The Clean Beauty Philosophy of Cat Chen

Amid all the pre-launch flurry of getting Skylar off the ground last month (mission accomplished!), our team to got to know each other pretty well. Okay, very well.

One thing that came up again and again: Our fearless leader, Cat Chen, is also an unabashed “no-makeup makeup” person.

What started as a side comment turned out to be just one thread of an entire philosophy about beauty, health and well, life.

“Nothing’s more beautiful than confidence and health. A light fragrance, or a dusting of powder, are just ways to complement the best parts of you.”

What follows is a sort of “transcript” of that conversation. A first glimpse into the woman who’s upending everything we thought we could expect from a fragrance brand.

Did you always have this entrepreneurial spirit, or was Skylar a surprise?
Honestly, I think it’s been a long time coming. My dad was a tech entrepreneur in Taiwan in the ‘80s. He had 12 siblings and grew up with almost nothing. His influence always made me feel that anything was possible for me. That really set the stage for me from an early age.

What is the first thing you remember wanting to be as a little girl?
When I was four, I wanted to be a waitress. I loved food even then, and liked the idea of learning other people’s tastes and preferences.  

How do you balance being an entrepreneur and mom?
I’ve learned how sensitive children are. The times I’ve gotten busy and wasn’t home for a week or two, it definitely affected her. So time together is key. I commit to cutting off around 6PM, and don’t look at work again until she’s asleep around 9PM.

Do you think being a mom has changed the way you approach work?
Definitely, for the better. I’m learning to let go of perfection. My time is limited, so I have to focus on the most important things. My relationship with Anne has taught me to be more empathetic, too. I try to remember that there may be something going on in someone’s life that I don’t know anything about.

What's your best beauty tip?
Never underestimate the art of subtlety. Fragrance is almost subliminal. It can go undetected by the conscious mind, yet it’s very powerful. It’s often about what’s not there.

Favorite self-care ritual?
Skincare. Lotion. Hydrating and moisturizing. Work that base!

You stand for clean scents, and clean living. What else?
Authenticity. Embracing what makes us unique, instead of hiding it. When I moved from Taipei to LA as a kid, I didn’t know English, or what band was cool, or what shoes to wear. I want to remind everyone that it’s not only ok to be different — it’s beautiful.

How is Skylar changing the scent scene?
We want to shift the conversation around fragrance by focusing first on what’s inside the bottle. After all, that’s what’s going on your skin. Hypoallergenic, cruelty-free, clean ingredients are the absolute top priority.

Scents should also be light and complementary. So many perfumes are heavy, sharp, and hard to layer. It’s hard to really make them your own.

Do you believe in a signature scent, or do you like to change it up?
I enjoy having a scent wardrobe. We’re all changing and evolving. How I feel today is not necessarily how I’ll feel tomorrow.

Speaking of core scents, do you have a favorite of the Skylar scent?
I love Arrow. It feels deep and sensual, yet feminine — not too girly. If I do want to lighten it, I’ll layer a spritz of Meadow to finish.

What do you hope Skylar can teach girls that you wish someone had told you?
Believe in yourself unconditionally. When you’re paid 80 cents on the dollar for the same work, when you’re systematically undervalued for your talents and efforts, there’s subliminal damage happening, whether we’re conscious of it or not. When you choose to trust your intuition over the existing framework, the sky really is the limit. And really, who could be better at that than women?

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