I met Bahar a few years ago at an industry event. I can’t pinpoint exactly where or when but I can pinpoint the impression she left on me. Decisive, clear, compassionate, funny and a woman who knew her ‘stuff’ without the fluff. Since that first meeting I’ve had the pleasure of spending more time with her. My opinion from that first meeting, to now hasn’t changed. I’m so delighted to have the fabulous Bahar Etminan, Founder and Editor of RESCU.com.au feature as our ‘Inspiring Woman’ on the blog this month.
Claire: At the age of 7, you and your family left Iran following the revolution of 1978 and moved to Perth. Leaving everything you know to start a brand new life in Australia. How do you recall that memory ?
Bahar: I remember being excited when we were doing our immigration interviews at the Australian Consulate in Iran and thinking how exciting the trip would be. I hadn’t processed all that I would be leaving behind. All I could think about as a 7 year old is what kind of pencil case I’d have and what uniform I’d wear at my new school. When we arrived, my first memory was of the incredible light in Perth and the sense of pure possibility and freedom. My father took us from the airport to the shops and bought my brother and I each a bike, swimsuit and shorts and t-shirt. It was intoxicating. I knew two words in English. Help and Boyfriend!
Claire: Can you pinpoint a time when you knew your career would be in beauty ?
Bahar: I loved the beauty industry before I could read and write. I received my first bottle of French fragrance when I was five. Chloe by Karl Lagerfeld. I was hooked.
Claire: Tell us a bit about your professional background – what did you originally study ?
Bahar: I studied a bachelor of commerce and then completed an MBA. My focus and interest were always in marketing and my dream was to get into the beauty industry. During my university year, I worked for Parfums Givenchy on the Gold Coast and Brisbane as their traveller. I would cover shifts for pharmacies and department stores selling fragrances. I thought it was the most glamorous job in the world and I took it very seriously.
Claire: Your career path thus far has been very impressive and sees job titles that many girls aspire to. One of them being the youngest ever (27 at the time) brand general manager of Bobbi Brown and Origins in Australia for Estee Lauder group. Looking back, how have your previous job roles helped with your success with RESCU.com.au today ? Are there any lessons that have stuck with you today ?
Bahar: The most memorable and incredible experience of my professional career was being hired by FJ Benjamin to be the Sales and Marketing Manager for Gucci Timepieces and later becoming General Manager of their entire Timepiece division. The late Bob Boutin, the former CEO was an incredible mentor to me. I was 24 when I joined and was given the ultimate dream job. Tom Ford was heading up Gucci. We were the hottest brand in the world and I was jetting around the globe representing a brand that was the envy of the world. We all had such a wonderful time doing it. It was insanely fun and I am still in contact with many people from that time.
Claire: How did the idea for RESCU.com.au come about ?
Bahar: I launched RESCU in 2005 as part of a cosmetic distribution business Brandmakers I launched in 2002 after leaving Estee Lauder Group. I had an exclusive distribution agreement with David Jones for my brands and wanted to extend into regional areas so I launched an online store. I started publishing a bi monthly newsletter called the RESCU Report at the same time. When the 2009 GFC hit, I was forced to close the distribution business and re-invent RESCU as a purely publishing business. I had absolutely no background or idea about publishing. The idea of RESCU as an online destination was one of necessity not incredible planning. I had a very respectable subscriber base to The RESCU Report so I knew I had an audience. I surveyed them to learn more about their interests and passions and decided to publish content that mattered to that audience. Simple as that.
Claire: How did you bring this concept to reality and turn it into a successful business ?
Bahar: I had no choice but to work my butt off. I had a massive debt from closing the Brandmakers business and I had wounded pride. I either had to get a job or start a new business and I chose to use the seed of what I had to develop my publishing business. I asked many people for help, I read a lot of inspiration biographies and I trusted my gut. The timing was also miraculously just right as online publishing has really become mainstream in this time. The concept of publishing content that was created by experts seemed natural to me. I liked reading curated content. It made sense to let experts do the talking rather than writers. Where we do work with journalists, they are always there to tell the expert’s story. There is no ‘I’ voice in RESCU.
