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How to Develop an Idea No One Believes In and Take It To Market to Win, With Kate Westad

Kate Westad

Raj Girn: My guest today is Kate Westad the founder and inventor of a cool beauty product that’s getting lots of media love called Palette by Pak. The product has been featured in ‘Harper’s Bazaar,’ ‘Glamor,’ ‘L.A. Times,’ ‘E News’ and ‘Forbes,’ to name a few. Before we say hello to Kate, I want to tell you why I felt that her story was so compelling. It was a life-changing decision that she made after tragically losing her husband and being left to raise four kids between the ages of four and 12. Rather than take the easy road, if there even is one in this case, at the age of 40, she decided to go on an Eat, Pray, Love kind of trip to Paris which resulted in her making a decision most people wouldn’t have made under the same circumstances. She decided to launch a startup with a new consumer product that no one had even ever created before, all while parenting four children and working full time as an attorney.

Here is our conversation:

Why she did this and why then is the story we will be unfolding next. Kate, what a pleasure to have you on, sweetheart.

Kate Westad: Wow, that was quite an introduction. I think I’m just going to have you follow me around, tell my story for me, because that was amazing. And thank you so much for having me.

It’s such a pleasure. I’m so tickled pink to have you on. I can’t even begin to comprehend your journey because it has had so many interesting twists and turns. I want to start by setting context around the launch of your startup just so people can understand everything that was going on at that time. I was on your website, and it touches upon how everything seemed to change after the passing of your husband. Can we start there if you’re comfortable? Because it seems that this was the turning point to the new chapter that you’re living today. What do you feel comfortable sharing about that time?

Kate Westad, Credit: @forbes.com

Yes, sometimes I have to be careful about how I launch into that discussion so that I don’t get too verklempt and overemotional. But I can tell you that I think it’s important to sort of lean into that feeling, because I think a lot of times it is hard to talk about those moments in your life. On the plus side, I have been on this journey of being a widow and a single, and I’d like to say only, parent of four kids for eight years. So after that four-year mark it became more of a turning point of healing and a journey of forward. But I can tell you, it also made me really realize that life is so very short.

It so is and it’s interesting because as someone who’s also gone through loss of really close loved ones and I know that a lot of people watching, listening and reading this today also can really relate to this.

What I find so interesting about your story, Kate, is that you dealt with a double edged sword. Your grieving process was from two sides, one as a mother and one as a wife. What was the process like for you to find your new normal? Especially with the kids and especially with everything that you had going on? Is it still a work in progress or have you figured out the magic there? I’d love for you to share that.

Yes. And now, of course, everyone’s journey is going to be very different. And my case, our circumstances were very traumatic or very sudden loss. But the grief and the pain is the same. You know, that you have four brokenhearted little children in that moment and you’re left to hold their hearts together.

Absolutely.

That’s a big task for any human.

Absolutely. And to keep your heart together and to keep positive. I admire you and the journey that you went on with this. I mean, it was at this point in your life that you decided to go on a solo soul searching trip to Paris and something miraculous happened there. Can you share what happened that changed the direction of your life during that trip?

So it was a few years later and I had sort of felt like I was maybe coming to the surface a bit and taking some deep breaths and trying to recalibrate. And I was actually supposed to go to this most amazing 40th birthday celebration to Paris and the south of France with one of my Moscow BFFs. And she ended up canceling at the last minute and. Always the person to try to think things in a positive way and that this is an opportunity for growth. I’m like, “Oh, I’m going on this trip still. Yes, I’m going to go by myself.”

And it was really the first time I had solo traveled internationally. I loved what you said about it being an Eat, Pray, Love-esque journey. But it was very condensed. It wasn’t that long of a trip. It was maybe 10 days. But it was so eye opening just to spend time with myself, to spend time in quiet, to spend time with my thoughts. And at that moment, I was actually packing for the trip when I could see the High Fiver, like I could see the product so clearly in my mind. But I also was thinking a lot of different things, like what do I want to do with my life? Life is so short. I’ve had this box of dreams my whole life. I’ve thought of scripts. I’ve thought of movie scripts. I’ve thought of books. I’ve thought of product ideas since I was a little kid. I’ve had these dreams and these hopes for myself. And yes, I went to law school and yes, I became a litigation attorney.

But I still have this box of dreams. And I really hadn’t opened them. And so this quiet time, this time by myself . . . And I’m not saying you have to go to Paris. You don’t have to go to St. Tropez, although it’s lovely. You don’t have to do that. You could literally just spend time and quiet with yourself, even for an afternoon or a day or two days. And I think as parents, as moms especially, we don’t allow that for ourselves. We don’t give ourselves that gift. And in this case, I didn’t either. I actually had planned on traveling with a friend. And it just so happened that the universe had another plan and I went by myself. But it gave me that time to sort of unpack that box of dreams. And then I had a script idea, I had a book idea, I had an app idea and I had a High Fiver. And I left France with those things in mind.

So tell me about why you decided to invent something? Like did people think you were batshit crazy with everything that you’ve got going on in your world? But you decided to do a startup which is probably one of the most difficult ways to end up in an entrepreneurial space is to create something no one’s ever tested before. There’s no data points on it. Talk to me. Where did this come from?

