Episode 167
July 18, 2023

A Clear Win for Clear Skin

with Danielle Gronich, Co-Founder and CEO of CLEARSTEM

About this episode

In this episode, Danielle Gronich joins Lee to share her journey to becoming the Co-Founder and CEO of CLEARSTEM. She shares her story from growing up as a tomboy in Southern California with dreams of traveling the world, to working at ADP where she met with all types of business owners and built the confidence to start her first company, the San Diego Acne Clinic. She talks about her experience at beauty school, the root causes and foods that can cause breakouts, how she met her Co-Founder, Kayleigh Christina, and how they bootstrapped the business and grew it to over $8 million in revenue in 2022.

This episode is sponsored by

Exclusive Deals from Our Sponsors:

•  AWESOME CX by Transcom provides high touch, personalized customer experience services to consumer brands of any size! Email Lee at lee@stairwaytoceo.com to learn more about their award-winning services and Awesome Coffee Chats.

In This Episode You’ll Hear About:

[02:55] Danielle’s tomboy childhood, entrepreneurial traits, and dreams to travel the world.

[09:35] What led her to study at UC Santa Barbara, plus some key lessons from her first jobs.

[14:30] Insight into the not-so-cute side of being a CEO and how working at ADP gave Danielle a real-world business education.

[17:30] How she created the clinical career she always wanted but didn’t know existed!

[21:54] Supplements, hormonal imbalances, and other things that can trigger acne.

[23:12] Where the idea for CLEARSTEM originated after Danielle met her cofounder.

[26:25] How they built the business from the ground up and how it was impacted by COVID.

[30:15] The focus on product and messaging that have propelled CLEARSTEM’s growth.

[31:43] Challenges that came with scaling the business and the role of nurturing the cofounder relationship and facilitating communication.

[35:42] The CLEARSTEM vision and how community and education set the company apart.

[40:34] Danielle's decision to keep the company self-funded and what's next for the business.

[48:26] Why Danielle believes that trusting your instincts is key to business success.

 To Find Out More:

CLEARSTEM Skincare

Danielle Gronich on LinkedIn

Danielle Gronich on Instagram

Entrepreneurial Operating System (EOS)

Lee Greene on LinkedIn

Stairway to CEO

Stairway to CEO on Instagram

Quotes:

“I was definitely entrepreneurial; always creative, thinking outside the box, thought that what I was being told to do was [boring]. I wanted to focus on something I thought was more important and I hated being told what to do by authority figures. I think that’s a key trait!” [0:06:13]

“I remember getting exposed to other cultures in depth at a really young age and I always found it fascinating, so I wanted to see the world and satisfy that adventurous spirit.” [0:09:25] 

“Being a CEO seems one way to so many people. Once you’re in it, it is that way, but it’s also a lot of stuff you don’t want to do.” [0:14:42]

“How can I learn [business] on the street in a real-world way? [ADP] was the perfect job to do it. I met so many business owners at all different types of businesses – That became my MBA.” [0:16:06]

“While I was [at beauty school], I realized that treating acne was the medical profession I had always wanted but didn’t know existed.” [0:18:26] 

“We love making [educational videos and] hosting free masterclasses. We do IG lives. We collaborate with other healthcare professionals, so we’re constantly spreading the [CLEARSTEM] message and ethos.” [0:30:28] 

“One of our core values is that we have to be one with the customer at all times. Almost everyone on our team has dealt with acne or some other skin concern.” [0:30:44]

“I knew how to crush it in a [clinical and one-on-one setting], but that doesn’t automatically translate to mass market [success].”  [0:38:24]

“Our founder story is so unique and we’re always sharing that with people and constantly educating – The way we give to our community and educate freely is what really sets us apart.” [0:38:39]

“Being able to stick to the control of the ingredients and the ethos – was always something that was important to us. We swore we never wanted to have an investor because we never wanted someone to tell us, ‘Make this cheaper.’”  [0:41:02]

“So many brands claim to be everything to everyone, but if there ever was a brand that was, it’s us!” [0:47:06]

“The one thing I wish I could have told myself back then is to trust your instincts.” [0:48:44]

Read the transcript

More Episodes

Episode 193

Turnarounds, Transformations, and Taking Charge

with Mary van Praag, Global CEO at Milani Cosmetics
Listen
Episode 192

Connection, Community and Conversation

with Julie Rice, Co-Founder and CEO of Peoplehood
Listen
Episode 191

Behind the Frames

with Nathan Kondamuri, Co-Founder and CEO of Pair Eyewear
Listen