We all know one of the popular buzzwords of last year was “clean beauty”, right? Big brands are now fighting tooth and nail to take up space in the non-toxic arena, but least we forget who the smaller brands were who truly paved the way for the masses. One of these key brands in my book has been fragrance brand DedCool.
I still remember the first time I stumbled upon this brand while shopping in a Los Angeles Riley Rose three years ago. I tested a few scents after being first drawn in by the chic, minimal packaging that read the words vegan + unisex. The scents are vibrant, luxe and creative. My favorite was Fragrance 2 and after leaving the store without a purchase, I found myself not being able to stop thinking about it. I eventually caved, and got the sample pack online to make sure I found the exact one I remembered the few days prior.
After my first encounter with DedCool I wanted to know more. I found their Instagram which was bursting with inspirational, cool-girl imagery and the relatability that most big brand fragrance companies just fall short on. The founder, Carina Chaz, was featured on the page and showed a young entrepreneur on her way to creating a totally unique brand voice. It made me want to support the vision- and it being non-toxic, unisex and 100% vegan were just the cherries on top. We had the pleasure of chatting with Carina and picking her brain about all things business building, the importance of ethical/clean beauty, and standing out in the crowd.
1. Hey Carina, tell us a little about yourself and what inspired you to start DedCool!
So, my name is Carina Chaz and I started my brand when I was 22. This really was an extension of a brand that I had participated in prior to DedCool, and I come from a background of health, beauty and wellness. In the 80’s my parents started their own company called La Ventura which is essentially a wholesale manufacturing facility which caters to spas and resorts. Before all the mom and pop stores went away in the 2008 recession they were selling high volumes of wellness products. So, being an only child and also being a product of entrepreneurial parents, you kinda have your own part in what their doing. Whether it was summer vacations or after school activities, I was always spending time in their office. I always took pride in what they were doing and the creative process they had so I jumped on board as their youngest creative director. It was really fun to grow up in a factory. You know, we were always having playdates and we would be making candles, pouring products, fun little things. My parents were always gearing me up because they always said one day this is going to be yours. As a young teen you’re not really interested in skincare, body care, etc. You’re more interested in fashion or art. But, that’s where I really put my passion- into olfactory and design and that’s how DedCool started.
2. Starting your own brand is no small feat, what was your biggest challenge and reward when first creating your business?
The biggest challenge is definitely, I mean I hear this a lot from young entrepreneurs or young people wanting to create their own companies, that we live in a world where everything is super instant. It seems that there’s this facade that everyone is excelling in whatever their craft may be, but starting from zero is the hardest thing. Of course, it’s important to create this intention of understanding how to grow a business- nothing happens overnight. It can be daunting but you have to just focus on the vision and figure out where you can expand yourself to create your vision and take it to life. Of course with Instagram, you see so many achievements and get into a one track mindset. But at the end of the day it’s all about persistence and taking things one step at a time.
3. What would you say has been your biggest achievement so far?
I like to base my achievements on the fact that I have created something that people are resinating with. The fact that I have a community and customer base that chooses to wear my fragrance everyday, I mean these are my creations. When I started DedCool I had no idea necessarily who was even interested in purchasing fragrances, especially from a niche company. Having this idea of being a little fish in a big pond, competing against all these big name brands was difficult. So for me, it’s really incredible to see my brand sitting on shelves with the Le Labos and Tom Fords of the world while still having my own recognition, creating this concept of unisex scents, and having the idea the fragrance doesn’t have to be carcinogenic.
4. For all the entrepreneurs out there, what is some vital advice or words of wisdom you would give to someone who wants their own business but doesn't know where to start?
I would definitely say just take everyday step by step and again, nothing is instant. We are so wrapped up in this world of social media- Uber, Postmates, everything is there right in the palm of your hand. When you need to put your best foot forward you have to understand that things don’t happen overnight.
Also, you’re going to have to self motivate because there’s no one else- and you have to be your best advocate.
5. If you had to pick 3 of your all time favorite scents (can be anything from fresh roses to the smell of your middle school hair gel) what would they be?
I would definitely say one of them would be the L'Artisan Mimosa fragrance my mom wore. That fragrance when I was a child is really how I started loving and appreciating scents. The thing with scent is it just takes you back to a place- it’s like time travel. The interesting thing is scent is the strongest of your five senses and it’s fascinating how any type of smell can do that to you.
The next one would be fresh cut grass. I love the smell of grass especially after it rains.
And this is a really weird one- but I love the smell of gas, haha. Like, when I go to a gas station I just love it. I hate admitting it because it’s toxic but hey.
6. You recently came out with a massage candle- which doubles as a luxurious body oil.
Do you have any 'holy grail' vegan beauty products you've been obsessed with?
My hero products would be first, my Mara Universal Face Oil, which really started as a friendship. I’ve had my brand for three years now and I’ve met so many people along the way- likeminded entrepreneurs that also have amazing brands. It’s great to collaborate ideas with them and also just having inspiration. Allison Mara sent me her product and I use it religiously.
I’m a pretty minimal use kind of person, especially when it comes to makeup and haircare. I don’t really wear makeup. I try to be aware of how much waste I’m putting out in the world. Less is more.
7. We also love your style, any sustainable clothing brands you'll been following lately?
The thing is, for some reason I’ve just been the same size since I was ten years old. I used to be the tallest one and now I’m the shortest one! So, I still wear clothes that I wore in the 5th grade and a lot of hand-me-downs. My mom was born in Italy and moved to London in her 20’s so she really had this beautiful avant grade style. She pretty much taught me to value quality not quantity. I’ve just been really into vintage shopping these days and making sure all my clothes come from an ethically sourced place. Even all my rings and jewelry are from my Grandma, the 1920s, so they have this beautiful vintage feel to them and represent so much more than just going and buying a piece from a traditional store.
8. Where do you see the vegan and sustainability community as well as DedCool as a brand evolving within the next 5 years? Any projects you can let us in on?
I’m really excited because right now we’re seeing a huge shift with knowledge in terms of Instagram. It’s a powerful tool for transparency and how people can talk about their mission, beliefs on no waste, and clean beauty. Consumers are now more aware and interested in what these niches brands have to say because, you know, the Tom Fords of the world are just licensing deals. They understand that when they see a brand like mine it’s like “Ok, this girl is 25, she’s super relatable. She’s the one composing all the scents. We want to support her.” And, I think there are some bigger retailers who are interested in that also and are ready to expand that as a whole. We see Credo, and The Detox Market popping up. We see so many new institutions that celebrate clean beauty and wellness now, and I’m so happy to be a pioneer in that space. This has been, of course, a conversation for 20+ years but now people are utilizing what they are learning from the media and implementing it in their day to day lives. Now is the time we really do have to shift to creating this community base and growing as a whole. It’s not just a marketing ploy or money grab, it’s having to do with following my values as a human and hopefully inspiring other people as well.
9. Lastly, being a Los Angeles native, give us a quick run down of some spots you think our readers need to check out when visiting?
Downtown LA has the best museums, the Brode is such an amazing experience. If you love art but aren’t necessarily super integrated with the art scene, it’s a great place to go learn about emerging artist and modernism. Moca is across the street too- there’s so much.
Culver City is the original Hollywood. It’s a great emerging little city. A lot of great companies are opening offices over there too.
I personally frequent the Melrose Place farmer’s market. That’s what I do on my weekends to stay grounded and relax. My Sunday therapy.
There’s the beach, there’s Malibu. You can go to the mountains, beach, shopping. LA is so amazing because there’s so much to offer in every direction.
Here’s a breakdown of some of our favorite DedCool products: