Live Purely with Carol Han Pyle
Live Purely with Carol Han Pyle

"Nette is a French word that means elegance, clean, impeccable. And we use those adjectives as guideposts in terms of the brand. I wanted the brand to feel very timeless and to act as the sort of container from which the fragrance could be the thing that shined." 

- Carol Han Pyle

Carol Han Pyle of Nette: Clean Fragrance and The Sweet Smell of Building Successful Partnerships

Elizabeth welcomes Carol Han Pyle, founder and CEO of the luxury candle and fragrance brand Nette. Carol first shares the origins of launching Nette, drawing inspiration from fond childhood memories of her mother’s candle shop and business experience from working at top fashion magazines. She discusses the process behind developing scents through collaboration with perfumers, taking ideas from initial sparks of inspiration to the final product. Carol also offers her insights into building a brand strategically through partnerships and community engagement, and the “I’ve made it” moment partnering with Sephora. Carol talks about the importance of clean ingredients in fragrance and wellness products and shares what’s next for Nette in the spring, including a perfume scientifically designed to bring you more happiness.

Podcast transcript below:

Elizabeth Stein 0:00
Hi, everyone. I'm Elizabeth Stein, founder, and CEO of Purely Elizabeth. And this is Live Purely with Elizabeth, featuring candid conversations about how to thrive on your wellness journey.
This week's guest is Carol Han Pyle, founder and CEO of Nette, a clean luxury candle and fine fragrance brand, a former beauty and fashion editor and the founder of a successful social media agency building brands for luxury clients, Carol utilized her depth and breadth of experience to create the Nette Brand, with a focus on fragrance as it means to feel good. Her products are available at retailers included Neiman Marcus, Revolve, Bluemercury and The Detox Market. In this episode, Carol shares how she launched Nette during the pandemic and how her candles quickly got picked up by Sephora. She talks about the creative process of developing a new fragrance and the science behind set and mood, the future at the Clean Fragrance Space and what we all need to know about the products we're using in our homes, taking the leap to take a chance on a new career path and the importance of work life balance. I'm absolutely obsessed with her sense, and I know you will be to keep listening to learn more.
I have some super exciting news Purely fans, I am so thrilled to announce that our newest product line of cookie granola is finally here, we've created a one-of-a-kind recipe where a delicious cookie meets our wholesome granola. It's made with organic gluten-free oats and coconut flour 100% Whole Grains baked with coconut oil and almond butter and only six grams of sugar. These snackable granola clusters have all of the flavor and crispness of your favorite cookie recipe. But an indulgence you can feel good about. It comes in three flavors to obsess over. Chocolate Chip, double chocolate, and my personal favorite oatmeal raisin. Find our cookie granolas at Walmart, Whole Foods, Publix, and on our website at purely elizabeth.com. To find the store near you use the link below in the show notes. I hope you're as obsessed with this new product as I am. Enjoy.
Carol, welcome to the podcast. It's such a pleasure to meet you. I’m so excited to connect and hear your story today.
Carol Han Pyle 2:31
Thank you so much. I am super excited to be here.
Elizabeth Stein 2:34
So let's start with the beginning of your journey. And really what was the inspiration for Nette?
Carol Han Pyle 2:40
Well, my mom was a candlemaker when I was growing up. So my inspiration started very, very early as she owned this candle store from before I was born. I spent a lot of time in there with her. It was in Sausalito in California right on the water and it was just so ripe for a Dilek childhood memories. It was like a very comforting store filled with these beautiful candles filled with amazing smells. And she would spend all day in their hand dipping in colorful pillars and hand carving so that the colors would come through. I feel like it was very emblematic of the 80s, the type of pillow or candle but she loved it and I spent so much time in there. And I just remember having such great memories and being so unfeeling, feeling good, and feeling so safe there. My parents got divorced when I was nine. And subsequently, my mom sold the store and she and I moved to Hawaii. My dad stayed in San Francisco and eventually, I'd become estranged from my dad. So I feel like my life took a drastic turn around a corner where it was like before when everything was like really simple and joyful. And then after the divorce, things got complicated. I had a single mom for a mother and she was very strong, but she worked all the time. So it was difficult for us not to see each other as much I was a latchkey kid from when I was nine years old. So things got complicated. And I feel like I held on to this time in my childhood when things were just much simpler. And I've related all of those good feelings so much back to that candle store that I spent so much time in and I promised myself that I would do something in fragrance someday because fragrance was such a special thing to me. So that was really like the very beginning of my journey. But then of course I went to college, and I ended up interning at W magazine, Harper's Bazaar, and Interview magazine. I wanted to become a fashion editor or a beauty editor. And that's what I did. I eventually got a job at Lucky magazine and their fashion department. Then I went to Elle magazine and I was in their fashion department. Eventually went to elle.com, became their fashion and beauty market editor for several years, and started a social media agency. So my career took its path. And it wasn't until December of 2020, that I was able to launch Nette. And that was my sort of lifelong desire to work and fragrance into something and fragrance great came to fruition because the pandemic hit in March of 2020. And for the first time in my entire life, I had free time. And I was able to devote so much time to developing this brand, developing the vision, focusing on making it into something real.
Elizabeth Stein 5:36
I love that. I mean, there are so few people in stories that I hear who also have such a deep connection to their childhood, what their parents were doing that evolved into what they're doing today. So that's such a special story that you have that memory. Was there a certain scent that you remember that you've now incorporated into the products today?
Carol Han Pyle 5:58
Yeah, I think that our candle called Pearl Dust is probably most emblematic of what I remember that store smelling like. It is just like a comforting, clean, gorgeous smell. It smells like the most sophisticated stack of clean white sheets, if you can imagine.
Elizabeth Stein 6:15
Love that. So I'm curious to hear before launching in December, what, as you had so many experiences in the fashion industry, kind of what were some of those key lessons that helped you to step out? And yes, you had time. And so that was playing a piece, but it's not easy to step out of your comfort zone and go for it. So what helped you to do that?
Carol Han Pyle 6:40
Some of the key lessons that I've learned throughout my career, I would say I learned a lot of them. During my first experiences at Elle magazine. I was there during the hardcore Devil Wears Prada. And it was hard, the fashion gals in the fashion closet were working 15-16 hours a day, and going to events at night, and we loved it. And it was my first experience of truly being like, this is my passion. I want to succeed here so badly. And I love what I'm doing. And it's my entire identity essentially. And I took a lot of hard lessons from there because it gave me resilience. It taught me how to be particularly detail-oriented, how to work, you know how to work super hard, and work hard for something that you want and have this big ambition and big vision.
Elizabeth Stein 7:39
As you now have employees, how do you think that affects how you manage your employees today? Certainly, there were amazing things in that era. And then certainly some not-amazing things. But I do think there are certainly those takeaways that gave you the discipline, and the desire to succeed and some of that might be missing a little bit today. So how do you weave that in back to being a leader?
Carol Han Pyle 8:09
Yeah, I think that times have evolved since then, some of the stuff that we went through during those days would never be acceptable now, and for good reason. Like, I'm not someone who would ever expect someone to work those sorts of hours and thrive as an individual and bring their best selves to the table very much for work-life balance, and giving people the room and the space that they need to perform in the best way that they can, and having empathy as a leader, and making sure that people feel comfortable coming to me with any issues or thoughts if they just want to chat. I think that's important to me, I just don't want to cultivate an environment where anyone is ever scared of leadership, because that’s certainly the case in a lot of the jobs that I've had.
Elizabeth Stein 9:06
Absolutely. So tell me a little bit more about the process for launching the brand. So you have this idea that's been percolating for a while. And then what were those initial first steps?
Carol Han Pyle 9:18
My very first step was to research branding agencies. I really couldn't start working on it until I had a vision of what the brand would look and feel like so I knew that I needed to find a great branding partner. So did a ton of research and found this amazing, at the time they were young and artful and scrappy working out of London, they're called Regular Practice. Now they're much more major. They've grown a lot in the past few years, which I'm so happy for them, but they were a great partner in cultivating the vision of what the brand would look like.
Elizabeth Stein 9:51
And they did such an incredible job because your aesthetic is so beautiful clean, and sophisticated. So I think they nailed the branding side of it.
Carol Han Pyle 10:03
Yeah. And a lot of that inspiration came from the name. Nette is a French word that means elegance, clean, and impeccable. And we use those adjectives as guideposts in terms of what the brand but look like I wanted the brand to feel very timeless and to act as the sort of container from which the fragrance could be the thing that shined.
Elizabeth Stein 10:27
Did you have that name going into the branding? Love that. So as you got the branding together, then what was the process for creating the fragrances? And what was your first product?
Carol Han Pyle 10:40
Oh, my goodness, it differs from fragrance by fragrance product by product and inspiration can start with the tiniest little seeds. So one example is that for our new perfume that's launching in March. I can't say that much about it. But there was this one scene from that 90s movie Ghost, if you remember that movie, that came to my mind very suddenly and clearly during a walk I was taking one morning. It was that one scene where Demi Moore has lost her husband, Patrick Swayze. And their best friend comes over with this paper bag full of Japanese pears. And he says, “I brought you those Japanese pears that you like.” And they're in her amazing loft, somewhere in Soho or Tribeca, New York City with these crazy high ceilings. And it's kind of moody and I was like, what would this woman smell like? And it was just was very atmospheric scene. And then I was like, I want to do a perfume focused on a really elegant Japanese pear.
Elizabeth Stein 11:47
Oh, I love that. That's so cool. So coming from the food side, I know nothing about how fragrances are made and built. So you have this idea, or this scent. And then what is the science? But how does that all work?
Carol Han Pyle 12:04
So after the idea comes to fruition, I go to my fragrance house. And we have a very big meeting where the mood and the inspiration and what I want what, I envisioned this fragrance of smell like are all discussed, there's a visual mood board, there are words that kind of like a word cloud that is presented. I do everything in my power as not a professional perfumer to evoke what I envisioned this fragrance can be and then the perfumers who are some of the greatest artists of all time, take that vision, interpret it through their artistic lens, and come up with several mods of what they think we're looking for, and how they interpret the inspiration based on their experience and their personal lives. It's such a fun process. So we smell everything, we have several meetings, and then there are constant revisions and refinements. And there's a whole board of people that are testing everything, and eventually, a year or two later, we come up with a final juice.
Elizabeth Stein 13:17
That’s so cool. It's such a different experience, I would say than something that's so much more like tactical. You want it to have X, Y, and Z ingredients and taste a certain way. So for you, you are certainly using clean fragrance. And that's a really important part of what you're doing and what you're doing differently. We've all heard that we should be eating cleaner food and thinner husk products, but fragrance is one that I think is underrated and I think newer for people to understand. So I'd love it if you could help educate our community about fragrance from that perspective, and what we should be looking for, not looking for. Tell us all about it.
Carol Han Pyle 14:06
So one of the first things I knew I wanted to remove from anything we made was paraffin wax is just one example of its ingredient-driven and it's very much like we don't want to work with certain ingredients. Paraffin wax is a great example. It's made from petroleum, the fossil fuel that is bad for the environment and bad for you, especially when burned in a closed environment. You'd be surprised at the number of luxury brands that still use paraffin wax, it's mind-blowing. Also, a good thing to do is to check out which brands are certified Sephora clean, and credo clean. Those are high standards in the industry and it's incredibly difficult to get through and get that certification. It took us about a month of daily work to make sure that we all had our ducks in a row. They do not hand those things out easily at all so I think that that's a really good parameter. If you're looking for clean brands, I would go to those two retailers in beauty to have it nailed.
