Ingenuity in Action

Because life isn’t all Zoom meetings and no play, Beauty Inc asked some top execs to share what new skill they picked up during the coronavirus pandemic.

“I got pretty good at DIY beauty in areas I’d previously outsourced. Most notably, at-home waxing. I was always too scared, but it is actually super easy. I also got much better at doing my own brows for big Zoom presentations.” — Esi Eggleston Bracey, executive vice president and chief operating officer, North America, beauty and personal care, Unilever

“With the time I have now given I am not traveling, I have invested in two major efforts, one mental and one physical. First, j’étudie le françaisJe comprends plus maintenant. And, I have also managed to reduce my running pace per mile by 30 seconds.” — Alex Keith, chief executive officer, P&G Beauty

“It’s been nice to get back in touch with simpler things and family time, which is typically hard to come by with 18- and 20-year-old kids, mixed with my hectic schedule. We’ve been able to have more dinners together and my two sons have taken on the roles of home chefs. Plus, we’ve had a lot of after-dinner card nights, which has created cherished family time with competitive fun — my kids have been a little surprised at how quickly I’ve picked it up. I don’t know if I’d say I’m a card shark, but I’m on my way!” — Shelley Haus, Chief Marketing Officer, Ulta Beauty

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“I mastered gluten-free, vegan carrot cake. It took many attempts and failures before I nailed it, but I even fooled the non-vegan, gluten-loving members of the family.” — Amy Risley, founder and chief executive officer, Skinfix

“As an Italian, I use very strong body language. Over the past months, I’ve learned to communicate my passion and energy with my voice, eyes and facial expressions, rather than my hands. It helps me keep people interested during long conference calls. My only advice is to remember to unmute yourself first.” — Ilaria Resta, president, global perfumery, Firmenich

“I’m learning how to code. I became interested when I was trying to set up the Professional Affiliate program for Olaplex. Our Shopify account manager was on vacation and I didn’t want to wait for him to get back. So I called Shopify‘s help desk and told them what I wanted to do. They asked me if I was a programmer? I knew if I answered “no,” the conversation would have ended there. So I said yes, and their tech desk walked me through what I needed to do. That whole experience sparked my interest to learn some basic coding in Swift. Now I can build my own algorithm system, automate how I interpret data sets and develop simple apps. And it doesn’t hurt when my grandkids think I am a cool grandma as their parents hail from the world of Silicon Valley.” — JuE Wong, chief executive officer, Olaplex

“I picked up excellent virtual social skills by becoming best friends with the cast of ‘Schitt’s Creek.’” — Jane Hertzmark Hudis, executive group president, The Estée Lauder Cos. Inc.

“I’ve discovered a hidden talent for fixing/installing things that I would have typically sent out for repair or, in some cases, thrown away. My first attempt was fixing the on/off switch to a lamp that had not worked for years. From there, I successfully assembled a new vacuum (it works!) and restored a cable connection on a television that would only broadcast New York 1. During a time when everything seemed out of control, it was very empowering to see how capable I was at completing these projects myself — with a little help from You Tube.” — Carlotta Jacobson, president of CEW

“I learned that even with college-aged kids, I can pull off creating family fun time, making both kids (son and daughter) try on my wedding dress, dusting off the Wii and busting out some ‘Dance Dance Revolution’ moves and even creating an ‘official handstand challenge.’ (Side note: I killed it but pulled a muscle that hurt for months.” — Cyndi Isgrig, president, Dermstore

“Balancing the complexities of business with my two young daughters pushed me to add another dimension to multitasking that I didn’t know was even possible. I added two new titles to my résumé — full-time teacher and chef. We also came up with fun ways for our team to share their hidden talents, to help the working mothers occupy their children and learn a new skill, like origami. My daughters thoroughly enjoyed that, and we now have a full collection of these paper creations.” — Alexandra Papazian, president, Laura Mercier

“I’ve developed the green fingers I never knew I had. Gardening has been a wonderful respite from the uncertainty and the madness. I put my overalls and straw hat on and head into the garden for an hour or two. The garden has never looked better.” — Noella Gabriel, president and cofounder, Elemis

“As a family, we’ve spent the extra time learning more skills for sustainable living and going electric. We’ve reduced our carbon footprint with electric bikes. We’ve been going to the local coffee shop, beach, park. It adds a different layer of fun for the kids and us parents, not to mention a little bit of exercise. Through COVID-19, we’ve become more aware of how much waste happens with takeout. Holy moly — the amount of trash from ordering pizza is crazy. So we have been mindful about cooking at home or being more creative like taking a picnic the park.” — Tera Peterson, cofounder and chief creative officer, NuFace

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