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Female Founders: Ashley King of Dermaclara On The Five Things You Need To Thrive and Succeed as a Woman Founder

An Interview With Candice Georgiadis

Don’t ignore the naysayers. Remember everything they said and use that as fuel. In the beginning, I felt like a glasshouse and every negative comment would leave a crack. I learned to take that criticism and use it to motivate myself. There is a difference between criticism and critique.

As a part of our series about “Why We Need More Women Founders”, I had the pleasure of interviewing Ashley King.

Ashley King is a wife, mother, and co-Founder of Dermaclara, a San Diego based company that has created a groundbreaking line of skincare that addresses both wrinkles and stretch marks using medical grade silicone patches and complementary skincare that smooths, plumps, and prevents.

Before founding her business with her husband Nathan King and The King family, Ashley worked as a Pediatric Orthoptist and Plastic Surgical Technologist for over 10 years.

King’s passion for helping people, knowledge of the human body, and lack of safe and affordable skin care options, led her to create a risk-free alternative to invasive procedures and expensive products that lack results.

Dermaclara developed a patented, proprietary system of stretch mark and wrinkle reduction utilizing occlusion, which is a microclimate created between skin and silicone. It stimulates collagen production, encourages hydration, and promotes healing, making the appearance of stretch marks blend into the surrounding skin and making wrinkles flatten and diminish, providing incredible results.

Thank you so much for doing this with us! Before we dig in, our readers would like to get to know you a bit more. Can you tell us a bit about your “backstory”? What led you to this particular career path?

My career path began in healthcare. I was never 100% of sure what I wanted to study, only that I wanted to help people. Starting a skin care brand and being able to make a difference in people’s lives was what I was most passionate about. It had always been my constant even while I was pursuing my career as a surgical technologist and eventually an orthoptist.

Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you began leading your company?

Something that I initially found so interesting and still do, is how difficult it was to relay the message that there actually is something you can do about stretch marks. The pushback was incredible. Genetics are largely responsible for your skin type. You can be genetically predisposed to them like other skin conditions, but it does not mean you are at the mercy of your genetics. Consumers have an easier time understanding that acne, hyperpigmentation, and skin texture can be improved with the right treatment, but somehow stretch marks have this reputation of being a non-negotiable. I’m passionate about educating how our product works to help prevent and reduce the appearance of them. It’s not magic, it’s science.

Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?

When you’re starting a business, you want to take advantage of every single opportunity. That means saying no becomes nearly impossible. The day of my first phone interview with The San Diego Business Journal was the day my water broke. I was determined not to cancel it. I ended up giving the interview just before giving birth to my son in between 2-minute (apart) contractions. The nurses probably thought I was nuts. In retrospect, I don’t regret it. It’s something we laugh about today.

None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?

I am forever grateful to my father-in-law and mentor Steve King, and the entire King family. Dermaclara would not exist without his support. He has always shared his vast knowledge with me and lent his ear to listen. Learning from someone who wants you to grow is empowering. “Family” isn’t defined by blood or last names. It is defined by showing up for the people you love, commitment, and having each other’s backs. The support has been unmistakable.

According to this EY report, only about 20 percent of funded companies have women founders. This reflects great historical progress, but it also shows that more work still must be done to empower women to create companies. In your opinion and experience what is currently holding back women from founding companies?

In my experience, I think perfectionism can sometimes hold you back. There will always be a reason to wait, but truthfully you figure it out as you go. You will never be fully prepared to start a business, and you will always find a reason to wait. You learn along the way and if you don’t know, ask. Find the right people and start asking questions. Having a successful business comes with a series of mistakes that you learn from.

Can you help articulate a few things that can be done as individuals, as a society, or by the government, to help overcome those obstacles?

I think individually we can focus on championing each other as women. Embracing and collaborating with other women in business breeds innovation. As a society, we need to start recognizing that women represent huge economic power and invaluable consumer insight. The unique advantages that a women’s perspective brings to the table is paramount in fostering creativity and growth.

This might be intuitive to you as a woman founder, but I think it will be helpful to spell this out. Can you share a few reasons why more women should become founders?

There are mountains of research that prove diverse teams perform better. We desperately need more women’s perspectives, particularly in male-dominated markets. Without it, real growth will be stagnant.

What are the “myths” that you would like to dispel about being a founder? Can you explain what you mean?

I think the term “founder “could lead you to believe that this one person creates and sustains the success of a business. It’s an illusion that founders are these lone rangers of innovation. The reality is, it’s all collaborative. If you plan on standing alone, you will fail. I am never afraid to admit someone else can do something better than me and stand aside.

Is everyone cut out to be a founder? In your opinion, which specific traits increase the likelihood that a person will be a successful founder and what type of person should perhaps seek a “regular job” as an employee? Can you explain what you mean?

For a company to excel, the team needs to have enough freedom to plan and execute on their own. You must trust the people you hired. Micromanaging will lead to distrust which will ultimately slow down a business long term.

What are your “5 Things I Wish Someone Told Me Before I Started” and why? (Please share a story or example for each.)

  1. Stay lean in the beginning. Don’t overspend. A lot of the framework when starting a business cost far less than you’d expect.
  2. Have patience with your vision. Don’t expect overnight success.
  3. Don’t wait until you know everything. There is never a right time and you’re never going to know everything.
  4. Even if your idea is in its raw form, peck at it every day. Sometimes your idea needs polishing until it becomes a gem.
  5. Don’t ignore the naysayers. Remember everything they said and use that as fuel. In the beginning, I felt like a glasshouse and every negative comment would leave a crack. I learned to take that criticism and use it to motivate myself. There is a difference between criticism and critique.

How have you used your success to make the world a better place?

We started Dermaclara with Mamas in mind. No one should have to compromise their health to get results. Creating a safe and effective product to be used at any stage of your life is something that we are very proud of.

If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good for the greatest number of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger.

Educate yourself on what ingredients you put on or in your body. I was never more aware of my health than when I was pregnant with my son. I felt this overwhelming responsibility to protect him from anything harmful or toxic. Why should that end after he is born? It shifted my thinking and I realized health is adding a level of intention to every part of your life. Your health is wholeness.

Is there a person in the world, or in the US with whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why?

I would absolutely love to have lunch with Sara Blakely! I admire her hugely as a businesswoman and philanthropist. Despite having no experience in business leadership or retail, she has managed to create a billion-dollar brand. Her story and perseverance are truly inspiring. It’s a testament to anyone with an idea who’s been turned down. When someone tells you “You can’t,” they are showing you their limits, not yours.

Thank you for these fantastic insights. We greatly appreciate the time you spent on this.

Female Founders: Ashley King of Dermaclara On The Five Things You Need To Thrive and Succeed as a… was originally published in Authority Magazine on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.