Those who know Jan Marini refer to her as a visionary. While Jan might agree in principle, she sees this characterization as both a strength and a weakness. She envies those who are able to savor the moment. Where others view life in snapshots that capture real time, Jan sees broad borderless landscapes and endless possibilities. She does not see a product, she sees a business and in that same instance her mind is flooded with the business plan and all the accompanying details. Even when she is not envisioning empires, she is never satisfied with the status quo.
Given her background, perhaps this is an understandable if not necessary survival tool. Jan’s mother, Florence, was a single mom of three boys in an era when divorce carried a major stigma. Florence remarried and unexpectedly gave birth to Jan late in life. The family struggled to live a very meager existence. Her father died when she was eight years old and the family was thrust into poverty. Florence worked only menial jobs and food was often scarce. It was no wonder that Jan viewed her world not as it was, but as it might be, and that she softened the bleak reality by envisioning a larger and more optimistic scenario brimming with potential. Because of her early circumstances, Jan is adamant that in order to succeed you must be tenacious, doggedly determined, and completely focused on the ultimate goal.
Jan describes herself as a product researcher. “Back in the early days I was considered a product ingredient expert. I lectured to medical professionals, skin care professionals, and consumers about how ingredients really performed and what they could realistically expect to provide.” She also did talk radio and T.V., because as she puts it, “consumers love to hear about ingredients and whether their products really work. It is a popular topic that lends itself to talk shows.”
When you hear Jan speak about skin care ingredients and common skin conditions, it is always with passion and conviction. The intense passion for her work and research is always in the forefront. “I am blessed to have a career that enables me to develop so many areas that hold interest for me,” says Jan. “I can use my creative marketing skills, my strategic expertise, my writing skills, and my passion for research.” She ponders for a moment and then adds, “I love everything I do, but education is critical. Sharing new medical data and technological advances is exhilarating. Plus, in the end I have been able to positively impact so many lives, by developing topical agents that address many common skin conditions. I can’t imagine a more interesting or rewarding vocation.”
As Jan continued her lecturing she began to form associations with researchers, scientists, and physicians globally. Over time her focus turned toward research and development. “We have barely begun to ‘scratch the surface’ in regard to technologies that can benefit aging skin, acne,
rosacea, and skin discoloration.” There is that tinge of excitement and passion in her voice. “New technology is rapidly emerging. Twenty-five years ago the prevailing theory was that you couldn’t alter skin aging, for example, via topical agents. Now we are able to stimulate collagen, influence gene expression, and change inflammatory responses.”
What I am curious to know is her impetus for developing a particular product. She is quick to answer. “I am no different from anyone else. I want flawless, healthy, hopefully youthful looking skin. I look in the mirror and see the same imperfections as we all do. I don’t want ‘hope in a jar,’ I want something that provides results.”
Perhaps that is the key to Jan’s phenomenal product development record. If you have skin issues and desperately want to find an answer, you are more determined to find a solution. Jan seems to have a sixth sense for finding unique and effective solutions. She was a glycolic acid pioneer in the 1980s long before the ingredient was available in products commercially. She introduced the first ascorbic acid based vitamin C product into the U.S. and later she was the first to market a more stabilized form of vitamin C, known as lipid soluble C or ascorbyl palmitate, along with a neuro transmitter factor. Other firsts have included Transforming Growth Factor Beta 1 (TGF beta-1), the stabilized combination of glycolic, salicylic, and azaleic acids; Interferon Alpha 2-b; Thymosin beta 4; microscopic sponges for oil control; an anti-aging nutritional supplement containing an absorbable form of hyaluronic acid; a number of proprietary peptide concentrations; the combination of peptide and retinol; the world’s first Prostaglandin eyelash product; and finally a next generation non-prostaglandin eyelash product.
Jan holds numerous patents and patents pending. However, it is the notorious eyelash product that garnered both controversy and worldwide acclaim. “It was a time of huge growth, and also a time that was unbelievably challenging and even discouraging.” Ever the optimist, she recounts, “We were covered on over 500 television programs, over 1,000 print publications, and the company was profiled in the Wall Street Journal twice. You can’t buy that type of publicity.” Jan believes that adversity often spurs even greater achievements. Hence her next generation in lash products was another breakthrough that she believes is even more effective than her original formulations. Through the challenge of the controversy she found new resiliency and strength… “The most touching and dear element for me was the outpouring of support from our resellers. I had phone calls, notes from physicians, calls from celebrities, and offers from luminaries who were willing to assist and support in any way possible. I will feel forever grateful and blessed.”
