- How the pandemic has changed her outlook in several ways
- How socially distanced dinners have helped to keep her sane
- How she left corporate fashion after 30 years to become and entrepreneur
Grace Fooden is the Co-Founder and CEO of Biophile Skincare, a beauty business that helps bring skin to life. Grace Foodens talks to 35 Thousand about how the pandemic has changed her outlook in several ways, and life in sunny southern California.
Tell us about your work:
“Biophile skincare is the vision of my partner, award winning scientist and clean beauty veteran, Alison Cutlan. It is sustainable, bio-fermented skincare that works in synergy with the skin’s microbiome. When I met Alison through a mutual friend I understood she had created a new paradigm in beauty that fills a white space in the market and I have used my experience as a fashion executive to bring Biophile to market.”
Do you work in the spare room, a skyscraper or other?
“I work in a home office.”
What parts of your work give you energy?
“I am energized by building the engine of a company to make it run and finding ways to commercialize an exciting new product.”
What parts of your work drain you?
“My work drains me when I do not take care of myself. Meditation, getting enough rest, eating well and exercise are critical for me to put my best energy into everything I do.”
Most pivotal point of your career so far?
“The most pivotal point in my career was leaving corporate fashion after nearly 30 years and becoming an entrepreneur.”
Best piece of advice your received that you now pass on to others?
“The best piece of advice I have received that I now pass on is that it is not too late.”
What’s your context outside of work – do you have family, other people counting on you, pets, hobbies, external commitments?
“Outside of work I live with my boyfriend and I have two dogs. One of my dogs, Zsa Zsa, is a toy poodle with special needs. She has been blind and diabetic for more than 10 years. She gets 5 types of eye drops and twice daily insulin shots but doesn’t seem to know she has any problems. I find her attitude inspiring.”
Describe your pre-pandemic day-to-day:
“My pre-pandemic day to day is the same as my post pandemic day to day except I haven’t been to NY to our lab in Brooklyn or seen my business partner face to face in over a year.”
How has your daily life changed, what’s your new normal?
“The only change to my daily life since the pandemic is number of Zoom
Has the Coronavirus crisis impacted you personally and professionally? How?
“Professionally the coronavirus has impacted me profoundly. I consider our brand a pandemic baby and from March 2020 until June we weren’t sure we would make it but we kept going and in June our retail consultant advised us that the buyers were waking up and because our brand fills a white space in skincare because it is test and proven to be microbiome friendly we found ourselves to our surprise launching in The Detox Market, Blue Mercury and Beauty Heroes in September of 2020. The major impact of the coronavirus to my personal life is that I have phone dates with friends instead of lunch of dinner dates.”
What, if anything, keeps you up at night?
“As a new brand so many things keep me up at night. First I worried if we would be able to survive the pandemic, then when we received retail orders I was up at night worrying we wouldn’t sell well at retail. I’ve also been up at night worrying about if we would have enough money but I am happy to report that we have landed a series seed investor.”
What have been your best coping strategies over the past year? Do you have any objects, routines or tools that you found particularly uplifting? Gin or Gym?
“One of my coping strategies in 2020 has been to start training for a marathon. I have never been much of a runner but I am always looking for the next challenge and long distance running is something I can while social distancing without going to a gym.”
What has kept you sane? And kept your family sane?
“One the the things that have kept me sane in the last year are social distanced dinners with my boyfriend adult children in our backyard. I am truly thankful that we live in southern California where this is possible year round.”
Did 2020 change your outlook on life in any way?
“2020 did change my outlook in several ways but not only because of the pandemic. In 2020 I sold my condo and moved in with my boyfriend, launched Biophile and began training for a marathon. It was a year of focus with less distractions and a time of new beginnings.”
Are you travel ready? Where do you want to go, with who or would you rather stay home?
“I am fully vaccinated and travel ready. My first trip was to a wedding and I was apprehensive about being around so many people but it was a beautiful event and everyone was safe and respectful. I am now looking forward to 2 trips this summer. First to my hometown, Chicago, in June and later to Miami and the Florida Keys for a destination birthday. I’m definitely not ready to leave the US yet.”
Finish this sentence: “If you look in my handbag at any time you will ALWAYS find…”
“I am a minimalist. If you look in my handbag at any time you will ALWAYS find my phone, wallet, keys and a mask.”
What are your work-from-home saviors? (routines/products/coffee/music?)
“As a morning person my work-from-home savior is being able to start as early as I like. I also try to take a short walk after lunch.”
Describe your style?
“My style is elegant, minimalist and practical.”
Name your 5 essential items of clothing:
“Leggings, slides, sleeveless sweaters with long matching cardigans and Zoom friendly dresses.”
How do you see your business or career two years from now?
“In two years I see myself leading Biophile as a global brand.”
What’s something you haven’t conquered yet but really want to?
I would like to tell my story of successfully building a brand to inspire African Amercian women that if can be done and it is never too late.”
What could you say to your 20-year-old self that would help her the most?
“No matter what I said to my 20 year old self I doubt she would listen. She was stubborn and marched to the beat of her own drum, but as a mixed race Africa America woman who grew up culturally white, I would tell her to find a community of African Americans to learn more about that side of your heritage and to a have a place where you can talk about what it means to be African American and mix race in American culture with other who understand.”
Do you have a life motto or mantra that really resonates with you?
“I have several mottos that resonate with me:
1) Never give up.
2) It’s not too late
3) Stay in the moment”