Elizabeth Stein 15:13
I'm so excited to announce that we have launched two new superfood cereal flavors, chocolate almond, and cinnamon raisin almond. Our cereal is intentionally crafted with whole food ingredients you can see and taste like sorghum, oats, chia, and quinoa. Each spoonful of our superfood cereal combines crunchy, ancient grain flakes with delicious granola clusters for irresistible taste and texture. Plus they are an excellent source of vitamin D, a good source of fiber, and have over 30 grams of whole grains per serving. You can find these new flavors along with our existing flavors honey peanut butter and vanilla blueberry almond at your local Whole Foods and as always on purelyelizabeth.com.
So in terms of Sephora, as you mentioned, you guys are now in Sephora, which is so exciting. Tell us a little bit about that process. I'm sure people are listening who might have an idea. Of course, Sephora is the dream to get into. So what was that process like for you getting into Sephora, and how's that been going?
Carol Han Pyle 16:15
It's going great. I love the Sephora team. They are truly the dream partner, the dream retailer. I can't imagine any other partner that is quite like them. They're very special in the way that they operate. Their team is not only retail experts and buyers and merchants, they're very good at that. That's their core competency. But I feel like they're also excellent brand builders, and they get into the kitchen with you and your brands and make sure that your brand direction is going in a good direction and that you are hitting the pillars that you are creating a product that is going to be appealing to their consumer. And they get in the kitchen with you. It's incredible. There's no other retailer. I don't think that does that does that in the same intensity that they do. So we launched the brand, and we got quite a bit of initial buys from influencers and some press. So we weren't getting approached by a ton of retailers right out of the gate. I was on Zoom calls but like Harrods, secretly googling what is the purchase order because. I had no idea what these retail terms were I'd never done this before. I was talking to major retailers like Harrods Selfridges and Nordstrom. And Sephora was one of those retailers. They reached out very quickly after the brand launched. We got in the kitchen with them and decided that we would do a fine fragrance collection, launch, a perfume launch and make it exclusive to Sephora for three years. And lucky us, we were allowed to work super closely with the Sephora team to make sure that the development of that category was really in line and optimized for success. So, that was great. I'm very proud of our Sephora partnership, we're 100% bootstrapped, which is no easy feat. In terms of staying at Sephora and launching at Sephora, I'm proud of that.
Elizabeth Stein 18:32
Talk to us a little bit about bootstrapping. How's that been?
Carol Han Pyle 18:34
It's been interesting, I have had a lot of conversations with various Venture Capital Partners, and have not found the exact right fit. I think that we're very open to raising money. And it's probably something that we're going to do this year actually, because I think that playing in the Sephora ballpark takes a certain level of capital. So my main life goal is to succeed at Sephora. So I think that raising money is going to be key to that. Before this though, bootstrapping was a lot more feasible. If you're only focusing mostly on DTC and smaller retail partners, then then it's a lot easier but I would say for anyone looking to launch in like an Ulta or Sephora or looking for like a major global expansion, raising money is probably a good idea.
Elizabeth Stein 19:35
But it's great to know that you've gotten as far as you have and into Sephora without having to raise money. And that's possible. For somebody interested in getting into Sephora, whether it be for beauty fragrances, etc, and might not have Sephora calling them already, what are some tips for approaching a retailer like that?
Carol Han Pyle 20:00
No, I would say that one tip for anyone who wants to launch at Sephora would probably be to just make sure that you're ready. Because the more ready you are, the easier the conversations and the reachouts will be with that team. And I would say don't rush into it. It's probably a good idea to build a certain level of brand awareness and recognition before you launch into a retailer like that because that will only help you once you're in those doors. Because launching at Sephora is one thing. Succeeding at Sephora is an entirely different ballgame. And you just want to make sure that you set yourself up for success. Otherwise, it can get very stressful. Yeah.
Elizabeth Stein 20:43
And I think that's great advice, whether it's beauty, food, or any product. It's one thing to get on that shelf, but it's critical to figure out how you can get it turned off the shelf or succeed and be able to stay there. What's been your approach, then to building the brand? And you mentioned certainly in the beginning that you got some great influencers and social media right away. Has that been the tactic for you guys?
Carol Han Pyle 21:11
Yeah, influencer press building our community has been great. We're very focused on brand awareness. We've only been around for three years, which is a very short amount of time, we're probably one of the youngest brands at Sephora. And it takes time to build the level of awareness it takes to scale. So that's really what we're hyper-focused on right now. And most of our strategy revolves around building that organic buzz amongst influencers and editors with a recent focus on TikTok, which is such a fun landscape.
Elizabeth Stein 21:53
Yeah, it is. And also, I've noticed that you've done some fun partnerships, which I loved.
Carol Han Pyle 21:58
Yeah, Tata Harper was amazing. That was our first brand partnership. I love that team so much with all my heart. They are just the best, most passionate team to work with. Barbie was also great. I had a great partner in-house at Mattel, who I think was the creative director behind Barbie Style and heavily involved in the whole circus that became the Barbie movie. And just has such a creative mind, and we develop that fragrance together, it's so fun to work with him. So those two collaborations did wonders for our brand awareness. And they were so in line with our brand. So, really the dream.
Elizabeth Stein 22:43
So for the Barbie scent, I'm curious, but you went into that meeting saying, “I want it to smell like…” Or the mood was what?
Carol Han Pyle 22:52
Yeah, unexpected. I didn't want to go in and make a Barbie candle that smelled like early fruit pink. I wanted to do something a little bit unexpected. And he was definitely in line with that. So that was really fun.
