Welcome to Byrdie's new series, The Hustle. We're profiling diverse, interesting women and female-identifying 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.
Today, get to know Brandi Halls, the Director of Brand Communications at Lush Cosmetics. After graduating from college in 2003, Halls immediately began working at Lush Cosmetics’ Vancouver headquarters and has been with the company ever since. Throughout her nearly 18-year tenure at the brand, Halls’ role has continuously evolved. Her early days with the company were spent overseeing the planning and execution of Lush’s PR strategy for the North American Market. In 2008, Halls took her talents to New York to open and lead Lush’s North American press office. And since 2012, she's been overseeing all innovative communication strategies as the brand's Brand Director. Ahead, learn more about Halls’ journey from Public Relations Assistant to Brand Director, her day-to-day duties, and more.
Tell us about your background.
I grew up in a family of great leaders. My grandfather was a well-known Indigenous Ambassador in our community, and my mother and sisters are Indigenous educators. Learning the importance of education from my grandfather, I was the first in my immediate family to attend university. My goal was to find a way to "do good" in the corporate world. While my path has been very different from the rest of my family, I’m fortunate that Lush has allowed me to work with my community and others in a really unique and genuine way. As the Brand Director for Lush Cosmetics North America, I have led campaigns that not only work to lift up and better the lives of my people but of all people, animals, and the planet.
I started my career at Lush as a PR Assistant, fresh out of university with much to learn and much to give. I was fortunate that I joined the company just as we were beginning our US expansion. My role quickly expanded to include media relations, and before I knew it, I was traveling throughout the US visiting every new shop we opened. Working on the shop floor and meeting customers across the country gave me a great foundation for my next role, PR Manager for North America. I moved to New York City, opened a PR office, and managed a team responsible for all media, campaigns, and social media for the US and Canada. After six years, I returned to Vancouver as Brand Director for the company, a role that involves bringing together teams across the business that are responsible for brand messaging across all channels. I’ve now been in this role for seven years.
You began working for Lush right out of college. What attracted you to the company?
I joined Lush two weeks after graduating, and it’s been a wild ride ever since. I was attracted to Lush because I was a fan of the brand; born and raised in Vancouver, I was really familiar with the products and company ethics. I was a young woman who was passionate about animal rights and loved beauty products, so it truly felt like a match made in heaven. Little did I know that Lush’s learning culture would provide the perfect runway for me to build a long-term career in marketing and communications.
What is a typical day in your life as Lush’s Brand Director like?
I try to get eyes on everything that touches the Lush customer, so a typical day could be offering feedback on the latest campaign assets, analyzing trends and insights on the previous week’s brand channels, tweaking the upcoming marketing calendar, providing support and guidance for key strategic projects that I manage, brainstorming brand awareness opportunities and coaching and mentoring team members. Every day and every week looks very different at Lush, which is one of the many reasons I am still here almost 20 years later.
What would your advice be for anyone who wants to work for Lush?
Go for it and give it your all. Get your foot in the door anywhere you can–start in a shop, customer care, or manufacturing. These roles will give you the best understanding of who we are as a brand and what we are all about. Remain open to learning, be who you are, and put your hand up wherever and whenever you can.
What’s one thing people would be surprised to learn about being a Brand Director?
The skills required to be a Brand Director are constantly changing, so you need to be open to always learning and have the humility to learn from others, lean on your team and constantly strive to broaden your skillset.
What’s the most fun or fulfilling part of your job?
The most fulfilling part of my job is definitely working alongside such a talented and inspirational group of creative marketers. I have a team of dreamers, with big ideas and incredible skills, so watching their ideas come to life and land with our customers is incredibly rewarding.
What’s the most challenging part of your job?
Probably that it never stops; priorities are always changing, a crisis may be brewing, employees' needs are ever-evolving, executive demands are shifting, competition is lurking, and retail is a 24/7 industry. It is very difficult to balance my Brand Director role with my role as a mom, wife, daughter, sister, and friend...in fact, I have yet to uncover the secret to that whole “balance” thing.
What’s the most memorable project you’ve worked on with Lush?
I feel very inspired and fortunate every time I help bring our ethical campaigns to life at Lush. We are an activist brand and have been campaigning for over 20 years, well before it was commonplace for brands to do such a thing. I’m particularly proud of our work in the space of immigration reform, Indigenous rights, and our continued fight to end animal testing in cosmetics.
What’s the most interesting story from your career?
This has to be my move to NYC. I was in my mid-twenties when I was asked to take on a new role in a new country. I picked up and moved, not knowing a single person in the city and without a team or even an office. I spent my first three months working out of coffee shops while looking to secure office space and hire a team. It was a whirlwind, and it was just the beginning of an incredible six years of building my toolkit. Living in New York meant that I was immersed in all things branding, marketing, and creative every time I stepped out of my door. I couldn’t have asked for a better gift in my journey as a marketer. The added bonus was that I met some of my best friends and my husband while living there.
What has your experience been in the beauty industry? Have you ever felt excluded from the beauty conversation or been passed over for career opportunities because of your race, background, age, gender, or anything else?
I have been incredibly fortunate in my role at Lush to have felt acknowledged and seen as an Indigenous woman in executive leadership. My culture has been respected at this company, and I have been given many opportunities to bring my learnings and teachings into the workplace. I have never shied away from who I am in the workplace and really owned that being Indigenous meant I could offer the company a different perspective. I know my experience is not what most BIPOC women experience in their careers. I hope that I can be an inspiration to many that companies do exist where you can bring your whole self to work every day.
Have you had any mentors or anyone who has helped you get to where you are?
There have been so many incredible, smart, and talented people who have helped me become who I am today in business. I was fortunate to start at Lush when we were a small company, so I have had the good fortune of learning alongside the founders in the UK and my North American CEO. In recent years, I’ve learned the importance of having an executive network outside your own organization to keep you real, learning, and feeling supported.
How do you stay motivated, grounded, and positive during stressful times at work?
Sleep and movement. If I don’t get enough sleep, I don’t make sound decisions; it was a hard lesson to learn, but I had to make sleep a priority. The same goes for movement—whether it’s a morning spin ride, a walk around the block, or a 15-minute yoga class, a little bit of movement goes a very long way in keeping my mind clear, especially in these challenging times.
Get curious. Curiosity is one of the most underrated skillsets in the marketing industry. Curiosity will keep you learning; it will open new doors and create amazing experiences for the brands lucky enough to have you join their workforce.
What does beauty mean to you?
Beauty is feeling your absolute best. It’s being comfortable in your own skin and loving you before all else.
What advice or words of encouragement do you have for anyone looking to break into your field?
Get curious. Curiosity is one of the most underrated skillsets in the marketing industry. Curiosity will keep you learning; it will open new doors and create amazing experiences for the brands lucky enough to have you join their workforce. Oh, and don’t be afraid to get your hands dirty—there’s always Lush soap to help you out with that!
What are your five favorite beauty products of the moment?