In Conversation with Charlotte Knight of Ciaté, Lottie London, & Skin Proud

Charlotte Knight_Blog Header

Describe your business in a few words?

An entrepreneurial fueled ecosystem of ideas, innovation, and creativity to ultimately develop and produce products and brands centered around the wonderful world of beauty. Ciaté, bringing beauty unexpected across nail and color for over a decade, Lottie London, dubbed as beauty trend heaven for Gen Z and Skin Proud, clean, accessible, transparent, unfiltered efficacious skincare built on a platform of self-acceptance and being proud of the skin you are in.   

What made you take the leap to start your own business?

Having spent many years as a session nail artist working fashion weeks around the Globe and on set for high profile shoots, I identified white space in bridging the gap between runway to retail allowing the creativity and editorial looks to be accessible in a more approachable, DIY fool-proof manor.   

What was your background prior to starting your own business?

With a love of interior design, I spent a few years working for a Singaporean property company in London as they embarked on thrilling new builds of the Four Seasons Hotel and luxury apartments.  This role was extremely enriching with multifaceted insight and experience through international business, working alongside many different cultures, tendering processes, timeline management, quality standards, budget controls, marketing and much more.  

Did you always know you wanted to be an entrepreneur?

I guess I did know I wanted to be an entrepreneur because it’s in my genes. Both sets of Grandparents and parents were entrepreneurs…albeit some more successful than others! Growing up in an environment where business is the topic of conversation of breakfast, lunch and dinner it gave invaluable insight into the highs and lows of being an Entrepreneur. At a young age, I spent many school breaks in meetings and on sourcing trips across Europe.

Take us back to when you first launched your business, what was your marketing strategy to get the word out and did it go as planned?

In the early days of Ciaté, it was a combination of word-of-mouth and the fact that I was creating these unseen looks in my editorial work. For example, my first major success with the brand was our Caviar Manicure, which came about during a shoot. We were having fun on set playing with some mini glass beads which I shot on the model’s lip and nails…four short months later this very image became front and centre on packaging, within press and in store windows around the Globe.  It was the early days of Instagram so with traditional PR as our main vehicle, the product became the hottest launch of the time and almost overnight all major global retailers wanted to stock us!

We always learn the most from our mistakes, share a time with us that you made a mistake or had a challenging time in business and what you learned from it?

During the early years, my mindset was to do EVERYTHING which is ultimately just bad for business. If you want to be an entrepreneur, you need to surround yourself with people who complement your strengths.  During the start-up phase especially optimize, outsource and automate wherever you can – be it freelance writers, accountants, graphic designers..and tools that can automate marketing needs such as retaining customers. 

What is the accomplishment you are the most proud of to date?

We were awarded the Newcomer of the Year award by WWD in 2012! It was the most incredible evening, a room filled with Industry greats from the World’s biggest Beauty Brands. The award was handed to me by the formidable Leonard Lauder as he whispered complimentary words of encouragement and recognition. It was a real “pinch me” moment!

When hiring for your team, what is your go-to interview question? Please share any hiring tips you can share from your experience?

It’s dependent on the type of hire, but for front office roles I love to ask “if you were a cosmetic product, what would you be and why?” My top tips would be: Have an exceptional recruitment and onboarding process as this is the candidate’s first impression of your Company and also taking the time to feedback to candidates on why they were not successful (this time) can be so valuable to their future success in securing the right role! Practice collaborative hiring as your new recruits won’t be working in a vacuum.

How has your business or industry been impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic?

At the beginning it was rather daunting as our retail partners were shutting their stores, there was such uncertainty and a heavy blanket of anxiety surrounding day to day life. Thankfully, D2C sales saw exponential growth as consumer behaviour shifted online and our heritage nail business saw incredible growth with nail bars and beauty salons closed for long durations. As an independently owned business, we pride ourselves on our ability to pivot, being extremely agile and able to adapt to any situation more easily. With a pre-planned new brand launch in April 2020, Skin Proud arrived! An exemplary skincare launch initially focused on D2C only could take advantage of the rise in online traffic and a true testament to our team who quickly pivoted their marketing and communications strategies. 

What’s next for your business? What can we expect to see over the next few years?

