64 - Michelle Miller, K18
Conor Begley: Get ready to learn from one of the top influencer marketers in the world. Michelle Miller has a track record like nobody you've met. So three different brands that she's taken from, kind of relatively unknown on the influencer side of things, to one of the top 5 to 10 brands in the world in terms of performance. Enjoy the show today guys. Remember, if you enjoy it, leave a review, share it with a friend, best way you can help. Thanks guys.
Intro: Explore the minds and marketing strategies behind today's winning brands and businesses. Tap into the power of the creator economy with Earned by CreatorIQ. Here's Conor Begley.
Conor Begley: Hi everyone and welcome to Earned. Today I have Michelle Miller, the SVP of Global Marketing at K18. Welcome to the show Michelle.
Michelle Miller: Hi, I'm excited to be here.
Conor Begley: I am pumped. I think that it's very rare that you get the opportunity to talk to one of the best influencer marketers in the world and I consider you to be one of them. So I'm excited for today.
Michelle Miller: Me too. We've known each other for now over a decade, so I'm excited to finally be sitting here.
Conor Begley: It's crazy. And just to give people some background on why I think that claim is true, you started at Too Faced back in 2013, obviously Too Faced was one of the first two really big influencer brands alongside NYX. Went on to get acquired for one and a half billion by Estée Lauder. Then you went to IGK where you grew your EMV 800% during the time that you were there into a Top 10 brand. Then you went to Kosas which moved up 86 slots in one year in our rankings, which again, you're only there for a little over a year. Now you're at K18, which I think you were there kind of right around the launch time and then have brought it up to being a top three hair care brand in influencer coverage. It is an unbelievable lineup frankly.
Michelle Miller: Thanks. Yeah, K18 has been an amazing journey. I was able to bring this amazing brand to market. It's a biotech brand that makes hair care and our founder, Suveen actually came from the tech space. So it's been an awesome journey to go take that from zero to a hundred. But yeah, back in the day at Too Faced it was definitely a different space and a different environment. So to kind of see how it started to where it is today, it's been a journey.
Conor Begley: Yeah, I can't imagine what it's like to be at a company that grows that quickly. I mean we grew really fast, but that's like what you guys did is crazy, crazy fast. So before we do it, get into that, I want to talk just kind of current day topic really quickly and then we'll go into your background. So kind of current day topic, something that I've been paying a lot of attention to just because we interact with these platforms quite a bit is if you look across Google, Facebook slash Instagram, Snapchat have all had really, really tough quarters and those are tough quarters after tough quarter after tough quarter after tough quarter last three or four. Now some of that's macro economic behavior, some of that's just there's a recession coming, et cetera. But I also think that there are other competitive influences at play as well as this kind of decision that brands are making between say kind of pure paid advertising and more pure kind of brand marketing. So talk to me a little bit, is that what you're seeing? Are you guys pulling back in terms of investment, in terms of pure paid unlike Google, Instagram, Snapchat, those channels? Are you moving that anywhere? Talk to me about what you guys are doing because obviously again you guys are killing it as a brand from a marketing and revenue perspective.
Michelle Miller: Definitely. I think a lot of brands had seen success in paid, something K18 has been very, very passionate about from the beginning was that the brand story would ideally drive the desire and want for K18. So we've really leaned into the brand side of paid versus the paid advertising. That's not to say that we don't do it, but because we are a young brand we focused on top of funnel and for us that has been a lot of creators, that has been TikTok, that has been activations with especially influencers to drive brand love to K18 versus hitting people with ads where it's a really saturated space, it's super competitive and there's not a lot of ways to be able to break into I think the consumer's mindset.
Conor Begley: Yeah. I feel like one of the hardest parts of that approach, because I agree with that being the right approach, but one of the hardest parts of that is, you invest the money in, but it's hard to know exactly what you're getting out. I remember having a conversation with you maybe a year ago and you had a big initiative you wanted to do. You're like, hey you need to talk to Suveen and make sure that he gives that we feel good about this because it's hard to directly measure it sometimes.
Michelle Miller: Definitely.
Conor Begley: So how do you think about justifying those investments now that you've been doing them for 10 years across some of the most successful brands?