That’s a huge question because it’s quite the question. And I think the biggest plus I had on my side was actually being a bit naïve to be so exuberant and have such excitement over my idea. And also coming off the heels of this complete and utter family tragedy, where I could see that life is so short and that not risking is the failure and that not risking things would be, in my mind, the downfall of my life.

So coming with that sort of mixture of naivete, but also that mix of knowing that I needed to try and that the journey is the reward and that if I didn’t try . . . At that time, I think I had been going through somewhat of an emotional and psychological rebirth and had been reading a lot of literature books about life after death and about people’s regrets. Like there’s a political palliative care nurse, I believe, that wrote this book.

I have never read the book. I’ve only read excerpts about people’s biggest regret when they die or when they’re in the last years of their life or the last moments of their life. And they never complain about what they tried. They only regret what they didn’t try. But when I thought of that box of dreams that I had, I thought the failure is not in trying. The failure is in not trying. And so that’s what launched the journey, first of all.

I’ve read excerpts about people’s biggest regret when they die or when they’re in the last years of their life or the last moments of their life. And they never complain about what they tried. They only regret what they didn’t try. But when I thought of that box of dreams that I had, I thought, the failure is not in trying. The failure is in not trying. And so that’s what launched the journey.” ~Kate Westad

Absolutely. So let’s talk a little bit about this invention. Where did you come up with the idea? And can you take us through some steps of the pre-launch phase? Talk to me a little bit about that.

Well, going back to your earlier question also, yes, people thought I was absolutely nuts. They thought I was absolutely nuts the way in which I did it. But as a lawyer and as a litigation attorney who had crafted cases out of facts and put pieces of the puzzle together for years and years, that’s how I approached it. So I very much approached it like a puzzle. And I start here and I start with talking with experts and I start talking with people who know how to make the thing I want to make. And, of course, the word learning. I mean, I’m still learning every day.

There’s lots of learning lessons in a start up of course. But I started with talking to people. You’d be amazed how many people will just pick up your phone, respond to your email. People are generally just wonderful humans and they want to help you. But in the end, a lot of times it would be just even a five minute conversation. Someone would send me on my way to the next person, the next contact, the next referral. And that just kind of snowballed.

And it’s like if you just stay on the path, the path does appear. It may take longer. It might cost more than you think. But I mean, it does appear. And now having learned what I’ve learned would I have tweaked that initial phase any differently. I actually don’t think so because I learned so much and I came at it with such a different perspective than like, say, a veteran beauty industry insider would have approached it. And I think that really helped me along the way and helped me in my journey to develop this track.

So what did you learn? You just mentioned that you wouldn’t have learned the things that you did. Share a little bit with everyone. What were some of the things that you learned that you didn’t realize would be the things that you would learn? Because there’s the typical stuff that we all learn. What did you learn that you feel that you would have never learned this about business, about yourself, about life if you hadn’t gone on this journey almost with this kind of feeling of not really knowing where all the pieces are going to fit?

There’s the obvious things like money and time and resources and knowledge and experience. But one of my biggest lessons that came very early on was sticking to your vision. So when I invented the High Fiver, I could see it so clearly. I could see the colours. I could see the name. I could see the name palette. I could see the design. So it really has been something and I didn’t realize I was inventing things since I was a kid. And so when you start talking to people, they’re like, “Well, this isn’t normal, that people just have this product idea, they have the colours, they have the materials.” I didn’t realize it wasn’t very common because I’m not an engineer. I don’t have an engineering background, I don’t have a design background. I was trained as a litigation attorney.

Kate Westad, Credit: @palettebypak.com

So first and foremost, I learned sticking to your vision because I could see it so clearly. But there is that part when you’re starting where you’re like, this is the expert or this is the designer, this is the engineer, and they know more than me. And you’re like, “But wait, I’m the inventor. I’m the one who thought of this. I’m the one who saw the market opportunity. I’m the one who could see it so clearly.” And there’s this part of you that just becomes obsessed with this idea as an inventor. Like obsessed. And no matter what, no one can tell you that it’s a bad idea. No one can tell you it won’t work because I know it will work. But it’s reminding yourself on the steps during the journey that this is your vision and you’re bringing it to life. And while you have these amazing, incredible people coming alongside of you to help you bring it into the world, you do need to stay so clear on your vision and bring people back to that vision constantly.

Right. And that is a really powerful lesson learned because oftentimes when we bring in people who are brilliant at what they do to help us actualize a creative idea that we’ve come up with, the more forceful personalities who went to school and learned the thing can sometimes dominate the direction that your products and/or your service needs to go in.

But the fact that you stayed steadfast in your vision, and I feel that I’m speaking on your behalf, but I feel this is true that it was almost like there was this gut feeling, this visceral feeling that you just knew that this product needed to happen and that people needed it. That’s the best the sense I’m getting from what you’re saying here.

Yes. And also that even though I was learning along the way in getting this amazing advice, I also knew how it should be made. I also knew how it should be produced. You know, there’s some level of this as you’re going along that you’re learning and growing yourself. And so while you might not know all the technical aspects, you might not be able to do the design file. It’s like you do know what you want in the end and you do know you want it to perform. And it’s just having that confidence and having that true belief in yourself to follow that inner knowing and feeling, that gut feeling. That is absolutely my biggest lesson.

