We had the good fortune of connecting with Cary Lin and we’ve shared our conversation below.

Hi Cary, how has your background shaped the person you are today?
I immigrated to the United States at the age of 5 and grew up in Berkeley, CA. Which I realize in retrospect is a very unique place to have grown up in – it felt like everyone recycled, cared about environmental causes, and valued entrepreneurship. That said, I never dreamed that I would start my own company until I worked for a notable female founder in the beauty space years later, because the flavor of entrepreneurship in the Bay Area was so dominated by the classic (male) tech wunderkinds. But my background has definitely been informed by these early values of environmental consciousness, the importance of diversity, and openness to failure and risk-taking.

I think these values played a fundamental role in how my co-founder Angela and I built the company. As co-founders, the company is essentially our core values at scale. We come from very different backgrounds personally and professionally, but we united to address the common cause of disrupting the beauty industry to provide better, more sustainable options that don’t require compromising. We talk at Common Heir about inheriting our skin as we inherit the earth, and that our goal is reimagine those traditions to pass on the best of ourselves to future generations. Implicitly, we are also inherit the cultural and societal expectations of beauty that are specific to how we grew up, and what we saw around us. It impacts how I view beauty and wellness (and how that view has evolved), and how I view building a company.

As a first generation Chinese-American, I’ve felt caught between two beauty standards that I never truly fit into. As a result, my love for skincare isn’t really about conforming to a particular look – donut-glazed skin, glass-skin, pale-skin or bronzed, sun-kissed skin – but rather about finding whatever brings out the best, most confident version of you. I’m never going to fit in perfectly to any given cultural idea because I occupy the space between multiple cultural beauty ideals, and our goal with Common Heir is to not force fit a standard of beauty, but rather to let the SELF shine through self-love, self-care, and care for the planet. The only thing universal is that we all share time on this planet together, and maybe that’s why Angela and I haven’t been as forward about leaning into our specific ethnicities throughout this journey and instead choosing to focus on the things that unite us in COMMON – maybe because we both know what it’s like to occupy the shades and spaces in between.

What should our readers know about your business?
Common Heir betters your beauty ritual with sustainable, intentional and indulgent skincare swaps that deliver clinically-proven results and are never made with plastic. We believe that we inherit our skin as we inherit the earth, and it’s up to us to pass down rituals that are both beautiful and sustainable. Everything we create is made to become your new favorite product, crafted with intention, attention to detail — from formula, to packaging, to manufacturing — and respect and reverence for the environment.

As clean beauty veterans, my co-founder Angela and I have over 12 years of industry experience between us and have been behind building 50 to 60 clean and indie beauty brands (some might be sitting on your shelf right now!). As first-time WOC entrepreneurs, we believed there could be a world where the most coveted skincare was also good to the environment and community who loved it. We weren’t living in it, so we created it – which meant, in our case, building the brand entirely remotely during the pandemic. Angela and I have only met 3 times during the course of our founder partnership, and had not worked together prior to a mutual introduction over the phone over a year and a half ago. Despite the challenges, we still were able to launch the brand, and we’re so incredibly proud of that, and grateful to our partners and community for helping us get there.

I’m proud of the fact that we never gave up on our vision, even when the pandemic forced us to change our plans. When Angela left her comfortable job and health insurance to join full-time, I’m sure folks that she was a little crazy! We definitely sacrificed a lot personally to bring Common Heir to life, but at the same time, I think the pandemic also forced us to prioritize what mattered most, and that we cared enough about what we were building to pursue it. Since then, we’ve pulled off a community beta, built a global supply chain, and raised initial investment to get the product to market, despite the setbacks. We even learned how to manage a brand photo shoot via text message! After multiple formula iterations, we’re thrilled to launch with our hero product, a world-first Vitamin C serum that is clinically proven to improve skin texture, visibly brighten and fade spots in 100% plastic-free packaging. Our formula has earned the Leaping Bunny seal, EWG Verified, and certified readily biodegradable.

Through our story and brand, we hope to inspire people to take action to build the future they want to live in. We want the world to upend its expectations for sustainable beauty, so that you can feel good about feeling good.

If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
Pre-COVID, right?

I think LA is just so sprawling with such different neighborhoods that I’d tailor my recommendations depending on whether they were a foodie, or a movie fan, or an outdoorsy type. There’s something for absolutely everyone.

Regardless, I’d say that we should drive through Malibu for hiking at the Zuma Canyon trail, and reward ourselves with brunch at Malibu Farm Pier Cafe. It’s just the very essence of California that I think people envision. For culture, I’d recommend that they hit up the Getty and LACMA, and see some of the famous homes like the Hollyhock house or Eames house. For shopping and exquisite people watching, I’d recommend Melrose with a brief coffee break at Urth or Alfred. In terms of food – where should I begin? Favorites include Bavel, Pine & Crane in Los Feliz, and Park’s Barbecue in K-Town .That’s not even including doing a taco tour (Guerrilla Tacos, Leo’s Taco Truck, Mariscos Jaliscos, etc). If they had extra time, perhaps a day trip to Ojai.

Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
Shoutout to Rad Ladies, a network of female founders led by Anna Whiteman at Coefficient Capital. Building a company is already an isolating, stressful experience much of the time. Building a company during a pandemic even more so. I would not have gotten where I am today without that community and camaraderie from that amazing group of like-minded women who are building incredible things. The women I met have gone on to invest in Common Heir, advise, or helped with key hires.

Website: commonheir.com

Instagram: https://instagram.com/commonheir

Facebook: https://facebook.com/commonheir

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