BASED IN: HOLLYWOOD, CALFORNIA
How did you start Biren & Co, and could you also tell us about your experience of working as a TV host?
In a nut shell, five years ago, my husband and I had trouble finding a very specific candle that matched our vision for our wedding day, so we rolled up our sleeves and made them ourselves, in our kitchen. I still find wax on our kitchen floor. Laugh. With tenacity, heart, and LOTS of trial and error, our passion project turned into a full fledged business, picking up accounts at Urban Outfitters, Barney’s NY, Kitsons, Fred Segal, Nasty Gal, Gumps, and other fine retailers.
We recently appeared on CNBC’s The Profit, documenting our new partnership with Marcus Lemonis, which we are incredibly grateful for. He seriously is the dream partner. I pinch myself. Soon Biren & Co. will be rolling out creams, lotions, soaps, and diffusers as extensions to our popular candle fragrances. We are in the development phase right now, and it’s so freaking surreal and very exciting. Along with co-owning Biren & Co., I also work as an on-camera host. Currently, you can catch me on Dr. Drew on Call on HLN, and hosting and producing the hit pop culture talk show, Pop Trigger, on Hulu; which is a whole different career in its own right. Lets just say I have found creative ways to balance the two, and wouldn’t have it any other way. Smile.
What is the best part about being an entrepreneur? What is the worst/hardest part?
The best part about being an entrepreneur is watching your ideas come to fruition. It’s mind blowing to see a concept created; there are so many components that go into making a product, so when you have the finished product in your hands, or see it on store shelves, it’s a crazy cool moment – so rewarding.
On the flip side, the hardest part about being an entrepreneur is all the sacrifice. It’s hard to step away from your passion, your “baby,” so you tend to work around the clock; there have been many sleepless nights. Also, we have put everything into our company (time, savings), so knowing how much is invested can be really, really daunting. Especially when you don’t always receive a paycheck, and can’t always rely on one either. We have also pushed back starting a family, which is scary and emotional at times. We will have kids one day soon. For now, this is our baby. It’s all a big risk, but like all entrepreneurs believe - where there is risk, there is big, big, reward.
How do you keep yourself motivated when you can’t keep going anymore?
To be an entrepreneur you have to be a self motivated hustler, which can be tricky, especially if you work from home. Same goes for being a host. You never really have job security. I am learning to embrace the uncertainly, as well as the obstacles. Hosting gigs will come and go, but I have always found that one closed door always unlocks another…to an even better opportunity, so I’m learning to just surrender. There’s so much more peace in that, ya know? So why do we torture ourselves? It’s exhausting. Laugh.
As for business, there will always be another fire to put out, and so I try to face them head on and see them as either building blocks to lead us to greater heights, or as a way to challenge us to find creative and successful ways to put out those fires. The “setbacks” are always opportunities to grow.
When I feel really defeated, I hike with my dog up a hill (here in Los Angeles) that has a view of the Hollywood sign. I find it therapeutic; the sign is so iconic, and I take comfort knowing that many dreamers have also stared at that very sign yearning for something more. We aren’t alone in our quest for greatness.
Is it important to have mentors and mentor other people?
Great question. How many times can I say yes to that? Laugh. I have had a number of mentors in my life; my parents have been instrumental in helping me become a better person and a better entrepreneur, and most importantly so has my husband. He works so damn hard, never complains, and always shoots for the stars no matter what is thrown his way. I am inspired by his big dreams, his hustle, and how caring he is. He cheers everyone else on first; he’s the first to congratulate someone, and the first to help someone. He is one of the most selfless people I know. I learn a lot from him.
Also, a recent mentor is our business partner, Marcus Lemonis. He has no idea just how incredible of a mentor he is to myself, my husband…and to countless other people, not to mention all The Profit viewers. Not only do we learn from his business experience, and ethics, but we are learning how to deal with people. He has such a knack with people, and creating relationships. Watching and learning from him has been such a gift, it’s invaluable. He leads with empathy and vulnerability, which I believe are the most important attributes one could possess, and traits most people may not associate with business…and they couldn’t be more wrong. As for mentoring other people, I only hope the mentoring I am doing now, and in the future, will make as much as an impact on those I mentor as my mentors have made on me. I feel so much more fulfilled when I can be of help to others. It’s freeing to escape the vanity of yourself.
