In conversation with Erika Geraerts
Erika is a powerhouse, not in kind that you would expect. She is softly spoken and incredibly warm to be around, but it’s the ideals she speaks of and her innate understanding of herself and her beliefs, that gives her such power. To give you a bit of background, Erika co-founded frank body, Willow & Blake, and LBSS cafe, and has also published a children’s book. Impressive right? But this is just the beginning… Erika is now the brains behind Fluff a “beauty brand that wants to change the face of the beauty industry, not the face of girls.” Meet Erika Geraerts…
What do you do? I am the founder of a beauty brand called Fluff. Previously I co-founded frank body, Willow & Blake, and LBSS Cafe. I also published a children’s book called Me Too.
How, when and why did you decide to launch your own business? What was the lightbulb moment? Can you describe the situation, that life-changing moment? I started my first business when I was 21 when my two friends and I noticed a gap in the writing/advertising industry for a content agency. A naive optimism allowed us to dive straight in, and hard work helped us to persevere. The same goes for the businesses which proceeded Willow & Blake. The idea for Fluff was born three years ago, after I became frustrated with the ideal of beauty that many big brands were selling to women (and most importantly) young girls. At Fluff we believe that beauty is so much more than makeup – and this belief underpins our entire brand and communications.
What do you think equipped you for it and what gave you the conviction to actually do it? My previous years in the beauty industry, our two years of research into the market opportunity, and my personal desire to have a career that balances purpose and profit.
What were the major obstacles or challenges, especially unforeseen ones? Expectations vs reality of performance in a highly saturated market, and how to pivot and budget accordingly.
What were the unexpected rewards or highlights? The level of loyalty from customers and the genuine feedback/compliments around our message from the industry.
Having your own business can at times lead to self-doubt. Do you relate to this and how does it manifest for you ? How do you combat it? I doubt my capabilities as a manager often. But I know I’m learning. I doubt the timelines and expectations or milestones we’ve put on ourselves. But Ive never doubted Fluff’s potential. I believe doubt should be inspected but fear should not be implicated. There is a lot to learn from doubt. We have pivoted successfully because of doubt.
On the flip side, what are your hopes and visions for putting your work out there – how do you hope the world benefits from your work? Our vision is a world where “made-up” feels real. Where girls can make up beauty for themselves. Where they can feel more in less.
What relationships have been integral to your journey? My business partner (and best friend) Charl, my investors and advisors, and several friendships which play an unofficial mentor role.
How does being a woman impact your work? I can acknowledge the differences in male and females, both in and beyond the workplace. I’m open to the idea that we have inherent traits that can work for and against us at times. However I have personally never carried the weight of my gender in the workplace — or anywhere, really — and have never personally felt that it’s limited my opportunities. I realise that this isn’t the case for many other women, so maybe I’ve just been lucky, it’s hard to say.
What advice would you give women wanting to start their own thing? “I arise in the morning torn between the desire to improve the world and a desire to enjoy the world.” E. B. White.
Starting your own thing is not the easiest path in the pursuit of happiness, but when you’re contributing to something greater than yourself, it opens up another path: the happiness of pursuit.