Yeah, absolutely. You said something a little earlier on that I’d like to touch base on. And it’s just this whole idea of constantly looking for people that can perhaps help you with the next rung of your journey and having them put you into contact with other people. You know, that journey that people are oftentimes afraid to ask because they feel that they don’t know enough to sound intelligent. But this is something that I heard that you did at the beginning of your journey. For those people who don’t have the confidence to step into their ignorance, for want of a better way of describing this, to help themselves forge forward, because they know that they need to fill those you know, those gaps in the process. What would you say to them?

First of all, I would say let’s flip it on its head and let’s think about getting curious. So I think curiosity is the biggest gift you can allow yourself, which is getting really curious about everything and learning. And a question I often hear also is yes I may be curious, but I don’t have time. And it’s like well just stop watching TV or clear up about 10 to 15 hours a month or more. Just stop watching TV.

“I think curiosity is the biggest gift you can allow yourself, which is getting really curious about everything and learning.” ~Kate Westad

And so curiosity is your biggest gift and just getting really curious and even using that as a starter for conversation. Like, say, “I’m really curious about this. Could you help me?” Even if it doesn’t feel good to say, “I don’t know this” just say “I’m just so curious about this. I’m so excited about this. I’m really learning.” And also telling people the fact that, “I found you because you’re this expert. I read this article. It was amazing. You’re so knowledgeable. I mean, who wouldn’t respond positively to that?

And so those are two great conversation starters. “I’m really curious . . .” or you read what the person’s already written or gone to their website and say, “Hey, I checked this out. It’s so amazing. I would just love 5 minutes, 10 minutes of your time.” Who wouldn’t respond to that? And I’ll tell you, I’ve done it. I mean, maybe you just don’t get responses because people are busy and whatnot. But anyone who does respond, it’s always like 200 per cent positive and so helpful.

I love that. This is great stuff. I love everything that you’re talking about. And to me, everything I’m saying in my world also is yes, yes, yes. These are all the reasons why I have done all the things I’ve done. And it’s been the ignorance factor that’s actually helped me be a lot more creative than I would have been if I knew too much. So I really do align with that part of your journey. For everyone out there who’s curious about the product, can you tell them a little bit about the product?

Yes. So the whole concept is if you are traveling, you’re on the go, we like to say if you have a face and you leave the house, the High Fiver is for you. It’s a refillable, washable, reusable, smart beauty and travel tool. So instead of using those antiquated or outdated travel size that are single use and even I learned along this process that they don’t get recycled. Like I had no idea I had been creating this like mini mountain of skincare, beauty, travel as my whole life. And I was so crushed when I figured that out because I’ve been rinsing them out and try to clean them and recycle them dutifully and to find out they don’t get recycled. I was just absolutely shocked.

Shocked hearing that.

It’s really shocking because a lot of the recycling centers for small practice, small plastic, smaller than a credit card, the machines actually can’t process them. So while you have the best intention in the world when it comes to the end life of those travel sized minis, they don’t get recycled. And so just a little add on it for that. That’s why California, New York is actually banning travel size in hotels in the next few years. So in New York, it’s 2025. In California, it’s 2023 or vice versa. I got to go check that again.

Yeah. Yeah.

But it’s crazy because a lot of them go into the water stream, a lot of them go into the waste stream and they land up in our oceans and waterways because of the small size. So to have like a refillable, washable, reusable, easy way to take your skincare. And maybe there’s travel bottles, maybe there’s ways you can take full size if you want. But when you’re like carrying on or you’re going on journeys that you only need two weeks worth of stuff, a lot of full size skin care is actually like about one ounce, which would last you 3 to 4 months. So why would I bring my entire serum or vitamin C serum with me like on a weekend trip or a two week trip.

Even so, you can decant just the perfect portion of your skincare routine and take it with you. And then also you’re saving money because it’s very expensive to buy a travel size when you already have a whole skincare routine curated. It’s an easy is a problem solver because people, like I said, maybe there’s those bigger travel bottles, but there really was no solution for taking those small perfect portions of your skin care on the go. So that’s why we like to say, going from full size to on the go size in just seconds. And it’s a total problem solver. And just the response from the customers has been absolutely incredible.

So there’s so much I want to ask you based on what you just said there. So let me just go through a couple of things that are in my mind. One is you saw a need at a time when there is a solution not being offered. A solution that many people don’t know about. My marketing brain is automatically like light bulbs that what a great lead into the importance of purchasing a product like this. Talk to me a little bit about what you did from a marketing strategy standpoint to take the product to market. Talk to me a little bit about that.

So again, this is another thing about leaning into your curiosity, leaning into that, into knowing, leaning into your confidence, because I don’t come from an advertising background. I come from a marketing background, but it’s like being really curious about what people. Right before COVID, because we launched right before COVID, we did a beauty show. And I wasn’t interested in selling to retailers even though they were there. I wanted feedback and I was talking to people and they’re like, “Well, we’d love to have you in our store.” I’m like, “Oh, I just wanted to know what you thought. I was just doing getting feedback. And they were like, “No, we’d like you to come and store.” And we’re like, “Oh, we’re not ready for that, but thank you so much.” It was just one of those things where it’s like I got so curious.