Michelle Miller: Yeah, I think before a brand can make a big investment, it's really about fostering your community and especially your niche community. So with K18, we really started with hair stylists and creating our core community of hair stylists that love K18. And for us, we had to first find these people because K18 was a completely unknown brand. So the first thing we started with was, hey, try it. We knew if the hairstylist tried it they would love it. So before we went into bigger things like ROI, we really built our core community which drives I would say 40% of our earned media value. And that's huge for a brand that's in the top three in inaudible. So our core community is driving that. So when we think about bigger activations, it's what's going to build brand love. Is there something special that we can do that is a bigger campaign? Because really it's about the day- to- day versus your big campaigns. Your big campaigns are moments in the year, but your community is every day. So in thinking about those ROIs, those are more bigger bets that you're going to take learnings from and you are going to think about okay I'm going to make a bet here because I think this is going to work, and my gut says so, but I'm going to do that because I have a really strong community to catch if this doesn't work. So I would take it back to that.
Conor Begley: These kinds of conversations are the ones that just make me the happiest because I've had a lot of conversations at this point with marketers. I've gotten to know a lot of them and I know who's good and I know who's not. And when I see a brand that's killing it and then I hear what you're espousing in terms of building this community, doing it from the ground up, having it be evergreen versus kind of initiative led, it's just so consistent with what I've seen, the patterns that I've seen that work. And so it's just awesome to see that. And again when brands ask me, " Hey," especially new brands, " What approach should I be taking when it comes to this space?" I'm like, go introduce yourself, introduce them to the product, start to build those relationships. And in some ways if you start doing that and they're not interested in the product and they're not responsive to it, they don't try it or they don't use it or they don't want it, that's actually a product problem. That's not necessarily a marketing problem. Go back to the drawing board on the product itself.
Michelle Miller: Yeah, I mean that's why I've chosen the brands that I've worked with in the past. They've had the product side and the founder vision side down. So for it to take it to market, build the community, that part and putting the elbow grease into that has been really worth it.
Conor Begley: So talk to me about that a little bit, the kind of brand selection side of things because obviously you've picked some really big winners, both Too Faced, Kosas, K18, et cetera. What do you look for, you mentioned a little bit of already brand founder, product, the actual kind of stellar product. What is it that you really look for when choosing a brand?
Michelle Miller: Yeah, well right, I'll say it again. But the first is the product. And with something like Too Faced there was that emotional drive, it was this pink pretty product in a sea of black at the time. And same with Kosas, like this incredible clinically efficacious formulas that were clean. It really when clean was, before clean was a thing. And then with K18 there's an IP mote around it where Suveen has found this patented technology that cannot be copied. So that is something that is extra credit if there is a brand with something that has IP that cannot be copied, that's a great indicator of a strong brand. The next would be the founder vision. Something that I've been really lucky is to work alongside founders with very specific visions. You can have brands that come from incubators and I think that's a little bit different and those can work. But for me I really drive towards a founder led brand and K18 is definitely one of those. And then the last is can you build a team around there? And that team includes the leadership team around you, but especially the team around me, which I'm very lucky to be surrounded by genuine geniuses. So that's been the big part. I'd say those three things.
Conor Begley: Well lets, I want to talk about the second and third thing a little bit. So in terms of the founder vision, what have you noticed, because you've seen three different very successful founders at this point and so you've gotten to see potentially some patterns across those founders. What would you say are consistent patterns across those three different founder sets?
Michelle Miller: I would say creativity is a very big trend that I've seen. It's creativity in different ways. With Jared, he was very much at the helm of product, all three actually have been at the helm of product, but different types of creativity and I think that is what leads to a vision that creates a brand that is around for the long term where I think a lot of people want fast growth but you also want longevity. And I think there's something to the founder heart of the brand that keeps that longevity even when the founder's no longer part of it.
Conor Begley: Yeah, if you look at founder led companies like public companies, they actually significantly outperform non founder led companies. So companies that have the same founder still at the helm tend to significantly outperform, market where you can actually measure that, the public markets. So yeah, that makes sense. And I also think we see it in software too where if the kind of CEO of the company doesn't have a product background, if they're not from an engineering or product organization, if it's a purely sales led CEO, it's much more difficult to be successful. You really want them to be kind of centered on that. So that's awesome. In terms of the team. So let's talk that for a second. So you said you've got a team of geniuses, so how did you get that team of geniuses? How should I go about doing that? What do you look for when you're recruiting, and how do you recruit?
