Overcoming Burnout Through Problem-Solving
Roxana Bazgoneh, the 30-year-old founder of the skincare brand Onélogy, is an exemplary millennial, who went through her adulting years by a textbook of “the overachieving generation”. In her twenties, she had an early start in a highly competitive field of advertising, developed workaholism fueled by the pursuit of excellence, and went through an existential burnout resulting in a massive career pivot.
Now, Roxana thrives in her entrepreneurial era, creating award-winning beauty products and practicing a bespoke version of work-life balance: her days mainly consist of work, but now it brings more joy than stress. “You need to know, I have ADHD, so high-paced rhythm is my norm,” she says in our interview. “I feel more stressed on a long vacation where I don’t work at all.” She doesn’t talk much about her diagnosis (which is known to be linked to an aim of pursuing entrepreneurship and creativity) and only mentions it in the end of an interview to wrap up her speech about the neverending will to create. Traits that are often attributed to people with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder include hyperfocus, high tolerance to risk, determination, and drive. Roxana has it all, but she still had to learn to recharge and delegate to keep her mental health afloat.
Daughter to Iranian immigrants, Bazgoneh grew up in the suburbs of Paris, surrounded by the beauty of French culture and nature. Her father was an entrepreneur, and her mother was an artist who taught Roxana to live with her eyes wide open and work hard.
“You can be as talented as you want, but if you don’t do the work, it won’t help you. There is no way around it,” she says confidently. “At the end of the day, hard work matters more than talent.”Bazgoneh entered Penninghen, a Parisian school of art direction, in 2011. It was a time when young specialists were struggling to find jobs in the aftermath of the world economic crisis. Roxana started working while studying to avoid adding to poor statistics and graduated with a portfolio filled with works for brands like L’Oreal and multiple job offers.
At 24, she moved to New York to work in the world capital of the advertising industry. She was freelancing, which led to the launch of her own boutique creative studio and a film production company, Sidewalk, offering a full range of services, from concept creation to the final edit of advertising products.
Being a young female entrepreneur in a foreign country came with challenges, as many potential clients would not take her seriously at first. Once, a client came on set and mistook Roxana for an assistant, asking her to get him a coffee, which she gladly did. Afterward, he was surprised and humbled to find out it was “this little girl” directing a set with a fifty-person crew.
She tells this story laughing, but such episodes bothered her. She had to learn how to deal with them with grace. “A lot of people have predefined ideas of who can do what. I like that I can change that with my actions”, she says.
Roxana worked with Yves Saint Laurent, Bobbi Brown, MAC Cosmetics, and other beauty market leaders. But the industry has been “shifting and shrinking,” as she put it. Bazgoneh had to start compromising and being less selective with clients and projects to keep the agency going. It transformed into more routine projects rather than creative ones. Working non-stop on something she felt no passion for led her to complete burnout. “I knew I needed a change.”
In 2019, Bazgoneh was looking for ideas. While buying her own skincare products, she noticed a problem with sustainability issues and ingredients’ transparency in the industry.
While living in New York, she used to buy her beauty supplies in pharmacies on her visits to France. That year, she could not make the trip and bought products in the US that resulted in a bad allergic reaction. The ingredients in American products were different from French ones. “I felt betrayed. I have worked with this industry for many years, and it felt like I knew nothing.”
The idea to create a new product for the beauty market took her over. It fueled her with energy and helped overcome the burnout. She came up with the concept: a personalized product on a fit-for-all market, produced in France using clean ingredients and sustainable technologies. But what would it look like?
The answer came from the pharmacy industry, when one night in December 2020, Roxana took a French stomach medicine she’s been familiar with since childhood, an orally disintegrating tablet that dissolves when in contact with water. That was it: a single active ingredient in a tablet, sustainable and minimalist to its core. Roxana consulted dermatologists and scientists and started looking for a manufacturer.
At first, laboratories refused to talk to her. “Cosmetics? And who are you?” That is how Roxana resembles those calls. “They were not interested in the beauty market.”
The volume of resistance was discouraging, and the constant rejection was tiring. The only thing that kept Roxana going through that phase was a belief in her idea. Finally, she found one French laboratory willing to work with her. Her skincare brand, Onélogy, was born.
From Onélogy’s archive
First products launched in Summer 2023: Stylish metallic blisters with monthly supplies of the most popular beauty ingredients in tiny tables — niacinamide, peptides, retinoids, and azelaic acid — quickly gained attention. In the first six months, the brand won Harper’s Bazaar and Esquire beauty awards and made it to multiple “best of” lists.
With Onélogy, Roxana aims to show that new approaches are possible even for small brands, challenging the norms of the industry. “You don’t need to be a big conglomerate to bring new ideas and new approaches to solving problems,” she says, declaring that solving problems is probably her favorite thing to do. “That’s what I focus on. I used to stress out about so many things, making my life and work much harder. Now, I know I just need to find solutions.” Now in her thirties, she got to the conclusion that struggles are inevitable, but can be overcome.
She is taking breaks and relying more on her team now, learning to trust and delegate. She even booked her first vacation in two years. And she almost never works from home and on the weekends. She says the separation of two environments, an office and a home, became “a lifesaver.”
But resting is not for her. While being dedicated to her beauty enterprise now, she expects more career pivots in her life — somewhere in a far future. “I have new ideas all the time. One day, I’ll inevitably want to create something else.” As a problem solver and a hardworking millennial, she is always on the lookout for new opportunities to challenge herself and industry norms.
Written for Vivid Minds by Vasilisa Kirilochkina, a freelance journalist based in New York