Brandi Halls is the brand director, North America, for Lush Fresh Handmade Cosmetics, a British cosmetics manufacturer and retailer with stores in 49 countries, including Canada. Ms. Halls leads the company’s communication efforts across North America from Vancouver, highlighting the organization’s support for environmental, animal and human rights advocacy.
Was communication something you were always meant to do?
Looking back, I was probably always set up for success in communications, but it took me a little while to find my way. In my first year of university, I hit some roadblocks in the commerce program. I wasn’t excelling in some areas which caused a bit of a crisis of confidence. In my second year, I was chatting with a family friend who was a professor, and at the end of our conversation she said, “You’re a really clear communicator and have you ever thought of that as a field of interest?” Based on her observation, I transferred universities and dove headfirst into the communications program at Simon Fraser University. I immediately felt at home there and it was clear to me that I had found my future career.
What do you love about public relations?
I love sharing the story of the brand. It’s that simple. Every person I introduced to Lush, every media placement I achieved, every product I sold to a customer made me incredibly proud. It’s this perfect intersection of my skills as a communicator and my connection to the brand.
You’ve worked at Lush throughout your career?
That’s right, I’ve worked for this organization for half of my life and for my entire professional career. I was a fan of the brand as a teenager and I landed my job at Lush as a PR assistant within a month of having written my final university exam. Within a year of starting there I was doing active media relations and pitching the press. A few years later my opportunity changed again, and I was promoting our new shop openings across the United States as we expanded our store base.
When did you first see yourself as a leader?
I think I’ve always had leadership tendencies. As a child it might have manifested itself more in the bossy realm, but as a young adult I tended to naturally lead when engaging in group work. I come from a background of strong leaders. My grandfather was an honorary chief of the Squamish Nation. He was a leader in our community and my mother very much followed in his footsteps. I grew up in a household where I saw strong figures stepping into leadership, and so it was the only way that I knew how to be.
But I’m still very much on a leadership journey to this day. I lead a large team of incredibly talented people and I take that role very seriously. I am constantly striving to learn and evolve so that I can be the best possible leader to my team. I’ve learned that it’s not just about my work and my output any more, it’s also about my ability to coach, mentor and teach others.
Have you ever encountered obstacles on that leadership journey?
Most of the obstacles that I have encountered on my leadership journey all circle back to not trusting my instincts. As a young leader in the organization, I found myself easily swayed or influenced by others. Through practice and experience, I’ve learned to listen to others openly and to trust my experience and intuition when making challenging decisions.
What advice do you have for young Indigenous women?
My advice would be to carve out your own path and create your own journey. I was the first person in my immediate family to receive a secondary education, but I didn’t let that stop me. I went to a private school where I was one of very few Indigenous people there at the time, but I didn’t let that stop me.
It’s also important to leverage the resources that are available to you as an Indigenous professional. Depending on the band you belong to, you have education grants or small-business grants. You have to really get to know the resources that are there to help you.
This interview has been edited and condensed.
Stay ahead in your career. We have a weekly Careers newsletter to give you guidance and tips on career management, leadership, business education and more. Sign up today.