Nearly 20 years ago, inside a small Houston apartment, Janna Ronert spent months mixing creams and knocking on her neighbors’ doors to talk about skincare. A few years later, she decided to launch her company, Image Skincare, but was rejected from 15 different banks for a small business loan—until one finally said yes.
“They all told me that they saw my vision, but they were hesitant to give a single woman with no collateral a loan,” she says. “All it took was one to say ‘yes,’ and now 15 years later, I send that same banker my balance sheet to show how we went from nothing to where we are today.”
Growing up on a farm in Nebraska, Ronert didn’t have much experience with skincare. Most of her time was spent outside, milking cows and helping her father run the family business.
“I remember asking my dad how we could help feed the world with our farm,” she says. “And what he told me has stuck with me all these years later: ‘It’s just one seed at a time.’”
Now as CEO of Palm Beach County-based Image Skincare, Ronert feeds the world in a slightly different way. Responsible for one of the largest American brands in the skincare industry, Ronert creates hundreds of clean skincare products powered by safe and proven active ingredients as well as effective botanicals. Right now, her line is featured in more than 20,000 physical offices in more than 60 countries.
“I knew nothing about beauty, but I knew all about tenacity and perseverance,” she says. “Right out of college, I went into sales and marketing for a manufacturing company, so I saw first-hand how products are made from start to finish. That’s when I knew that someday I’d have a company where I’d make a product that people would buy and find joy in.”
Later on, Ronert worked as the director of operations for a group of plastic surgeons, where she was in charge of hiring and overseeing in-house estheticians.
“When I saw what these young ladies could do for someone’s skin, I secretly became infatuated with the industry,” she says. “I learned everything I could, from the ingredients and chemistry, to actually becoming an esthetician myself.”
After launching Image Skincare in 2003, Ronert promised herself that when the company produced enough money, she’d find a way to give it back to communities around the world.
“It’s funny because my husband, Marc, is a plastic surgeon, but we met after I started Image,” she says. “He had a thriving practice in Germany but ultimately moved to the U.S. to be with me and help run my company. When we started to think about giving back, it made sense to help kids with skin issues.”
The Ronerts founded Care for Skin Foundation, a non-profit that supports children who suffer from skin loss due to accidents, tumors, burns, scars or genetic abnormalities. By assembling teams of surgeons, nurses, anesthesiologists and translators, Care for Skin travels around the world four times a year to operate on children younger than 10. The Ronerts help about 200 children during each two-week visit.
“When children suffer from such a young age, it impacts their entire life,” she says. “In the past few years, we’ve traveled to Vietnam, Costa Rica and Peru. There are so many injuries out there; it’s really unbelievable. Our work will never fully be done.”
In January, the Ronerts will host Care for Skin’s second annual gala, with a silent auction from which all proceeds will benefit their non-profit.
“We deal with skin every day,” Ronert says. “We build a company through skin, and Care for Skin is a natural extension of that. It’s been such an incredible journey to make people feel better and look better.”