In a bold and unexpected move, Karla Davis, vice president of integrated marketing and media at Ulta Beauty, recently announced her decision to take a career break. Known for her pivotal role in fostering emotional connections with customers and ushering in industry-disrupting campaigns, Davis’ career change has made quite a stir.
“After 8 years, 4 brand campaigns, 2 brand books, 90 promotional programs and countless brand launches, I’m closing the Ulta Beauty chapter,” Davis wrote in a lengthy LinkedIn post on Friday. “As an overachieving Black Woman, the idea of slowing down, jumping off the ladder and pressing pause on my career feels totally foreign. It’s not what we do. It’s not what we even know is POSSIBLE to do. So this is a walk of faith.”
On her LinkedIn account, Davis revealed her decision to close the Ulta Beauty chapter of her life. The announcement drew significant attention, leaving many wondering about the rationale behind her career break. She addressed this curiosity with a follow-up post, outlining the factors that contributed to her decision.
“So, wow. The response to my announcement has been OVERWHELMINGLY! Thank you for all the support – it matters more than you know,” she wrote.
Davis, an award-winning global marketing executive, stressed the significance of rest and work-life balance in her announcement. The decision, she said, comes after years of feeling mentally exhausted and realizing that her work had begun to consume an unhealthy amount of her emotional and mental space. She confessed that she wasn’t showing up as her best self and the passion for her work started to wane, leading her to the difficult decision.
She also paid tribute to her boss, friend, and mentor who passed away from cancer in 2022, stating that dealing with grief in a professional environment is a challenge most aren’t prepared to face.
However, Davis did not make her decision lightly. She sought the advice of her executive coach, Audra Christie, assessing her “3 Gets and 3 Gives” with the organization. Upon reflection, Davis concluded that she had achieved what she had set out for and given all she needed to the company, thus justifying her “Karla Davis career break.”
But her decision also had practical implications. As the higher earner in her family, her departure from her high-profile role posed financial concerns. She credits her faith and the support from her husband, a church pastor, for helping her navigate these apprehensions.
Davis shared, “I was reminded that it is God that sustains me and not my own resources. As a Christian, this became a moment of truth for me: Will I surrender to God’s control of my life or keep holding [on] to my own need for control? Coming to that realization has brought a lot of peace, not always perfect, but peace nevertheless.”
Karla Davis’ career break announcement has received an outpouring of support and admiration from industry peers.
Michelle Crossan-Matos, chief marketing officer at Ulta Beauty, commented, “Missing you already! Excited for where life will take you, my dear. Shine your light bright.”
Linh Peters, CMO of Walgreens, showed her admiration for Davis, stating, “So proud of your amazing legacy at Ulta and inspired by this badass move to put ‘you’ first. Enjoy this time, my friend.”
Other industry leaders also commended Davis’ decision. Katica Roy, CEO of Pipeline Equity, wrote, “Congratulations on a job well done and the courageous decision to take a break and explore new opportunities. It’s inspiring to see someone prioritize their well-being and take steps towards rest. Best of luck in your next chapter and kudos for encouraging others to do the same!”
Davis’ announcement has not only ignited conversations around the importance of rest and work-life balance in high-stress jobs but has also highlighted the unique challenges faced by Black women in leadership roles. Davis’ decision and candor have brought these crucial issues to the fore, setting a compelling example for others contemplating similar changes.
Prior to Ulta Beauty, Davis was recruited by the division president to the world’s largest Black-owned cosmetics company, Johnson Publishing, to introduce a CPG mindset to its marketing team, shifting Fashion Fair Cosmetics to a new, younger audience. Earlier in her career, Davis served as a senior brand manager and a senior marketing manager at Kraft and PepsiCo.