Am very proud to say that although most of our products are already vegan, we made a pledge two years ago to be 100% vegan by the end of 2021 and we are ahead of this timing so far which is a fabulous effort by the whole team. We also have two fabulous collaborations coming for 2021 which we are all very excited about and cannot wait to share with everyone. After a turbulent time within brick & mortar over the past year, we are highly encouraged by some exceptional store rollouts planned for 2021 and 2022 so we shall certainly be very busy!

What is the biggest lesson you have learned in 2020?

Health is really Wealth – staying healthy and building immunity was key in 2020 so made huge strides into wellbeing inside and out –all steps that I shall continue to maintain as we move into our next chapter of life.  

What do you know now that you wish you knew when you were first starting your business?

To never forget to have fun and live in the present as much as you can. In the early days I worked myself to death and if I was not working I would be consumed in guilt that I had taken my “eye of the ball”.  I missed out on a lot of fun in my late twenties with this mindset.  When I became a mother at 27, the guilt was exacerbated with “mom guilt” when working around the clock. After some hypnotherapy, I made wonderful positive changes to how I approached things day to day to live in the now and stop the guilt tripping – I finally started to smell the freshly cut grass!

How have you managed to stay grounded this year?

At dinner time in our household, we practice gratitude and positivity by each sharing three positive things or best bits about our day. Appreciating life’s simple pleasures that I often missed in the hustle bustle of life before 2020.  Be it local treasures and quaint streets discovered on yet another dog walk or a humble, brave tulip breaking through the soil signifying spring and new life. Staying active has played a huge role in my general physical and mental wellbeing. The best investment all year was a Peloton bike -I love to go all out with a dark room and scented candles to transport my senses to being back in a NYC Soul Cycle class!

Do you believe in work/life balance? What are some of your best tips?

I have come to accept this is no perfect work/ life balance so strive for a realistic schedule over the “perfect” schedule. Don’t be afraid to unplug as cutting ties with the outside world from time to time allows recovery from weekly stress and gives space for other thoughts and ideas to emerge. Be sure to make time for yourself and your loved ones –book family centred activities ahead of time to ensure it’s also booked out of your schedule and no matter what stage of a relationship you are in, even if you have been married for 15 years, make time for “date night” even if you can only hit one a month – it’s the perfect time to just to be you again..not mom, not businesswoman…! Take Vacations throughout the year…whether it’s a 2-3 day staycation or a two week trip to a sun soaked beach, it’s so important to take time off to physically and mentally recharge. Always prioritize your health – your physical, emotional and mental wellbeing is of the utmost importance so don’t ignore any telling signs!

What’s something our audience would be surprised to learn about you?

Despite creating beauty products, I am still utterly useless at drawing winged liner on myself! Believe me, I have put in the practice hours…I have come to face the fact my eye shape is just not a friend of winged liner…knowing the frustration I felt for years, we created the ultimate beauty hack with a wing stamp so you can stamp on your wings in a flash and works for every eye shape!!

What are your top 3 tips to stay productive each day?

  • Focusing on the most important tasks first. 
  • Blocking time out of your schedule to cultivate deep work. 
  • Avoid Procrastination by breaking down overwhelming tasks/ projects into next steps.

What does being an Entreprenista mean to you?

To be tenaciously fearless, to continually innovate and disrupt whilst passionately loving your job/ chosen path. 

Share it!

Posted in
Tags

Leave a Comment





How to achieve a life of financial freedom with Alisha Pennington of ATvantage Athletic Training

Describe your business in a few words? Empowering, Dynamic, and Comprehensive. What made you take the leap to start your own business? I have been a business owner in a very niche industry (athletic training) for almost 10 years, so I have experienced the freedom and flexibility that comes with being a business owner. My…

How Jenny Strebe used positive affirmations and crystal healing to create her modern haircare brand AIIR Professional

Describe AIIR Professional in a few words? A modern haircare brand that is focused on well being through positive affirmations & crystal healing. What made you take the leap to start your own business? As I was driving every aspect of my stylist business and social media facets, the peace and relief I found in…

How FLyQuest CEO Tricia Sugita is using the esport platform to affect real change and make people happy

Describe your business in a few words? FlyQuest is an esports organization competing in the franchised League of Legends League Championship Series (LCS). What made you take the leap to help transform FlyQuest into the organization it is today? One of my primary goals throughout my career in esports has been to create a community…