Michelle Miller: Yeah, great question. I tend to, with a startup you need to be nimble. So I definitely look for someone with an entrepreneurial spirit to be totally transparent. A lot of that has come from... The beauty industry is very small so when it comes to the close team it's been either people I've worked with or have amazing backdoor references. The other piece of that is, that's not to say that can be everyone because we've definitely taken new people into the fold. So that idea of being social first, having that grasp on culture and what's moving culture and then also having an empathetic, I would say for me having empathy because I think being a marketer that's really important to be in line with consumers today.
Conor Begley: Yeah, the social first thing is interesting, in terms of what do you mean by social first?
Michelle Miller: Social first, are they obsessed with social media? I think that is something that drives culture. Even if you are not on social media, even if you don't have it, I think you are still influenced by it. And I tend to look for people that if they're just starting out in their career and haven't worked somewhere, then are they on those first platforms? Are they on the BeReals? Do they know things about TikTok that they can give to the team? And then I think for someone that's been in the business a while it's that entrepreneurial spirit to know that you need stamina at a startup. You need to not be able to burn out yourself and your team so that has been surrounding myself with people that have balance has been important.
Conor Begley: Yeah, talk to me about do you think BeReal has longevity, speaking of...
Michelle Miller: I mean, I'm not sure. I've found that it's huge with for my mom friends, the 10 year olds because it's not a scary social media platform so I'm not sure on the longevity. From a brand perspective it's been fun to play around with but it's definitely not our focus.
Conor Begley: Yeah, it's, I've said it on this podcast a few times before, but people kind of underestimate how hard it is to create a social network with longevity. The only one that's been created in the last 10 years was TikTok. Before that Snapchat was 2011. LinkedIn I think was in on that time.
Michelle Miller: Yes.
Conor Begley: Yeah, but they all die.
Michelle Miller: They all die. Yes.
Conor Begley: Yeah, it's crazy. It's actually really, really hard to build one that lasts a long time. And I mean frankly even if you look at the ones that have been around a long time, it's like Facebook is having a tough time right now. Lot of the Snapchat's struggling a little bit. So even the ones that did get to kind of scale, it's hard. It's hard to stick around for a long time. Okay, I want to take a step back so into your background. So let's go back to Too Faced 2014. And I know that was a long time ago, but I do want to talk about it so because at the time influencer marketing was a little bit of wild west, this was not something that everybody was investing in and you guys were one of the earliest, if not the earliest, right up there. So what was it at that time that led you guys to invest so early in the market, and then what were things like then, and how have they changed to now?
Michelle Miller: Yeah, I mean wow, it was so different. There was no creator economy. I think the word influencer wasn't a thing. And with really what led the Too Faced team at that time in 2012, 2013 was having no budget other than product to gift. And we had a young team at the time that was social first. So knowing that Instagram was going to take out Facebook, I think we were one of the first brands on Instagram and we were able to crush it there because no brands were there. And we had people like Jeffree Starr and Jaclyn Hill, we were fostering those tiny niche creators at the time and really giving back to the community. I mean it was insane. We would see YouTube, Instagram, everything would, it was all free. That was what was crazy. It was all free. And so we were able to grow the business in this meteoric way through gifting mostly and through relationship building. You can't do that today.
Conor Begley: Yeah. How have things changed today? What have you noticed? You said one, it sounds like it was free back then and it's not today, but what are other changes?
Michelle Miller: Well, yeah, I mean I guess, and when I say free, I mean it's because the community was young so we were able to give back in other ways that weren't paid. And once that matured, that changed. So no shade to, I very much respect the creator economy and fascinated by it. I think today what's different is for me especially is something like paid partnerships. That was something that was more campaign driven versus an always on tactic. So in addition to fostering your niche community, how you use paid partnerships within your strategy I think has changed in the last decade for sure. I think people have budgets set aside for it now. I would say a majority of our brand budget is set aside for that.
Conor Begley: And how do you think about selecting those people? How do you think about who you partner with on the paid side of things? Because I would assume you're still doing gifting and relationship building and still doing those core tenants.
Michelle Miller: Oh yeah, absolutely. So it all really comes down to what's your level of influence versus your level, for the creator, versus your level of authenticity towards the brand. So how influential someone is, it does not matter how many followers you have. And if you can get someone right before they blow up then that's even better. And so if you can find someone that's sticky and is influential then the next piece is how much do they love your product and how can you create a scenario where they organically love your product. For K18 we've been able to do that through hair stylists and we've kind of, we've stalked influencers that we love and try to figure out who their hair stylists are and that's really worked for us. So we've been able to create a net of influential people that we believe have an affinity, a real true love for K18. So that's how we choose.