Elizabeth Stein 23:08
What would you say that you are most proud of since launching and then conversely confirming the biggest challenges since launching?
Carol Han Pyle 23:15
I think I'm honestly most proud of launching at Sephora, especially in a bootstrapped capacity. I think that that was probably my biggest accomplishment in life, which is really getting into those stores with such a young brand and completely bootstrapped and doing it on my own. So I will forever be proud of that no matter how much money…
Elizabeth Stein 23:40
One of the biggest challenges that you faced so far.
Carol Han Pyle 23:43
Probably running the business on a very limited team. I am the only full-time employee at Nette right now. I have amazing support. I have a fractional operations lead. I have amazing marketing teams. I have a great PR agency and, a great finance team that is outsourced. But I think that definitely hiring a small team to be full-time at Nette is our next step.
Elizabeth Stein 24:13
Well, that's super exciting. Definitely a big area of growth it sounds like. So diving into a little bit more personally would love to hear something that you're working on a goal that you're working on personally, or professionally.
Carol Han Pyle 24:33
I had a baby in January of 2023. And before that, I was obviously pregnant for almost a year and then before that, I was going through IVF for a year. I feel like that whole process really threw me off personally in a lot of ways because my entire world was really focused on that. And physically, it really depleted me. I'm finally a year postpartum, starting to feel like myself again, and starting to feel like I'm back to life almost. So I think a goal for me personally, is to refocus on myself and refocus on building my physical strength and get back into this really precious me routine that I had before all of that, which is waking up early journaling, meditating, and working out. I used to go to Tracy Anderson every day, and I just recently started getting back into that. Really just rebuilding personally is a goal of mine for this year. Professionally, I would say to be more measured in my decision-making, I am very much a quick decision-maker, which I think helps in entrepreneurship. But that also means on the other side of the token, sometimes my decisions are really fast and loose. So, I think just being more measured, especially as we grow, and there's a lot more at stake.
Elizabeth Stein 25:57
For sure. So having a one-year-old is certainly a lot to juggle with a business that is also an infant as well. I never like to say balance, but how do you manage juggling all of that in your life?
Carol Han Pyle 26:13
It's tough. I think that juggling being a mother with being an entrepreneur or being any working mother really is hard. It comes with a lot of challenges. It comes with a lot of mom guilt, it comes with a lot of sacrifice when it comes to your own personal needs. I am juggling it. Maybe I am juggling it by making sure like you know more recently, I think that I've started going to work out every single morning again before the day starts. And that has helped ground my days and has made me feel better. And to be honest, we have amazing help. Ozzy has an amazing nanny, and we couldn't live without her. That comes from a very privileged place. I recognize that. I don't know how I would do without a very supportive husband who pitches in, a very supportive nanny, and a great team around me.
Elizabeth Stein 27:25
Yeah, you need those areas in your life that you can really call on to support you. And it's so much to be doing this, especially on your own. It's a lot to look forward to getting more support it sounds like in this coming year.
Carol Han Pyle 27:41
Yes.
Elizabeth Stein 27:44
So, as I talked about, at the very beginning you certainly stepped out of your comfort zone to launch this business. Never had to be an entrepreneur or start your own candle fragrance company. Are you someone that you think has innately always been more comfortable with risk? Or is that something that you kind of learned along the way?
Carol Han Pyle 28:09
For whatever reason, I think that I am fairly naturally comfortable with risk. I don't know why it's just how I've always been. It kind of drives my husband crazy. I was one of the only kids in high school in Hawaii who chose to go all the way to the East Coast for school. I quit my job at the print edition of Elle to go to elle.com before .com was a real thing. Everyone thought I was crazy. Then I quit my very stable, well-paying editorial job to launch a social media agency back in 2010, which is the same year that Instagram launched, aka very early social media before people realized it was going to be a thing that brands would really need in a major way. My career and my path have really been peppered with these major pivots and moves and decisions. And that goes back to sort of fast and loose decision-making. I feel an instinct and I tend to just be like, okay, I'm doing this. I launched my social media agency with my business partner back then. I don't even think that we had a business plan. It was just purely based on instinct. Like, I think social media is going to be a thing that brands really need. And it just went from there.
Elizabeth Stein 29:30
Wow, that's incredible. So what do you think is next on that front?
Carol Han Pyle 29:35
I wish I knew. I don't know.
Elizabeth Stein 29:41
But you're into TikTok.
Carol Han Pyle 29:43
I’m into TikTok. Yes. TikTok is my next frontier at Nette.
Elizabeth Stein 29:47
Are you still involved with a social media agency?
Carol Han Pyle 29:50
Oh, yeah. That's actually a client of the social media agency. It's called Community Atelier. So the two businesses work really well hand in hand together.
Elizabeth Stein 29:58
Amazing and what sorts of brands do work with there?
Carol Han Pyle 30:04
A lot of different brands, beauty brands, we've worked with a lot of luxury hospitality brands like Peninsula Hotels, which has been a client almost since the beginning. Rosewood Hotels, leading Hotels of the World. So, lots of hospitality.
Elizabeth Stein 30:16
Amazing. Hopefully, that means you get to do some traveling.
Carol Han Pyle 30:20
Yeah. Well, babies, so we're not probably so much in it.
Elizabeth Stein 30:23
Yeah, but back in the day. Hopefully, that meant that for you. So we're gonna move on to some rapid-fire Q&A. Three things that you're currently loving.
Carol Han Pyle 30:39
I just wrapped up Gabby Bernstein's manifesting challenge. It's a 21-day manifesting challenge. I think you can still sign up for it to do it. Have you done it before?
Elizabeth Stein 30:51
Yes, I've done it twice. Two years in a row.
Carol Han Pyle 30:53
Did you do it this year?