So whether it was talking with beauty editors and giving their feedback and talking with beauty buyers for national retailers, and then most importantly, just talking with our customers. So that’s why it’s so amazing. There’s so much in the world going on right now, which this could be a whole other podcast about how direct consumer is going away. You need to be omnichannel.

And while I don’t necessarily disagree with some of that portion of the discussion, there is something to be said about how magical it is to launch digitally native first and having that intimate feedback with your customer and having that intimate instant feedback on social media and enter your different channels of communication. There’s just something so incredibly valuable about that. So, I mean, this was really organic, our campaign, our advertising, and it really was fueled by all of that being really curious and getting the feedback and really just position. We positioned it incredibly well and skin care and beauty, and that is due to being really curious and then listening and then acting on that feedback.

So let me ask you, just so that everyone watching, listening and reading this can get more specifics on what you did from a marketing perspective that you said that it was initially very organic in your process. Was it organic where you’re doing this all from a digital perspective because with the clothes you have covered, that would probably have been the way that you initially went to market. Talk to me a little bit like is it like a combination of things?

I know that you did the press side of things to get the word out among all of the people that pick up press that specific to your niche. But then there’s also the digital marketing. And oftentimes these types of products, people want to test them. So talk to me a little bit about what were some of those things that you did to really get in front of the right audience?

Again, I think it was really organic, but I knew PR was big. I knew that was so important on our journey. And I didn’t focus on local or even regional press. We went national and went bicoastal. I’m a big believer in that.

Yeah.

And so those are again were just my instincts and I read a lot. And so that was one of our first drivers, but then also getting it in front of as many people as I could. And as we started to see our market develop, we tweaked our positioning to go all in. And then, of course, the pandemic happened, which I didn’t anticipate like the rest of the world. And then you have to make the biggest pivot of your life. And so we had been riding the wave of travel press. We had been riding the wave of beauty press.

But underlying all of this was our genuine and wholehearted sustainability story. I mean, we shipped in cardboard tubes that have 89 per cent post-consumer recycled waste. We don’t even ship in boxes. We have no secondary packaging. So when you receive the High Fiver, you get the tube and you get it in an envelope. We use 30 per cent recycled plastic in our white base. Our big goal is to be 100 per cent. So we had this huge underlying sustainability story that we had never even told. And so I think one of the tips right now for people hearing in the small business and startup world like batten down the hatches, the recession is coming. Well, it’s like this is no different than COVID.

“We ship in cardboard tubes that have 89 per cent post-consumer recycled waste. We don’t even ship in boxes. We have no secondary packaging. So when you receive the High Fiver, you get the tube and you get it in an envelope. We use 30 per cent recycled plastic in our white base. There are big goals to be 100 per cent.” ~Kate Westad

And if you were alive and kicking during COVID, this is no different than what we’ve just been through. And my answer to that was to not batten down the hatches. My answer was it was go time and it was time to talk about our sustainability story. And actually that was such a gift to us because in that pivot it wasn’t like I was just riding the wave of the natural traction that we had. I was actually telling our true story of being sustainable because not only were we trying to reuse materials. So reduce, reuse, recycle, borrowing that ethos, but also eliminating waste. And then on the heels of that, New York and California are doing this unprecedented ban on travel size and hotels. I mean, we can’t even get plastic straws banned.

So this was just an unprecedented moment and this major victory for eliminating waste. And here we had invented and created and brought to market this amazing, true tool that did just that and replaced the antiquated version that we’d all been living with for so long of travel size. So it was just this beautiful mix of things and had those public moments that happened or those world moments not happened. I mean, I’m sure we would have been on a totally different journey, but it is about embracing the moment you’re in and pivoting and doing what you need to do to succeed.

Absolutely. And I’m curious, were a lot of these stories that you went to market with about the product, were these you hired a big marketing firm type situation or was this just your commonsense mantra being that you are also a trained attorney, so your job is to figure out how the pieces fit together. Talk to me there a little bit.

I do think part of the magic is being an attorney. I think more litigation attorneys should become entrepreneurs because you’re very well-suited for it. I mean, you’re used to dealing with tremendous risk. You’re used to taking good bets. You know how to evaluate evidence in cases so that you do make your best bet and maneuver and argument. So I think there is that strategic piece, which I’m actually a very creative person. Sometimes being a lawyer was very difficult for me, but in the sense that as a litigator, you got to do a lot of that strategy and storytelling.

And that was where I kind of fell on my knees and found being a lawyer very magical. And also I really loved helping my clients and that was just like my greatest joy. But there is that piece of being a lawyer and I’m not just fresh out of college or have some world experience. This is my second career. So I do have that, which sometimes people look at as a negative. And I think of it as like this tremendous positive in my life and launching on this journey. I think it’s been such an amazing tool to have as an entrepreneur. But then also I’m trying to think of where you had such an amazing question, and I went off on this tangent about being a lawyer.