Conor Begley: Yeah, no, makes sense. I mean it sounds obvious to me and it's probably obvious to you, but I think for a lot of other people it isn't right, how important that kind of true affinity for the brand is. I think people tend to still select based on... What? Go ahead.
Michelle Miller: I was going to say people know now, the consumer, you know when someone is selling something to you a lot more I think than five years ago even. I mean we're getting smarter when it comes to if someone is authentic or not.
Conor Begley: Well, when you think about it a lot of these creators are people that have been, the people that I follow online, like I've gotten to know them over time. I know who they are. I know their interests, I know them a lot better than you know them. And so if I'm seeing them represent something that just doesn't make any sense, it's obviously that's not going to be particularly effective. But if it's really aligned and it makes sense and you're driving benefit back to them, I'm going to be more supportive of it for sure.
Michelle Miller: Exactly.
Conor Begley: So let's talk structure of your team a little bit. So I know you've stated in the past that in- house team is the way to go, but how do you structure that team? How big is that team? What do they focus on? Do you have people that solely negotiate contracts? Do you have people that are focused on purely relationship building? How do they interact with the owned media team? How does that all fit together?
Michelle Miller: Yeah, so our department is broken up into consumer engagement, which is social media and PR, and then we have digital and then we have product and retail. So in terms of the consumer engagement side, we are everything in house. I think I'm really a firm believer that the relationships should stay inside the brand. I think that there's a level of authenticity that, that creates that you can't fake. So in terms of structure for that team we have an amazing director of social and then we have a community team and a content team, and then we also have a creator team within that. So we kind of have three really specific roles and that fill really, really big needs. So we have community. That has been a huge thing because like I said, fostering our community is number one. And it's not just about commenting a heart on your, it's really like let me engage with you. And a lot of times, even now people go to the comment section on TikTok. It's like just as important as the actual content. So if you can leave a winner there, that's amazing. And then we definitely have a duo that handles the contracting side and the networking side. And then our director is the mastermind. Amazing. Yeah.
Conor Begley: Yeah, don't say their name out loud. They'd be recruited a bit too heavily.
Michelle Miller: Oh my gosh, they probably are. They're amazing.
Conor Begley: Yeah. So let's talk, you mentioned TikTok there very specifically. So let's talk about that for a minute. First, totally agreed. Brands and comments saying funny things are winners, like you said, is I think fascinating as a concept, but generally TikTok is a very different medium. Music plays a really big role. Obviously the content has to be more entertaining. So it's not like Instagram where you build an audience and now that you've built that audience they see most of the stuff that you post. So it's just functionally quite a bit different. So how have you had to adapt your approach for TikTok specifically versus say Instagram or some of the other channels?
Michelle Miller: Yeah, well what I'd say is it's a sound- based platform, so that's definitely been taken into account. Instagram now is similar. So that's been helpful in that shift to Reels. What I'd say is we've definitely shifted the way we think about content. So we've almost changed the team to think of it ourselves more as a media team versus a brand social media. So we have a Slack channel that's like our content crew. We have an in- house TikTok content crew of people that aren't even in marketing that like to make content and will float out different concepts in that way. We have more regular meetings on what's trending and what's happening in this space. So it feels almost like if I were to go back in journalism school, it feels like a little mini newsroom in a sense. And that's been really cool because we have an editorial calendar, we have all of those things. So that's been our secret sauce.
Conor Begley: Yeah, that makes sense. Well let's talk K18 before we end up kind of wrapping up. So K18 has been a rocket ship since you joined. I don't know the exact revenue figures, but I know they're big and they got there very, very fast. And obviously from our measurement perspective, you guys are, I think you were the number one brand at one point one month and at kind of top three for the year. So talk to me first about most people don't get to experience that kind of hypergrowth where you grow just that quickly. What have been some of the challenges associated with that kind of growth where you're jumping out of the plane and you're building the plane on the way down before you hit the ground? What does that look like?
Michelle Miller: I would say challenges have been, I think with hypergrowth comes that burnout can happen. So making sure that the team is balanced, feels good, making sure to focus so we can do so much. And we do at K18. I get often asked, how does your team pump out so much content? We're actually a fully remote team. So I think that's actually very helpful in being productive, but then also having a sense of balance. So I would say making sure the team around, like we've also had to stretch with growth. But yeah, I think from the get- go, the core team at K18 knew that we had a diamond in the rough and knew that fast growth was the goal from the get- go. So it was very much, we all like to say a manifestation practice where we knew that with the product and with this IP mote around the product and what it actually does and how it reverses damage in minutes, that was something we knew was going to take off if put in the right place.