What part of your personality helped you the most with your entrepreneurial journey?
My perseverance; the ability to get back up from a fall. Dust those shoulders off and handle it - I thank my parents for giving me that mindset. And the ability to take criticism/advice/feedback and apply it. It only makes you and your business that much better. It’s invaluable.
Why do you think now is the time to be a female entrepreneur? Do you believe that times are changing for the better? Is it harder being a female entrepreneur or do you think it doesn’t really matter?
Very important questions. To start, depending on where you live in the world, some women don’t even have the right to attempt independence or become an entrepreneur, and that is infuriating and heartbreaking to say the least. With that said, there are many female entrepreneurs that are killing it. Take for example, Diane Von Furstenberg, Lisa Price with Carol’s Daughter – who started with $100 & her kitchen, to growing the beauty company to a multi-million dollar empire. Also, Jessica Alba with The Honest Company, Sophia Amoruso with Nasty Gal, Ariana Huffington, of course queen Oprah Winfrey, and Sara Blakely – who started Spanx with her life savings of $5,000, now worth $1 billion. And these are just the women who come to mind at the moment; I could go on and on listing countless remarkable and inspiring female entrepreneurs.
We have so many bold, powerful, and incredible women who are dominating, and also make it their priority to empower other women. I love it. The notion that women are catty has never been less true, and has never been my general experience. Jealousy and/or not helping others is not a good look; if you can’t play well in the sandbox, asta la vista baby. My biggest cheerleaders (and helpers) are my girlfriends and fellow kick-ass female entrepreneurs. And I take pride in helping them, too. It’s a reciprocal and altruistic relationship, as it should be; you are only as good as the company you keep. I also know countless men who have been more than influential and supportive in my life, and also empower women.
Times are a changing, but we still have a way to go. More than 25 years after Title VII was passed (prohibiting sex discrimination in employment), women are still absent in the board rooms and in top management positions in corporate America. This needs to change. And then of course there is the gender wage gap, women's earnings average only 78% of men's earnings. And the pay gap is even worse for women of color. It’s just not acceptable. Equality and inclusion people. It’s 2016. And what do we do about paid family leave? As an entrepreneur, what am I supposed to do when I become a new mother? This scares the s**t out of me. How do I take time off to bond with my newborn without going broke? Where is my husband’s mandated paid paternity leave? Does he not get to bond with our child? We are the only industrialized nation that does not mandate parental leave policies. We need more emphasis on equality and family values. It’s worrisome to say the least, and needs to change. But, to end on a high note, I look at all the incredible men and women out there who are advocating for change and equality, empowering one another, and that truly is awesome. Now is a great time to be an entrepreneur.
What does success mean to you? What does it mean to “be successful”? Can it ever be fully achieved or is it something that comes and goes?
Success to me is doing what you love, and not having to stress about money to do that thing you love. I love waking up everyday and creating products I believe in. I love putting in the work, and building a family legacy with my husband. I also love being a host, and connecting with our audience. Now, I also want to be the best host I can be, and I also want to be the best business woman I can be. And, I also want to be the best person I can be. They all go hand in hand. So I always strive to be better. I can’t wait to give back on a grander scale: To help other’s build their companies and reach their dreams, to donate more to charities near and dear to my heart, to save lots and lots of animals, and to explore that big, big world of ours. It’s tangible, it’s all for the taking. So let’s make it happen.
What is the most important piece of advice you can give to someone?
Work your ass off doing something you love, because then it doesn’t feel like “work.” Instead, I call it “werk” (*two snaps*), because it’s empowering and rewarding. Smile. AND then… be patient. Having patience has been a grueling lesson for me to learn, and one that I am still learning. I want it now! Laugh. Building a business isn’t done over night; it takes years to see a profit. Same goes with being a host. It has taken me almost a decade to finally land the gigs I do now. So put in the work, surrender, and enjoy the ride.
My other piece of advice, that I have to tell myself daily: Don’t sweat the small stuff. It sounds cliché, but it’s true; getting your feathers ruffled is counter productive. Instead, find solutions to your problems. It’s actually pretty fun facing your challenges head on and figuring out ways to solve them…once you change your perspective.