Jenise Lee. Founder & CEO. CertClean

Most people would agree that it’s tough to be an entrepreneur (and maybe even a bit tougher to be a social entrepreneur). It takes a special kind of person and Jenise Lee, the Founder & CEO of  CertClean is no exception. We love her motto of “fail fast, and learn faster” because it reminds us that there’s no path to success or handbook to follow; entrepreneurship requires grit, determination, and conviction. Jenise is focused, dedicated and on a mission to help make buying beauty products easier and healthier for you, enabling you to identify “clean” (of toxins) brands. Read on to learn more about Jenise and CertClean.

What does your job entail including what a typical day might be like?

Most entrepreneurs would agree that no day is ever alike! Generally, a day involves planning and executing marketing campaigns, liaising with clients and potential clients, creating content, checking in with team members, etc.

On a weekly basis, I spend at least 8 – 10 hours examining the company’s road map – always identifying areas for improvement and areas for growth. I spend a lot of time looking at what other companies in different industries are doing, figuring out how to improve operations, and coming up with creative ideas to solve industry’s complex challenges.  I also spend over 5 hours a week on “professional development” as it is important to continuously maintain and build upon my current competences.

Can you briefly describe your career path, and how you started CertClean? 

Armed with a chemical engineering degree from the University of Waterloo, I started my career as an environmental engineering consultant. After several years of rich technical and leadership experience, I felt that my passion for environmental stewardship would be better suited elsewhere and also felt that I needed to strengthen my business acumen, so I enrolled in Schulich School of Business’ MBA program.

While I was both working and studying, I was also a board member for a charity within the environmental health sector whereby I educated and empowered women to read beauty product labels to avoid questionable ingredients. Once I completed the MBA program, I felt compelled to address the prevalence of possibly harmful chemicals in personal care products at a much greater scale so, inevitably, CertClean was born.

What’s the coolest part about your job and what’s the biggest challenge?

Who knew that having severe nut allergies and skin sensitivities as a child would actually help me with my career?  I think it is pretty neat that my job includes using my savvy label reading skills and experience to help protect Canadians from harmful ingredients. 

My job is truly amazing in many ways. I get to meet and work with people whose missions and values are so well aligned with my own. I love having the opportunity to think creatively and innovatively. Above all, I get to create my own schedule…and wear comfortable pants all the time!

One challenge that I am working on is avoiding “paralysis by analysis”. I’m learning to make decisions knowing that I am working with less than perfect information.  Motto: Fail fast, learn faster.

  Motto: Fail fast, learn faster.

What advice would you give to a job seeker looking for meaningful work?

On cover letters and in networking events, refrain from saying “I want to…” or “I’m passionate about..”.  Instead, demonstrate that you understand some of the challenges the potential employer face or problems you would like to solve, and highlight how your skills can help. 

What can you identify as the biggest opportunity in your sector right now?

The organic, natural and clean beauty industry is going to continue to grow as shoppers are becoming more mindful of the chemicals they’re lathering onto their bodies. The industry is also very fragmented with no dominant players in the sector yet, so the competitive landscape will change dramatically in the next few years. Attractive and high performing brands which best communicate their responsible ethos will win the hearts of consumers.

CertClean has the opportunity to revolutionize the beauty industry – certifying good clean brands, positioning clean beauty brands for growth, and creating markets for these healthier products.  You will soon see Certified Clean beauty products and Certified Clean sections in stores everywhere!

Editors note: This interview has been updated to reflect the re-branding of Clean Care to CertClean.

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