Elizabeth Stein 30:55
I didn't do it this year. But the past two years.
Carol Han Pyle 30:58
It's been great. This is my first year doing it. And I just loved it. I thought it was fantastic. There was this one day when she was like,” Do this meditation call in your spirit guides”, and I love meditation. I love yoga but I am not a spirit guide person I was like what is this woman talking about? But I ended up doing it and like crying it was really powerful. So I love that. The perfume that I'm wearing right now is Nette Thé Vanille. It's our hero scent. It's this luscious, beautiful, sophisticated vanilla. So I'm loving that I'm wearing that every day. We just moved to Tribeca. It's the first time I've lived in Tribeca so I've really been into wandering around a
  • PODCAST TRANSCRIPT

    Elizabeth Stein 0:00Hi, everyone. I'm Elizabeth Stein, founder, and CEO of Purely Elizabeth. And this is Live Purely with Elizabeth, featuring candid conversations about how to thrive on your wellness journey.This week's guest is Carol Han Pyle, founder and CEO of Nette, a clean luxury candle and fine fragrance brand, a former beauty and fashion editor and the founder of a successful social media agency building brands for luxury clients, Carol utilized her depth and breadth of experience to create the Nette Brand, with a focus on fragrance as it means to feel good. Her products are available at retailers included Neiman Marcus, Revolve, Bluemercury and The Detox Market. In this episode, Carol shares how she launched Nette during the pandemic and how her candles quickly got picked up by Sephora. She talks about the creative process of developing a new fragrance and the science behind set and mood, the future at the Clean Fragrance Space and what we all need to know about the products we're using in our homes, taking the leap to take a chance on a new career path and the importance of work life balance. I'm absolutely obsessed with her sense, and I know you will be to keep listening to learn more.I have some super exciting news Purely fans, I am so thrilled to announce that our newest product line of cookie granola is finally here, we've created a one-of-a-kind recipe where a delicious cookie meets our wholesome granola. It's made with organic gluten-free oats and coconut flour 100% Whole Grains baked with coconut oil and almond butter and only six grams of sugar. These snackable granola clusters have all of the flavor and crispness of your favorite cookie recipe. But an indulgence you can feel good about. It comes in three flavors to obsess over. Chocolate Chip, double chocolate, and my personal favorite oatmeal raisin. Find our cookie granolas at Walmart, Whole Foods, Publix, and on our website at purely elizabeth.com. To find the store near you use the link below in the show notes. I hope you're as obsessed with this new product as I am. Enjoy.Carol, welcome to the podcast. It's such a pleasure to meet you. I’m so excited to connect and hear your story today.Carol Han Pyle 2:31Thank you so much. I am super excited to be here.Elizabeth Stein 2:34So let's start with the beginning of your journey. And really what was the inspiration for Nette?Carol Han Pyle 2:40Well, my mom was a candlemaker when I was growing up. So my inspiration started very, very early as she owned this candle store from before I was born. I spent a lot of time in there with her. It was in Sausalito in California right on the water and it was just so ripe for a Dilek childhood memories. It was like a very comforting store filled with these beautiful candles filled with amazing smells. And she would spend all day in their hand dipping in colorful pillars and hand carving so that the colors would come through. I feel like it was very emblematic of the 80s, the type of pillow or candle but she loved it and I spent so much time in there. And I just remember having such great memories and being so unfeeling, feeling good, and feeling so safe there. My parents got divorced when I was nine. And subsequently, my mom sold the store and she and I moved to Hawaii. My dad stayed in San Francisco and eventually, I'd become estranged from my dad. So I feel like my life took a drastic turn around a corner where it was like before when everything was like really simple and joyful. And then after the divorce, things got complicated. I had a single mom for a mother and she was very strong, but she worked all the time. So it was difficult for us not to see each other as much I was a latchkey kid from when I was nine years old. So things got complicated. And I feel like I held on to this time in my childhood when things were just much simpler. And I've related all of those good feelings so much back to that candle store that I spent so much time in and I promised myself that I would do something in fragrance someday because fragrance was such a special thing to me. So that was really like the very beginning of my journey. But then of course I went to college, and I ended up interning at W magazine, Harper's Bazaar, and Interview magazine. I wanted to become a fashion editor or a beauty editor. And that's what I did. I eventually got a job at Lucky magazine and their fashion department. Then I went to Elle magazine and I was in their fashion department. Eventually went to elle.com, became their fashion and beauty market editor for several years, and started a social media agency. So my career took its path. And it wasn't until December of 2020, that I was able to launch Nette. And that was my sort of lifelong desire to work and fragrance into something and fragrance great came to fruition because the pandemic hit in March of 2020. And for the first time in my entire life, I had free time. And I was able to devote so much time to developing this brand, developing the vision, focusing on making it into something real.Elizabeth Stein 5:36I love that. I mean, there are so few people in stories that I hear who also have such a deep connection to their childhood, what their parents were doing that evolved into what they're doing today. So that's such a special story that you have that memory. Was there a certain scent that you remember that you've now incorporated into the products today?Carol Han Pyle 5:58Yeah, I think that our candle called Pearl Dust is probably most emblematic of what I remember that store smelling like. It is just like a comforting, clean, gorgeous smell. It smells like the most sophisticated stack of clean white sheets, if you can imagine.Elizabeth Stein 6:15Love that. So I'm curious to hear before launching in December, what, as you had so many experiences in the fashion industry, kind of what were some of those key lessons that helped you to step out? And yes, you had time. And so that was playing a piece, but it's not easy to step out of your comfort zone and go for it. So what helped you to do that?Carol Han Pyle 6:40Some of the key lessons that I've learned throughout my career, I would say I learned a lot of them. During my first experiences at Elle magazine. I was there during the hardcore Devil Wears Prada. And it was hard, the fashion gals in the fashion closet were working 