Petite 'n Pretty x Grow Wild
MEET… Sam Cutler
CEO and Founder of Petite ‘n Pretty- Beverly Hills, CA (90210- baby!!)
Petite ‘n Pretty is a beauty line, designed for young creatives.
In their words…
“Petite is a smaller human…we are designed for kids, teens, and tweens.
Pretty is based on a feeling + you know what it means!
Pretty is positive.”
And Sam is a force- an energetic, creative powerhouse who is always thinking and dreaming and doing! I (Natasha) first met her a few years ago on a photoshoot for the launch of Petite ‘n Pretty (which at the time, was almost a year away from launching!) Her infectious energy and passion for what she was creating was SO inspiring- and it’s been so exciting to watch her brand grow.
A few weeks ago, we had the total pleasure of spending the day with Petite ‘n Pretty, to interview Sam and shoot a behind-the-scenes tour of their building (with the inimitable Interiors Photographer, Adam Szafranski of The Venue Report). Their space is everything you think it would be (and a little more)- filed with lipgloss (both life size and actual size), pink, sparkles, influencer visits (hey @sophiannasmith), all on a tree-lined street just two blocks from Rodeo Drive.
Here’s a little of our interview with Sam, and a peek at their headquarters…
The Seed -
Sam had a long and varied 17+ year journey in the beauty industry leading her to found Petite ‘n Pretty. Over the previous decade, through her experiences working for Stila, Smashbox, and MAC, she felt a n e e d in the industry to have a place for young creatives.
“I knew I wanted to start a brand but beauty is such a saturated market, so I knew whatever I did do, I wanted to have a point of difference.”
The Bloom -
“After becoming a mom, I realized how often other moms would tell me “there’s never a beauty brand for children or teens or tweens… I don’t know what to get my daughter… what’s a good starter product/brand…" etc, and I never had an answer. And being a mom, I felt like kids deserved the best, regardless of their age.
When I started to look to see what is on the market, there was really nothing- either cheap play makeup from the Dollar Store or Claire’s, or brands that not age-appropriate- full-coverage, intimidating. So that’s why I started the brand…
I left Stila in the summer of 2017 and that’s when I started.”
She started with a mission.
“We designed the brand to be a cool, aspirational brand, with artist-quality product, for young creatives. Redefining age appropriate makeup + what beauty is for this age group”
She wanted to design a brand that was safe + approachable, as well as geared towards everyone + all inclusive.
REAL, quality makeup- but age-appropriate.
The Weeds -
We asked Sam the toughest part about making her vision a reality and she talked a lot about learning the things she didn’t know from her previous experience (ex: Digital Marketing, Strategizing). She also mentioned, networking, talking to other business owners, and even questioning your own decisions.
“I think working in beauty for so long, did make it easier in some respects, for me to start a product-based brand. Who to go to for packaging, the product development…
But where I still struggle is learning all of the things I DON’T know… learning Digital Marketing for example, that is an entirely new area to me. I have a consultant to help, but I still feel like it’s something I need to learn.
That’s where I talk to friends in the business, networking, talking to people with similar goals… and at night, I watch YouTube videos on these topics! It gives me ideas of new things to try… usually that’s when I start firing off more email to people I work with. :)”
The toughest part is realizing what your strengths are, and what they’re NOT. It’s important to have people on your team that aren’t what you are.”
A Day in the Life -
“I’m a working mom, so I wake up, check emails, look at my schedule. After dropping kids off at school, I usually have a call in my car on the way into work, with someone about something.
After that, it just depends. We’re going into retail, which has been a really big focus of mine, so we’ve been putting a lot of time and effort into that- so meetings with buyers, figuring out sampling strategies, talking about how support our brand in-store…
Then, we often have group meetings in our conference room, figuring out campaigns, new launches, etc… who has what task, what do we need to bring it all together, who are the models and influencers we’re working with.
We usually go to Bristol Farms for lunch- or someone else will, and I’ll Venmo them. In the afternoons, we often have influencers stop by, because they’re in town and want to meet us or work with us- which happens a lot, as our social has grown. We’ll do photoshoots with them, and get some content.
The rest of the day is usually more meetings, looking at trend books. for launches next year (we’re currently looking at Summer and Fall 2020), sourcing formulas and looking at packaging… usually I leave by 5-5:30 to get my kids and then work more later.
I do a lot of our social engagement and we get a lot of comments, especially on Youtube, and a lot of DM’s. I try to do that in the evenings, while I watch TV… and sometimes at 2am, if I get woken up by my kids.
Sometimes, when I’m in the shower alone, my brain starts thinking about like 15 things “did I do this? did I do that"?” and I have to fire off like, a hundred emails.”
What it Takes -
“I struggle with not knowing what I’m doing all the time! Especially because we are a new category, in a white space…
There are days when I’m like “OMG this is so good and so needed!” and then there are days where I’m like “Whyyyy did I do this?”… because it’s harder to pitch to retailers, people don’t know if it’s a beauty category or a kid’s category, or which buyer we should even talk to!
Also, it is a white space and I think the idea of children wearing makeup makes people think of pageant children or kids trying to be older… but we are all about being age-appropriate. Kids see their parents and want to experiment with makeup… we are redefining what beauty is, for young creatives. We also don’t use the word girl/boy, we use “young creative”- because beauty is for everyone.
There are so many things we’re trying to redefine in a positive way- and so we’re constantly asking ourselves “are we approaching this right?” or “was it smart to do xyz like this?”
What I Wish I Knew -
“Trial and error: try everything in the beginning- but learn what works and what doesn’t and pivot from there.
Also, everything is negotiable! In the beginning, you get a price and you think “ok…” but then you realize, so much is negotiable. People want to support start-up brands, especially women-owned ones! So don’t be afraid to ask.”
Best Part of My Job-
“Reading DM’s from people who are so grateful for the brand!”
Hardest Part of My Job-
“I’m not a confrontational person, and in business sometimes, you need to be able to. With my team, it’s been hard to learn how to approach difficult subjects… I need to get better at it!
And with buyers, I’m not a push, sales-y person… recently, we actually hired a sales manager. So I would say it’s important to know what your strengths are and are not, and act accordingly.”
Wild Flower Advice -
Be more budget-conscious by testing more and spending. less (i.e. with digital marketing! figure out what works before spending a ton)
Figure out what Social Media channels work best for your business… it’s not ONLY about Instagram (i.e. YouTube has been so much more impactful for a younger demographic, than IG)
Trademark your business, especially internationally! Do it early, don’t wait until your brand is taking off, other people will buy it and make you buy it back (especially for product-based businesses)
All photos by Adam Szafranski, sassafranski.com