To me you didn’t actually. You actually answered the question beautifully. Like the skill sets that you have and that you’ve honed and that you’ve perfected have lent beautifully to your journey with entrepreneurship. That’s a great answer. I think that’s exactly what I was feeling was kind of why you’ve been able to be successful on this is that. And I’ve shared this story a number of times before, Kate, you know with Lloyd Webber, the the famous musical playwright who did Cats and Joseph’s and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat and so many other world renowned musicals, dropped out of music university.

And when people asked him in an interview a number of years later why he did that, he said, “because people were pulling me into their box. They were telling me how I should create music based on A, B and C. Whereas for me, creating music was a process of flowing through a creative journey that potentially I was on or that I was seeing around me.” And I feel that really lends beautifully to your story so far that the curiosity and the not knowing I feel has really given you impactful power to be able to do the things you’ve done in such a short amount of time.

And serendipitously the world was also kind of conspiring on the same journey that you were creating this wonderful product. So I want to ask you this: What were some of the criteria that the product needed to meet for it to align with your core values? I’m going to say that again. What were some of the criteria the product needed to meet for it to align with your core values system?

What a wonderful question. Because I actually really stretched my zone of comfort when I launched this product because I’m a bit of a perfectionist, I found out on some things and product development is one of them. And I really stretched my comfort zone by launching before there was a plan for marketing, advertising. I launched to simply market test, and that was really outside of my comfort zone. But it couldn’t have been a better choice because the learnings in that moment and that’s how we went rapidly into a market fit and knew where we had to position this.

And although I had also had several inventions already in the Palette world, under this umbrella that I wanted to invent, doing that market testing and flowing . . . I think flow is such an important word. I love that you use that word and just flowing with what was unfolding in that period of time, and even flowing with the pandemic and all the shut downs and all the pivoting, gave me such amazing time. Sort of like going to Paris and going to the South of France that time with myself to develop Palette and to develop the product lines, develop the sub brands.

And now we have the 12 to 24 product cachet of never before seen beauty inventions. And so I think it’s just that flow and it’s that openness and that curiosity we’re talking about. But I did push myself to launch before it was perfect. But what had to meet my criteria was I had to do the best that I could with what was available through manufacturing. Actually, I didn’t realize this at the time, but what people may look at and think, “Oh, it’s just a simple beauty tool.” But we’re actually pushing the bounds of manufacturing, which is a bit crazy. So we’re pushing against that.

We’re pushing against using reused and recycled plastic, which people think it’s such an easy thing to do. It’s not. That’s why a lot of people don’t do it. And then combining it with medical grade materials. And so I’m extraordinarily proud that we tried to do so much. And one little thing and now you realize after the fact, a lot of people try to do like one thing or two things. And we were doing like 12, not to mention we had sustainable packaging. But this is what and who I am.

“We’re pushing against using and reused and recycled plastic, which is actually people think it’s such an easy thing to do. It’s not. That’s why a lot of people don’t do it. And then combining it with medical grade materials.” ~Kate Westad

This is endemic to who I am. This reflects who I am as a person. Like if I’m going to do this, I’m going to try to do as much as I can at one time. And I do think that also goes back to the life is short, we’re going to do this thing. We’re going to do it in a way that makes me feel comfortable that I wanted to be purpose driven and I have. It is a purpose driven brand. And I wanted to embody the reduce, reuse, recycle ethos. And I didn’t want to do something unless it reflected those core values and that place and the journey that I was in.

Absolutely. You know, you mentioned a couple of times when you were talking about your company, I’m curious to know, did you raise any funding for the startup or is this all you?

I am a solo entrepreneur. I own Palette 100 per cent. I am at the helm of everything. But also I had partners. We have vendors. I have had amazing creative souls by my side helping me along this journey. So when I say we, it’s this ecosystem of people who have been on this journey with me. And I’m very grateful for them. And at the end, you do have to take ownership and responsibility and pride that you are at the center of it and you are at the helm. I self-funded this. That could be another podcast also.

You coming back on is all I know, girlfriend. You’re coming back on.

I’d love to. It’s been such a wonderful conversation. You ask such amazing questions because it is so nuanced, it’s so complex. It’s such a complex journey. And what I think a lot of times people don’t talk about is the choices, the fork in the road. You know what you learned about that? Because a lot of people don’t want to talk about these choices or this is what I did and this is what I’ve learned until they’re kind of like, “Oh, I had a had $1,000,000,000 exit. Now I can tell you all the crazy stuff that happened.” But it’s like there is so much crazy, scrappy things that happen in startups. So I funded it myself. I definitely have thoughts about that now. I didn’t realize how crazy it was to do it while raising four little kids.

Oh, my God, lady.

And then I quit my job. I burned the lifeboats. I’m all in on Palette. And I do think that is what needed to happen.

The time for that. Right, Kate? There’s a time for that.

There is a time for it. And sometimes, again, the universe chooses for you, because I was working to transition my practice because things were going so well with Palette when we launched. We had such amazing traction. It was so exciting. And so I was working on transitioning my practice. And of course, COVID escalated that in a multitude of ways. But I don’t regret it, I’ll tell you that. I have zero regrets. And that’s what a lot of people probably don’t realize, is that the journey is the reward of this. It’s not some end goal. It’s not some exit. It’s not some billion dollar payout. It is literally the learnings and the experience that is the reward. And that I figure out more and more every day.