15-16 hours a day, and going to events at night, and we loved it. And it was my first experience of truly being like, this is my passion. I want to succeed here so badly. And I love what I'm doing. And it's my entire identity essentially. And I took a lot of hard lessons from there because it gave me resilience. It taught me how to be particularly detail-oriented, how to work, you know how to work super hard, and work hard for something that you want and have this big ambition and big vision.Elizabeth Stein 7:39As you now have employees, how do you think that affects how you manage your employees today? Certainly, there were amazing things in that era. And then certainly some not-amazing things. But I do think there are certainly those takeaways that gave you the discipline, and the desire to succeed and some of that might be missing a little bit today. So how do you weave that in back to being a leader?Carol Han Pyle 8:09Yeah, I think that times have evolved since then, some of the stuff that we went through during those days would never be acceptable now, and for good reason. Like, I'm not someone who would ever expect someone to work those sorts of hours and thrive as an individual and bring their best selves to the table very much for work-life balance, and giving people the room and the space that they need to perform in the best way that they can, and having empathy as a leader, and making sure that people feel comfortable coming to me with any issues or thoughts if they just want to chat. I think that's important to me, I just don't want to cultivate an environment where anyone is ever scared of leadership, because that’s certainly the case in a lot of the jobs that I've had.Elizabeth Stein 9:06Absolutely. So tell me a little bit more about the process for launching the brand. So you have this idea that's been percolating for a while. And then what were those initial first steps?Carol Han Pyle 9:18My very first step was to research branding agencies. I really couldn't start working on it until I had a vision of what the brand would look and feel like so I knew that I needed to find a great branding partner. So did a ton of research and found this amazing, at the time they were young and artful and scrappy working out of London, they're called Regular Practice. Now they're much more major. They've grown a lot in the past few years, which I'm so happy for them, but they were a great partner in cultivating the vision of what the brand would look like.Elizabeth Stein 9:51And they did such an incredible job because your aesthetic is so beautiful clean, and sophisticated. So I think they nailed the branding side of it.Carol Han Pyle 10:03Yeah. And a lot of that inspiration came from the name. Nette is a French word that means elegance, clean, and impeccable. And we use those adjectives as guideposts in terms of what the brand but look like I wanted the brand to feel very timeless and to act as the sort of container from which the fragrance could be the thing that shined.Elizabeth Stein 10:27Did you have that name going into the branding? Love that. So as you got the branding together, then what was the process for creating the fragrances? And what was your first product?Carol Han Pyle 10:40Oh, my goodness, it differs from fragrance by fragrance product by product and inspiration can start with the tiniest little seeds. So one example is that for our new perfume that's launching in March. I can't say that much about it. But there was this one scene from that 90s movie Ghost, if you remember that movie, that came to my mind very suddenly and clearly during a walk I was taking one morning. It was that one scene where Demi Moore has lost her husband, Patrick Swayze. And their best friend comes over with this paper bag full of Japanese pears. And he says, “I brought you those Japanese pears that you like.” And they're in her amazing loft, somewhere in Soho or Tribeca, New York City with these crazy high ceilings. And it's kind of moody and I was like, what would this woman smell like? And it was just was very atmospheric scene. And then I was like, I want to do a perfume focused on a really elegant Japanese pear.Elizabeth Stein 11:47Oh, I love that. That's so cool. So coming from the food side, I know nothing about how fragrances are made and built. So you have this idea, or this scent. And then what is the science? But how does that all work?Carol Han Pyle 12:04So after the idea comes to fruition, I go to my fragrance house. And we have a very big meeting where the mood and the inspiration and what I want what, I envisioned this fragrance of smell like are all discussed, there's a visual mood board, there are words that kind of like a word cloud that is presented. I do everything in my power as not a professional perfumer to evoke what I envisioned this fragrance can be and then the perfumers who are some of the greatest artists of all time, take that vision, interpret it through their artistic lens, and come up with several mods of what they think we're looking for, and how they interpret the inspiration based on their experience and their personal lives. It's such a fun process. So we smell everything, we have several meetings, and then there are constant revisions and refinements. And there's a whole board of people that are testing everything, and eventually, a year or two later, we come up with a final juice.Elizabeth Stein 13:17That’s so cool. It's such a different experience, I would say than something that's so much more like tactical. You want it to have X, Y, and Z ingredients and taste a certain way. So for you, you are certainly using clean fragrance. And that's a really important part of what you're doing and what you're doing differently. We've all heard that we should be eating cleaner food and thinner husk products, but fragrance is one that I think is underrated and I think newer for people to understand. So I'd love it if you could help educate our community about fragrance from that perspective, and what we should be looking for, not looking for. Tell us all about it.Carol Han Pyle 14:06So one of the first things I knew I wanted to remove from anything we made was paraffin wax is just one example of its ingredient-driven and it's very much like we don't want to work with certain ingredients. Paraffin wax is a great example. It's made from petroleum, the fossil fuel that is bad for the environment and bad for you, especially when burned in a closed environment. You'd be surprised at the number of luxury brands that still use paraffin wax, it's mind-blowing. Also, a good thing to do is to check out which brands are certified Sephora clean, and credo clean. Those are high standards in the industry and it's incredibly difficult to get through and get that certification. It took us about a month of daily work to make sure that we all had our ducks in a row. They do not hand those things out easily at all so I think that that's a really good parameter. If you're looking for clean brands, I would go to those two retailers in beauty to have it nailed.Elizabeth Stein 15:13I'm so excited to announce that we have launched two new