Cat Chen

The Woman Building The Next Big Thing in Fragrance

Cat Chen was employee number ten at Honest Company and built its ops team to 500 people. Many would be content with that alone. But Chen is now leading her own self-care lifestyle brand, Skylar. Centered around clean fragrance, she developed the idea after learning her daughter was allergic to traditional perfumes. Chen’s goal is to shift the conversation by focusing first on what’s inside the bottle—after all, that’s what’s going on your skin.

When did you realize what you wanted to do in your life?

“For me, realizing that I wanted to start Skylar actually came from a need for a better, safer alternative for my favorite go-to beauty product. Since I was a teenager, I have been a die-hard beauty fan, specifically obsessed with scents. I actually interned with Bath & Body Works while I was in business school because of my passion for scents. The biggest trigger that made me realize what I wanted to do with my life was having my daughter. When I had my daughter, I discovered that she was allergic to my traditional perfumes. And after researching other alternatives, I realized there weren’t any options that were hypoallergenic, safe and luxe. The realization that the scents that I had worn previously were giving my daughter allergies gave me the drive and courage to start Skylar. It wasn’t really a choice, it was something I knew I needed to do.”

What is your biggest accomplishment to date?

“My biggest accomplishment to date is becoming a mother. Being able to raise a human into a kind, good person is something I am really proud of and it drives me day in and day out. A close second, and what I consider as my second baby, is the accomplishment of starting Skylar and successfully making it through our first year of business. Starting Skylar was incredibly scary and difficult as a new mom (my daughter turned 2 years old on the day we officially launched). Being able to offer consciously crafted products that really make a difference in women’s lives is an honor. I have spoken to hundreds of women who found Skylar after going through chemotherapy or a health scare and needing a healthier option, or women who are part of the 15 percent of the population that are allergic to traditional perfumes and are now able to wear scents for the first time in years. Plus, as a brand, it was important to me that we supported women with every dollar we make, which is why a portion of all proceeds goes to Step Up, a nonprofit organization that provides mentorship and guidance for high school girls to help them succeed.”

Favorite podcast?

“I find How I Built This really interesting, as I love to hear how other entrepreneurs built their brands. I also love That’s So Retrograde. I find that they cover really interesting self-care and beauty or wellness topics that keep me current.”

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