Finding Your Niche

Molly Wagner, Product Development Executive and Chemist 

YOU DO YOU – the phrase that seems to define my generation; said by everyone, but is so much easier said than done. If you’re anything like me – a little scattered, indecisive, while simultaneously compulsive, you know where this whole “you do you” thing can get us in trouble. 

When choosing my career path, everything started out seamlessly. My transition to university was easy because as a science-minded person all my life, the natural progression into a science based major was logical. In high school, choosing chemistry seemed so specific, but by third year university, it wasn’t nearly specific enough. I was surrounded by a million different options, none of which seemed to excite me nor mesh with my personality. As someone who cared equal parts about Beyoncé’s pregnancy and the latest in organic syntheses, I didn’t exactly fit in with the small tight-knit chemistry crew. But, luckily I’m the type of person who loves learning anything; the type of person to delve into the nearest Wikipedia page or YouTube video if it promises all the answers I might have been looking for.

Which is why, after watching a 5 minute news segment on molecular gastronomy, I decided I was going to minor in Food Science. I booked a next-day appointment with my guidance counselor and declared my minor on the spot. Without taking a single course. She explained that I would need to take an extra semester or two in order to fit in all the required courses. I laughed and said that’s ok because this is what I loved.

Fast-forward a few semesters, and food science wasn’t everything I (or the 5 minute segment) had cracked it up to be…go figure. It became apparent that a career measuring the tensile strength of crackers was not in my future.

With that, I was back to the drawing board. I wish I could explain what I did next with elegance, but in all honesty, I Googled – Googled hard. I tried to think of ways to combine things I loved with this chemistry undergrad that I slaved over (and still loved, just not enough to pursue academia). I had come across the words “product developer” several times, without thinking much of it. Seemingly out of nowhere, I began to look at my make up and skin care from a different angle. It must have been during exam season, so my mind was everywhere, but I remember thinking ‘I guess someone out there actually has to make this, huh?’ I was sold. It seemed to combine both the girliest facets of my personality with the nerdiest – two things that inherently made me, me.

Naturally, there were no schools in Canada offering the degree I was looking for, so I was destined internationally. Keeping with the general theme of not being sure of much, I applied to five schools. Somewhat surprisingly, I got into all five, but it was the sixth, tracked down on Google (Google, at it again!), that seized my attention. A school in France offered a two year program that combined both cosmetic science with a business management degree. Having taken exactly one high school business (which one? Who knows) in my academic career, this opportunity jumped off the page. This degree took me to France and Italy for school, and Manhattan for work. After experiencing a number of roles from product development to marketing at one of the most iconic beauty companies, I finally knew it. I had found my niche.

 

If you had told this first year chemistry student, that she would leave school with a Masters in Cosmetic Science, Perfumery, and Business Management she wouldn’t have believed you. After years down an unexpected educational path and time spent experiencing the beauty industry in different areas of the world, I now find myself as the Product Development Chemist at Flawless by Friday. I am in a dream role at a dream company that values the thoughts and ideas of everyone in it. I have the freedom to suggest concepts that maybe don’t fall within my wheelhouse. I am surrounded by a group of ambitious girls who have each taken their own path to end up in the same flawless niche as me. I couldn’t be happier.

I guess this is all just a long-winded way of saying if you haven’t yet discovered your niche, don’t stress over it. You never know when a random insight about something you’ve used everyday for years might spark the beginning of the rest of your life. Once you find your niche, do what you love, and always keep in mind, your first idea does not have to be your final. Maybe you should google it…who knows? You do you girl.