Q&A with Daisy Jing ‘10, Founder & CEO, Banish

The following interview is reprinted from Duke Business Oriented Women’s Alumni Spotlight series.

Daisy Jing is an alumna of Duke University, graduating with a degree in Economics and Psychology in 2010. She started working at Accenture right after college and then took the plunge to start her own skincare line, Banish. Since then, Banish has grown into a multimillion-dollar brand, as well as an Inc. 500 company. Daisy was a member of the Forbes 30 Under 30 Class of 2018 and has given a TEDx Talk titled “A Tragedy Called Perfection.”

Looking back at your time at Duke, what are you most thankful for?

In my senior year, I interned with some MBA students at a startup they were working on, and that really taught me a lot about starting a business. You just go and do it grassroots. You don’t need to have everything set up, you just go and do it. I think as Duke students, we’re such perfectionists and overachievers. It really opened my eyes to like, Hey, you don’t need everything set in place. You just need product/market fit, then go out and do it. So that really inspired me to start my own thing.

How did you decide that you wanted to go into consulting post-graduation? How did your experience in consulting set up the rest of your career path?

I’ve always been into business. I love business. I breathe and eat business. I love to see how companies run, and I thought consulting would be the best experience for that. This was also back in 2010, shortly after the 2008 crisis. There wasn’t too much opportunity out there, but I’m so fortunate that I was able to have a consulting job after graduation.

There were so many systems and processes at these huge corporations, all these training documents, spreadsheets, Excel files, et cetera. At first I thought it was really tedious to follow all these procedures, but then I realized it’s really important for a company to have a structure, no matter how small you are. So that kind of laid the groundwork and taught me that when you’re scaling a company, you really have to have those structures in place.

Could you describe the process of founding and growing Banish into a multimillion-dollar skin care company? How is Banish continuing to push the boundaries of beauty while still staying true to its roots?

The first few years were some of the hardest times in my life because it was really about having to believe in myself and being very independent and pushing through, even if everyone was telling me no. So the very, very early days were super hard for me. I remember the first year there were just nights when I couldn’t sleep, I couldn’t eat, I couldn’t do anything except work on the business. It was like an out-of-body experience where something just pushed me over the edge to be maniacally focused on it. And even when I look back, I’m like, how did I even have that much energy? But when you’re so focused on something, it takes over you and you just push through it no matter what it takes.

I think now that we’re more established, it’s all about learning how to manage people. So I don’t necessarily work as much as I did in the very early days, but now I have to learn how to hire and manage amazing people so we can scale up. That takes a whole other skillset compared to starting a company from the ground up, and I think both are really important.

Banish has always been down to earth and humble. Every day I’m pinching myself because I remember where I came from and what the point of starting the business was. And it’s also easier because we don’t have outside investors or board members, so it’s quite easy to keep Banish true to its roots.

How have social media platforms such as Youtube and Instagram changed the way you do business? How has social media been a positive and negative force in the beauty space?

Social media platforms such as YouTube and Instagram changed the way we do business. I believe Banish would not have started without YouTube and my YouTube channel. The thing about social media is that it changes so quickly. Every year we’re learning a new platform and how to jump on it, then we’re learning the algorithm and what things do well on it. It’s hard in the sense that we’re constantly changing our strategy all the time.

I think Instagram is actually relatively positive now. I think people are tired of seeing perfectly crafted lives and images, and now there’s a whole wave of skin positivity and authentic content over perfect life content. I’m glad that it’s pushing toward a more positive and authentic space. Right now, we’re also focusing on Instagram Reels and TikTok, which is all about creating authentic content in less than thirty seconds.

Of course, social media can also be a negative force in the beauty space. I think that was the case maybe six years ago when it was all about Facetune and showing the perfect image. Now it’s actually been pretty positive because I think people are tired of seeing perfection. This is why I think TikTok is now surpassing Instagram because people like the authenticity and they can relate to that. I’m really glad that social media is changing beauty for the better.

