“REGULATE the ARTIFICIAL FRAGRANCE INDUSTRY! Things have gotten out of hand and we are all exposed to these chemicals. They are in the air, in our cars when we buy them, in our garbage bags — they are even making baby pacifiers with artificial fragrance! It’s unregulated and dangerous to our health and terrible for our air and water quality. I know that someday our children-our grandchildren will look at us and say “that used to be a thing and people thought it smelled good??”
I had the pleasure of interviewing Emilie Hoyt, CEO and Founder of LATHER, a personal wellness brand featured in over 50,000 hotel rooms world wide. They have four locations and a spa in Honolulu.
Thank you so much for joining us! Can you tell us a story about what brought you to this specific career path?
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 prevelant 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 try 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.
Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you started your company?
Wow, there are so many. I honestly don’t know what the most interesting would be. It’s all interesting to me. But I think one of the most interesting things is just watching the beauty industry change. It seems like its been in slow motion, but I have watched it change, from heavily and gorgeously packaged products of (sorry to say) some of the junkiest products ever made to the rise of the dermatological, “botox in a box” products to Korean beauty and now to clean skincare.
Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?
Well, this wasn’t when I first started exactly, but before I started I took a nighttime business class that was offered at UCLA. I couldn’t understand what “margins” were. What was everyone talking about? I was looking in the margins of every handout I had and couldn’t find any secret notes there. Of course, I understood the concept. But I didn’t understand the word. The same goes for gross, net, etc. But I wasn’t well versed in business language. I felt so stupid. What I learned is that learning the common language of any area of life you take on is very important! Also, it’s just another example of artificial barriers that we perceive. I didn’t understand the words and felt ashamed when there wasn’t any need to. Now, I ask for clarification the minute I don’t understand something.
What do you think makes your company stand out? Can you share a story?
I think there are three main things: our consistency, our product reliability and our approachable price point. Customers just cannot believe the quality they are able to get with LATHER.
Which tips would you recommend to your colleagues in your industry to help them to thrive and not “burn out”?
I don’t know what I would recommend. I haven’t felt burned out yet, but I think the most important thing in order to avoid burn out is to believe in what you are doing. In our industry there are a lot of smoke and mirrors, I think that there are parts of it that could be a lot of fun, but at the end of the day maybe not as fulfilling as one would hope to be. If you feel passionate about what you are doing and feel that you are making a difference it’s easy to wake up every day engaged.
None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story?
My husband, who has supported me from day one and works with me every day at LATHER!
How have you used your success to bring goodness to the world?
I think by educating people about using healthy products on their skin and especially avoiding artificial fragrance. I am especially proud of how we have raised the bar in the hotel amenity business. Now everyone can travel and not worry about the synthetic fragrance used in old-school travel products causing breakouts or reactions, when you are the most vulnerable. This can really impact that special trip that was planned a long time ago.
What are your “5 things I wish someone told me before I started my company” and why. Please share a story or example for each
How attached you will become to your employees and customers. When you are starting out, you are so obsessed with the product. It’s like giving birth. It’s your baby. And that’s great. What is surprising is that pretty soon, you become so attached to your team and your customers and you don’t really see it coming. When you lose a customer or a great employee moves on, it can be heartbreaking and I didn’t expect that.
If you think you are bad at math, you soon won’t be. I was never a math person. I struggled all the way through school and celebrated when I finished taking my last math class in college, thinking I’ll never use that again! I was always more of the creative person. It amazes me how much math I do every day and how quick at it I’ve become. I make calculations in my head all day long. You really will use math in real life it turns out!
How you don’t despise your competition. I always assumed if you were competing against each other for business you would naturally despise one another. I can’t tell you how untrue that is and how surprising it is for me to discover. I am so impressed and inspired by all the new brands out there. Perhaps its because most of our competitors right now are also independently owned, but there is a real sense of support and admiration.
It’s hard to be a manager. At least it is for me. That is something I underestimated before I had employees. And after managing hundreds of employees I’m still not the manager I dreamed I would be. I think that most people underestimate how hard it is. But it’s a skill you can learn and work at to continually improve. Also, I’ve learned to admit my challenges and be more transparent with my employees and it’s incredible how a little bit of vulnerability can help to unblock any communication barriers.
Finally, nothing is as good or as bad it is seems in the moment. Whether you have a big win or a terrible set back a thriving business is more than a moment in time.
You are a person of great influence. If you could start a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂
REGULATE the ARTIFICIAL FRAGRANCE INDUSTRY! Things have gotten out of hand and we are all exposed to these chemicals. They are in the air, in our cars when we buy them, in our garbage bags — they are even making baby pacifiers with artificial fragrance! It’s unregulated and dangerous to our health and terrible for our air and water quality. I know that someday our children-our grandchildren will look at us and say “that used to be a thing and people thought it smelled good??”
How can our readers follow you on social media
@LATHER on every social channel
Originally published at medium.com