We had the good fortune of connecting with Samantha Cutler and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Samantha, let’s start by talking about what inspires you?
As a mother, business leader and woman, I am most inspired by our young creative community. Before I started Petite ‘n Pretty, I did not realize the magnitude of brand loyal and extremely engaged children, tweens and teens that are in the digital space. Our fans are always writing “fan mail” with awesome creative ideas, new product concepts and telling us about their lives. It’s always so encouraging to be a “safe” space to our young audience to connect with.
There are thousands of young creators who are just starting their make-up pages and channels. As a beauty brand made for young creatives, we are here to cheer them on, from day one.
Can you give our readers an introduction to your business? Maybe you can share a bit about what you do and what sets you apart from others?
I have always loved makeup my whole life. I knew that I wanted to pursue a career in beauty, but I didn’t know exactly what I wanted to do. During college I interned at MAC Cosmetics in several different departments – Artist Relations, Store Events, Pro Artistry and Public Relations. I realized by working these different internships, that I wanted to be on the creative side where I was involved in product creation. Upon college graduation, I worked at MAC Cosmetics in Product Development. I worked in product development for 17 years before I started my company. Working in product development for larger, prestige color cosmetic brands such as MAC, Smashbox and Stila I was able to learn the fundamentals that are essential for creating and building a brand.
I saw and felt that there was a “white space” opportunity in beauty for children, tweens, and teens. The products made for them are often from overseas and use cheap packaging and raw materials. I wanted to develop something that I was confident and comfortable with my own children using.
There are many things that I wish I knew before I started a company. Some of my experiences are:
1. You cannot predict the future.
a. Covid is a perfect example. Covid is something that no one could have ever predicted or prepared for. I believe that being nimble and flexible has helped us react and be successful during this time.
2. You WILL wear a million hats.
a. Starting a company is a time where everything you know, plus everything you never knew will be imperative to your success and ability to thrive. I feel like my expertise was really in product development and brand marketing, and since starting my brand, I have learned about all departments.
3. Building employee morale Is not easy, and doesn’t happen overnight
a. Building your team is easy, but building a united team is hard. It takes time for your team to get into a “groove” and all work together for a common goal. Being in a start-up, there are days that are more challenging then others. At Petite ‘n Pretty, we will do fun team dinners, order in lunch on Friday, and do fun “out of the office” activities. [before Covid]
4. Brand success takes time
a. I feel that with certain celebrity brands that have success “overnight” it is not realistic. Petite ‘n Pretty is a little over 2 years old, and it has taken time to build. We still have a TON of growth to do, but patience is key.
5. Customer service is critical
a. I have found that serving your customer is critical for positive brand experiences. You want people to recommend your brand to their friends and family, and also come back and re-purchase from you. Its more than just selling products, its making positive memories.
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
Growing up in LA, I have many favorites that are in many ways remind me of my childhood. My must have breakfast spots are Café Vida in Pacific Palisades and The Griddle Café, their chocolate French toast is everything! Before or after breakfast you can hike Temescal Canyon or Runyon Canyon! The counter at the Beverly Hills Hotel is also a must visit!
I am not a big lunch person, but I do love Avocado & Quinoa Superfood Salad from Mendocino Farms and their “Not So Fried” Chicken Sandwich are both awesome! The Apple Pan is awesome for old school burger, but their egg salad sandwich is a personal favorite. If you’re having lunch on a weekend, I love the Ivy on Robertson.
Dinner is my favorite meal, and obviously the most fun! Some of my favorite places to eat dinner are Dan Tana’s in West Hollywood, Craigs [their bread is amazing], Catch is always fun and has a great scene, Nobu Malibu is the best! It’s a must visit but make sure to book your reservations early! If you want a night in, Postmating Sugarfish is the way to go! If you’re in the mood for the best frozen yogurt of your life, you must stop by The Bigg Chill [this is the yogurt place that Demi Lovato tweeted about.]
I love taking friends on a Hollywood Star map tour so they can really see why Los Angeles is called Tinsel Town! The Grove is a great place to visit for shopping. If you’re looking for more “mom and pop” type stores, Melrose or Abbott Kinney are my top choices. LACMA is always fun to visit and check out the current exhibitions. Fairfax has a ton of cool stores, like Supreme and other streetwear companies.
Famers Markets are a lot of fun, the fruits and veggies are super fresh because they’re grown locally! One of my favorite farmers market finds are Harrys Berries and Jyan Isaac Bread. They’re both delish and unique to Cali. Pacific Palisades has a great farmers market, and then you can do some fun shopping at the Palisades Village.
Last but not least, a visit to Malibu is a must! Going to the Malibu Country Mart, grabbing lunch at Malibu Kitchen & Gourmet Country Mart and going to the beach is always a perfect day! End your night with dinner Tony Taverna’s, a Kardashian Family favorite! The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
There are many role models and mentors I have in my life that have helped guide my career. Aside from my parents, who have always believed in me and helped support my dreams and goals, I am thankful for my mentor in my career, Jennifer Balbier. Jennifer is a product development guru, who has built her career working in brand and product development. She is responsible for helping grow MAC Cosmetics, as she started with Estee Lauder in 1998. Over her career at Estee, she then moved on to oversee all Artistry Brands including Smashbox, Bobbi Brown, Too Faced, Becca, etc… I truly am thankful for her teaching me product branding and development. Working at Estee Lauder was an amazing experience and taught me the fundamentals of development from a corporate perspective. I since have worked for smaller brands, like Stila, which without my experience at MAC [which is owned by Estee Lauder] would have been a more difficult transition if I did not come from a larger, more corporate world.