It Cosmetics founder Jamie Kern Lima on embracing rejection and listening to your ‘why’

We are all works in progress; even the successful women you see owning it on Instagram faced stumbling blocks along the way and continue to work hard to stay at the top of their game. In this series, we’re sitting down with the people who inspire us to find out: How’d they do it? And what is success really like? This is “Getting There.”

Jamie Kern Lima is a force to be reckoned with. The self-made millionaire and co-founder of It Cosmetics recently sold her makeup brand to L’Oreal for $1.2 billion, but she faced plenty of doubters along the way.

Lima, who recently wrote the book “Believe It: How to Go From Underestimated to Unstoppable,” hopes that her story about overcoming a “season of no” will help readers learn to embrace rejection. Here’s how Lima reached her entrepreneurial dreams and the advice she has for other women on listening to their “why” over other people’s doubts.

For more like this, follow TMRW on Instagram at @tmrwxtoday.

TMRW: If someone has had multiple rejections, what do you want them to learn from it?

Jamie Kern Lima: I want my readers to learn to embrace rejection. So many people talk themselves out of their own truth and never become the person they’re born to be. Because they start going after a dream and realize it’s hard, and they get lots of rejections. For some people, rejection is not as blatant as my personal experience. If you read my book, I describe my experience of someone literally looking me in the eye and saying, “You’re not that.”

“If I had one wish and hope for every person who is reading this article … it’s to embrace this idea of opposition, rejection or failure.”John Parra / Getty Images

Sometimes rejection is just what keeps you going for something. That rejection could look like not getting any traction, or it feels like no one else is loving your idea or embracing the idea of joining your community or liking your posts. Rejection can come in so many forms. I think that the fear of it is so big, especially for women.

If I had one wish and hope for every person who is reading this article and wants to take that step or wants to keep going or wants to get back up after they’ve been knocked down, it’s to embrace this idea of opposition, rejection or failure. Failures tend to come with anything that’s ever been built, that’s ever mattered, that’s ever lasted, that’s ever changed the world or that’s ever impacted the world. I can’t think of a person, a company or anything that’s ever been created or ideated, or even anything that’s ever really truly made an impact, that didn’t come with those “no” seasons.

Most people who receive negative feedback or are told “no” often enough want to give up. What kept you moving forward?

The first three years of It Cosmetics was when everyone that I valued and put on a pedestal, all the experts, were telling me no. They didn’t believe that what I was doing was going to work and they didn’t think they would be able to make money off me or my idea. All of them told me I needed to either change my packaging or change what I was doing or change my models or change how I was showing up if I was going to be welcomed into their stores or even potentially have a brand that lasted. In that season, there are so many things I did wrong. But one of the things I did right was I learned to listen to my own intuition, my own knowing. It said to me, “You’re supposed to be doing this, keep going,” and I made the decision to trust it.

In this journey, when a lot of people go after a dream or are in the middle of going after a dream, (it doesn’t have to be a business, it could be an art form, it could be putting your own creations or your own words or your own poetry or anything out in the world), people make the mistake of turning up the volume on all of the things outside that tell them if they’re on the right track or not. They end up quitting because of it versus turning down the volume on all that other stuff and learning how to turn up the volume on their own knowledge.