Why weren’t good ingredients the standard for mainstream products? I began to tell all my friends about these products and had tried the small selection I had. Everyone agreed they were superior. But they were so hard to find and were really limited to soap and body products. I began to look into making my own and that was the origins of the company.
I had the pleasure of interviewing Emilie Hoyt, Founder & CEO of LATHER. Now featured in over 60,000 hotel rooms worldwide we create products that are paraben, sulfate, and synthetic fragrance free for face and body. Overall, we are a mindful wellness company that helps people to live a radiant life.
Thank you so much for doing this with us! What is your “backstory”?
I suffered from severe migraines as a child. They began when I was around 5 years old. I missed many days of school and had to learn to deal with a lot of pain. When I was in middle school I learned that one of the triggers for my migraines was perfume or synthetic fragrance-, which was quite prevalent in the 80s! I went through my entire beauty care regimen and eliminated any thing with the words “fragrance” in the ingredients. I had to look for other options. Spending time in the beauty departments of both luxury department stores and drug stores I came to realize at a young age that the ingredient lists were nearly identical! The packaging and prices varied greatly but what you were actually putting on your body isn’t that different at all. This was so shocking to me. Later, when I was in college, I discovered essential oils and began buying some of the emerging companies that were offering products made with essential oils. However, it was marketed and sold more as a life-style product. I felt like I had to put on Birkenstocks just to go buy the products. That was so weird to me. Why weren’t good ingredients the standard for mainstream products? I began to tell all my friends about these products and had tried the small selection I had. Everyone agreed they were superior. But they were so hard to find and were really limited to soap and body products. I began to look into making my own and that was the origins of the company.
Why did you found your company?
Really for the reasons above, I felt strongly that there wasn’t a modern, approachable, unisex, well-made personal care product line available.
What is it about the work you’re doing that’s disruptive?
That’s a great question. I think from the beginning I focused my energy and effort into the ingredients and formulations and I intentionally didn’t want to spend money on expensive packaging because that would mean I would have to sell my products at a much higher price. I didn’t want to be an ultra high-end brand, bringing healthy products to wealthy people. It annoyed me when people wanted to talk to me about the design of my packaging. My focus was to make sure the packaging was easy to understand, safe for the products and inexpensive. I started to see my strategy pay off when our customers were overwhelmed by the quality they received for the price.
We all need a little help along the journey — who have been some of your mentors?
There haven’t been any particular mentors that stand out. Really anyone that has tried my product and given me feedback has helped guide me. My long time customers and my long time employees are some of the people I trust the most to tell me what I need to hear. But the other unexpected thing I have learned is no one really knows more than anyone else. Of course there are people who are experts in very specific areas but in general business I find that the minute someone tells you “that’s just the way it is” is when you should question what they are saying.
How are you going to shake things up next?
Wellness is a hot topic right now and it seems that what usually comes to mind is yoga and spa treatments and kombucha — and all of those things are all fantastic — if you can afford them. It seems like many of the wellness topics and options that are mostly discussed are for the wealthy. I think wellness is important for everyone- and I’d really like to see the conversation tilt towards everyday changes such as sleep and skincare products. Maybe it’s not as glamorous but it’s important. I am especially passionate about how prevalent artificial fragrances are in our life right now. Its bad for our health, bad for our environment and these ingredients are not well tested or regulated. There was a recent study that showed artificial fragrances are found in 7 out of 10 newborns cord blood. It’s the number one complaint of emergency room asthma visits. There are studies off the coast of California on the mussels that showed vast contamination of these chemicals and another study where every fish filet tested from supermarkets around the country was contaminated. I truly believe that artificial fragrance is the next second hand smoke and we need to pass regulations to protect people from the effects. Despite the advances we have made with educating the public on the dangers of processed food, etc. We have a long way to go with artificial fragrance. It’s not uncommon to see celebrities who are outspoken about health and the environment endorses a perfume. There is so much ignorance about the effects and the prevalence of these chemicals in our air and in our bodies. I’m hoping that LATHER can be on the forefront of educating customers of what to look for and how to make simple changes that will help themselves and the environment around them.
Can you share 3 of the best words of advice you’ve gotten along your journey? Please give a story or example for each.
Always take the high road. Whether it’s with your customers, employees, vendors…always take the high road. If you see a mistake and it’s in your favor, correct it anyway. Respect your competitors, former employees, and vendors. Treat everyone as you want to be treated. When you make a mistake, own it, apologize and take the steps to correct it and move on.
What’s a book/podcast/talk that’s had a deep impact on your thinking? Share a story with us.
For business, I really like, How I built this with Guy Raz. It’s inspiring to hear the varied stories of entrepreneurs. I especially was moved by the episode featuring Patagonia founder Yvon Chouinard. There is so much emphasis on growing fast and attention to “the fastest growing companies”. It is interesting to hear Yvon’s perspective on slow growth and why he thinks it’s so important for his brand and company and I think it’s a point of view that is important to consider. I also think Tribe of Mentors by Tim Ferris is an incredible resource. For personal, I love Oprah’s Super Soul Sunday. I like to go on long walks on the weekend and listen and I find that my mind will get off the details and issues that I need to tackle at work and I start to really think deeper about whats important in my life and it has helped me prioritize and not get to wrapped up in the details.
Some of the biggest names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might see this. 🙂
I grew up with a working mom (also an entrepreneur) who would get home late in the evening. So, everyday when I came home from school I watched The Oprah Winfrey show at 3 pm. I grew up thinking that Oprah asked the smartest questions and was the most curious person I could ever imagine. I still think that!
How can our readers follow you on social media?
@LATHER on all social channels and www.LATHER.com