get ready. So, my beauty routine needs to be fast and effective. To me, it starts with clean skin and healthy hair. If I don’t have great skin or healthy hair, there is no point covering it with a bunch of products.
It’s important to exfoliate weekly and monthly and ensure my skin is hydrated. I am always drinking water (especially lemon-infused water) and eating healthy. With my hair, I like to oil it and keep it healthy by avoiding too many heat-styling tools. Lastly, sleep and some bliss therapy (like hot soaks and monthly massages) do wonders for my skin.
What are your five favorite beauty products? Why do you love them?
Alaffia Everyday Shea Bubble Bath in Lavender ($15): I first got this for my son, and now I equally love it. It has an incredible fair trade story, helping mothers and impoverished families in Africa by providing school facilities and supplies. So, it feels good to use this on so many levels.
Honest Gentle Nourishing Shampoo and Body Wash in Sweet Almond ($10): I helped co-create and launch this product so I might be a little biased, but it’s really an incredible gentle body wash. It deeply moisturizes and is made with only clean ingredients, so it works for the whole family. The scent is just lovely!
Thrive Market 4 -Pack Vanilla Mint Lip Balm ($7): This is a daily lifesaver. I keep one in every bag and pocket. It keeps my lips moisturized and hydrated all day.
Acure Brightening Face Mask ($10): When you need a bit of a brightening touch, this is great for the weekly and monthly rituals. I do all my masks in the shower, and it saves me time.
Well People Mascara ($19): Sometimes, all you need is great clean mascara. This is my go-to. It is made with botanical ingredients and helps nourish your lashes.