In The Path, we spotlight different women making a difference in the fashion, beauty, wellness, and medical aesthetics industry. Here, they share their road to success.
Rachel Blumenthal is a bit like the Madonna of the entrepreneurial world: She’s continually reinventing herself. She’s leapt from jewelry designer to parenting guru and has most recently pivoted to kids’ clothing with Rockets of Awesome, a start-up that sends parents a box of eight articles of clothing each season that are hand-picked based on their child’s taste. Like many of Blumenthal’s ideas, Rockets of Awesome was inspired by her personal life. She’s married to Warby ParkerTM co-founder Neil Blumenthal, and the pair has two kids, Griffin, 7, and Gemma, 3.
Here, she shares why the world needs Rockets of Awesome, gives advice on what it takes to build a successful brand, explains how she navigates manic mornings, and, of course, lists the beauty treatments she can’t live without.
Spotlyte: What made you launch Rockets of Awesome?
Rachel Blumenthal: We started Rockets two years ago, and it was really out of a personal pain point of what I was experiencing as a parent. My kids were outgrowing their clothes super frequently. It was incredibly time-consuming and expensive and frustrating to be replacing a dresser full of clothing every season. I really believed that not only could there be a better product line in the market — something that delivered high style with high values to customers — but I also that there was a desperate need for a brand that was tailored toward the parent and the kid. Nobody recognized the dynamic between the parents and kids choosing together and having two constituents in the decision-making process, which is so challenging and so powerful.
Spotlyte: This isn’t your first entrepreneurial rodeo. What gives you the momentum to keep moving forward?
RB: I’ve realized that I really love building things. I love, love, love those early days, particularly in the early stages of business where you have this crazy vision that feels impossible — and kind of scary — if you think about it too much. I always have a very clearly defined point of view of the problem that needs solving, how I want to solve it, and what the brand should be. It’s the essence of the brand that makes people choose to tie their personal identity to what that brand stands for.
I really view a brand as a living human being, particularly in a category like kids where you have to build a brand that appeals to the mom and the kids, both boys and girls. Often, I’m naïve about some of the challenges that I’m about to get myself into, which I think is one of my greatest strengths it allows me to take risks without scaring myself or talking myself out of it.
Spotlyte: Is there an example that comes to mind?
RB: Before Rockets of Awesome, I had a jewelry company, and we were in about 500 retailers worldwide, and we did private label for American Eagle, Target and J.Crew. I would do these trade shows where we would be one of thousands of jewelry brands. ...If I had known going in that I was going to show up at this trade show and be in a booth next to thousands of other jewelry designers like myself, trying to convince the same cohort of buyers that they should buy my brand over another, I probably never would’ve started that business. It’s really intimidating. But because I didn’t know — and in many ways, didn’t want to know — it enabled me to dream and have chutzpah and put myself out there.
Spotlyte: Running Rockets of Awesome and being a mom of two must make life chaotic at times. Can you walk us through your morning routine?
RB: I wake up at 6 a.m. every day, and I go to work out. I always wear black LululemonTM leggings. I have this high-waisted pair that I have probably 10 pairs of, and I wear them like crazy. I go to either SLT or Physique 57. I go before my kids wake up, so that I’m not missing time with them, and I don’t feel guilty that my husband has to deal with them alone. I’m home by 7:30, which is just after my kids have gotten up. My husband and I tag-team on getting them dressed, getting them fed, and getting them sunscreened before they go to camp. In between all that, I’m trying to take a shower and get ready.
My daughter is really into lipstick right now. Every morning she comes in my room and says, “Mommy, can I do lipstick?” Then she’ll stand on the bathroom floor with one of my lip stains and just cover herself in lipstick. She has fun doing it, and it distracts her so that I can finish getting ready. While that’s happening, my son will run in and be like, “Mom, I can’t find my socks.” And I’ll say, “They’re in the same drawer they’ve been in the last seven years of your life. Go put on your socks.”
This whole time, my husband and I are asking each other questions or discussing a meeting one of us has, and we’ll check in on the calendar for the schedule for the day. By 8:15 a.m., we’re all out the door. The kids go to the same school, so [my husband] and I trade off who drops them off at school that day and who goes straight to work. I call it semi-organized chaos, but there’s a routine to the madness.
Spotlyte: When do you have time for breakfast?
RB: I don’t eat breakfast, but I’ll usually grab an apple on my way out the door, and I’ll eat it in the car on the way to dropping my kids off. When I get to the office I’ll grab an iced coffee and sometimes another piece of fruit.
Spotlyte: Is there time in the morning to do your hair or do you get blowouts?
RB: I don’t get blowouts because I don’t like product in my hair, and I’m actually pretty good at doing my own hair. I do my hair three days during the week, and then the other two days I’ll refresh it with R+Co® dry shampoo or I’ll pull it back in a low bun. I either wear it stick, stick straight, or I’ll wear it with a beach-y curl, but I do it with a flatiron.
Spotlyte: Do you have any regular beauty treatments that are non-negotiable?
