We sat with our female co-founder for an inspiring Q&A in honor of Women’s History Month, which is March, and International Women’s Day (March 8th). Kate, a trailblazer in the skincare industry, gave us an inside look at what drives and inspires her.
Tell about your childhood and how it influenced your decision to start your skincare business
“I was raised on a California farm. I was a tomboy and rode Ginger, my horse, to the bus stop daily. My upbringing had been turbulent. My mother was a drug addict and left me, my dad, and my brother, when I was nine. The worst thing in the world was to be a little girl without a mother. The next year was spent living with my dad in our barn. The barn was eclectic and artistic, with a beautiful yard and a trailer as a kitchen. It also had an outhouse as a bathroom. “I was the only one I knew to live this way, and I am convinced it inspired my creativity.”
In my early adolescence, all the turmoil caused me to break out in eczema. It affected my entire body. My skin would become so dry and inflamed that it would crack and blood. “I felt uncomfortable in my skin, literally and metaphorically, which led me to become interested in skincare.”
What made you decide to turn your passion into a career
“Because of my horrible childhood eczema, I searched for other remedies to help me with my skin problems. Since a very young age, I have experienced the discomfort of having eczema. My passion for helping others was born out of this experience. “Because I was naturally interested in skincare, my dermatologist friend suggested I pursue an esthetics degree. I took his advice.”
While still in school, I thought complementing doctors’ services would be a great idea. It was an unusual situation at the time as most estheticians worked in spas. After graduation, I created a business plan and opened my Clinic in a cosmetic surgery office.
What was your journey from working for someone else to starting your own business
After several years of working with some of the top dermatologists in the world and cosmetic surgeons, I decided to go it alone. 2004, I pioneered paramedical aesthetics when I opened Skin Health Experts (TM) on Melrose Place. I wanted to create a new concept where clients could get advanced facial treatments and experience the latest medical technology. I wanted to provide the same results as a doctor’s office in a beautiful, comfortable environment. I wanted to create a space that would not only improve the skin of my clients but empower them to be in control of their own lives.
“When I first opened the Clinic, only a few people were present. Two estheticians were working in the Clinic and one nurse. We offered hope to people who could not find answers to their skin problems anywhere else. We were trusted by the entertainment industry not long after our opening. We had celebrity clients that depended on our services within a year. My strategies and skin philosophy soon appeared in many major media outlets. “It was a thrilling time!”
Tell about your favorite Big Break moment
The first time I appeared on QVC was with ExfoliKate (r). “I was so nervous…we were sold out within an hour!”
What role did mentoring play in your career as a woman pioneer
“Mentorship for women is essential!” Barbara Wells was my most excellent mentor. She was my boyfriend’s mother and took me in when I was young. She was unconditionally loving, but she also had a tough side. Barbara told me when I was 20: “You can choose your life.” You can either dwell on the past and your childhood or create your own life.
As a child, I had no idea what options were available to me because I grew up in a chaotic environment. The world seemed out of control. Barbara made me realize I had choices, and my life changed dramatically.
What motivates you after so many years to keep innovating and getting up each day
The personal transformation stories I hear from my clients, friends, and Kate Somerville’s team inspire me the most. To feel confident in your skin is a very emotional experience. Each person has their skincare journey. I am passionate about seeing someone feel more confident, happier, and less self-conscious about their skin. “It feeds my spirit and is what i love the most about what i do.”
You are a shining example of business integrity and generosity. What are some causes that you hold dear
Growing up on a dairy farm, I have always been passionate about animals. My passion has always been to help animals. Living Free Animal Sanctuary is a place I am very close to. They are dedicated to finding permanent homes for animals, as well as rescuing them and rehabilitating them. I am also thrilled to announce that PETA has certified my company as cruelty-free (no cruelty to animals). This means we are always strict on skin issues and kind towards animals. A company initiative I hold dear is our partnership with Plastic Oceans, where we have pledged to make all our packaging 100% recyclable by 2025. A snorkeling excursion sparked the decision at the Barrier Reef, where I became aware of our oceans’ dire situation. As an industry, we must be responsible and work together to solve this problem.