When asked how she got her tiny, Toronto-based skin care line carried at Nordstrom, Linda Stephenson gives a surprisingly simple answer: good, old fashioned cold calling. After a series of “persistent” calls and being passed from one department to another, she vividly remembers finally receiving a yes from the store’s advanced skin care department. Stephenson had taken the call upstairs at home, away from the noise of her young son and husband, and from the other end of the line she heard the magic words, something like, “Alright, let’s do this”. After hanging up, a stunned Stephenson calmly walked down the stairs, and at the bottom stood her little son, holding up a picture he had drawn of a rhino. “What a great picture!” she said. Inside, her head was exploding. It’s funny the things that stick with you.
The rhinoceros can gallop up to 30 miles per hour, which is made even more impressive when considering the animal’s weight (2,000 to 4,000+ pounds, depending on the species). The animal is proof that size doesn’t matter, a testament echoed by Stephenson’s little company that could. Mèreadesso began in Stephenson’s home, stemmed from her background in chemistry and biology, as well as her experience working on global beauty brands MAC and Estée Lauder. The time eventually came for her to try taking the reins. “My dad always said, ‘Go where the learning is,’” she recalls. For her, that meant eliminating unnecessary steps and taking it back to basics. “I thought, ‘I can do this,’” says Stephenson. Instead of facilitating a comically long process of creams, oils, toners, exfoliators, primers, and washes, Mèreadesso has only two steps: cleanser and moisturizer. It’s about simplification, and customers especially love the travel-size pack, which slips into any toiletry bag and has a re-sealable plastic clasp for simple reuse. The line is carried at Vancouver and Ottawa Nordstrom Canada locations, and select United States locations as well.
For now it’s all about keeping her small team busy, but not spreading her resources too thin. “How strategically can I expand?” she wonders, sitting in Pacific Centre mere days before the grand opening of Nordstrom Vancouver. Stephenson is in constant hustle mode, a rigorous entrepreneur with the spunk to match. It’s tough work, but it gives her necessary freedom. “Having it ‘all’ only works when you’re controlling your schedule,” she says. “I would fail otherwise—or be mediocre at all of it.” Instead she’s grabbed the rhino by the horns and is charging through the wild.
Photo of Stephenson by Sara Harowitz.