superfood cereal flavors, chocolate almond, and cinnamon raisin almond. Our cereal is intentionally crafted with whole food ingredients you can see and taste like sorghum, oats, chia, and quinoa. Each spoonful of our superfood cereal combines crunchy, ancient grain flakes with delicious granola clusters for irresistible taste and texture. Plus they are an excellent source of vitamin D, a good source of fiber, and have over 30 grams of whole grains per serving. You can find these new flavors along with our existing flavors honey peanut butter and vanilla blueberry almond at your local Whole Foods and as always on purelyelizabeth.com.So in terms of Sephora, as you mentioned, you guys are now in Sephora, which is so exciting. Tell us a little bit about that process. I'm sure people are listening who might have an idea. Of course, Sephora is the dream to get into. So what was that process like for you getting into Sephora, and how's that been going?Carol Han Pyle 16:15It's going great. I love the Sephora team. They are truly the dream partner, the dream retailer. I can't imagine any other partner that is quite like them. They're very special in the way that they operate. Their team is not only retail experts and buyers and merchants, they're very good at that. That's their core competency. But I feel like they're also excellent brand builders, and they get into the kitchen with you and your brands and make sure that your brand direction is going in a good direction and that you are hitting the pillars that you are creating a product that is going to be appealing to their consumer. And they get in the kitchen with you. It's incredible. There's no other retailer. I don't think that does that does that in the same intensity that they do. So we launched the brand, and we got quite a bit of initial buys from influencers and some press. So we weren't getting approached by a ton of retailers right out of the gate. I was on Zoom calls but like Harrods, secretly googling what is the purchase order because. I had no idea what these retail terms were I'd never done this before. I was talking to major retailers like Harrods Selfridges and Nordstrom. And Sephora was one of those retailers. They reached out very quickly after the brand launched. We got in the kitchen with them and decided that we would do a fine fragrance collection, launch, a perfume launch and make it exclusive to Sephora for three years. And lucky us, we were allowed to work super closely with the Sephora team to make sure that the development of that category was really in line and optimized for success. So, that was great. I'm very proud of our Sephora partnership, we're 100% bootstrapped, which is no easy feat. In terms of staying at Sephora and launching at Sephora, I'm proud of that.Elizabeth Stein 18:32Talk to us a little bit about bootstrapping. How's that been?Carol Han Pyle 18:34It's been interesting, I have had a lot of conversations with various Venture Capital Partners, and have not found the exact right fit. I think that we're very open to raising money. And it's probably something that we're going to do this year actually, because I think that playing in the Sephora ballpark takes a certain level of capital. So my main life goal is to succeed at Sephora. So I think that raising money is going to be key to that. Before this though, bootstrapping was a lot more feasible. If you're only focusing mostly on DTC and smaller retail partners, then then it's a lot easier but I would say for anyone looking to launch in like an Ulta or Sephora or looking for like a major global expansion, raising money is probably a good idea.Elizabeth Stein 19:35But it's great to know that you've gotten as far as you have and into Sephora without having to raise money. And that's possible. For somebody interested in getting into Sephora, whether it be for beauty fragrances, etc, and might not have Sephora calling them already, what are some tips for approaching a retailer like that?Carol Han Pyle 20:00No, I would say that one tip for anyone who wants to launch at Sephora would probably be to just make sure that you're ready. Because the more ready you are, the easier the conversations and the reachouts will be with that team. And I would say don't rush into it. It's probably a good idea to build a certain level of brand awareness and recognition before you launch into a retailer like that because that will only help you once you're in those doors. Because launching at Sephora is one thing. Succeeding at Sephora is an entirely different ballgame. And you just want to make sure that you set yourself up for success. Otherwise, it can get very stressful. Yeah.Elizabeth Stein 20:43And I think that's great advice, whether it's beauty, food, or any product. It's one thing to get on that shelf, but it's critical to figure out how you can get it turned off the shelf or succeed and be able to stay there. What's been your approach, then to building the brand? And you mentioned certainly in the beginning that you got some great influencers and social media right away. Has that been the tactic for you guys?Carol Han Pyle 21:11Yeah, influencer press building our community has been great. We're very focused on brand awareness. We've only been around for three years, which is a very short amount of time, we're probably one of the youngest brands at Sephora. And it takes time to build the level of awareness it takes to scale. So that's really what we're hyper-focused on right now. And most of our strategy revolves around building that organic buzz amongst influencers and editors with a recent focus on TikTok, which is such a fun landscape.Elizabeth Stein 21:53Yeah, it is. And also, I've noticed that you've done some fun partnerships, which I loved.Carol Han Pyle 21:58Yeah, Tata Harper was amazing. That was our first brand partnership. I love that team so much with all my heart. They are just the best, most passionate team to work with. Barbie was also great. I had a great partner in-house at Mattel, who I think was the creative director behind Barbie Style and heavily involved in the whole circus that became the Barbie movie. And just has such a creative mind, and we develop that fragrance together, it's so fun to work with him. So those two collaborations did wonders for our brand awareness. And they were so in line with our brand. So, really the dream.Elizabeth Stein 22:43So for the Barbie scent, I'm curious, but you went into that meeting saying, “I want it to smell like…” Or the mood was what?Carol Han Pyle 22:52Yeah, unexpected. I didn't want to go in and make a Barbie candle that smelled like early fruit pink. I wanted to do something a little bit unexpected. And he was definitely in line with that. So that was really fun.Elizabeth Stein 23:08What would you say that you are most proud of since launching and then conversely confirming the biggest challenges since launching?Carol Han Pyle 23:15I think I'm honestly most proud of launching at Sephora, especially in a bootstrapped capacity. I think that that was probably my biggest accomplishment in life, which is really getting into those stores with such a young