Lauren Montgomery, founder of Monty’s, on making simplicity the new sophistication through her line of plant-based dairy products

Describe your business in a few words? Monty’s makes clean and craveable plant-Based essentials like cream cheese and butter that nourish your mind & body. With simplicity and nutrition at the core of the brand, Monty’s selection of cream cheeses and butter are made from real-food ingredients and crafted using time-honored techniques like fermentation. What…

How Maradith Frenkel turned bamboo into pajamas for the whole family with Little Sleepies

Describe Little Sleepies in a few words? We make buttery soft bamboo sleepwear that your whole family will love. What made you take the leap to start your own business? I saw a white space in the market after I had my son. I absolutely could not find a sleeper that checked all of the…

Erin Coles couldn’t find exactly what she was looking for in a band for her wedding so she launched her own — The Metropolitan Players

Describe your business in a few words? The Metropolitan Players is a wedding band collective based out of NYC – so we provide incredible music for weddings! What made you take the leap to start your own business? When my husband and I were planning our own wedding, we couldn’t find exactly what we were…

Azora Zoe Paknad on creating a new entry point to sustainability with Goldune

Describe Goldune in a few words? We make sustainability less beige! What made you take the leap to start your own business? I was into the sustainability world, personally and professionally, but I didn’t see myself in any of the dominant narratives I saw on Instagram or online in general. On one end of the…

Elisa Marshall on creating warm, French-inspired spaces with Maman, a collection of NYC-based cafés and venues

Describe your business in a few words? Maman is a New York City-based collection of cafés and event venues, offering family inspired recipes with French influences in a warm and welcoming home like environment  What made you take the leap to start your own business? Before I opened Maman, I had many passions and there…

Kim Hehir, co-founder of Brutus Broth, on enhancing your dog’s health through specially formulated bone broth

Describe your business in a few words? Brutus Broth is the latest innovation in pet health, made with human-grade bone broth that has been specially formulated to enhance any dog’s existing diet by adding beneficial nutrients, amino acids, and joint protecting supplements. What made you take the leap to start your own business? Sue’s dog…

How a lack of female empowerment in the real estate industry lead Marina Shiferman to create her business, The Real Estate Academy

Describe your business in a few words? I teach women how to buy and own real estate correctly so they can be the bad ass queens of their own lives. What made you take the leap to start your own business? I was a realtor for 10 years, I loved it but something was missing.…

Carla Olivia on revolutionizing the beauty bar experience with DashBar

Describe your business in a few words? DashBar is beauty made efficient! We are one stop beauty and wellness for the modern woman. What made you take the leap to start your own business? I have been an entrepreneur since I was 22 years old. I started my first business because a great opportunity was…

Christina Matteucci (a.k.a TeucciMama) on her 19-year tenure as the ultimate Number Two

Describe your business in a few words? I’m Christina Matteucci, Executive Director of David Beahm Experiences and proud “Number Two” to celebrity event designer David Beahm. I’ve produced legendary soirées all around the globe, but it’s my unique, 19-year tenure as the ultimate Number Two that qualifies me as a sought-after speaker and coach. In…

Niki Shadrow Snyder on coining the term “givefluencer” and making an impact with the Project Pop Drop foundation

Describe your business in a few words? My husband and I started the idea for the Project Pop Drop foundation on our first date. Our business sponsors a monthly drop off at a different homeless shelter each month. We spearhead these donation events with our children, and with local businesses and schools. We call this…

How Natasha Case of Coolhaus is disrupting the dessert space with cutting-edge ice cream creations

Describe Coolhaus in a few words? We are an innovative dessert company, specializing (for the time being) in ice cream/ice cream novelties. We are known for thinking outside the box, super unique partnerships, a truly cutting-edge brand identity and an inventive way of entering the marketplace with our trucks, brick and mortars, and now national…

How Jennifer Jolorte Doro used strategic partnerships to build Nouri from the ground up

Describe Nouri in a few words? Supporting people to feel their best. What made you take the leap to start your own business? I wanted something of my own. I’ve worked for many successful entrepreneurs and I knew I could do “it” my way and really enjoy it. What was your background prior to starting…