When it comes to being a StilettoGal, we always give back to the community or other people. This amazing woman is taking giving back to the next level by giving back to both the environment and to people in need. I recently had the opportunity to meet with Gentry to hear her entrepreneurial story.
StilettoGal: Tell us about yourself and your company?
Gentry Lane: I’m the CEO/Founder of a social-good startup called Proper (www.ProperSoap.com). Proper is a luxury, natural, vegan, bath, body & candle line that raises funds for clean water and sanitation programs. Proper harnesses voracious luxury consumer good spending and leverages it for solutions to humanitarian crises. We turn luxury consumers into high-impact social-good activists.
Proper combines hippie values with a luxurious, sophisticated product. I'm very passionate about eliminating toxins from my personal groom products, but a lot of non-toxic products are patchouli or hemp scented….which is so not my style. Proper’s fragrances (like Elderflower, Lychee, Pear with Marine notes) are inspired by a really sophisticated olfactory palate.
SG: What was the inspiration behind launching your company?
GL: The inspiration behind Proper is two-fold, really. As much as I am a lover of sensual, luxurious delights, I am someone who cares about making the world a better place. I wanted to make a beautiful, true luxury, high-integrity product…that helps the world in a high-impact way.
Somebody had to do something because our charity system is broken. People who need help aren't getting the aid they need and people who want to help aren't able to make a high-impact difference. I was interested in fixing this inequality without requiring a major consumer behavior change or sacrifice. A lot of companies share profits with charitable causes, but Proper’s business model is higher-impact, more immediate and more direct than our predecessors.
SG: What has been your biggest challenges thus far in starting a business?
GL: With Proper, I’m doing two things at once: building a new brand and building a brand new way to do business. Proper is both a digital-direct consumer company and a charity disruptor. It’s not an either or. We don’t fit neatly into a particular portfolio profile. The challenge has been explaining to investors that it’s ok to be outside the box.
SG: What are three tips you could give to young entrepreneurs about launching a business?
1. Know who you are and stick by your guns. People *love* to give advice and sometimes it’s not well thought out. I listen to everyone with an open mind, but I get all kinds of contrary advice from really smart, established, business leaders.
2. Go through an incubator or accelerator to get feedback & momentum. I run Kick Los Angeles http://www.kickincubator.com/in/los-angeles/
3. Count on everything taking longer and being more expensive than you thought.
SG: What do you want to leave as a legacy?
GL: Sanitation infrastructure. I’d like for Proper to be responsible for the end of this crisis in my lifetime just like the Gates foundation eradicated polio in India. I’d like to get better than basic sanitation to the 2.2 B people currently living without. Just that. Nothing big.
SG: What kind of shoe are you and why?
GL: Chanel stiletto spectators. They’re classic with a twist. And they’re Chanel. I wear mine nonstop.