Think your makeup bag is full? Try Andrea Blieden’s. The Los Angeles native is a beauty VIP who previously worked with Kiehl’s and now runs the ship at The Body Shop as its U.S. General Manager. “I try to keep my Cali style as much as possible,” says the executive, though she’s lived in New York for 11 years. Here’s how the bicoastal beauty maven gets things done.

As a kid, what did you want to be when you grew up?
I wanted to be a fashion buyer. I absolutely loved to shop for people, particularly my grandma and my great aunt. They would hang out in the dressing room while I would bring them outfit options. What I didn’t realize is that buying entails far more spreadsheets and sales analysis than [styling] clothes.

What was your first job out of college?
My first job was as an Assistant Buyer at [department store] Robinsons-May. I started after two summer internships in the men’s department. 

How did you get the job?
Like many college students looking for a job, I leaned into any connections I had, and one of my father’s clients [had a] son in charge of the men’s division. Connections help so much in your career, especially as you are starting out, and I have zero qualms leveraging my network. 

What was your major?
I went to UC Berkeley, where I majored in economics. I knew I wanted to be on the business side of the fashion industry… The classes helped me understand specific subjects like market dynamics and business in general. That said, I am not using advanced calculus, or the class I took on Soviet Union transitional economics, on a daily basis. 

Can you tell us a bit about your current role? What does your day-to-day look like?
My day-to-day changes every day, but that is why I love it! I split my time between the home office in NYC, stores across the US, and in our global offices in London. Managing across all functions means I jump from HR conversations to finance and sales planning to [our] supply chain every day, and I’m constantly connecting across all our channels, including stores, e-commerce, and wholesale. The projects I’m most excited about will underscore Anita Roddick’s [the founder of The Body Shop] missions in both activism and empowering women. More to come this year, but I am very excited about bringing back the bold voice and point of view of this brand! 

What has helped prepare you for this role?
Working at startups. I began my experience at an e-commerce startup called Venture Commerce and then transitioned to a children’s clothing brand called LittleMissMatched. No matter what your job description may be in a startup environment, you end up doing so much more, and ultimately become a jack of all trades.

What’s the most surprising part of your job?
For me especially, it was understanding how much time would be spent on employee relations, including people management, and real estate, versus things like business planning and marketing. 

At what point in your life did you start to feel like you had it “all figured out”?
Never, not even close, not once… I am constantly learning, developing, changing and evolving… I cannot even believe that we are in 2020. This job definitely keeps me on my toes.

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