brand and completely bootstrapped and doing it on my own. So I will forever be proud of that no matter how much money…Elizabeth Stein 23:40One of the biggest challenges that you faced so far.Carol Han Pyle 23:43Probably running the business on a very limited team. I am the only full-time employee at Nette right now. I have amazing support. I have a fractional operations lead. I have amazing marketing teams. I have a great PR agency and, a great finance team that is outsourced. But I think that definitely hiring a small team to be full-time at Nette is our next step.Elizabeth Stein 24:13Well, that's super exciting. Definitely a big area of growth it sounds like. So diving into a little bit more personally would love to hear something that you're working on a goal that you're working on personally, or professionally.Carol Han Pyle 24:33I had a baby in January of 2023. And before that, I was obviously pregnant for almost a year and then before that, I was going through IVF for a year. I feel like that whole process really threw me off personally in a lot of ways because my entire world was really focused on that. And physically, it really depleted me. I'm finally a year postpartum, starting to feel like myself again, and starting to feel like I'm back to life almost. So I think a goal for me personally, is to refocus on myself and refocus on building my physical strength and get back into this really precious me routine that I had before all of that, which is waking up early journaling, meditating, and working out. I used to go to Tracy Anderson every day, and I just recently started getting back into that. Really just rebuilding personally is a goal of mine for this year. Professionally, I would say to be more measured in my decision-making, I am very much a quick decision-maker, which I think helps in entrepreneurship. But that also means on the other side of the token, sometimes my decisions are really fast and loose. So, I think just being more measured, especially as we grow, and there's a lot more at stake.Elizabeth Stein 25:57For sure. So having a one-year-old is certainly a lot to juggle with a business that is also an infant as well. I never like to say balance, but how do you manage juggling all of that in your life?Carol Han Pyle 26:13It's tough. I think that juggling being a mother with being an entrepreneur or being any working mother really is hard. It comes with a lot of challenges. It comes with a lot of mom guilt, it comes with a lot of sacrifice when it comes to your own personal needs. I am juggling it. Maybe I am juggling it by making sure like you know more recently, I think that I've started going to work out every single morning again before the day starts. And that has helped ground my days and has made me feel better. And to be honest, we have amazing help. Ozzy has an amazing nanny, and we couldn't live without her. That comes from a very privileged place. I recognize that. I don't know how I would do without a very supportive husband who pitches in, a very supportive nanny, and a great team around me.Elizabeth Stein 27:25Yeah, you need those areas in your life that you can really call on to support you. And it's so much to be doing this, especially on your own. It's a lot to look forward to getting more support it sounds like in this coming year.Carol Han Pyle 27:41Yes.Elizabeth Stein 27:44So, as I talked about, at the very beginning you certainly stepped out of your comfort zone to launch this business. Never had to be an entrepreneur or start your own candle fragrance company. Are you someone that you think has innately always been more comfortable with risk? Or is that something that you kind of learned along the way?Carol Han Pyle 28:09For whatever reason, I think that I am fairly naturally comfortable with risk. I don't know why it's just how I've always been. It kind of drives my husband crazy. I was one of the only kids in high school in Hawaii who chose to go all the way to the East Coast for school. I quit my job at the print edition of Elle to go to elle.com before .com was a real thing. Everyone thought I was crazy. Then I quit my very stable, well-paying editorial job to launch a social media agency back in 2010, which is the same year that Instagram launched, aka very early social media before people realized it was going to be a thing that brands would really need in a major way. My career and my path have really been peppered with these major pivots and moves and decisions. And that goes back to sort of fast and loose decision-making. I feel an instinct and I tend to just be like, okay, I'm doing this. I launched my social media agency with my business partner back then. I don't even think that we had a business plan. It was just purely based on instinct. Like, I think social media is going to be a thing that brands really need. And it just went from there.Elizabeth Stein 29:30Wow, that's incredible. So what do you think is next on that front?Carol Han Pyle 29:35I wish I knew. I don't know.Elizabeth Stein 29:41But you're into TikTok.Carol Han Pyle 29:43I’m into TikTok. Yes. TikTok is my next frontier at Nette.Elizabeth Stein 29:47Are you still involved with a social media agency?Carol Han Pyle 29:50Oh, yeah. That's actually a client of the social media agency. It's called Community Atelier. So the two businesses work really well hand in hand together.Elizabeth Stein 29:58Amazing and what sorts of brands do work with there?Carol Han Pyle 30:04A lot of different brands, beauty brands, we've worked with a lot of luxury hospitality brands like Peninsula Hotels, which has been a client almost since the beginning. Rosewood Hotels, leading Hotels of the World. So, lots of hospitality.Elizabeth Stein 30:16Amazing. Hopefully, that means you get to do some traveling.Carol Han Pyle 30:20Yeah. Well, babies, so we're not probably so much in it.Elizabeth Stein 30:23Yeah, but back in the day. Hopefully, that meant that for you. So we're gonna move on to some rapid-fire Q&A. Three things that you're currently loving.Carol Han Pyle 30:39I just wrapped up Gabby Bernstein's manifesting challenge. It's a 21-day manifesting challenge. I think you can still sign up for it to do it. Have you done it before?Elizabeth Stein 30:51Yes, I've done it twice. Two years in a row.Carol Han Pyle 30:53Did you do it this year?Elizabeth Stein 30:55I didn't do it this year. But the past two years.Carol Han Pyle 30:58It's been great. This is my first year doing it. And I just loved it. I thought it was fantastic. There was this one day when she was like,” Do this meditation call in your spirit guides”, and I love meditation. I love yoga but I am not a spirit guide person I was like what is this woman talking about? But I ended up doing it and like crying it was really powerful. So I love that. The perfume that I'm wearing right now is Nette Thé Vanille. It's our hero scent. It's this luscious, beautiful, sophisticated vanilla. So I'm loving that I'm wearing that every day. We just moved to Tribeca. It's the first time I've lived in Tribeca so I've really been into wandering around a

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