On the Go with 35 Thousand

[12 MINUTE READ]

Happy Friday everyone! Well, we have finally made it through the dreary month that is January, and today we return with another Friday Founder interview.

This week we spoke to Misty Reich, Founder, and CEO of 35 Thousand. 35 Thousand is a skincare brand that aims to keep skin healthy and happy on the go so that everyone can 'travel beautifully'.

In today’s interview, Misty talked to us about how her childhood impacted her life now, 35 Thousand's sustainability initiatives, and what she feels makes the brand stand out. So grab a cup of something caffeinated and let's get into it...

 

"In 2017 I left my corporate career and decided to figure out how to create the products I have always wanted as a skincare-obsessed woman juggling work, family, and career."

Morning Misty! Let’s start at the beginning. How do you think your childhood has influenced where you are today?

I was born in Houston, Texas but moved to a small town outside of Dallas when I was 12. In fact, that small town sat in the smallest county in Texas. My parents divorced when I was a baby but I feel blessed to have such a wonderful mom and dad who shared us well. I feel even more fortunate that my mom remarried a wonderful man when I was 5, so I got a bonus dad.  

Splitting time between parents who were very different people, with very different views on parenting and life, gave me an amazing opportunity to observe and consider a spectrum of values, beliefs, and life choices. Later, it allowed me to decide what suited me best. The other thing that this did for me was to really dial up my EQ which I think is one of my superpowers.  Moving between my parents' homes where the rules, style, and dynamics are different, I became skilled at reading the environment around me and quickly adapted my style and approach to fit the situation.  This was emotional and hard as a child but it has paid off in my career and life more broadly. 

It is worth noting that when I moved to this small town at 12 years old I met my (now) husband Brian on my first day in the new school, in 7th-grade pre-algebra. We grew up together in that small town and it was a beautiful foundation for our life together.

How lovely. So, how did you get started in the beauty industry?

35 Thousand is my first experience working in the industry. In 2017 I left my corporate career and decided to figure out how to create the products I have always wanted as a skincare-obsessed woman juggling work, family, and career.  My journey is just starting.

Totally! When did you start 35 Thousand, and was the timing important?

I left my corporate career because I was going to have to move again and my kids had moved 5 times in the 10 years leading up to that time. They were 14 and 16 and I felt it was time to give them some stability and allow them to finish school in one place, with one group of friends. I left without a plan and immediately got into Executive Coaching and Business Advisory work which I really enjoyed but I knew I didn’t want that to be my only career focus.  I always dreamt of starting a product brand, so I started brainstorming and journalling what that could look like. Long story short, 35 Thousand is the result of that life transition; the desire to create a brand I have always wished existed, and to prioritise being more physically present for the final years of my kiddos living at home.

That’s awesome that you took things into your own hands. Does 35 Thousand consider issues relating to sensitive skin and allergies?

Because of my lifelong acne battle and sensitivities to some ingredients (essential oils, fragrances, and ferulic acid to name a few), we have been hyper-vigilant about our formulations.  Formulating most of the range in Europe (under EU standards) instead of the US is a good first step as there are many ingredients allowed in the US that are banned in EU products.  Our SPF is the only product we formulated in the US because we wanted it to be US FDA approved and needed expertise in that process. We maintained our same exclusions list and EU standards in developing the product though.  Some examples of things we avoid include: any oils that are known allergens or comedogenic, synthetic fragrance, essential oil-based fragrance, silicones, parabens, and chemical SPF.  Beyond excluding ingredients known to trigger reactivity, we took a long time with testing each product, using each iteration of every product for a while and when our skin was in different phases to really pressure test for sensitivity.

I wish more brands would do that! Moving onto sustainability, we are always keen to hear about how the people and brands we work with consider sustainability in their business. What is 35 Thousand doing in that realm?

I am so happy you asked this! We know we cannot change the world alone but we have worked hard to make the best decisions at every turn to minimise our impact on the environment. 

Our 4 “liquid” products are in bio-plastic bottles made from sugar cane rather than petroleum and they are recyclable, biodegradable, and refillable.  Beyond these credentials, the material is super lightweight vs. comparable 50ml skincare packaging. This is important for us because we are shipping back and forth between Europe, US, and UK as the bottles are made in Italy, sent to the US for filling and then some of them shipped to the UK for selling.

Additionally, we make sure that all the paper and carton we use is FSC certified, meaning it comes from forests that are carefully managed and replenished to neutralise the impact of logging. Our signature 35 Thousand clear travel bag is also made from TPU (Thermoplastic Polyurethane) which is an advanced material that is more environmentally friendly than traditional PVC. 

Amongst other initiatives we have in place, it is important to note that our products are all leaping bunny certified which isn’t about sustainability in the traditional sense, but we believe animals make the world a better place and that is a core part of the 35 Thousand brand.

It sounds like 35 Thousand is very committed to sustainability. Do you think people are more conscious of the ingredients in their beauty and skincare products nowadays? If so, why?

Yes, I think people are more aware of the ingredients in their products, but unfortunately, that does not necessarily mean they are getting accurate information.  Social media and influencer advertising are likely the main sources of this awareness shift which I have mixed feelings about.  There are some fantastic sources of information out there and some really knowledgeable influencers, but so much of what I see on social media swings wildly between overselling and scaremongering. I don’t like either of those things.  

I would love to see a movement away from ingredients being simplistically bucketed as good/bad without empirical evidence and more education around how to determine which ingredients are good for your skin, or not good for your skin.  We made the decision to create a fully transparent glossary of ingredients on our website. We have not left anything out and we explain what source the ingredient comes from and why we chose it. We hope this will help people to make their own, educated decisions.

