5 Questions with... Pam Busiek

DAYSPA checks in with the President and CEO of ICMAD

Pam Busiek

Pam Busiek, ICMAD's fearless leader

By the time this four-year board member assumed the role of president and CEO of major trade association ICMAD (Independent Cosmetic Manufacturers and Distributors) in July, 2011, Pam Busiek was already a beauty business renaissance woman.

Busiek was first exposed to the industry more than 30 years ago, through the Neiman Marcus Executive Training Program. The savvy businesswoman went on to serve as president of private-label product manufacturer CBI Laboratories, and then created and marketed her own skincare and vitamin line. An international speaker on the benefits of private label, advocacy and business development, Busiek says she’s most passionate about the growth of small businesses.

“They’re the heartbeat of this industry, and where all great innovation comes from,” she explains. “They’re also the candy stores where the big companies go in and buy.”

Busiek’s primary goal through her current role at ICMAD is to improve beauty business entrepreneurs’ collaboration within the industry, and educate small businesses on their legislative rights. Under her leadership, ICMAD is also creating a financial development webinar series to help small business owners become “investor-ready and bank-ready!” Busiek says.

With her extensive knowledge of raw product material suppliers, clinical testing labs, attorneys’ and the FDA’s role in the market, package design, etc., Busiek is a unique asset to ICMAD. “I’ve been able to pull together the fruits from all seasons of my career,” she says.

But this optimistic beauty titan isn’t resting on her laurels. Busiek believes that proactive teamwork is the only way to earn a bigger slice of the market for small business owners.

“This is a really exciting time—so many roads have been paved for spa, beauty and wellness professionals,” she says. “Now we should reach out to each other to be supportive, and to provide mentorship and advice to help this industry become stronger, safer and more successful. It comes so naturally to the spa world to be others-centered; now let’s focus on using that approach to expand this entire industry.” —Katie O’Reilly

1 What’s the most common mistake you see made by budding entrepreneurs?
I used to call this the ‘industry of mercy and grace,’ because it’s run by such kind-hearted, caring people—many of whom don’t realize how much they need to learn about business models before they can thrive. We try to prepare these gentle entrepreneurs for the shark tank with a library of business webinars. I think it’s key to educate those pursuing personal beauty and care businesses using the loving, embracing language they speak.
2 What are ICMAD’s hot-button issues right now?
We’re focusing a lot of attention on educating our members about new sunscreen and Brazilian Blowout regulations. We consult with attorneys to help our member businesses better understand claims, how best to market the products that work and also about what you can and can’t claim according to the FDA. Another big topic is the change in the economy; there’s a lot of dormant money available to further a small business owner’s success. We’re in the process of developing a model that teaches our members how to obtain funding
3 What would you be doing if you weren’t a leader in the beauty industry?
I’d either be a physician or a public servant. I’d try to advocate for people in a loving way, with facts rather than charged emotions.
4 What’s the last good book you read?
Steve Jobs by Walter Isaacson. I also read the Wall Street Journal daily.
5 Any last bits of advice for spa owners?
Think outside the box, surround yourself with people who are brighter than yourself, and stay on top of liquidity, your financial capital—and if you don’t know how to do that, start looking for people who do. Most of all, though, be passionate about your story. Every business has one; if you share yours effectively, it can make all the difference in the world.