Conor Begley: Yeah. I mean, there's a lot of people though that expect that kind of growth and don't get it, so when you do get it's a pretty, it's a magic moment.
Michelle Miller: Yeah, I mean we've definitely had product, we've had issues we've had to deal with fast growth in terms of selling out of product and things like that, but...
Conor Begley: You figure it out.
Michelle Miller: We figure it out. Yeah.
Conor Begley: Yeah. So if you were to look at the next stages of the company, so you've had a ton of success, the brands growing very quickly, et cetera. What are you guys really focused on over the next, call it one to two years? I think it's too hard to forecast further out than that. What are the big next hurdles, big upcoming challenges? Is it international? What are you guys pushing on right now?
Michelle Miller: Yeah, I would say being two years in we're still at a very young stage of the brand, but in that hypergrowth phase we've really crushed it in the last year and it's interesting, we've noticed that we've seen other brands using the same language and positioning even. We never thought someone would use the word biomimetic and we've seen that in the market. So it really shows how K18 has shaken up the industry. We're really focused on building awareness around molecular repair. We have seen bond builders was the last really big innovation in this space. So 2023 is the dawn of molecular repair. Previous generations of patch damage we're here to renew hair and to do that outside of brand campaigns, outside of social, really looking at distribution, really looking at pro stylists first because not only from a social media perspective, that's our core community from a sales perspective as well. And so we've only really scratched the surface on how our IP affects pro stylists. So that's really the focus I'd say for the next two years. We have amazing innovation coming out. So we also have some amazing partnerships coming in January, so working on that.
Conor Begley: That's exciting.
Michelle Miller: Yeah.
Conor Begley: I feel like you've got a pretty deep background on the partnership side of things. I feel like you guys do, you've historically done a lot of collaborations, right?
Michelle Miller: Yes.
Conor Begley: Both influencers, other brands, et cetera.
Michelle Miller: Yes. It's been, I think when done right they can be very game changing for a brand. We recently just worked with Anna Sitar. She is TikTok's rising star and has 12 million followers. She promoted K18 organically on her channel. So it was a example of us seeing it and then jumping on the opportunity to work with her. And we knew she had just graduated with her director's degree or a master's in directing so we actually asked her to direct a commercial for us and-
Conor Begley: Oh cool.
Michelle Miller: It's been performing amazingly well. She came up with a concept, she starred in it, and it's on Connected TV now and yeah so we've... It's amazing. I feel like it's an example of a really authentic paid collaboration.
Conor Begley: It's interesting to hear you talk about Connected TV. Is that an area that you're playing around with a little bit?
Michelle Miller: Yes. That is an area. We've actually learned that people that see an ad on streaming television, if they've seen it on social media, so Instagram and TikTok, there's a higher conversion rate. And anecdotally we know when we watch streaming TV we're also on our phone and so we've definitely been interested in that out- of- home aspect when it comes to streaming TV or even billboard moments.
Conor Begley: Yeah, if you think about the people that are watching streaming, it's probably the people that are on social, they're not watching linear television more than likely. So there's just a lot of alignment there.
Michelle Miller: Yeah, yeah.
Conor Begley: I love that. That's funny.
Michelle Miller: I actually think-
Conor Begley: You're the first person that's talked about it.
Michelle Miller: Yeah, it's actually overtaken.
Conor Begley: What?
Michelle Miller: We've cut the cord. It's overtaken cable TV.
Conor Begley: Yeah, no, I love that. That's awesome.
Michelle Miller: Yeah and I think there's something like, it's that 15 second spot, so it's like the horizontal version of a TikTok ad.
Conor Begley: Yeah, yeah. Okay, one more question and then we'll do a fun kind of end of show question. So you were recently recognized by Glossy Magazine or Glossy as one of the top marketers in the world within the beauty and fashion space, and there weren't that many of them. I think there are about 15 to 20 of them. And you've got CMOs at REVOLVE, MAC, Savage, inaudible, Fenty, Ulta, Vans, et cetera. So these are big killer brands that you're being recognized alongside. And I think what's most fascinating when I have conversations with people is I'm like, everybody in this room, the people that are doing this influencer thing right now, particularly in the kind of middle management layer, you guys are going to be the CMOs of tomorrow. And I think that you are on that trajectory and obviously have had the success that warrants that. And so I guess the question that I have is if you were to give them advice, people that aren't on your team, aren't interacting with you daily that want to follow this kind of same trajectory and path that you've followed, what would be your recommendation to them?
