Meet the Team: Senior Personal Care Analysts Anna Thibaut and Lora Aulabaugh
Welcome to Meet the Team, a monthly series that introduces you to the great talent and leadership at Label Insight. This month's post is special because we got to talk to two of our team members who specialize in personal care products: Senior Personal Care Analysts, Lora Aulabaugh and Anna Thibaut.
Both Anna and Laura started within the last 6 months and have been able to grow and learn together at Label Insight. They collaborate on bigger projects while also working independently on separate, smaller projects. We're excited to hear about all they've been up to and get to know them a little better!
Tell us about your role at Label Insight.
Lora: My role revolves around anything encompassing Label Insight's personal care and household cleaners sectors. When I first started, my main project goal was to expand Label Insight's personal care taxonomies. As my on-boarding continued, I worked on off-package data verification, data metrics, and pre-verification.
Anna: I do a lot of different things on the taxonomy and intelligence properties team (TIPS) but primarily I function as a personal care expert. I use my knowledge to help make sense of the data we collect from personal care products. We create ingredient properties so, for example, if a consumer is concerned with products being sulfate free, we can more easily figure out which products qualify.
What is a typical day like for you?
Lora: I usually arrive around 8:00am and make a cup of coffee (and maybe have a breakfast snack). I check my daily calendar, emails, and then dive into whatever projects I'm working on currently. My day may have meetings sprinkled throughout whether it's to sync with another co-worker on a project, to brainstorm, discuss progress, or even a simple Q&A session I may need. There's also sometimes meetings with clients and general company meetings.
Anna: It feels like there isn't really a typical day around here, which is what makes it so exciting for me. My overall activities revolve around researching the personal care industry trends and regulations to make sure our attributes are always current and meaningful. I often get pulled to work on SmartLabel pages, both personal care and food. I've learned more about food than I ever thought I'd know!
What drew you to Label Insight?
Lora: I thought the atmosphere was welcoming and I really liked the setup. The job I was interviewing for really fit me as did the mission of the company.
Anna: I knew I was looking for a change but had no idea what I was looking for until I was contacted by Label Insight. I was attracted to the position because it's a perfect amalgam of my past work experiences in cosmetics and chemistry. When I came in for the in-person interview, I knew I had to get this job! The laid-back atmosphere really appealed to me.
What is your favorite part of the day?
Lora: My favorite part of the day is the morning. I feel like the office has a certain ambiance at this time and it's relaxing. I get a good start on things before meetings start. Things tend to pop up throughout the day so I try to catch up on anything I haven't gotten resolved from the day before.
Anna: I love sync meetings where I get to learn about what other people are doing within my team or other teams. It really gives me perspective on all the working parts of the business. I’m really enjoying learning computer skills I never thought I’d have! Little things like putting together our weekly attribute report or learning how to use a new excel formula gives me a real sense of accomplishment.
My favorite non-work part of the day is when I get to cuddle up on the couch with my husband and my puppy (Mosley) to watch whatever Netflix show we’re in to at the moment. Right now we’re watching Walking Dead season 6.
What would you say is your most valuable skill when it comes to being successful in your current role?
Lora: My most valuable skill when it comes to my current role is my formulation and personal care/fragrance regulatory background. Being a fragrance chemist and fragrance regulatory specialist for most of my working career, I have a really good understanding of the personal care industry. I have experienced all sides of product development and ingredient supply chain demands. This knowledge helps a lot when it comes to discussing true transparency. I worked in a niche industry and learned a lot of skills and knowledge that you would only possess if you worked in that specialized industry for awhile.
Anna: I worked as a retail business manager for a large cosmetics company for a few years. I think this experience taught me a lot about the personal care industry as a whole. How products are marketed, what ingredients consumers are interested in or concerned about, and what interests brands or manufacturers.
Why is what we're doing at Label Insight important? Why does it matter?
Lora: I feel it is fulfilling consumer requests and relieving consumer uncertainties that have been escalating over the past decade. Transparency is extremely important because people have the right to know as much as possible about products they are using (sometimes on a daily basis) so they can make their best decision or choice based on all the facts. Transparency is personally very important to me so I can make the best product choice for myself and my family.
Anna: Personal care is a virtually unregulated industry at the moment. However, consumers and lawmakers are pushing hard for stricter regulation over this industry so that manufacturers are required to be more transparent. Transparency is something that is clearly valued by consumers. Label Insight helps create the opportunity for brands to start building this relationship with their customers and building trust. I’m so excited to be a part of it.
What do you think the future of product transparency looks like?
Lora: The future of product transparency will only grow. As consumers become more and more aware that this information is being delivered, the more it will be utilized, and in my opinion, the more questions will come until we have complete and continually updated transparency. I think we'll see a lot more ingredient storytelling versus simply listing ingredients. People want to know more than simply what the ingredients are. They want to know why those ingredients are chosen and the potential impact they may have on them personally or on our environment.
Anna: I would like to see more cosmetics brands disclosing their full list of fragrance ingredients instead of using generic terms like “parfum”. I would also like to see full parsed lists of ingredients on cleaning products. Many cleaning products do not have ingredients listed at all.
What are the most common questions you get asked?
Lora: Mostly anything regarding personal care or household cleaning product regulations, formulation, or ingredients
Anna: I get asked a lot of ingredient questions. Because of my job as a chemist, the complex chemical ingredients which come up in some personal care products are not as foreign to me.
Okay, those have been some pretty complex questions! Let's talk about some fun stuff. Tell us a fun fact about you:
Lora: I am a certified aromatherapist. I love talking about essential oils. I actually get requested to give live talks about aromatherapy and essential oils to various groups around the area.
Anna: I was born on leap year, so I am technically only 8 years old.
What's your favorite office perk at Label Insight?
Lora: The coffee bar and snacks. I mean who doesn’t love unlimited, good coffee?
Anna: I am a total wine-o so I love being able to have a glass of wine on Friday afternoons!
What is an item on your bucket list and why?
Lora: Go to Australia. I think it's beautiful in photos and want to experience it in person.
Anna: Learn the Argentine Tango, in Buenos Aires. I grew up dancing but mostly the typical styles. This is so outside of that!
Anything cool you've already checked off your bucket list?
Lora: Becoming a mother. It's the best thing that's ever happened to me and I'm definitely enjoying it!
Anna: I went night scuba diving with a black light off the coast of Belize. It's the second largest barrier reef in the world and I got to see all the coral feeding at night. It was amazing!
What makes you proud to work at Label Insight?
Lora: It's easy to get up, go to work and work hard when you believe in the company mission. I believe in Label Insight’s mission and know a good thing when I see it. I want this information at my own fingertips so I know others do too, especially mothers. It makes me proud to be a part of this industry evolution.
Anna: I get to work with some of the most dedicated and hardworking people in the world, and it makes me feel proud and humble every day.