Linda Bui is a bona fide neophyte. To delve into it would be to spoil the gems packed in her Q&A but let me attempt an explanation. Lina is a Glossier alum (she started back when it was a small start-up with under 20 employees...) an entrepreneur, a florist, a ceramist, and oh no spoilers, but she just announced something major when I asked what she's a neophyte at - and yup, we have the exclusive. 😉 She's also been a fan of our brand and ethos from our inception so if you ask me, there's no better Neophyte ambassador than Linda. Between her shots in her hair candy and her responses below, I'm sure it won't take long to understand why.
NEOPHYTE JEWELS: I first stumbled upon your account because you were a real supporter of Neophyte - basically from the get-go. But on top of being one of our first fans, you are a true beauty expert. Can you talk to us about how you got into the industry?
LINDA BUI: When I was in college, I thought that I would end up an a creative industry/role. I studied photography and marketing. I always knew that I wanted to work in fashion and beauty, but when I started my career I found that the creative side of was always so subjective. I also had a pretty analytical side to me and really enjoyed the more operational part of the business. So I started to take more operational and supply chain roles. It’s less glamorous and sometimes under-appreciated, but there is always someone behind a product you’re using that worked really hard to get it made. So after a stint in retail operations, I started my first gig as a temp at Bumble and bumble and was quickly hired full-time in supply chain.
NJ: Do you have any tips for someone wanting to get into the industry today?
LB: Just go for it even if it’s just an entry role in a department that you don’t 100% want to end up in. Once you’re in, people will see how amazing you are and you can eventually work your way to your end goal.
Linda wears a Pearl Party Barrette
NJ: You've worked for some incredible beauty companies, like Glossier, Bumble and bumble, and now you're currently at Mac Cosmetics. What have been the biggest lessons that you've learned in your time at each company?
LB: My first role in beauty was at Bumble and bumble, which is under the Estée Lauder umbrella. Because it is such a huge company, I learned the fundamentals of launching a new product, established many important contacts, and gained so much valuable experiences that I was able to take with me and apply to Glossier, which was a tiny startup of less than 20 people when I started. Glossier was such a great opportunity that allowed me to be truly involved with every step of the product development process, mostly because there was no one else to do that job so I had to! I learned to be really scrappy and just get my hands dirty. Mac Cosmetics is the largest and most global brand that I’ve ever worked for. We have so many launches, products, and people. I’m learning a lot about how to work with and navigate a lot different personalities, a very important skill that can be applied to anything in life!
NJ: What's something you wished you had known earlier on in your career?
LB: I wish that I started in this direction a little earlier in my career post-college instead of settling for roles because I thought that was the best I can do. I thought that salary was the important thing at the time. I guess student debt makes you prioritize different things at the time looking back. Haha.
NJ: Where do you see the beauty industry going? Any trends in the business side that you see emerging?
LB: A lot of the smaller companies are really able to connect and speak to the consumer better. Also, because they are smaller and more agile, they’re able to launch new trends quicker. The barrier of entry isn’t high so we’re seeing more celebrities, influencers, people that work in the beauty industry building their own brand. This creates for a better story-telling and makes the brand more marketable.
Linda wears a custom barrette
NJ: Lip or eye?
LB: Always lip! I love a red lip, can’t deny.
LB: Since I’ve always had a creative background, once I started to work on the supply chain side, I always felt an urge to create. I’ve always drawn, painted, worked in photography, etc. My whole youth was spent at some sort art school since middle school. So I started to work with ceramics 5 years ago and always made random pieces. I also started to get really into plants and flowers. I noticed that any flower arrangement I got was always in an ugly glass jar. That’s when the idea to marry flowers and ceramics came about. I started to just do arrangements for myself and then people were reaching out to me to do it for them, from gifts to weddings. I’m thankful that I’m able to do this and keep it pure. It’s not my lifeline and I can just take on projects that I really enjoy.
NJ: I am, of course, privy to the rollercoaster ride that is running a side hustle. How do you do it? (Literally - spill all the organizational hacks please!)
LB: Once people became more interested in my arrangements and ceramics, I started a website to create an easy ordering system to track my orders and to display my work so people have an idea of my style. It’s actually quite challenging because I schedule everything around my regular work hours so sometimes I have to turn down projects based on that.
NJ: Do you have any projects that you're excited to be working on at the moment (and can share)?
LB: I’m in the process of dabbling in home design and real estate development with my husband. We bought our house 2 years ago. We are basically knocking everything down and designing everything ourselves, acting as the designer and project manager, sourcing everything ourselves. Hopefully the project will be done before winter. We bought another house and can’t wait to apply everything we learned from this one. You’d be surprised how complicated construction is and don’t get me started on the New York Department of Building laws/rules! That’s a monster in itself.
NJ: What are you a neophyte at?
LB: I’m actually pregnant and this will be my first! So I’m a neophyte at this whole parenthood thing. Frankly, I’m very freaked out! As a Type A personality, I’ve been doing everything in advance to get pregnant and to be pregnant, but I’m still learning so much along the way. It’s okay though, you’re always going to be a novice about something. How else are you going to continue learning and grow?
All images via Linda, @linda.bui and @madam.ny