I'm sure it will! So, what were your biggest challenges in starting up 35 Thousand?

We have been at this for 4 years and tapped my career savings to bring 35 Thousand to life. If I listed all of the business and external challenges we have faced you would feel queasy and you may also wonder if I am sane to have continued down this path.  

The external roadblocks we have faced have been really tough but none of these challenges were anywhere as problematic as my internal reaction to them and my fears that they bring up.  I have to look at each situation as an opportunity to teach myself a more balanced way of coping when things don’t go my way or seem uncertain. I repeat some mantras to myself regularly like “It’s supposed to be hard. If it weren’t hard, everyone would do it” or “No Pressure, no Diamonds”.  Mantras are so powerful in shifting my mindset. When I am in a constructive headspace, issues seem to flow through me and get to resolution with ease. 

Thanks for sharing that. I know you are still in the rolling launch period of the brand but what strategies do you think have helped you build 35 Thousand?

Beyond financial measures, I believe we are a business and a team that attracts great talent and exceptional business partners. We have been able to work with people and suppliers that I was told wouldn’t consider working with a start-up brand.  I think this is a testament to our team culture and approach. We want everyone who works for 35 Thousand to have fun, have it fit in with their lives, and find the experience uplifting and positive.  

"Beyond physical products, we want to help women progress and move through their careers and lives with more confidence."

Filled with positivity, I love that! What is your favourite thing about your job?

The people I get to spend time with.  I am so humbled by the team of people around me. They are exceptionally talented individuals and I am regularly in awe of them. I also just think they are fun to spend time with!

That’s brilliant. And which is your favourite product that you have ever created?

Oh gosh! That is like asking which of my children I love more! I couldn’t say one product is my favourite, but I am really excited about what we accomplished with our All-In Day Serum/SPF.  It is all mineral but lightweight, hydrating, and just makes your skin look amazing. I am hopeful it might convert some people who don’t wear SPF daily. That would be a great thing.

That is a really good objective. What would you say makes 35 Thousand stand out?

Our purpose is broader than products. In fact, the products really facilitate our purpose which is to help women travel more beautifully through their careers and lives. This purpose is both literal and figurative. The products are the tools we will offer to make the experience of juggling a busy, full life more beautiful.  We started with skincare because our skin has such a massive impact on our confidence and how we feel about stepping out into the world.  Beyond physical products, we want to help women progress and move through their careers and lives with more confidence so we also have invested heavily in the content on our website to support and inspire across all aspects of work, wellbeing, and life.  We will be taking this further by forming communities of women to facilitate an avenue to share challenges and solutions around the sticky bits of being a woman. We are also passionate about making a difference for emerging female leaders and will be using 10% of our profits to support young women who are starting out in their careers with mentorship and development.

What a brilliant initiative! Could you describe your biggest “pinch-me” moment since starting 35 Thousand?

The obvious one would be when we got Bobbi Brown and Trish McEvoy to contribute to our website, but there are so many other moments that are equally humbling to me.  I will never forget the first people who engaged with us on social. They will never know how encouraging they have been to me. And our first “organic” DTC customer will forever be special to me. Shout out to Susane in New York!

Aw, I hope she reads this. What inspires you?

Single working parents. How in the world do they do it and not just crumble? Also, entrepreneurs who make it happen whilst finding joy in the journey. Finally, travel and spending time in other countries. It really energises me! 

Oh, me too. Could you describe what an average day looks like for you?

I am very happy to say that after 23 years in corporate jobs, no two days are the same for me anymore and I love that! That said, there is a common shape to the day. I like to wake up early but I generally try to keep mornings to myself. I work out, make breakfast for my kids, play with my dogs, and journal. This is innovation and thinking time. My best work hours are 1 pm-7 pm so I shoot for scheduling my work and team meetings in that window. I try to have voice calls where possible so I can walk and talk - gotta get those steps in! Dinner and TV time with family and cuddles with my pups round out the day.

That sounds like you are able to have a work/life balance. Would you say that is correct?

I’m all about a conscious and dynamic blend between work and life – that makes sense to me. I am super intentional about considering the different parts of my life and what I need to do to be who I want to be and accomplish what I want to accomplish in every area of my life. I have had huge periods of time in my career when I have been nearly completely consumed with work out of necessity or desire. I have had even more times when all of my creative energy and passion was aimed at my family or friends, or pursuits outside of work. I hope that I have been true to myself in all of those moments and I can’t think of any regrets around my time and focus. 

That is the most important thing. What words do you live by?

“Don’t believe everything you think”

I like that one! Finally, what is next for 35 Thousand?

Quite literally everything! First, we need to finish the launch of our initial range and ensure it meets the needs of those we are trying to serve. After that, we are challenging ourselves to find a great, sustainable solution for refills. Provided all goes well, we will move forward with the development of other skincare products, tools, and experiences. Eventually, we hope to move beyond skincare to support our mission to help women travel more beautifully through their careers and lives. The sky, as they say, is the limit!

Like what you read? Head to 35 Thousand to shop now!

If you fancy checking out some of our previous interviews, you can find them here. Want more from CAROLINAGMX? Check this out: The Ultimate WelleCo Super Elixir Review

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Gabriela - Editor
Gabriela - Editor

Gabriela is a London-based writer and creative, currently working in marketing. Her favourite skincare product is Darphin’s Ideal Resource Youth Retinol Oil Concentrate.

Find me on: Web | Instagram

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