Carina Chaz of DedCool is targeting Gen Z consumers with her unisex scents. Her beauty-business-owner mother is her role model.
Beauty business owner Carina Chaz is pushing to “completely disrupt what people see on shelves” at perfume counters. You could say she gets her ambition from her mother.
Chaz’s company, DedCool, sells vegan, unisex perfumes designed to appeal to the Gen Z market, the sought after demographic of older teens and early 20-somethings. Launched in 2016 when she was just 22 years old, the company is small, but growing, thanks to winning shelf space in about 100 stores — from small boutiques to big sellers like Neiman Marcus and Urban Outfitters — in the United States, Australia, Abu Dhabi and several other countries.
She admits she finds waiting for growth tough. “When you dream big, it can happen, but certainly not overnight.” Thankfully her mother — Sabina Chazanas, a female entrepreneur who runs beauty venture LaNatura — instilled in her a very important principle: “patience pays off.”
A Mother’s Encouragement
Chaz says she grew up around “very strong women,” including her mom. She recalls hearing Chazanas’ stories about starting up her Culver City, Calif., venture “from nothing” in 1987. Because of that, “I wanted to create something to call my own.”
For as long as she can remember, Chaz strived to help the family business — and not by filing papers or answering phones. At age 7, she helped expand the venture’s lip balm collection by urging her mother to create new flavors, then continued to offer her generational perspective as the company’s informal “young creative director” when those flew off shelves.
Chazanas “pushed me to take a role in the LaNatura business after seeing my success at such a young age,” Chaz recalls.
Chaz discovered her true calling around her 13th birthday. For her bat mitzvah, she was allowed to design a perfume — she named it “Carina Chaz No. 13” in honor of Coco Chanel — to give out as party favors. She had enjoyed her turn in charge, but didn’t anticipate the response to what she had made. “People were loving this perfume and wanted to know where it comes from.”
She saw an opportunity, but still had 7th grade to finish. Yet the seed was planted, and between homework assignments, her mother encouraged Chaz to develop and distribute a small line of scents bearing her name through LaNatura.
This was no lemonade stand. In 2009, Chaz was approached by an executive curating makeup for an official line of merchandise tied to the “Twilight” movies. He wanted “Carina Chaz No. 13,” as its official perfume. “I was so excited and honored, but being the kind of rebellious person I am I didn’t want to sell.” Rather, she agreed to work with the company to create a new fragrance, Immortal Twilight, and kept her original scent for herself.
In 2015, the idea for an eco-friendly, gender-neutral perfume brand came to her. She launched DedCool one year later under the umbrella of her mother’s venture, and spun it out as a separate entity in 2017. (She still oversees her Carina Chaz brand inside of LaNatura.)
Both the mother’s and the daughter’s ventures have found their groove. Chaz reports that LaNatura now focuses on manufacturing high-end spa products, and works with Four Seasons Hotel spas around the world — with private labels made in its facility. It has 15 full-time employees.
DedCool, meanwhile, has six full- and part-time employees who create and ship five perfumes and numerous chapsticks — or “chazsticks,” as she calls them — to retailers and online shoppers. She declined to disclose annual revenue figures, but says she ships out about 400 bottles of perfume per month.
Starting Up Young
When Chaz first launched DedCool, she recalls feeling reluctant to serve as her brand’s ambassador, even prior to launching. “I was 21 when I started” developing the idea, “and very insecure at that time.” She also struggled to get vendors to take her seriously due to her age.
Starting up young also came with the added challenge of trying to get an education while growing a business. She changed schools several times, first to be closer to her home and venture, and then in search of the right academic home. She finally found her place at Antioch University in Los Angeles, and graduated with a bachelor’s degree in 2017.
Her age became less of a public relations issue as time went on. In fact, she says she found that public interest in DedCool grew as more people learned her story. She and her products were covered in magazines like Cosmopolitan and GQ.
Her age has helped in other ways, too. Having grown up in a plugged-in world, she is a digital native. This gave her a leg up reaching consumers online through channels like photo-sharing site Instagram, which has been critical in establishing an international presence.
Chaz’s dedication to sustainability also resonates with her generation. “There has been an amazing turnaround in the green beauty market,” she says. But green living is also a personal passion of hers, instilled in her from a young age by a mother who stocked their home with plant-based, organic products.
What Comes Next
Recently, DedCool made its way into Urban Outfitters — an achievement Chaz thought was her ultimate goal. But “once I reached that, I could see further down the tunnel. Maybe we get into bigger stores and sit next to fragrances on those shelves.”
Retail expansion is her primary short-term goal, and she has her sights set on high-end stores like Barney’s. She also has several new scents in the works. Wherever DedCool goes, she promises that its eco-friendly, socially aware principles will endure as a core value.
And no matter what the future holds, Chaz knows she’ll be able to find support where it’s always been. “My mother has always been my biggest role model,” Chaz says. “She supported all my wacky ideas because she knew my passion would drive my achievements.”
Related: Read about other mompreneurs.
Posted: May 10, 2018