Michelle Miller: That's a great question. I think the recommendation is if influencer marketing is your thing, I think knowing that it's a really important piece of driving awareness today and knowing the power of influence and what drives a consumer's want and desire towards a product. I think knowing that power is really important. And then I think having an analytical view on what's current, because I think anyone in this space knows that it's changing all the time. So when it comes to collaborations or partnerships, building your community, it's really having an eye on what's current versus what's been passed because those, it's a cycle that goes. And then I think having an eye towards the overall brand story and the storytelling aspect, and then also keeping that empathy, like I said earlier.
Conor Begley: What is the current thing? What are you currently focused on?
Michelle Miller: Well, we're still very currently focused on TikTok and then on the creator side of that. So I think even if it's not TikTok, what if that gets banned?
Conor Begley: Yeah, that would be interesting.
Michelle Miller: It would be interesting. I think it's focusing on the creators and putting them first.
Conor Begley: Yeah, that makes sense. Yeah, we'll have to see what, follow what happens there. I know Elon Musk is talking about bringing back Vine, which was actually the closest comparison I think to TikTok in the past.
Michelle Miller: Definitely.
Conor Begley: Well, let's do one kind of fun end of show question. And this is less of a question and more just I think curiosity for me because I don't, this isn't how I express myself, but it seems like dance has played a really big role in your life and has come back in your life more recently. What is it about that medium that speaks to you and generally just tell me more about how it plays a role in your life.
Michelle Miller: It's so funny. Yeah. So I have always been a dancer. I actually took a 10 year break and in the last year kind of went back to it. My husband also is a dancer, so it's something we went back to together. And there's something about, it's almost meditative. And I think that when you are in a really fast paced, high growth space, whether that's beauty or food and beverage, whatever it may be, I think it's important to have some sort of outlet that's meditative and creative. And that's really been, that has been what dance is for me. So yeah, to say again, 10 years later that I'm a dancer is a big deal. And yeah, I think it's been such a gift to get back into, I feel young again.
Conor Begley: Is that how you and your husband met?
Michelle Miller: Yeah, he was a break dancer and it was in this group called Supreme Soul, which was on America's Best Dance Crew on MTV back in the day and I was in the hip hop dancing scene also, but definitely more feminine. I don't break dance. That's how we met. And yeah, to come back to that a decade later has been so fun. We have kids now, so they're dancing with us.
Conor Begley: Yeah, I just had baby number three about a month ago, so it's a whole nother topic we could dive into. Don't have time for it today, but balancing kids and work life and hypergrowth. Well, I really appreciate you taking out the time today. I know I learned a lot. Congratulations again on all your success. I'm so excited. I mean, it's crazy to think about how much of your career you have in front of you and how far you've gotten already. So to see what the end point is, I am fascinated with. And yeah, thanks again for taking the time. This was great.
Michelle Miller: Of course, thank you, Conor. I've loved watching you as well, and I'm a huge fan, so thank you.
Conor Begley: Of course. Bye Michelle.
Michelle Miller: Bye.
Conor Begley: Bye.
Outro: Be a friend, tell a friend and subscribe. Earned by CreatorIQ. CreatorIQ is your all in one solution to grow, manage, scale and measure your influencer marketing program. Ready to unlock the power of the creator economy, get started with a demo today at creatoriq. com.
In our last episode of 2022, Conor sits down with one of Glossy’s Top Marketers of 2022: Michelle Miller, SVP of Global Marketing at biotech-backed superstar K18 Hair. We start by learning why K18 prioritizes top-of-funnel brand marketing over paid advertising, and Michelle emphasizes the importance of fostering your core community—which, for K18, has always been professional hairstylists. We then hear what qualities Michelle looks for when joining a brand, and the characteristics of good founders, before learning how Michelle recruits her own “team of geniuses.” Next, we dive into Michelle’s career background and unpack how influencer marketing has evolved since her early days pioneering the space at Too Faced. We discuss K18’s approach to TikTok, before switching gears to explore the challenges of hyper-growth. To close the show, we learn what’s next for K18, and Michelle gives advice to those looking to achieve similar success.