The OG Business Woman
We met Bea Petri a few summers ago and were and still are in awe of her. Remember when you used to say “when I grow up I wanna be like…” well we wanna be like Bea Petri. She is pure GOALS! She is vibrant, passionate, funny, smart, cool and a very successful business woman.
Most of you might know her as the founder of the schminkbar. One of Zurich’s best beauty salons, that is now run by her daughters, and is a huge success with over 120 employees. But there’s so much more about Bea you need to learn. She founded an NGO that supports women in one of the poorest countries in the world, Burkina Faso. She also owns a furniture shop and wherever she goes, she spreads good vibes and is so full of passion and great energy, you just wanna soak all of that good stuff up.
And if that isn’t enough, she’s absolutely stunning and so down to earth, you just want to hang out with her all day. Btw. she’s also the mom of previously featured Doyenne Kim.
For our readers who don’t know you yet, tell us a little bit about yourself, in let’s say, 7 sentences.
My name is Bea Petri. I kept my first husband's name, the father of my children. 30 years ago I moved from Bern, my birthplace, to Zurich. I see myself as a woman with vision, I am a mother, grandmother, friend and wife. Since my daughters took over schminkbar, I live in Steckborn and in Toggenburg with my husband and our dog Godeli. For me, work has always been associated with joy, I have always been diligent, curious, courageous, committed and very social. I have lived an extremely exciting life and now the last stage of my life lies ahead of me. I hope it will be as exciting as the past 65 years have been.
You’re a true entrepreneur: You founded the beauty empire schminkbar, you support women in Ouagadougou through your NGO Nas Mode, you own a beautiful furniture store… Did you always want to be self employed or where did that drive come from? How did you get started?
During all the years I worked as a make-up artist, I got to travel around the world. The work in film is very physically demanding, is a 24/7 job and there's not a lot of time for self-care. Inspired by amazing places I saw around the world like the US, Bali, Thailand etc. and based off of personal need, I came up with the concept of schminkbar: Pamper yourself, treat yourself to a short time out - externally and internally - that was my concept. I wanted the environment to be different from the conventional beauty salons. A cozy atmosphere, music, laughter... that was my idea, that's how I wanted to offer the schminkbar.
In the beginning some people doubted my concept. But I believed so strongly in it and eventually it became a huge success. In addition, I wanted men to be able to get pampered aswell, so I launched a special offer for men. It was a pedicure with beer and nuts. It was fun to see men loosen up and enjoy the treatment. Back then it was quite new and uncommon that a man would have his feet and hands treated.
However, my goal was not primarily to become a successful businesswoman and I must admit, I was a little overwhelmed by the success of schminkbar. What really made me happy was seeing the customers thoroughly enjoy their treatments and that the experience and the atmosphere in schminkbar had become exactly as I had imagined it.
In 2012 I was rewarded with the BWA Business Women Award from Veuve Clicquot. I was named Swiss Businesswoman of the Year. That was my professional highlight. Even today, I am still so happy about this title.
With Nas Mode, the story was different. I was asked by an aid organization to train young women in West Africa. And so for the first time in my life I experienced immense poverty, near death, hunger, disease, misery, injustice, corruption, witch hunts, dangerous work in gold mines and no prospects for the lives of the people of Burkina Faso. I wanted to do something about it. Something that I could implement with my strength.
So I founded the support association Nas Mode, raised money and offered women the opportunity to complete an apprenticeship in Ouagadougou. A small project then developed into something really big. Nas Mode is unique. Hundreds of young people in Burkina Faso are now working in the profession they learned there and are able to survive on their own.
Thanks to the loyalty and trust of our donors and an amazing and reliable team, led by my dear friend Safi Ouattara Diallo, we now have an up and running school on the outskirts of the capital, with twelve workshops, a nursery, kitchen, sleeping facilities, showers, toilets, sports field, offices, school bus, vegetable garden and workshops for interns. As a prize for our work, I was awarded a knighthood by the President of Burkina Faso. Another appreciation that gives me strength.
What is something about your work that people don’t know or that surprises them?
When I talk about my life, I have to take a deep breath. The story is long and exciting. And - it doesn't stop. So after handing over schminkbar, I opened my store "schönes zum Wohnfühlen" and as of December 2020 my "Wohnbeizli - schönes und feines". I have thus fulfilled another dream. The concept: I buy and then resell furniture and accessories from my friends in Burkina Faso, Morocco and Bali, so that these small families have work and an income. Of course, on fair terms and a commitment to sustainability.
What has been your greatest challenge and how did you overcome it?
There have been personal challenges and then there were business related challenges. In my private life, I took a few blows. The challenge was to make sure my children were doing well, despite all the difficulties. I didn't want them to suffer at all. I believe that I have achieved that. Professionally, there were always obstacles coming my way. Also very unpleasant stories like envy, jealousy, bad energy, even crimes, from which I had to learn again and again. How to protect myself from this, I have asked myself over and over again - but there is no simple answer. I just keep believing in the good in people.
There aren’t that many women in leading positions, you were one of the first ones in Switzerland to push through and shine. What does it take to make it in a very male dominated world?
To do it on YOUR terms. Just like men usually do. Organization and inventiveness are key. I believe that tears and pity are not an option in a leadership position. Whining and seeing yourself as the victim doesn't help either. Of course, it can be unpleasant to fight hard in order to get things done your way. And sometimes resignation seems to be easier, but for me that was never an option.
What are things you feel are important to talk about more?
I would like to talk more about Nas Mode. What it means to found and manage a project like that, to take responsibility for it and the moral obligation to have to beg for support. At the same time having to endure the misery in a third world country, experiencing the injustices, dangers, diseases, fear of terrorism and kidnapping in the 'land of the upright'. But I would also like to talk more about the fraud of donations that end up in the pockets of powerful people and about my experiences with the poorest people of this world..... Yes, I would like to be able to talk more about that!
What’s a mistake you see get made all the time, even by very smart people? What have you learned from that to handle it the right way?
Jealousy and prejudice are behaviors that I can't stand at all and unfortunately had to experience countless times. People are so quick to judge. And among us, I observe a lot of dissatisfaction and greed and at the same time very little empathy for those who are truly not doing well. However, I don't want to be influenced too much by this and try hard to stay grounded, honest and direct.
Zodiac sign: Leo
Favorite Quote: "Es gibt viele Wege zum Glück, einer davon ist aufhören zu jammern“ -Albert Einstein
If you could get on a plane right now, where would you go?: Burkina Faso
Who would you bring along: Interested people who would like to support Nas Mode
Mornings or evenings? Mornings! Because my husband brings me coffee to my bed, every morning
Drink of choice: La Grande Dame Veuve Clicqout
Breakfast of choice: Cappuccino
3 words you'd like people to use when describing you: spontaneous, open, honest
Can't live without: My Family