FIDM National Scholarship Competition Winner is Now the President of SEVEN Haircare
Born in Taipei, Taiwan and raised in Deerfield Beach, Florida, Beauty Marketing & Product Development Graduate Sheue Pella studied Theatre Design at USC before being admitted to FIDM as a National Scholarship Competition winner. After a successful career working for beauty brands such as Smashbox Cosmetics, Victoria’s Secret Beauty, Fred Segal Beauty, Kerastase Paris, and Shu Ueumura, she’s now the President of SEVEN Haircare, based in Seattle, Washington. We recently caught up with Sheue to learn more about her incredible journey in the industry.
What was your path to FIDM? I attended the University of Southern California and earned a degree in Theatre Design with minors in Architecture and Business. While at USC, I worked on the sets of student films and found myself mostly hanging out in the makeup and hair room. There, I became aware that beauty was an actual legit industry with many paths for both business and creative-minded types. I've always loved beauty, and had an obsession with products, artistry, ingredients, and marketing, down to the descriptive copy that was on the packaging. So I began to craft this dream in my head that I would aim to be a successful makeup artist in Hollywood and start my own line of cosmetics, and even did an internship at Smashbox Cosmetics my senior year.
Fast forward to my first full-time job out of school doing admin work at a security alarm company. It was a fun office job, but not the career I had envisioned. I was questioning if makeup school was the right choice for me, and just didn't know how to find out more about the business side. One morning during my commute to work, I heard a radio ad about FIDM in Los Angeles. I looked it up, found out about the beauty industry program, and I knew at that moment that FIDM was a certainty in my future. It was exactly what I needed, and I wasted no time applying.
You were a National Scholarship Competition winner. How did that impact you? As part of the scholarship application, I was asked to describe a new beauty product concept, and then create the marketing plan for it. Winning the scholarship not only meant that it was financially feasible for me to attend FIDM, especially just coming out from an expensive undergraduate program, but it also made me feel like someone actually believed in me, and validated that this was a dream I could, and should, pursue confidently.
What were some of the most valuable lessons you learned at FIDM? The most valuable lessons I learned at FIDM were about networking, both with the knowledgeable instructors and staff as well as my peers in the program. Everyone is a resource, and as the industry is so small, the chance of you crossing paths at some point during your careers is significant. Also, don't burn bridges. Do things the right way and with integrity. As you move through your career, your personal relationships are the legacy you leave behind.
You worked at major beauty companies such as Victoria's Secret Beauty, Fred Segal Beauty, Kerastase Paris, and Shu Uemura. How did this extensive experience inform your career at SEVEN haircare? These companies did not just provide me with jobs, they provided me with an education in the industry. I've been in roles where I had ranging responsibilities in retailing, merchandising, buying, operations, sales, marketing, inventory, education, administration, budgeting, product development, PR, events, artist management, makeup, hair, and fashion styling.
I took on more and more at each company I worked at, whether I started as an intern or assistant, and worked my way up to director or senior manager level. I've also tried to remember in each position I've been in who my favorite bosses were, and what their leadership styles were like. All of these things have played a part in where I am today, combined of course with my own personal love for beauty products!
Tell us about your journey to becoming President at SEVEN. I actually took a detour from my beauty path to work in biodegradable and compostable plastics for a year, and then came back to the fashion and beauty world by way of an Account Executive position with luxury fine jeweler Boucheron, a brand under the French luxury parent company Kering (formerly Gucci). A former colleague at Kerastase was now the VP of Sales at a new professional hair care manufacturer called SEVEN haircare, and he contacted me one day to see if I would ever be open to working with him in the salon industry again.
I took him up on his offer, and started at SEVEN as an Account Executive in their Los Angeles market. Less than two years later, I moved to Seattle to become their first Director of Education, where I created the company's education platform, trained and managed a team of 30 hairstylists across the country, and planned seminars and events to support our sales efforts. I eventually made my way back to LA when I got married, and went on maternity leave just over a year ago.
Upon my return, I was asked to move back to Seattle as the entire company had recently reorganized to be based from its home office, but it wasn't in the cards for my family at the time. Six months later, I received a call to ask me the same question, but this time, to be President of the company. I couldn't pass up this opportunity, and moved one more time to Seattle, this time with a husband, a baby, and two dogs in tow!
What are your day-to-day responsibilities like? One of the things I love about my job is that every single day is different. On any given workday, you can find me in a meeting with my executive team discussing product development updates, digital marketing strategy, our next education event, and sales team trainings. Afterwards, I may be meeting with our accounting team to discuss the latest P&L statement and any outstanding credit issues.
I monitor our sales progress on a daily basis, and check in with my sales team to regularly review how to best support them and our partner salons. I work with our financial analysts to determine which key performance indicators to track and report on, so that we have a better understanding of our business and our customers. It's important to me that I create a work culture of inclusivity, and an openness to ideas and suggestions.
Besides achieving top and bottom line financial objectives, I view my role as one in which I am providing a unified direction for the team to follow as well as giving them confidence in our future.
What do you most enjoy about living and working in Seattle? Seattle is really a very cool city, with a great food scene that rivals even LA's, and beautiful scenery filled with lakes, mountains, and islands. I enjoy having four distinct seasons (and all the fashion possibilities that come along with that), and how close I am to parks, hiking trails, and other outdoor activities, including the beach. The economy here is thriving, especially with it being a tech industry hub, and if you ask any Washingtonian, they'll tell you that a huge perk of working here is that there is no state income tax.
However, what I love most about the Pacific Northwest is this sense of endless possibility; it doesn't feel "past its prime" or "been there done that." Even though it's home to giants like Amazon and Microsoft, there is still a local, independent, mom-and-pop like entrepreneurial spirit and energy that pervades the city, and it's this quality that gives me renewed inspiration each and every day.
Keep up with SEVEN Haircare at 7haircare.com and on Instagram @sevenhaircare.