What advice do you have for students and alumni hoping to enter the beauty industry or other diversified industries? What changes do you hope to see in the beauty industry in the coming years?

I would say listen to your heart in terms of what you’re passionate about and don’t do things simply because they’re prestigious or because they’re the “right path.” You can be successful no matter what you do, even if it’s not the typical Duke path. When I first started my company, I thought, what am I doing? Why am I doing beauty? I don’t even need a college education to create YouTube videos or e-commerce sites. But now I see myself and I feel like I’m more successful than a lot of my peers, and that’s simply because I did something that was different and followed my own path.

There’s so much opportunity in other industries outside of traditional finance and consulting. Of course, if you love finance, go for it, but if you don’t love it, you can definitely go into a different field. There’s plenty of opportunity in those spaces, so follow your heart and what you’re truly interested in because yes, you can be successful in other fields. In fact, you could be even more successful in other fields because there’s less competition.

In terms of changes to the beauty industry, I hope to see more representation. I love, love, love how we’re speaking out about Black representation, Asian representation, representation of all different skin types, skin tones, ages, ethnicities, et cetera on social media. We’re representing all different types of beauty. And I think that’s going to be even more important in the coming years.

What makes you feel confident and beautiful? How have you grown your confidence over the years?

I think being able to excel in my sphere of excellence makes me feel confident. I’m really good at a few random things and I’m really bad at a few random things. For example, I’m really bad at figuring out how to put things together. I always feel really dumb and not confident when I’m put in a position where I have to do that. But if I’m put in a position where I can focus on my strengths, I’m really good at connecting the dots and thinking out into the future. So playing to your strengths is really important. I think helping other people and trying to be of service to other people makes me feel beautiful—when you’re focused on other people, you forget about the superficial issues that you have yourself.

On feeling confident and beautiful, speaking as a 32-year-old Duke grad, honestly the way you look only goes so far and it’s really about what you do with yourself. I know when I was at Duke, I was so obsessed over my appearance, but honestly it doesn’t matter and you shouldn’t obsess over it. I think a huge part of building up my confidence has been understanding that I don’t fit the typical mold of someone’s else’s vision, but that doesn’t make me any less worthy than anyone else. It’s not about me being perfect in all aspects of my life, but it’s about me being authentic in those aspects that make me me. I feel like I’m so much more successful because I’ve been authentic to who I am, and that has helped me with my confidence.

How do you practice self-care and balance work responsibilities with your personal life as a “mompreneur”?

I’m not going to lie, this is a big piece of advice that I wish someone would’ve told me when I left Duke. I feel like when you’re at Duke, you feel like you can do anything, and yes, you can do anything at that point. But as women, we have to face the fact that if you want to have a family and be a mom, we have a different path than men. I never realized that until after I left Duke and my girlfriends and I were just in this life crisis thinking, Oh my gosh, what are we going to do with our lives? I think as women, we have less time than men to figure all that out.

I think it’s just good to know this when you’re younger, so you’re not blindsided by the reality of trying to work and have a family life. And if you don’t want to have a family life, that’s totally okay too. But if you do want to have a family life, you have to start keeping that in the back of your head, so you know what to expect. Yes, it is very, very difficult, especially now with a baby during COVID. I think I’ve had to say no to a lot of my life and make sacrifices. For example, I wear the same gym clothes all the time. I rarely ever wear makeup. I don’t cook, so all the food that we eat is delivery. Just not trying to be perfect in all aspects of my life, but instead focusing on what is actually important, which is obviously family and business. This all means that my house doesn’t look like a Pinterest home, but that’s okay for now (maybe later).

I also think something a lot of Duke women struggle with is perfectionism. That was something I struggled with, and you have to learn how to be okay with not being perfect. It only gets magnified as you get older, especially when you have a child. So not being too hard on yourself for trying to do it all, I think is really, really important and essential for your mental health.

now streamingmeet more DEMAN alumni