Meet the CEO: Kelly Vlahakis-Hanks
6 minute read
This interview was originally published on Three Ships Beauty
Kelly Vlahakis-Hanks joins us on the #HerHustle blog to share her leadership journey with us. She shares the importance of safer cleaning products for your health, and what she does to overcome moments of self-doubt and adversity.
Let’s dive in…
CAN YOU TELL US A BIT ABOUT YOURSELF AND THE STORY OF ECOS?
I’m the President and CEO of ECOS, the maker of plant-powered laundry detergents and household cleaning products. I’m proud to sit at the helm of a company that is both environmentally and socially responsible. All four of our manufacturing facilities are carbon neutral, water neutral, and Platinum Zero Waste certified, and we recently announced that we’re now a Climate Positive manufacturer. As a woman of African American and Greek descent, I’m proud that we’ve created a culture of diversity and empowerment at ECOS; our leadership team is 58% female and 41% BIPOC (Black, Indigenous and People of Color).
WHY ARE CLEAN PRODUCTS IMPORTANT TO OUR HEALTH?
On your wellness journey, you often think about organic foods and natural skincare products, but you don’t always think about the cleaning products in your home. Cleaning products play such a critical role in human health and planetary health; studies have clearly demonstrated that some many of the ingredients commonly used in conventional cleaners are linked to asthma, cancer, and nerve and organ damage. It’s critically important to use safer cleaning products to protect your health and the health of your loved ones.
DO YOU HAVE ANY ADVICE FOR OUR READERS ON HOW THEY CAN BE MORE CONSCIOUS ABOUT THEIR PURCHASING DECISIONS?
As you shop for cleaning products, you need to be aware that there’s no regulatory body overseeing safety in the cleaning products industry. Therefore, it’s important to look for the U.S. EPA’s Safer Choice certification on the label. Our ECOS products bear this designation so you can easily see that they’re made with safer ingredients and that they perform well too.
WHAT WAS THE WORST PIECE OF ADVICE YOU’VE EVER RECEIVED?
The worst advice I’ve received is to be overly cautious or to “play it safe.” As entrepreneurs, leaders, and industry game-changers, we have to take risks, and we have to have a deep and abiding belief in our personal convictions to truly be successful in the marketplace. Those people who tell you to back away from opportunities often minimize the impact you can have on the world. I think that we need to encourage more strength, bravery, and courage in leadership.
WHAT DOES SUCCESS MEAN TO YOU?
Success means leading a healthy, happy, purpose-filled life. It means being able to wake up in the morning and know that the actions I take during my day positively impact people, including my family, and our planet.
IN MOMENTS OF SELF-DOUBT OR ADVERSITY, HOW DO YOU BUILD YOURSELF BACK UP?
It’s important to take time to replenish, recover, and rebuild our strength, so during difficult times I’ll focus on what’s most important to me and make sure that I’m taking time to take care of myself and prioritize family time. These things can be really rejuvenating, especially if I feel my energy is diminished. Focusing on physical health, mental health, and spiritual health helps me more quickly reconnect to my mission and my purpose.
DO YOU HAVE ANY MORNING ROUTINES OR EVENING RITUALS TO HELP YOU STAY BALANCED?
Every morning I practice gratitude and the day’s intentions to set my mindset. I always start my day with a healthy breakfast, and I always try to end my day with a bath with Epsom salts as I listen to music and decompress. I have a sensitivity to histamines in my diet, and the hot water and Epsom salts help with reduce my symptoms from histamine intolerance and help me sleep.
WHAT TIPS OR ADVICE DO YOU HAVE FOR OTHER WOMEN WHO ARE ASPIRING FOR LEADERSHIP ROLES?
When I began my career, I was fortunate to have the support of some wonderful mentors, and that’s made all the difference in my success. Finding mentors, especially women who are experienced and who can give you support and guidance, is so important. Also, as John F. Kennedy once said, “Leadership and learning are indispensable to one another.” Continuous learning is critical for leadership, so keep learning and better yourself at every opportunity. That will help you create value for your organization outside the scope of your job title, which can lead to more leadership opportunities.
DO YOU HAVE A REGIMENTED SKINCARE ROUTINE? IF SO, WHAT ARE SOME OF YOUR FAVOURITE PRODUCTS OR STEPS IN YOUR ROUTINE?
I am deeply committed to using natural skincare and clean beauty products. As the maker of a safer cleaning product line, I understand that the skin is the largest organ of the body, and I want to make sure that I never use beauty or cleaning products that contain parabens, phthalates, formaldehyde, etc. I’m currently using a mixture of Three Ships and Beautycounter products. In the morning, I start with Three Ships Purify Aloe + Amino Acid Cleanser and Beautycounter’s Nourish Cream Exfoliator. I follow this with Three Ships’ Calm Lavender Hydrosol Toner, and I love Three Ships’ Radiance Grape Stem Cell + Squalane Day Cream to hydrate my face and absorb UV radiation. At the end of the day, I use micellar water to remove makeup gently and apply Beautycounter’s Countertime Tetrapeptide Supreme Cream.