Jan offers that being “first” has definite advantages. But, she counters, “You also are the first to get shot at when you’re breaking new ground.” Nevertheless, she has always been in the forefront and not just in new product development. Her innovation and spirit is even more evident in how she approaches business. Back in the 1989 to 1990 time frame, Jan literally launched a whole new business model. “I didn’t want to be measured by someone else’s success. I wanted to create a new business category where I could be my own
The rest is history. Jan forged ferociously into the physician market when she financed and brought to market the product lines M.D. Formulations and M.D. Forte. She was met with resistance
and even contempt. “Physicians were mostly insulted at the concept of dispensing skin care from their practice,” she recounts. But, she saw it as an honorable and even necessary physician business dimension. As Jan sees it, “surgical procedures were rapidly evolving. Dermatology was rapidly changing. Managed health care was poised to change the entire medical system. Finally, topical skin care was gaining medical credibility and endorsement.” She saw these elements as the basis for an industry segment of unprecedented growth and enormous revenue potential. Here was the visionary at work again.
But, Jan did not see it as a grandiose idea. For her, it was simply a moment of clarity and truth. “Why wouldn’t the very practitioners who treat skin be ideally suited to recommend the appropriate products?” and she adds, “Why wouldn’t skin care professionals and physicians work together to provide the most effective care and guidance?” She envisioned skin care products being sold routinely in physicians’ offices and saw the burgeoning medical spa business at a time when medical associations were
cautioning doctors that selling skin care was probably unethical. Indeed, as physicians warmed to the concept, she became a popular and respected speaker and eventually presented at medical universities, medical conferences, and skin care conferences. The requests for her to speak even came from outside the U.S., where she spoke at both the Royal Society of Medicine and the British Association of Medicine in London. Recalling her farthest venue, Jan said “I spoke at a medical conference in Salvador Bahia, Brazil. It took 23 hours to travel there. When I spoke, the physician audience wore headphones and I was simultaneously translated. That was an interesting experience.”
Jan believes that even though physician based skin care is commonplace today, the revolution is just beginning. “We are seeing a much more sophisticated and demanding consumer. Skin care buying habits are continuing to shift. There has never been a better time to be a skin care professional.” One thing that she did not foresee was the impact her products would have in the celebrity community. She is still a bit surprised with the many devoted luminaries that include names such as Cher, Naomi Watts, Anne Hathaway, and Kyra Sedgwick. She actually looks uncomfortable if not surprised at the thought that Jan Marini herself has become somewhat of
a celebrity within the film and television world. Jan shakes her head as if in disbelief. “All I can say is that, no matter who you are or how prominent you may be, everyone wants beautiful skin.”
When I asked her what advice she would offer our readers, she said, “Business is tricky. It is not always about having the best product (although it certainly helps). Much of the time, it is a combination of circumstances, timing, and the willingness to forge a different and sometimes solitary path regardless of possible criticism or obstacles. Also, never underestimate the value of having loyal, trustworthy, and bright individuals in your organization."
She has one more thing to add about the evolving skin care scene and it concerns the Internet. “The Internet may provide a tremendous element of convenience, but it also causes a backlash. The consumer craves personal attention and genuine, sincere, and knowledgeable advice. They do not get that from the Internet. You, the skin care professional, have an immense opportunity to touch the lives of individuals in countless ways.”
Jan has made me promise something. She has asked that I not summarize this article on some trite or “cute” note. Therefore let me first quote one of her favorite sayings, “No one can do it for you, but you don’t have to do it alone,” and then, speaks in glowing and thankful terms about the many talented people in her company. Lastly, she wants everyone to know what really motivates her and what defines everything she has accomplished or ever will hope to achieve (and by the way, she is nowhere near stopping). It is her husband Reed Anderson that receives the credit. She sees Reed as the stalwart support system beneath her adventurous soul and her greatest fan. “He is incredibly smart, funny, loving and affectionate. I absolutely adore him. He is not perfect; but, he is the perfect man for me.”