Vonda Simon ’82, founder and CEO of SeaCliff Beauty Packaging & Laboratories, is a 2021-22 Executive Fellow, and advises students to simultaneously take risks and never give up.
Vonda Simon ’82 worked hard at her career. That effort helped her ascend quickly, and she was the top salesperson at TricorBraun, one of the world’s largest packaging distributors.
Then came the day to take her experience in another direction: Simon and her husband launched SeaCliff Beauty Packaging & Laboratories in 1999. It was a big step with no guarantee of success.
“At the beginning it was all risk and prayers, frankly,” says Simon, who is SeaCliff’s CEO. “There were many ups and downs, but that’s what goes with the territory of risk—and you can’t give up no matter what.”
With that perseverance, the company now works with giants of the beauty industry, including Guthy-Renker, Murad, Estee Lauder, and others. SeaCliff produces award-winning designs of stock and custom packaging, and turnkey solutions for skin care, cosmetics, personal care, and wellness products.
Simon does not hesitate to encourage anyone considering launching their own business.
“As Nike says, ‘Just Do It,’” she says. “But honestly, why can’t you do it as opposed to someone else? The reason I say this is that you have to be passionate about what you do, or it will just be a ‘job’ to you. Having a job is great, but passion burns the fire you need to be really successful in your career—and your life, for that matter.”
Simon acknowledges that finding that passion may take time. In her own case, as an undergraduate at UCR, she changed direction in her junior year—an experience she shares with students as an executive fellow at UCR’s School of Business. Within the Executive Fellows Program, established in 1992, business leaders are selected for their outstanding leadership, professional experience, and business expertise. The Executive Fellows Program is unique among top business schools because executive fellows are deeply involved with future business leaders as they advise and mentor students in their careers, new business ventures, and professional challenges.
“I hope to help anyone who has any doubt or fears about what they will do next after college,” says Simon. “I have been there, and it was not easy, but there is a light at the end, so hold on and keep looking forward. I am here to inspire and answer any questions that anyone has on preparing for their future after UCR.”
Remain focused on objectives no matter what obstacles get in the way, she adds, and importantly, simultaneously take risks and never give up.
“I have had so many setbacks that I was thinking of writing a book on perseverance because the stories are incredible about what we had to deal with and not give up,” she says. “You have to have the will to move forward after a bad experience, so I live with the ‘24-hour rule’ of allowing myself to brood for only that amount of time. And then I get back to focusing on the future.”