As an undergrad working her way through Cal in the ’80s, Joy Chen felt drawn to retail jobs but was wary of squandering her wages on the merchandise. So she accepted a position at a maternity clothing store.
That kind of logical yet out-of-the-box thinking has earned Chen a reputation as a turnaround leader. Her latest endeavor: the natural skincare company H2O Plus, of which Chen was named chairman and CEO in February 2015. Her goal is to revitalize a “sleepy brand that has not been profitable in several years,” she says.
It’s a challenge she’s familiar with. Chen, a longtime San Francisco resident who capped off her Haas bachelor’s degree with a Harvard MBA, resigned from a 17-year marketing and management career at Clorox Company for the irresistible challenge of “fixing” the floundering natural beauty startup Yes To. “I like to do things I’ve never done before,” she says.
In five years as CEO, she quadrupled Yes To’s annual revenues to $50 million, transforming the unprofitable company into a mainstream brand and engaging customers through social media campaigns to say “Yes To” life challenges. She also built a diverse, female-positive team that bonded over events like Friday meetings with wine and celebrations of Women’s History Month.
Chen, who serves on the boards of the female-founded startups 18 Rabbits and 479° brings her zeal for supporting and mentoring other women to H2O Plus. “I’m not just passionate about business,” she says. “I am really passionate about opportunities for women. I use my title very often as an example of how women can realize what they want if they just put their minds to it.” —Autumn Stephens
Chairman and CEO, H20 Plus,