female founder feature: kate westad, palette by pak
we’ve all been there. packing for a vacation, business trip, or just a day-to-workout-to-night day in the life. in the dark days [pre kate + palette by pak] we had to either pack, unpack + repack our entire skincare routine into said bag or *gasp* leave home without our goops, glops + glam. no more! kate westad, founder + ceo of palette by pak, has invented [and patented] the ‘original high fiver’, the first of its kind compact, convenient + leak proof travel tool of our dreams. if you think her product is life changing [you’re right, it is] wait until you read her story!
tell us what your product is and the story of how you got started.
i am the founder of palette by pak and i invented the palette the original high fiver. it’s what i humbly like to call the travel + beauty tool of your dreams! but seriously, it has been so incredibly amazing to see our product go from vision to reality and help solve real world beauty and on-the-go problems.
how did you take the business from “idea” to “launch”.
i could see the high fiver so clearly in my mind. from the design, to the material, to the colors, to the name. i think the biggest part of this journey was staying true to my vision and going with my intuition, no matter what.
As an inventor, I have sketchbooks and lists upon lists of ideas. And as an attorney, I knew my first step would be about protecting my ideas. So I took my idea to an attorney friend of mine and he said he could help. It really just snowballed from there. One person would introduce me to one person and another person to another person. It really is true that you just need to start and the path will appear. It was a long process, well over two years. My biggest challenge was manufacturing in the USA, but it was so important to me. As a sustainably minded company, I just had to have it made locally with as tight of a footprint as possible.
execution is key! as you close out your first year in business, what would you do differently? what did you feel you did particularly well?
you’ve self funded this entire business (!!!) talk to us about that decision and why you took that path instead of raising vc money.
for one, it can be easier – you can start immediately and go at your own pace. two, you answer to yourself. when you have such a strong vision, you know where you want to go. autonomy, freedom with a dash of “holy sheet cake, this is very expensive” comes to mind.
as a self funder, how do you market your product and get it in front of as many eyes as possible in a cost effective way? is there a particular platform or methodology that’s worked exceptionally well for you?
talk to us about the patent process. how did you go from having this idea to securing its patent? why did you decide to patent your product out of the gate?
it is an expensive long process. not for the faint of heart but come on, nor is launching a startup. as a lawyer and based on what i invented, i decided to go this route. it is not always available, but in my case it was. i regret nothing and would go this route 1000 times over. innovation protected is the way to go. And you really do need a qualified patent lawyer for this process and a set aside budget as it is quite expensive. This is not one of those things you can do yourself.
i think when you are passionate about something you make it happen. for me, i stopped watching tv, i stopped trying to have everything be so perfect at home. i stopped trying to find “hobbies” and instead did what i felt passionate about. as an only parent of 4 kids, i took those “found” hours and launched a business. for me, it was something i had to do. for me, there was no alternative. i had to make it happen. my kids are my biggest fans and the biggest supporters. i like to think i am showing them that you can create something out of nothing and find so much satisfaction in it. life is also short, so we talk about that a lot in our house. if not now, when?
signature question – how did you come up with the name?
i could see PALETte so clearly in the vision of my product. i feel like it was just meant to be.
can you talk a little bit about how being a mom impacts your life as a solopreneur / founder? what’s the balance like there and what advice do you have for moms trying to build a business?
I am an only parent of of 4 kids. Their dad died over 5 years ago. I think going through something so devastating and tragic makes you also realize life is short. It became this passion project for me, to get these ideas out into the world as soon as I could. I tell my kids anything is possible, and I hope by me chasing my dreams they can see they can chase theirs as well.
Through this process, I was working two jobs. Sometimes your house isn’t clean. Sometimes the laundry waits. Sometimes you get take out. I would spend my free time on evenings and weekends doing start up work. I think sometimes we are so socialized to just do what we are expected to do in our daily lives. You have to consciously make an effort to take those hours and shift them towards something you feel passionate and excited about. And sometimes you have to stop trying to be so perfect and accept that for now, this is what needs to happen to make your dreams come true.
what’s your best piece of advice for someone in your shoes?
just start. as you go down your path, the steps will just appear. people will come to support and help you. but sometimes the hardest part is just taking the first step. it can be as simple as a sketch, a phone call, reading and research and taking notes. it only takes one little spark to create a flame. i truly believe that anyone can chase their dreams, no matter your age, experience or current situation. anything is possible!
since i’ve recently become a skincare junkie these are obviously not all the products i use, but the ones i use every.single.day. i start my routine with the milky moisturizing cleanser from sanitas followed by a few spritz’s of the essence by the same brand [not pictured]. with still damp skin i’ll put The Ordinary. Hyaluronic Acid 2% + B5 for an extra moisture boost. step three is the skinceuticals c e ferulic to help even out my skin tone. last morning step is the Biossance Squalane + Probiotic Gel Moisturizer. in the pm i swap the c e ferulic for sunday riley’s juno oil.
the 5 products I cannot live without [and that you’ll find in my palette by pak high fiver]! if I ever gift these to you in a blankbox, just know i love you more than average. the drunk elephant c-firma, drunk elephant protini and drunk elephant virgin marula oil are my morning ‘skin cocktail’, good genes by sunday riley is a new addition to my skincare routine and i’m o b s e s s e d. a little pricey, but worth every penny. and last but definitely not least, drunk elephant’s babyfacial, which i use 1x per week to exfoliate.