Claire: The digital media marketplace is ever-growing and can often be seen as overcrowded. How do you manage to differentiate yourself and stand out ?
Bahar: I think it’s beginning to splinter into niche publishers quite nicely now. The best advice I have ever been given is to “stick to your knitting and keep looking for ways to better serve your readers and clients”. That’s all I think about.
Claire: Throughout your career, who has been a mentor? Who have you looked to for guidance?
Bahar: John McGrath was a huge influence on my career and continues to be a touchtone for best practice. Anthony Bell is my business mentor and I also work and have worked with a Life/ Business Coach Dr Fred Grosse on and off for the past 18 years. Paid mentorship makes perfect sense to me. You get focused time and effort. JoAnne Mason is another Mentor and friend. She has a data analysis business for the cosmetic industry and is a former Marketing Director. Her approach to long term business partnerships, confidentiality and creating trust is amazing. If I’m ever in hot water and need, sober, unsugar coated counsel, I count on Nikki Andrews from NAC consulting as my go-to expert/ mentor. She is wise, kind and experienced in all manner of things.
Claire: What is one piece of advice you would give to people wanting to start their own business?
Bahar: Ask for help and get the best people you can afford to advise you for the legal and financial stuff. Getting the right structure, correct contracts and boring details right up front is gold.
Claire: What is the best part of your job?
Bahar: Everything about my job makes my heart sing. Honestly, I love my team, I love the industry and I love our clients. I genuinely adore selling, pitching and coming up with creative solutions to client briefs. The digital publishing business is also hyper dynamic and never boring. Ok, I also have to admit that I get my fair share of glamorous experiences. This week I was on a yacht with luxury brand La Prairie. Last month I got to take three of my best friends to the Great Barrier Reef for a long weekend as part of a PR invitation.
Claire: Who is an inspirational woman to YOU ?
Bahar: I’m always inspired by Car la Zamaptti for her diverse business acumen, personal style, ability to evolve and stay relevant. She is a modern day goddess – one half of a power couple, a mother and grandmother. I truly admire her strength and grace. What a woman !
Claire: What are 3 beauty products you will always find in your handbag ?
Bahar: In my handbag I have at least 8 lipsticks mainly Tom Ford (True Coral is definitely the best lipstick on the planet) and Bobbi Brown (Raspberry has been my go to shade for nearly 12 years) and Clinique Chubby Sticks. I don’t carry much more. At home I use Dior Foundation, La Prairie eye cream and Ultraceuticals Ultra MD Skincare religiously. I’m mad for fragrance. Tom Ford anything. Classic Chanel and Vintage Dior scents are my weakness.
Claire: Instagram or Twitter ?
Bahar: Instagram. A picture tells a thousand words but 144 characters are simple not enough for me.
Claire: Minimalist or maximalist ?
Bahar: I’m Iranian so definitely maximalist !
Claire: Who would play you in a film ?
Bahar: I’d love to have a young Elizabeth Taylor if she were still alive. She’s my girl !
Claire: What are your 3 all time favourite designers ?
Bahar: Valentino, Alex Perry and Diane Von Furstenberg.
Claire: Finish these sentences:
My guilty pleasure is … Popcorn. I could eat it as my daily meal.
My dream lunch date is … my Grandmother is still great company and a lot of fun. She lives in the US so a lunch date with her would really be my dream.
My favourite destination … Paris. I can’t wait to take my daughter there for the first time. I think she’s going to flip !
My personal motto is … Everything counts. Every experience, every person, every joy and every sadness is worthwhile and counts towards your evolution.
If I were a drink I would be … a French Rose from Provence!
Most proud of … keeping on nice terms with my exes!
Maria or the Baroness … BARONESS baby. Her outfits, her seductive voice, her hair and that cigarette holder. Chic and ahead of her time.
Claire: What is next for Bahar ?
Bahar: A week at Kamalya, an organic and yoga based health retreat in Thailand for Christmas and New Year. It will be good to decompress quietly review the year that was and get energised for a spectacular year ahead.
Visit RESCU.com.au HERE