“What a lot of people probably don’t realize, is that the journey is the reward of this. It’s not some end goal. It’s not some exit. It’s not some billion dollar payout. It is literally the learnings and the experience that is the reward. And that I figure out more and more every day.” ~Kate Westad

And the cherry on the top of that cake would be a nice billion dollar exit girlfriend.

I’m not saying . . . I’m wearing green for a reason. I’m calling it all in. But it really is . . . You know, no one would have hired me. Let’s talk about that for a second.

Oh, my gosh.

One reason. That a beauty conglomerate would have hired me to develop this product. No, they would have never hired me. They would have said you’re . . . At the time I was this 15, 16 year litigation attorney, with multiple eight figure case resolutions that show practice. But if I told them I want to invent this reusable beauty product, they would have told me I was nuts.

They wouldn’t have even spoken to you. You know, that was great.

Oh, I’m aware. And so that’s where part of being able to say I have carved out some money for myself to go on this journey, to follow my inner knowing, to follow and unbox my box of dreams that is really powerful. And even if you only carve out like a few thousand dollars, you’d be amazed how much you can do by reading, by watching podcasts. There’s so many free resources to get you started that don’t require a huge investment of money. Of course, when you bring it to market, that is very expensive. But actually conceiving of the idea and working in those initial phases and just talking to people, it’s all free. All it requires is your time.

Again a spoken like an attorney. It’s like do the research, put your time in the investment of doing the research. I feel that really is a massive point that people need to take away from this discussion, among many of the things that you’ve spoken about. Do the research guys. That’s the biggest thing that I feel is important. And it’s also a journey. The research is continuous. You always need to be on top of what’s going on out there because it also helps with the creative process, right?

Well, absolutely. And I spend my mornings waking up and the first thing I do is I spend an hour or more just reading and catching up and following up on ideas. And it’s that quiet time for me before my children wake up and chaos ensues that I have for myself. But I’m learning. I mean, getting really curious and learning is such a big piece of the puzzle, but also passion and excitement.

Don’t just do something because you think you can make some money. I mean, yeah, go ahead and do that too. But you know, if you really want to have this joyous experience being feeling, you know, like you’re chasing your purpose or a dream, pick something you’re super excited about because that will just keep driving you and driving you because you really have to be obsessed with that to go through this journey as an entrepreneur.

And especially one that’s inventing something that has no data points in history to go by. But which is what you did. You know, I want to ask you this, because I feel it’s important. Who is your consumer? It sounds like an obvious question, but I feel that it’s not.

It really wasn’t to me. And like I said, we launched like we’re gender neutral. This is for everybody. You got a face, you leave the house. But then as we started, and again that’s the beauty of being digitally native, you very quickly see that our consumers are women. But it’s multigenerational women. And so it’s not like we’re chasing one particular demographic. We are really embodying a psychographic of people who love skin care and beauty.

They want the latest and the greatest used amazing thing like we all do. And we want to take our products and our curated skincare routine with us, where we go. So it’s multigenerational. It’s anywhere from Gen Z to Grand Gran loves the High Fiver, but it’s women. It is women all the way. And it’s the women who want to take their beauty routine and skincare routine on the go.

Right. So, Kate, I have got to ask you this: Obviously, now people are obviously biting at the bit. Where can they go pick up the product?

So we are still digitally native because of all the supply chain madness that has ensued over the last few months. We were in a few retailers. We are now sold out. So you can still find it on our website. We try to replenish stock as much as we can. So when you see it sold out, please know it’s coming, but it’s on our website at palletbypak.com.

And that has been difficult though, right? During COVID, it’s only just now people are starting to see a lot more accessibility for products and things that in parts to create products and all this stuff. So I know that this is a hugely challenging time for anyone that creates products. Right?

It’s tremendously challenging. And especially when you are a small. You’re buying small, lots of raw materials. Even like recycled plastic is very hard to come by. We manufacture in the United States right now. That’s been very hard to come by. And so you get over one hurdle. One of our parts was out of stock and then we got caught in a warehouse and then a snow embargo. Like I didn’t even know that happened. We had one of our parts embargoed for weeks on end, delaying our production run.

And then just most recently, paper. Paper mills are really struggling right now to meet demand as people are ramping up. So you might think, okay, I’m just getting this end product as the consumer. But really even just a single SKU brand like ours that has the High Fiber, just these little pieces that can disrupt your whole entire manufacturing process. So it’s been really crazy to be a first time entrepreneur during this time. But I would just say keep going. There’s always going to be problems.

Absolutely.

Going back to being a lawyer your job is to solve those problems as an entrepreneur. Not to say I’m wishing for no problems. No, wish for the solutions, cause the problem is that the problems are going to keep on coming.

“I’m wishing for no problems. No, wish for the solutions, cause the problem is that the problems are going to keep on coming.” ~Kate Westad

Oh, my God. I love that. Wish for the solution, guys. That’s the magic nugget right there. What has been the most difficult part of the process so far for you, Kate, if you were to pick one thing?

