Meet Cool Mom and Director of Purchasing and Operations, Dawn Taitt
by Abby McIntosh
It’s time for another edition of Into the Bag, where we take you into the careers and bags of the people behind Milk Makeup. Today, we’re chatting with Dawn Taitt, our Director of Purchasing and Operations, a major Frank Ocean fan, and recent backpack convert.
You’re the Director of Purchasing and Operations…what does that consist of?
My main job is purchasing, which means placing purchase orders for everything we buy from components (product parts) to labels to packaging. I also help out my counterpart who is in charge of operations, which just means making sure once a purchase order is out to the vendor, it gets executed in a timely fashion.
What’s a day in the life like for you?
When I get on the train in the morning, I start skimming through emails to see what quick answers I can jot down and send. Then when I get into the office, I open emails and see what needs my immediate attention. After that, I work on anything that I need to follow up on, like any purchase orders that we spoke about in our last production meeting that I need to place. Just, you know, a lot of following up and chasing vendors around. And I’m a mom, so I always think that work should stay at work. I spend so much time in the office that it’s not fair for my kids when I get home and keep working, so I don’t do that.
How did you get into this line of work? What has your career path been like?
Well, I was a marketing major, but I’m not doing marketing now [laughs]. It just kind of happened. I was young, I’d just moved to Queens from Brooklyn, and my neighbor worked at a cosmetics manufacturer and told me that they were interviewing. I started off in sales there, and I was a young mom, still working on my degree. Being a full-time mom, a full-time student, and trying to be a full-time employee — it was tough. After about four years, I quit and became a full-time student. I worked little jobs here and there until I finished school, then I had a second child, and my husband and I bought a home. Then, one of my friends at my former manufacturing job [mentioned there was a job opening], so that’s how I got back in. I was hired a second time for the same job and stayed for about five years, but I felt like I wasn’t being challenged after a while, so I knew it was time to move on. I ended up leaving and went somewhere else before eventually coming to Milk, which is lovely, lovely, lovely!
What would you say is the most challenging aspect of what you do?
Getting all of the accurate information that I need to place an order: the correct item, the correct ship date, the correct quantity, whatever it may be. People always think, “oh, you work at a cosmetics company; it must be so much fun!” And it is, but sometimes I literally feel like I’m in the OR. Someone can say, “Hey Dawn, order our O.G. Red,” but there are so many trials that we’ve gone through to nail that exact shade that I have to make sure I have the right shade number. As far as the operations part, it’s definitely all of the tracking and running behind vendors and manufacturers to make sure that we hit our ship dates.
What’s the most rewarding aspect of your job?
Oh man! There’s nothing worse than having these headaches when it comes to getting these products to market, but when you walk in the store and just look at that item, knowing how many sleepless nights went into getting it on the shelf, it’s just so gratifying. People come up to it and touch and feel and play. I was just at the Sephora Times Square and this girl was playing with our Holographic Lip Gloss and I was so happy to look at her and know that people really love this stuff. And even when it’s to market, sometimes you second guess yourself, but then you see someone in Sephora just glowing over it!
That’s the best! What advice would you give to someone who wants to go into your line of work?
Educate yourself on the beauty market as much as you can. I’ve learned so much from being on the brand side, because prior to Milk, I’d always been on the manufacturing side. And I didn’t set out to be in this field. At the end of the day, I was a young mom in school for 7 years trying to get my bachelors. After a while, you just go to your counselor and say, “Look, how many credits do I need to finish in May?” And you just say ok, marketing it is! At that age, you don’t really know what you want to do — it’s ok to not know what you want to do, but you’ll gain confidence in yourself as you go along. You have to be confident in the vision and be flexible. Milk is a startup, so we all wear a lot of different hats. And don’t work hard for other people, work hard for yourself. If I’m there until 8, 9 o’clock, it’s not to impress anyone, it’s because I want my workload tomorrow to be that much more manageable.
Ok, so onto your bag. Why do you carry what you do in your bag?
I started carrying a backpack when I came to Milk. I drove to my prior jobs, so wearing a cute bag was cool. But now that I commute on the train, the cute bag stuff…it’s a no. I shove everything in my backpack, my arms are free, and I can speedwalk. It’s convenient, and it’s because I’m a mom. I also carry a bible, which is huge for me!
What three words would you use to describe what the contents of your bag say about you?
Simple, spiritual, and fun.
What are you listening to right now?
I love The Weeknd and Frank Ocean. And SZA! I’m a mom of three, so I have to keep up. I have to know who Wiz Khalifa is [laughs]. And a little old school, too, so of course Janet.
Last one: what’s your sign?
Aries in the house!!! I’m very emotional and I know everything. I’m never wrong. And I’d like to think that I’m a genuine and kindhearted person.