RB: I’m really bad at skincare. I barely wash my face. Everyone I tell that to is horrified. I wash my face in the shower. I’m not great at washing my face at night, but I also don’t wear foundation or anything like that. Lately, I’ve been in this routine where I’ve been getting a monthly facial at Heyday, which I’m really into.
I also do a weekly manicure and monthly pedicure. I like my nails really, really short. It makes me crazy when I start to feel like my nails are going beyond the nail bed. I can’t ever make an appointment, so wherever is convenient based on where I am, that’s where I go. I buy this really crazy neon pink color off of Amazon®. It’s like some really crappy brand, and I carry it around with me. I’ll use that in the summer, and then in the winter I like the Essie® Gel Couture Longwear Polish. It probably gets you three days longer on manicures, which is nice. I usually do a poppy orange color, or a black or a navy.
Oh, and I have a weekly acupuncture appointment, which involves some massage and cupping. I get migraines, and [the acupuncture] really helps.
Spotlyte: What are your thoughts on injectable wrinkle reducers and fillers?
RB: I’m pretty low-maintenance when it comes to my routine because it’s very overwhelming to me. I’m one of these people who is all or nothing, so I tend to not do a whole lot.
I don’t have a judgment around [injectables], but I think that there’s an opportunity to educate the consumer that you can look like yourself with them.
[Editor’s note: Injectable wrinkle reducers and fillers are temporary, medical treatments to help smooth the look of moderate to severe wrinkles and help replace lost volume, respectively. Like any medical procedure, they have risks and side effects, so consult with a reliable provider to find out what’s best for you. Looking for a qualified injector? Our trained aesthetic specialists can help.]
Spotlyte: What beauty products do you use on yourself and on your kids?
RB: I’m always opting for products that are safe and that don’t have scents in them. I love the Beautycounter® products. I use them in the shower, and my kids use them in the shower or the bath. They also have really great sunscreen for the kids. I also love the Supergoop!® Super Power Sunscreen Mousse. It’s the easiest product on the planet to get all over yourself or your kids really quickly.
On myself, I use SkinBetter Science® Rejuvenate AlphaRet Overnight Cream, CeraVe® for morning or night hydration, SkinCeuticals C E Ferulic®, Elta MD sunscreen and the Image Skincare Vital C Hydrating Enzyme Masque.
Spotlyte: You’re relatively low-key when it comes to beauty. What about fashion?
RB: I really dress for my mood, so it depends on the day and the look that I want to exhibit that day. I really love fashion, so for me, getting dressed every day is really fun. I love trying different things. I would say that my style is probably classic with a twist. I buy the best pieces that I will wear for many, many years. I don’t go by that rule that if you haven’t worn something in the last year, you should get rid of it because I’ll wear something to death, I won’t wear it for three years, and then I’ll find it again and have a new way of reinventing it. I buy pieces that have a twist, like a girly element or a trendier, flashier element to them, but they’re still pretty classic.
I’m really thoughtful about fit. I think fit is really important in how somebody presents herself, and how somebody feels about herself. I’m petite, but I don’t care what size I’m wearing. It’s not important for me to wear a size 0; I want to wear the size in which I look good in the clothes.
Spotlyte: What about accessories?
RB: I definitely don’t take myself too seriously when it comes to fashion; I love having a sense of humor. Last summer I was really into all these sunglasses that had crazy rhinestones and figurines on them. This summer I was very into the heart-shaped Yves Saint Laurent sunglasses, but now everybody wears them. I don’t tend to like to wear things that everybody else is wearing.
I’m really into shoes. I’ll never buy a black flat. Everything I buy is glitter or rhinestone or has feathers on it or pearls or velvet — something unexpected. I buy a lot of basics when it comes to pants and layering pieces, but I tend to go over-the-top when it comes to blazers and jackets and shoes and bags and sunglasses.
Spotlyte: How important do you think style, both beauty and fashion, is when you’re an entrepreneur?
RB: It’s really important for me, personally. I think that you’re taken more seriously if you present yourself in a certain way — if you’re polished and you look professional. That doesn’t mean that you’re wearing a suit, but you should have a look and a style to you.
That’s actually really important just as an adult. I think it’s interesting if you look at some of the most successful people across industries, whether it’s Carolina Herrera who always wears her crisp, white button-down shirt, or even Mark Zuckerberg who wears the hoodie — he has a look that he’s known for. Steve Jobs had the black turtleneck. It’s brand-defining when you have a distinct look to you. Very successful people tend to have a bit of a uniform because they’re so busy and their head is on way more important things, particularly if they’re not passionate about fashion, that they can’t be bothered to worry about what they’re going to wear every day.
Spotlyte: Where do you see yourself in three years?
RB: In three years, I would like Rockets of Awesome to be a household brand with mass distribution. I would like us to have a handful of standalone brick-and-mortar experiential retailers that we’ve built that are physical manifestations of the brand.
From a personal perspective, I’d like to be able to continue to be as actively involved in the business as I am today, but I’d also like to be able to figure out how to have a way more balanced schedule where I can be spending a little more time with my kids after school. What I’ve recognized is that as they get older, they actually need you more. They become more emotionally needy and unsteady. They also start doing homework, so in terms of the values that we want to be building within our family, I’d like to be able to be there to support that more as they get older.
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