I think it’s so important to be competent and it’s so important to be on top of your vision and to be that continuous leader and your own dream in your own venture. But it’s getting out of those moments where you feel defeated sooner and quicker and to keep the pace. It’s a marathon, not a sprint. And so you really have to be this person where I can pick myself out of those moments so I can keep on going. And so for me, it’s really about the continuous and getting in the flow as much as you can and trying to flow as much as possible through the good times and the hard times. And I think the amount of energy while raising a family, while handling your own personal life, but also this tremendous amount of energy that an instant, fast energy that’s going into your startup. And I think I probably undervalue how big that was. I wouldn’t say it’s the most difficult, but it was probably maybe one of the most surprising things, like the level of energy to uplift yourself through all of the good things and the bad things. And really, again, focus that the journey is the reward.

How does someone do that who has an incredible amount of responsibility like you? But you’re a mom, right? You’re a woman in your own right. You have this full time career. That was doing really well. And then you’re doing this startup under the crazy circumstances. How does someone stay positive with all of this going on? Because all of these things are important. Like, how do you pick and choose? I guess my question is, how do you pick and choose how to prioritize this? Obviously, your kids. But do you prioritize you?

It’s a great question. Every day that I keep going is a day I survive. Every day that I keep going and I don’t quit I am one step closer to success. I am one step closer to realizing my dream. I am living my dream. And I try to remind myself that every day I’m living my dream. Like, if you ask me, you know, 10 years ago, was I happy? Yes. Was I doing things I loved. Yes. But was I living my dream? No. And now when I wake up I’m literally doing what I dreamt of doing. Like, this is a dream come true.

And reminding myself of that, having that touchstone, having also that time to meditate and really turning inward for that strength and not looking for external validation. Yes the press has been amazing. I’m so grateful. The people around me. Yes, they’re so amazing. I’m so grateful. My kids are doing well. I love them. They’re definitely a priority, you know, for anything else. But at the same time you’re like, this is the touchstone. This is the inner strength that I have that I lean on. And I turned inwards a lot of the time.

And you turn inward a lot to find . . . ?

To find that strength and that ability to keep going and to have that touchstone to remind myself I’m living my dream. I’m unboxing my dreams every day. And to me, that’s the end, to be living my dreams and to be trying. People focus so much on failure. I think you should focus more on trying.

Oh, my God, I love that. It’s the cup is either half full or half empty analogy. It’s your perspective on life, right?

In the end, we are so socialized to think of things as good and bad. And I work on this. I work on it so much. You know, sometimes my immediate instinct is, no, I don’t want to do that. Or no, that’s bad. And then you step back. And from now, as a lawyer, I always had a rule with my clients, that if you’re talking with another party or trying to make it just wait 24 hours. We wait 48 hours. And sometimes I apply that rule to myself because my immediate instinct is more of like an ego centric response or a socialized response. And then I step away from it for a little while before I make that decision.

That’s very palpable. It really is. And I can relate to that. I really can. It’s standing on that fence where you can go either way and there’s pros and cons either way. It’s like it comes down to being very honest and true about what you need to do for you in that moment. I find I want to ask you this: Looking back, what would you change knowing what you know today?

I wouldn’t change anything except for perhaps raising money sooner and going faster and doing it bigger. So maybe I just listed three. But it was the fear or the constraints that I put on myself or the questioning. Like is this going to work? And the only thing I would do is go faster, go bigger, go sooner. And so that’s my advice to anyone who’s thinking about starting. Just start. Don’t wait. Start now and the path will appear and probably go bigger, go faster, go sooner than you ever think.

I love that. You know, for anyone that is looking to start their own enterprise, you’ve already given us some words of wisdom in that regard. But if the person is a woman, and especially if the woman has a full plate, you can speak to this. What advice would you give to her? Because it’s not as easy as it is for people who aren’t women and for people who don’t have a full plate and important responsibilities like being a mother.

So I’m going to say a few things because this is such an important question and it’s a choice that you have to face. Because your plate is not getting smaller. Your plate is not getting less full. It’s just not. So you have a choice. When you wake up in two years, do you want your life to look the same? When you wake up in two years, do you want to be doing the same things? And if the answer is yes, great. But if your answer is no. And that voice is getting louder and louder and harder to ignore. Then you have a choice to make.

“Your plate is not getting smaller. Your plate is not getting less full. It’s just not. So you have a choice. When you wake up in two years, do you want your life to look the same? When you wake up in two years, do you want to be doing the same things? And if the answer is yes, great. But if your answer is no. And that voice is getting louder and louder and harder to ignore. Then you have a choice to make.~Kate Westad

Am I going to cut some things in my life like watching TV? Am I going to get up one hour earlier, every day of every week, which creates seven additional hours in that week, which creates what? By the end of the month we have 28 or more plus with about 30 hours extra if we get to one hour earlier every day to find that time. You’d be amazed how much you can do in 30 hours of a month. So my suggestion is finding time, finding little if you look at your schedule and it takes less time than you think. I mean, 30 hours a month is a significant period of time to do reading, to make some maps, to reach out to some contacts, to ask your friend. I mean, this is something I did.

I saw on LinkedIn, one of my attorney friends knew some of the beauty industry, and this was before I even started Palette. I was like, “Will you introduce me to him? He’s so cool, you know.” And I still talk to him frequently. I consider him one of my mentors because he took the time to just, you know, before I even had the idea of the High Fiver, before I even launched this, to take a small amount of time and talk with me. And so that took me, what? Five seconds to ask my friend to introduce me to him. So think how much you can do. And in 30 extra hours a month. You have a choice to make.

