Up until 2018 'Summer Fridays' meant early knock-offs, an extended weekend and an afternoon spent kicking back with a spritz in the sun. Then came along two social media savvy beauty enthusiasts armed with one (now iconic) blue squeezy tube that changed the way we thought about Summer Fridays forever.
So who are the brains and (glowing) faces behind this beloved brand? Marianna Hewitt and Lauren Ireland. If you’ve spent any time on Instagram, these are two names you’ll likely recognise.
Starting off with “parallel” careers, Hewitt and Ireland put a pause on their television gigs and journalism training as they leveraged their engaged social following to build one of the first influencer-led beauty brands. A phenomenon we’ve seen replicated many times since.
Wondering where it all began? Or how their own roles within the company have evolved?
From the challenges they’ve faced since starting the business to what their everyday looks like, leep reading as the co-founders delve into what it takes to land a job like theirs. Plus, who they turn to when they are in need of a little guidance and inspiration themselves. Hint: they've got some pretty impressive mentors on speed dial…
Let’s take it back to the beginning, where did you two first meet?
MH: We met in Los Angeles and had similar career backgrounds that were always parallel — working first as broadcasters and eventually as bloggers. We started our blogs around a similar time, before blogging was considered a full-time career.
Before Summer Fridays was even a blimp on your radar, what were your first-ever jobs?
LI: I worked as a news anchor for several years before the idea of working in beauty ever crossed my mind. I used to arrive at work at 1am every day! That job was arguably the best preparation for working under tight deadlines while simultaneously doing the right research — a skill that inevitably carries over into everything I do now, from brand building, to product development, to working alongside our team.
MH: My first-ever job in high school I worked as a hostess at a restaurant [and] my first job post-college, I was working in entertainment PR in Los Angeles. I always say all the jobs I’ve had have prepared me for the career I have today and working in the service industry taught me so much about people skills, dealing with customers and how to work as part of a team.
What course did you study at University (if any)?
LI: We both went to school for journalism. While we don’t work in that field anymore, we use those skills every day, particularly in how we work under tight timelines and in how we can work alongside teams easily.
What was your first exposure to the beauty industry? Were you both beauty-obsessed early on?
LI: We both share a love for beauty, but that love manifested in varying ways. I became obsessed with ingredients and wellness-inspired beauty, particularly when I was early into expecting my first born.
Tell us more about the birth of Summer Fridays…
MH: Summer Fridays was born out of our collective love of sharing beauty products for so many years through our blogs, Youtube channels and social media. We started working on the line in 2016. And in 2018, we launched with our best-selling Jet Lag Mask.
What advice would you give to those looking to land a role working in a company like Summer Fridays? How important is it to have a good team behind you?
MH: Begin to do the work you want to do through an internship or an entry-level role, [either] within the company you are aspiring to work for or in a different company in a similar field. We’ve had people who started within our company transition into other [roles] as they’ve learned more and evolved into a new type of career. We ourselves have changed careers, and change is entirely normal and possible. The biggest part is taking that first step into the new direction you want to go, and being unafraid to start at the beginning even if that means taking on a job that may not be your dream job at first.
Before hiring staff was even an option, how did you initially divide the roles up between the two of you?
LI: While a lot of skills overlap, we really compliment each other in our work styles. Marianna knows when to go fast, and when we need to pick up speed at varying points in the growth of our company. That balances really well with my inclination to take additional time to be sure the decisions we make are good both short term and long-term, and together, it’s been the ideal match in growing our brand.
Have you done much traveling with your job? If so, what has been a highlight?
MH: We travel so often for work, and we’re now back to regularly visiting a lot of our favourite cities so Jet Lag Mask is always a must. We can recall so many highlights, but one that sticks out is travelling to Sydney for the first time since we had launched Summer Fridays. The opportunity to see how our community had grown beyond our own city and country was a surreal feeling.
What does your day to day look like? How do you manage your time?
MH: I set schedules for myself each day, and divide varying parts of my work into set times. This keeps me organised and on time, and I am able to focus on specific parts of my workload at a single time. It’s a lot more efficient than trying to do all things at all times. I also set deadlines and timers for myself, to get things done.
LI: I also aim to divide my workload by week day, and focus on specific parts of my work on certain days. I have two young kids — ages five and one — so I have to be especially disciplined with my time so I can also be a present parent. I have help, because it truly takes a village. Marianna and I are also adamant about prioritising time for our mental and physical health through daily workouts, walks, solo days off, and setting work deadlines so we are not emailing each other or our team late into the evening.
What do you consider the best part of your role at Summer Fridays?
MH: We love product development and anything consumer facing. I love working with our teams on creative campaigns and our influencer strategy, and I am hyper involved in that part of our business because it’s one of my strong skills from working as an influencer myself for over a decade now.
And the most challenging part of your role at Summer Fridays?
LI: Time management is always a work in progress. Managing our roles within the company with our roles as founders of the business, while still being working influencers [is tough, plus] balancing that with personal obligations with family, friends and taking care of ourselves.
What’s one thing people wouldn’t expect you to be responsible for, but you are?
LI: As founders we do things both big and small — from approving something that may seem insignificant to big financial decisions that impact the business. In any business, no matter how big or small, every job still has to get done. At the beginning we had limited resources so we filled a number of roles from international sales, to customer service and social media — but we are grateful to now have a team because they can do those roles better than we can.
You’re both widely recognised as trendsetters within the beauty and fashion industry, where do you look for inspiration?
LI: Honestly, we are so inspired by what we often see on social media — we both follow incredible trendsetters, founders, mentors, and more, and we are constantly inspired by what we are able to see in real time. Also, travelling is always huge, because we often see trends emerge in one area before they’ve hit another part of the world. We both love to be comfortable yet elevated, especially for everyday life.
Are there any other beauty brands or people within the industry that you admire?
LI: We are fortunate to see so many founders as incredible examples — Jen Atkin of Ouai has been a supporter and mentor from the start, and she leads by example. Others include Nancy Twine of Briogeo, Sheena Yaitanes of Kosas, Vicky Tsai of Tatcha among so many others.
What are the top 3 Summer Fridays products you can’t live without?
Ruby is BEAUTYcrew's Beauty Editor. She is the CEO of nine global corporations. Just kidding. She does however, report on the latest beauty trends, celeb skin care lines (the wonderful, the so-so and the downright unnecessary). If you're ever at a lull in conversation with her, be sure to mention anything hormonal acne or Real Housewives and you'll be set for hours.