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Monica van Ee: “You’re engaged with your profession every day, just like a top athlete”

For twenty years, Monica van Ee has been at the helm of the Dutch cosmetic company hannah Skin Improvement Research Company BV. Since 1979, the company has been known as a visionary in the Netherlands in the field of skin improvement, thanks to the renowned connective tissue massage and high-quality, innovative products of Dutch origin. Under the motto ‘Give your skin a chance,’ more than 400 skin coaches provide daily advice on how to effectively cleanse and care for the skin to improve it. On the occasion of the 45th anniversary of hannah, we spoke with Van Ee about her past, present, and future.

Monica van Ee hannah

Van Ee: “As a girl from Amsterdam with a high school diploma, I had various jobs. Eventually, I ended up at an American company in the cosmetics industry. At one point, a friend said, ‘It’s great that you work in this industry for someone else, but you need to come help me because my company is a bit unstable and I earn next to nothing.’ That was Hannah Hakze. So, I started helping her within the company, initially with marketing and by straightening out some things in the team’s operations and management. Eventually, there was a conversation where Hannah said, ‘It’s good that you’re here with us because I have cancer and am dying. You need to continue my company.’ That’s why I have been at the helm of hannah for twenty years now.”

Business is top sport

“You’re engaged with your profession every day, just like a top athlete. You have to constantly improve and train yourself to stay up to date. But as an entrepreneur, you’re not a runner doing a marathon alone, hoping to reach the finish line. Running a business is teamwork. As a team, you work towards victory. Of course, a director, like a coach, makes the final decision. But the team must function, cooperate, and support each other. You can be a great football player, but the team must support each other, otherwise, there won’t be any scoring.”

“Everything we do: developing products, marketing, socials, happens at our headquarters in Voorthuizen. We don’t outsource anything. I believe you’re a champion if you do it all yourself. Do we have the best product? I’ll leave that to the customer. But in what we control ourselves, we are the champions.”

The perfect image

“In the past, parents would control what you did. Nowadays, a 10-year-old buys a €100 cream! How is that possible? All responsibility is placed on the government and the cosmetics association. What can we do about it, where are the parents? They are responsible for their child, right? We do notice that the use of cosmetics among kids and young people is becoming more extreme, mainly due to social media. This brings great insecurity. The youth only see the perfect image. They are now so focused on perfection that it is becoming sickly. And this isn’t just among the youth but also in the next phases of life. What’s wrong with a wrinkle? There is nothing more beautiful than a man or woman aging naturally. With all due respect, but if you see what people do nowadays to keep their face in shape… They look like sponges. It doesn’t look natural, but it’s also encouraged. What about all that anti-aging? It’s just false marketing. I always say figuratively: If you don’t want to grow old, buy a gun. I can’t make you younger, but in collaboration with our skin coaches, I can help you look as good and healthy as possible, regardless of your age.”

Proud of your skin

“I am very proud of Hannah for being so inventive to come up with the connective tissue massage for the face and for believing in the self-healing ability of the skin. That has been the engine of our company. With the celebration of our 45th anniversary, we also look back on 45 years of successful skin improvement. Everyone should be proud of their skin because the skin is actually a miracle child and has so many functions. I am very proud of the team we have now and the more than 400 skin coaches who work with our brand. The company has survived Hannah Hakze and will eventually survive Monica van Ee too. My team is very solid, with a lot of expertise and well-trained people. I hope that when they see me coming down the stairs at the age of 67 and that old face is no longer representing the brand, they will say, ‘You go home, we’ll manage.’ Then I’ll come back once a month as a commissioner to only advise and brainstorm. That would be fantastic. If I can reach that point with them, then I have done my job well.”