Clean Fragrance Brand Skylar Founder Cat Chen Juggles Investor Meetings & Mom Time
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Cat Chen began searching out fragrances free from allergens and harmful chemicals — including phthalates, known hormone disruptors banned in the EU — after discovering that her newborn daughter was allergic to her perfume. Unable to find one, Chen, former COO of The Honest Company, decided to create her own. Her DTC brand Skylar was born two years ago with a mission to offer clean, consciously crafted, hypoallergenic fragrances for body and home. Everything is free from parabens, sulfates, phthalates, mineral oil, petrochemicals, animal-derived ingredients and synthetic dyes. In February, the company announced an $8 million Series A Fundraise led by FirstMark Capital, investors in Pinterest, Shopify, Airbnb, Brooklinen and Hubble. This month, Chen launched a monthly subscription membership program. Here, the wife, mom and clean beauty champion shares a typical day.
6:30 AM: I pop into the shower before my 3-year-old daughter Anne wakes up. Then for the fun part: my minimalist beauty routine of moisturizer, vitamin C serum, sunscreen, mascara, blush, organic lip balm and my Skylar scent mix of the day. These days, I’ve been loving Arrow with Meadow.
7 AM: I do a quick email check and then pop into Anne’s room and grab some early morning cuddles. Then, we head to the kitchen where my husband has a healthy breakfast ready for her, and I grab my morning cup of coffee and a bowl of fruit and granola.
7:45 AM: I drop Anne off at school. We often have some of my favorite conversations during those car rides.
8:30 AM: I switch into full work mode and start making calls. As a full-time CEO of a small team, it’s shown me how crucial prioritizing is, given how limited my time is.
9 AM: At the office, we have a touch base to go through the high priority initiatives and status on key projects. My team has been an immense support during the fundraising process, so when I’m not traveling, getting to catch up with them is my favorite part of the workday. I sign off on a few new initiatives — future product development designs, costs of upcoming POS and marketing campaign final creative.
10 AM: My product development manager and I head out to Sarah, our master perfumer’s studio in Westlake Village to create our next scent. Sarah’s been crafting custom fragrances for 25 years and has created all of ours. First, she sits in front of her perfume organ and begins pulling ingredients that embody the concept we’ve described. She creates the top, middle and base notes by waving different scents under my nose as my eyes are closed. The last step is for Sarah to leverage her fragrance expertise to ensure this new scent will layer well with our other signature scents, so that women can create their own custom fragrances at home. Finally, we come away with three iterations. Sarah crafts mini vials of each one and we head back to the office. Our product manager sends these samples out to a subset of our customers for testing and voting, and based on those results, we’ll choose the final iteration.
11:30 AM: We head back to the office to get a quick group workout. Since we’re a small but mighty team, I try to find unique ways we can connect and celebrate our wins despite how busy we are.
12 PM: Today was a cheat day for us! We’re usually all about the healthy salad lunch plan, but today we splurged! We headed to lunch in Beverly Hills at Da Pasquale. There’s nothing better than pizza and pasta to celebrate a big team win.
1:30 PM: Back to work and I pop on another investor call. It’s always fun to be able to talk about the company and brand we’ve built. It can be tough to hold a heavy meeting calendar, but I actually enjoy these conversations as it’s a way for me to get people excited about what Skylar’s all about.
2 PM: I head to the creative stakeholder review and sign off on some new website changes we’re making…adding videos with real testimonials to our website has been something I’ve been craving! The team is making it happen and we’re going into filming this week.
3:30 PM: Following another investor meeting, I sync with the marketing team and discuss this week’s performance and plans over the next week to drive performance. Our team is always testing new ideas, new creative and new copy. I sign off on the plan and head off to the next meeting.
4:30 PM: I’ll be heading off to the airport for a few meetings in San Francisco tomorrow. Before I go, I make a quick pitstop home to see Anne. We walk down to the Starbucks close to our house for a quick treat. She rides her scooter in one of her notorious over-the-top outfits and I walk alongside, constantly impressed by her confidence. We spend some quality time together catching up on the day and chatting about our weekend plans.
6 PM: It’s time to head to the airport! I give my husband and daughter a kiss, hop into my Uber and head to LAX. The life of a founder/CEO never stops and finding the balance between family and work is a constant learning process. The juggling act can get pretty tough at times.
8 PM: I land in SF. I’m actually so productive on planes that sometimes having travel days can help me knock out a few big projects I haven’t gotten to during the week.
9 PM: I arrive to the hotel and set up shop in my room. I FaceTime Anne to catch her before she goes to bed, then pull out my computer, order room service and get ready for a couple hours’ productive work before I head to bed. Usually late at night is when I’m able to catch up on emails and do my strategic thinking.
11:30 PM: I head to sleep and get ready for another big day ahead!