Do you want to continue to go on? I mean, obviously, it’s not for everyone to take high risks and to burn the lifeboats and leave everything you have on the table and pursue one thing. I’m not saying that’s for everyone, but I do believe that you can make very big strides with very small amounts of time in your schedule. And I also say, especially with product development, in the past, product development has been controlled by men. Men created these travel sized skin care bottles that were around between one and three ounces. But they’re not thinking about women and their skin care and beauty routines where they need a fraction of an ounce for two weeks because we’re using pea size amounts on our faces.

So just that female insight, that knowledge that anyone can be an inventor, that anyone can create a product and that each person probably has 10 great ideas who’s listening to this right now. And being a woman also can lend where people’s lenses just weren’t seeing these types of product or these market openings before these market gaps. And so as a woman, I think you’re very well versed because you’re usually the buyer for your household, you’re usually the decision maker for a lot of products. And so I think it’s an overlooked area for women inventors, and we need more women inventors.

There’s about 12 per cent of women inventors in the U.S. and it goes down for sole inventors like myself. It goes down to one per cent and it’s like wow. There’s so many amazing women doing amazing things, you know? And of course, I correlate that to funding with the patent holders that maybe women have brought things to market, but they couldn’t afford to patent it and that’s where financially supporting inventor female inventors is so important. But going back to your question, I probably got off track a little bit about the inventors.

No, you did not.

I get so impassioned by that. And so I think there’s a lot of things that women probably don’t realize that they one can have time. Their plate is not changing. You know, to carve out that time for themselves is such an important gift to give themselves. And even just the time, if you don’t know what you want to do to say, okay, I’m going to spend 10 hours this month thinking about what I want my next five years to look like, what I want my next 10 years to look like for myself. Not my family, not my children, but for me. And giving yourself permission to do that.

Absolutely. And that’s the hardest thing for us women to do, because we’re taught to think of everyone but us. And that’s the paradigm shift that we have to lean into. And we have to support each other as women and men need to ally around. It’s really important because I really feel that the world would be a very interesting and much more diverse place if women were given equal support in the financial arena to support a lot of ideas they have for the business that are really coming from a place of need because we’ve experienced it.

That’s kind of a thought that I want to leave people with. But before we close off. My God, I can’t believe that we’ve gone there already. Kate, I want to loop back. Let’s loop back. Is there anything that we haven’t touched upon that you feel people need to know about today’s topic? And I’m going to mention what that is again: How to develop an idea no one believes in and take it to market to win. Your final thoughts?

The most important thing is that you believe in it and that you can see the market gap and that you can see the opportunity. Because I can’t tell you how many people only will clap for you once you’re successful. Once you’ve made it, once you’ve done it. There’s no parade. There’s no group of people coming to make your dreams come true. You have to go out there and start. And then, yes, they’ll come on your path. But it’s like the horizon. And even when they do come, it’s like you still have to stay centered. You can’t rely on that validation.

Like when New York and California banned travel size. That was huge validation for my idea. Huge validation. And now we’re seeing other products come on the market and flow into our category that we created for beauty. Reasonable. And so just remember, though, that no one is going to clap for you before you’ve done it, because it will be so many people cheering you on this on the sidelines along the way, but quietly, no one’s going to know. So it’s like that again, going back to that inner knowing, going back to that inner belief and believing in yourself and your vision about above all else is the number one thing by power.

Give us your website address again Kate.

Palettebypak.com and you can find us on social at Pallett by PAK as well.

Perfect. You know, I loved every single moment of our time together. Your honesty and your vulnerability and your insights are a testament to the strength and resilience of the woman that I have gotten to know in this short span of time together. Thank you so much for coming on to share your story and for providing such eye opening and heart opening insights. I adore you.

I feel the same way. Thank you so much. Wonderful conversation. Wonderful, wonderful questions. I can’t wait to chat with you again.

Oh, you know, I’m bringing you back on, girlfriend. We have so much more to talk about.

I agree.

Guys, as always, I really hope that you got some real value from today’s show and we’ll share it with everyone you know who you feel needs to get today’s learnings. I also hope that you will subscribe to my YouTube channel at the Open Chest Confidence Academy, so you never miss an episode when we drop them and they drop every Wednesday. I also want you to hop on over to podcast platforms. If that’s your thing, you just need to search ‘The Transform Your Confidence Show’ and download it there. And if, like me, you like to read and download and underline and do all those things, just go over to our website because we have every single one of our podcasts transcribed as articles there, theopenchestconfidenceacademy.com/media/podcast.

And honestly, guys, as I do at the end of every single episode, I truly hope that every time that you pop in and we spend time together each week, that it really does add some uplifting value and some true actionable steps for you to be able to step into wherever is in your journey that you feel the piece, a jigsaw puzzle piece, a whole somewhere, something that needs mending, something that needs to be newly introduced into your world, whether it’s business, whether it’s personal or whether it’s spiritual. I adore you and I can’t wait to see you next week.

To contact Kate Westad: Web, LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, Instagram

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