I enter the Zoom meeting and immediately spot Daya. Her fresh face and beaming smile make her stand out, even on a screen in a gallery full of people. Her hair is straight and sleek and her makeup is flawless. Daya’s radiant appearance seems to match her poised, confident demeanor as she laughs and jokes with Brian, CEO and founder of Netrush.
Daya Fields has been invited to share her story with Netrush employees and talk about how she got to where she is today. She’s the president of Purecane and Pipette brands at Amyris, an advisor on the board at Netrush and several other companies, and has been a leader in the beauty industry for more than 12 years. She’s paved the way in beauty marketing and strategy, creating a career that’s impactful, successful and uniquely her own.
As she speaks, she manages to effortlessly balance a distinct level of preparedness and professionalism with a down-to-earth, thoughtful presence. She answers questions with ease and seems to naturally captivate everyone listening. Daya offers a refreshing mixture of experience and a strong perspective with candid moments and vulnerability.
As a young writer in the creative field, I wasn’t sure what I could learn from a top leader in the beauty industry. But as she told her story, I discovered that she overcame a lot of the same challenges that I face now. Here are seven pieces of indispensable advice I learned from Daya Fields.
1. Turn your interest into an opportunity
Daya took the first steps in her career by finding opportunity in a personal interest. Her mother was a top model in Chicago and New York in the ‘60s and ‘70s as well as a spokesperson for a cosmetics brand. Daya grew up surrounded by beauty in the home and fell in love with skincare, makeup, haircare, nails, and every other category in the industry. She attributes part of her success to pursuing this love. “If you can do what you love every day, chances are you’ll be successful and it’ll continue to drive you,” she said.
2. Don’t be afraid to carve out your own path
Daya went to business school at MIT to become a consultant, but once she discovered an opportunity in beauty marketing, she put her full force behind making it work. Her classmates simply didn’t understand what she was trying to do. They’d ask her if she was going to “name lipsticks” or “play with makeup.” Despite this, Daya continued to pursue beauty marketing, knowing that this was the right path for her (even if it didn’t exist yet).
3. It’s ok to be the only person in the room
Daya went on a class trip to a finance expo in London. All her classmates had their sights set on traditional investment companies such as Goldman Sachs and JP Morgan. But Daya went to L’Oreal’s presentation instead. She was the only person in the audience. That presentation turned into a conversation and within a few weeks, she landed an internship at L’Oreal in New York City.
4. Choose those who choose you
Daya found that, especially as a woman of color, she had to move to where she was appreciated. Her father told her “choose those who choose you.” In her career, she put in the time and effort at each company to determine if she felt valued and if she saw potential for growth. If it didn’t feel like a good fit, she pursued other opportunities. “The great thing about finding a place that values you, and they want you as much as you want to be there, is that you’ll have a seat at the table and they’ll make sure your voice is heard,” she said.
5. Know when to push and when to take a break
Daya spent 10 years working hard in New York City and grew tremendously, both personally and professionally. One night, she was working to prepare for an important presentation and ended up sleeping at the office. Daya realized that this environment was no longer supporting her priorities, so she moved out to the Pacific Northwest to find a better work-life balance, make time for her family, and reconnect with nature.
6. Bring your failures to the table
Throughout her career, Daya has used her learnings from past failures (and successes, of course) to build on her experience and achieve a little more each time around. Her time at Alaffia, a fair trade beauty brand, introduced her to the natural beauty industry and taught her about all the nuances that differed from the traditional beauty industry. This experience allows her to grow Pipette with more success. “That’s really what prepared me: the roadmap of successes and failures,” Daya said. “Because personally, I learn most from my failures.”
7. Surround yourself with everyday people who inspire you
Daya grew up and attended school with peers that were very driven to succeed. They ended up working at some of the same companies and now they’re all at the same professional level. This network became a community for Daya. She views her peers as mentors and role models. “I learn a lot from talking to other people,” she said. “And from hearing about their challenges and experiences.”