In Conversation with Courtney Somer of Lake & Skye

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Describe your business in a few words?

Lake & Skye is a modern and conscious beauty brand consisting of a line of  natural fragrances, candles and body products. 

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

I always knew I wanted to start my own business but it took me a long time to find the right idea for the brand. My father and husband are both entrepreneurs and it was always a matter of when not if I would start my own company. After I had my first daughter, I started to form the ideas for the products and what started as a creative outlet as a new mother formed into L&S. 

What was your background prior to starting your own business?

I worked in fashion, branding and production working various jobs from an assistant at Vogue to my own production company for photo shoots and eventually handling account management for a branding agency. I also studied various forms of natural healing techniques including kundalini yoga, prenatal yoga, aromatherapy, meditation, reiki and nutrition. 

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?

When I first launched, I wanted to see if I had a product that would be of interest to people. I started selling in Warm a boutique in Soho that I loved and it was apparent pretty quickly that 11 11 was selling fast. I also took out a small loan and test drove that scent with BirchBox and it was very successful, one of their most highly converted indie fragrances to date. 

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?

I’ve made a lot of mistakes and learned to fail fast and pivot. You have to be able to keep going after let downs or challenges. Some examples are flying across the country for a one hour meeting with a large retailer that rejected me because I have no pink in my packaging or the time I ordered 5000 units of packaging before I had an office and thought I could store it in my NYC apartment. 

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

Our 11 11 products won 3 beauty awards from Allure’s Best of Beauty, New Beauty and Mind Body Green. 

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

I love when people have had experience doing jobs like production, account management or even waitressing. I’ve done all three and it teaches you how to handle multiple things at the same time, work with a range of people and see things through from start to finish. 

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

The industry has seen a pivot in direct to consumer sales when retailers lost foot traffic. Luckily, we had a strong DTC business so could really ramp this up. We also did some sampling efforts to allow people to test the products. 

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

Retail expansion, new and exciting products and a focus around wellness practices based on my background. 

What is the biggest lesson you have learned in 2020?

Make the most of challenges, and be able to pivot quickly. 

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

It’s a marathon, not a sprint and you have to really love what you’re doing because it takes a lot of time and energy to grow and nurture a business. 

How have you managed to stay grounded this year?

For me this has been meditation, it’s my go-to tool that keeps me balanced and sane. I think in a year like this everyone needs something to help them. I also make it a priority to do things that make me happy, I’ve found if I run my battery too low it doesn’t work for my business or family. 

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

I try to find the balance but it is not easy! I try to set up my day so I can be the most productive, for example I know there are certain work tasks I am better with in the morning so try to get those done first thing. 

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

A health crisis in my 20’s is what led me on the path to start my business. 

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

  • Find what you need to be productive i.e. a certain time of day to work or if you prefer quiet and set yourself up for success that way. 
  • Find the time to do something you enjoy and that fills you up every day so when you have to get work done you’re not burnt out.
  • Get enough sleep!

What does being an Entreprenista mean to you?

I feel so lucky to be able to do work that I love while balancing motherhood and family. 

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