I wasn’t always an inventor and sustainable beauty founder. As a litigation attorney and single mom of four, I already had my hands quite full. But since I was a young child, I have had invention ideas. And eventually, I would see those ideas come to market.
A family tragedy challenged me to shake up my status quo and made me yearn to do something more—with my passion for innovation and design as well as for the environment.
Enter: Palette by pak. The idea came to me while in the midst of a life-altering trip to Paris and the South of France. During my solo trip, I allowed myself the time to sit with my thoughts and actually think about what I wanted to do. Getting quiet enough to hear that inner voice we often shut out and dismiss. And what I wanted to do was make reusable and refillable beauty a possibility.
While I was packing for the trip, the idea of The Original High Fiver came to me, and it stayed with me over the course of my 9-hour flight, throughout France, and on my flight home. When I returned, the obsession with the idea of the High Fiver did not end. I thought, “I’m doing this. I’m taking this to market.”
I met with an intellectual property lawyer, and the rest is history. Only 12 percent of women in the U.S. are patent holders. When it comes to solo inventors like me, the statistic shockingly drops to 1 percent. The path to patent-holder, sustainable beauty inventor, and entrepreneur took some guts and one giant leap of faith.
Here’s how I challenged my own status quo.
A lot of people get lost in the weeds or stuck in a loop when trying to figure out their first steps, instead of just starting. The very first thing on your list should be simple: Find a way to just start.
And guess what? Starting does not have to be some huge momentous event. You don’t have to change your life overnight or even quit your job to make it happen. I had set aside cash, and I knew I wanted a side hustle, but I had not envisioned quitting my job at that point. And that’s okay. And if you can’t figure out where you’ll find the time? Cutting a few hours of TV out of your schedule for a month can easily free up 5-10 hours to work on that idea you keep thinking of.
Yearn to learn in your starting phases
When you’re thinking of starting a business, whether it’s going to be full-time or a side hustle, the question of how you’ll afford to start can sometimes be a huge block. There are, however, a lot of ways to get started without spending money including learning everything you can about what you want to do.
I found experts. I constantly read trade articles and books. I researched. I got free advice. I would spend two to three hours a week just calling people and asking questions. People are so generous with their time. You would be amazed at the free advice, connections, and information you can find when you just pick up the phone or email someone. Remember knowledge is power, the more you know your industry, the more power you’ll have to disrupt it.
Learn to pivot
In retrospect, having lived through launching a company during a global pandemic, we had to think of pivoting … more than once. COVID interrupted my plans—a lot. We did so many pivots during COVID—probably dozens. Between the brand story, positioning, supply chain issues, and changes in the marketplace, flexibility, and intuition became key.
I am now the queen of the pivot. A big part of pivoting is not losing your entrepreneurial spirit and resolve. As a lawyer, I think of problems as opportunities. Try thinking of challenges as: “I get to figure this out” vs. “I can’t do this.”
Don’t discount yourself just because you haven’t done it before
Before starting Palette by pak, I had never launched a beauty product before. No one would have hired me to do what I was about to do based on experience either. Because of this, I initially let others take the lead. For example, when it came to our first prototype, I suspected what they were suggesting was not going to work, but because I had not done it before, I went along with their initial suggestions. And it ended up costing me a lot of money when I had to redo it later.
“Believe in yourself and your vision above all else. You have this idea for a reason.”
Believe in yourself and your vision above all else. You have this idea for a reason. Take control of the situation, and you will likely be saving a lot of your own money and earning valuable experience along the way. It is a huge advantage to be an outsider to a market, an industry, or a process as you can come up with new solutions and see them with fresh eyes and a unique perspective. Be confident and stay laser-focused on your vision at all times
Continue to innovate
What led me to want to be a business owner and an entrepreneur? That’s easy to answer: I was looking to serve my curiosity.
When it comes to Palette by pak, I was not looking to make one product and be done. I wanted to create a line of products that could make beauty more sustainable and make beauty reusable. I was tired of using non-recyclable travel-sized or mini products every time I left my house, but bringing full-sized beauty products just did not make sense, so I innovated.
Now, my planet-friendly products are shaking up the beauty industry and questioning the status quo. And little by little, we’re changing the way people become environmentally friendly. After all, refill is the new recycle.
Get a mentor
This may seem like a no-brainer, but you can learn what you should—and shouldn’t—be doing a lot faster by finding a mentor and learning from their previous mistakes. I have several and it’s made a huge difference.
Give yourself the opportunity to learn from others. Having someone in the industry to bounce ideas off of and talk about game plans allows you to get immediate feedback from a knowledgeable source, and from someone that wants to see you succeed. Having supporters is key, and a mentor that offers their support along with valuable criticism will help you grow.
Step outside of your comfort zone and follow your curiosity and you are bound to find something that needs fixing. That’s how you’ll not only best serve your future customers but help transform entire industries.
With Palette by pak, I’m challenging the status quo and making beauty reusable. Will you join the movement?
Kate Westad is the founder of Palette by pak®️ and inventor of the world’s first beauty reusable “for all your goops, glops & glam” – Palette®️ The Original High Fiver™️. Launched in August 2019, Palette®️ came out of the gate as an innovative beauty brand creating modern problem solvers. Palette®️ has been seen in Forbes, LA Times, Wired, Travel + Leisure, Byrdie, Popsugar, The Zoe Report, Well + Good, Glamour, Allure, Harper’s Bazaar, Modern Luxury, Teen Vogue, Glossy, and more.
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