Rosie Huntington-Whiteley on founding a startup as a working mom

Rosie Huntington-Whiteley talks shifting from model to digital-platform founder and editor-in-chief with fellow beauty guru Michelle Lee.

Ilya S. Savenok / Getty Images for Create & Cultivate

After 16 years in the modeling industry, Rosie Huntington-Whiteley is standing up from the hair and makeup chair and sitting down behind a computer instead. But this doesn’t mean that she’s done with the beauty world. In fact, it’s quite the opposite. Huntington-Whiteley, who gave birth to her first child in 2017, claims that she actually has two babies: her two-year-old son and her one-year-old digital company. Huntington-Whiteley launched Rose Inc., a Millennial pink one-stop shop for the model’s genius beauty advice, in May 2018. 

Huntington-Whiteley sat down with Michelle Lee, editor-in-chief of Allure, at the Create & Cultivate New York conference presented by Mastercard on May 4 to discuss her new company, becoming a startup founder, her insanely interesting career, and her life as a working mom. Here are four main takeaways from Huntington-Whiteley’s conversation about Rose Inc.


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Rosie Huntington-Whiteley on why she started Rose Inc.

Huntington-Whiteley, who was used to being told what to do as a model, strongly felt the learning curve of becoming the boss but was definitely not apprehensive of the new title.

“Well, I’m an Aries, so I like to be in control,” Huntington-Whiteley said. “And I like to tell people what to do.”

Not only was she confident about this new management position, but felt that the transition was actually a long time coming. As a model, she learned countless top-notch tips, tricks, and products from the beauty experts responsible for her hair and makeup.

“I had this really, really unique point of view in the industry when it came to beauty,” Huntington-Whiteley said. “I’ve sat in this chair, I’ve worked with all these artists, I’ve seen what products they’re using, what works, what doesn’t work.”

Huntington-Whiteley noted that as she started to share her beauty tips on her social media platforms there was a significant jump in the amount of engagement on her posts.

“For quite a few years I was really wondering how I could translate this into something a bit bigger…into a platform where I could continually share that kind of advice and insight,” Huntington-Whiteley said.

Finally, she landed on a digital platform, Rose Inc., which she described as both her second baby and her passion project.

“I definitely have a clear point of view of where I wanted to go, but it truly feels like every day I wake up I’m excited to get into the office and work with these women,” she said.

Rosie Huntington-Whiteley on heading a startup

Coming from a modeling background, Huntington-Whiteley wasn’t used to the kind of power and control that is bestowed upon the founder and editor-in-chief of a digital startup.

“Managing a team on of a startup is very, very different,” Huntington-Whiteley said.

For example, Rose Inc. consists of a team of about six employees, which is super small when you take a look at all of the beautiful content it produces. With such a small team, each person is an expert in their field. When everyone is passionate and has their own lane, Huntington-Whiteley said, everyone, is able to work together smoothly.

“I’m able to then sit alongside them and learn and grow and inspire them, and ask questions, and we’re able to kind of collaborate and build out the site together,” Huntington-Whiteley said.

Overall, Huntington-Whiteley loves that she now has creative control over her work.

“I found I got my career into a place where I had a little bit more leverage, and I could start to really come in and use my voice, use my power, and get what I needed to get from work,” she said.

The question Rosie Huntington-Whiteley asks herself every day

Huntington-Whiteley admitted that she asks herself one single question every day. It’s a question that any working woman, and especially working moms, should ask themselves often.

That question is: How do you prioritize what you work on in any given day?

“First and foremost, I’m a new mom and so that really is my main priority,” Huntington-Whiteley said.

After her family, her priorities differ from day to day. Huntington-Whiteley revealed that some days are filled with meetings at the office while others she’ll be out filming content at the studio. Often she’ll have to travel to London, because, don’t forget, this supermodel actually grew up on a farm in a small town in the Southwest of England.

The most important thing, according to RHW, is making a firm distinction between life as a career woman and your personal life (Huntington-Whitely is married to actor Jason Statham.)

“When I walk in the house coming home from work, I just want to be Rosie, the partner, the mom, the friend,” Huntington-Whiteley said. “Then, when I get to the office, I’m putting my blazer on and being business.”

Rosie Huntington-Whiteley feels like she needs advice on how to be a working mom

When Lee asked if Huntington-Whiteley had any knowledge bits for working moms, she humbly answered that she was the one that actually needed to ask for advice.

“That is really something that I love hearing from other women and so I ask working moms, ‘What is the balance, how are you doing it?'”

Modest as she is, Huntington-Whiteley did have a  great piece of advice to offer new moms based on her experience so far.

“What I’m really trying to focus on is when I’m with my family, when I’m with my son, I give him 100%. And, when I step into the office, I give 100%. I’m not sure that there is such thing as balance, but I’m certainly keen to strive for balance,”  Huntington-Whiteley said.

When Lee asked Huntington-Whiteley to name one woman whose career she admires most right now, all conference attendees expected the 32-year-old to pull out the name of a model who’s been killing it in the industry lately. Instead, Huntington-Whiteley chose to focus on a much more relatable group.”At this point in my life, [I admire] any working mom.”


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