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MBAs on the Move

Celina Min Brings Retail Experience to Product Development at The Honest Company

Celina Min

  • Director of Innovation and Product Development – The Honest Company
  • Southern Methodist University’s Cox School of Business (MBA, 2008)
  • University of California, Berkeley (BA, History and French, 2000)

Celina Min wasn’t sure what to do after graduating with a double major in History and French so she followed the path of many new grads: she worked in retail. What was meant to be temporary turned into six years at Wet Seal and Guess Inc. as a buyer. After meeting a mentor who had an MBA, Celina realized she wanted a broader skillset and packed her bags for SMU’s Cox School. With MBA in hand, Celina worked at Johnson & Johnson, Taco Bell, and Nature Made in brand management, an area she considers ideal for starting a business career. She now puts her brand and retail experiences to use as director of innovation and product development at Jessica Alba’s The Honest Company, which makes safe, eco-friendly products for families.

From Brand Management to Product Development

What attracted you to be part of this campaign?

I have a non-traditional background for someone in research & development and want to share my story. When you are younger, you get the idea that you must have a linear trajectory. Now I understand that I build my career by being present in the moment and taking advantage of every opportunity that comes my way.

Tell me about your current role at The Honest Company.

I work with a team of five to conceive, develop, and launch all products in the portfolio from diapers to color cosmetics and everything in between. I work closely with marketing, sales, and public relations to come up with a three-year product pipeline, mapping out all the items we are going to launch. I also interface with internal, cross-functional partners and manufacturers to launch products in scope, on time, and on budget.

Did you have any previous background in personal care before taking this job?

No, but one of the things I love about The Honest Company is the opportunity to build your career through hard work, a curious mind, and a willingness to take on more responsibility after proving your ability to deliver. After successfully managing product development for Supplements and Infant Formula, I was asked to head up the product development function for all categories, which I’ve been doing now for three years.

What do you love about your job?

I get to be involved and learn about so many different categories. It is so fun to help create early prototypes and provide input to a product’s development, providing value to the consumer. The Honest Company is a mission-driven organization, and the people who work here are passionate, smart, and willing to work hard. I love managing, mentoring, and coaching people and challenging them to get to the next level.

What were some critical stops in your professional path?

I started my post-MBA career at Johnson & Johnson — brand management training gave me a broad generalist background and familiarity with cross-functional areas that I leverage to this day. As you go from industry to industry, the core of what you do is similar, but you get to put them into practice in different situations and create new experiences. At Taco Bell, learning to work with franchisees and “owning” the channel through stores was invaluable. At Nature Made, we owned our manufacturing, which created its own set of challenges and advantages. All the experiences and training are what I bring to my job now.

The Journey to An MBA

 

Going through a full-time MBA program helped build foundational business skills and confidence in my abilities.

 

Is there anything in your upbringing that attracted you to business?

My dad’s side of the family are all entrepreneurs who built businesses, but my dad decided to study veterinary medicine. Although he opened his own animal clinic, I always saw my dad as a veterinarian, not a small business owner. It never occurred to me that I would have a business career. My mom stayed at home, and I thought I would do the same. My personal and professional life has gone a different direction, but building businesses is in my DNA. I have focused my career on taking advantage of opportunities put in front of me.

I noticed your undergrad degree was in History and French. What would you advise undergrad non-business majors as they think about their career?

I always encourage people to enjoy their time as undergrads — this is the last time you can study whatever interests you. As a liberal arts major, I learned how to think, analyze, and build frameworks, and all those skills are applicable to most jobs. Good companies are looking for smart, passionate, diligent people for entry-level positions, regardless of their degrees.

Why did you make earning an MBA a part of your journey?

I had no idea what I wanted to do after college. I started a contract position at The Wet Seal — and I thought I would do it for six months while figuring out what I wanted to do with my life. They asked if I wanted to be an assistant buyer, and I was there four years! Then, while working at GUESS as a buyer, I met a female mentor who had an MBA. I realized that I wanted to look at the business the way she did, and that started me on the path to exploring MBA programs.

Going through a full-time MBA program helped build foundational business skills and confidence in my abilities. When I was at SMU, I learned that I had been doing a form of brand management while working in retail buying. Going through the MBA gave me very relevant and transferrable skills.


Personal interests:
International travel. I studied in France my junior year, and living outside the US changed my perceptions. Ever since then, I have always appreciated other perspectives.

Giving back:
In every job, I have always found mentors. I’m a founding member of WELL (Women Excelling at Leadership and Living) at Honest, a forum to talk about challenges women face in the workplace. Honest has an exceptional number of women in leadership roles, and meeting women from different areas of the company has been invaluable.

Song that makes her turn up the volume:
Eye of the Tiger by Survivor

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