COMPANY: Subtl Beauty
MISSION: Provide a compact, convenient beauty routine for the on-the-go, busy woman.
HERSTORY: I was born in New Zealand and moved to Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania when I was 15 with my family, so my little sister could receive a life-saving transplant. I won the green card lottery (yes, I won it) during my sophomore year of college, my family returned to New Zealand during my senior year and I ended up just sticking around for a bit longer. I’m now a dual citizen, and I live here with my fiancé Brandon and my cat Chandler Bing.
“I’ve made mistakes, I fail at something almost every single day but I look at it like a muscle—the more you exercise it, the stronger you become.”
Do you have a background in beauty? If not, how did you develop the product? Did you work with chemists and manufacturers?
Growing up my mum actually had her own skincare company. It was all-natural, using ingredients native to New Zealand like manuka and kanuka honey. She was really ahead of her time when it came to her approach to formulations. I used what I knew from her experience to help navigate those early days of the product development for Subtl.
How long did it take to launch the business after you conceived the idea?
Too long—ha ha. I created the first version of the product back in 2016. I didn’t actively pursue it as a business idea until March of 2017 and then we didn’t launch until the winter of 2018. A lot of what I was doing in those early days was trial and error and trying to figure things out as I went along. I was also self-funding the business while working a full-time job, so that all contributed to the long timeline.
Is the stackable unit patented, if so, how difficult was the process?
The stackable unit is patent-pending. I was really dreading the legal process because I’ve heard it’s a nightmare, then randomly, eight months into development I met a fellow entrepreneur who also happened to be a patent attorney. We have become really good founder friends and he made our patent process so easy. I think the hardest part was trying to think ahead to account for our future “wish list” of where we want to take the company, while still being in the pre-product phase.