A series that spotlights the inspiring women who are building inspiring things.
Kate Lee is the founder of two amazing companies, the regimen & Velvet. With a background in research, Kate fueled her data driven mission to save her skin by documenting what other women like her were using on their face daily. She found that active, botanical ingredients were proven by science to nourish and heal, so she set out to make her own brand she could trust, Velvet. Follow her at @getvelvetskin to check out her products!
Why did you start your company?
More than my love for skincare and my research background, I wanted to showcase our ability to be complex individuals. I created the regimen, a skincare-focused website, to serve as a platform for beauty enthusiasts who want easily digestible science and routines from women and men like themselves. My skincare company, Velvet, is an extension of that. I want research and luxury beauty to be accessible and fun, turning even a fundamental routine into a ritualistic experience.
What was your most exciting day as a founder? What happened? Why was it the best?
Understanding the brand I was creating was such a lightbulb moment for me. It seemed incredibly obvious after the fact but for so long, I only had a very vague, nebulous idea. I got so caught up in designing the product that I didn't think about designing the story I wanted to tell. I realized that this labor of love was very much my skincare and research journal coming together that I wanted to share with the community. the regimen was a journey and Velvet is only one of the destinations.
What is your biggest struggle in the hustle? (Be honest!)
Mo' money, mo' problems. Or in my case, no money, even mo' problems. Financially planning the execution of my skincare line was no easy feat (still isn't), and it took a lot of guidance. I'm very fortunate to have good friends in business consulting who offered invaluable advice. The most important thing I am still learning is knowing when to dive all in, and when to take a step back and evaluate. This is/was/forever will be so important when it comes to money matters and growing a company.
What is the item on your to do list that you wish you never had to do?
Anything finance- or accounting-related. (See "mo' money, mo' problems" dilemma.) I work with numbers and statistics every day at my full-time job, but I completely disintegrate when it comes to planning anything that has to do with money.
If there was a brand/marketing/PR genie that would hand you one achievement, what would it be?
Social media influence. A lot of people go on social media specifically to shop, and harnessing that in a creative and engaging way to grow your business is nothing short of a beautiful marriage between science and fine art. I'm beyond hashtag-blessed to have a small team of badass women who believe in the brand enough to help me with this.
What is your favorite Instagram feed right now?
I love watching Annette Labedski's paint-mixing videos. It's so therapeutic to watch, and sometimes I wanna eat it! I swear, they look like frosting 95% of the time.
What is an article you read / podcast you listened to recently that felt like the writer/host was in your brain?
My podcast subscriptions consist of scary stories and mysteries. My non-work brain is obsessed with ghost stories and "finding out what really happened" (from celebrity chisme to cold case files) so I feel like hosts of those shows are always in my brain.
Let's end on a non-work note! Favorite place you have ever been?
Rome. I explored a new city with the love of my life, and by 'explore' I mean we ate pasta pretty much thrice a day and I have no regrets.
CEO & Founder of Tactile