(#44) Elise Gabriel
Where did you grow up? Describe that place and its people.
I was born in LA , but grew up in a small town in Northern California. The two halves of California are as different as night and day, yet equally amazing . I feel so blessed to have grown up in California — a place with so much natural beauty and diversity.
What were you like as a child? What did you want to do when you grew up?
I was a major tomboy. I went to a Science, Nature, & Math-focused charter school and I loved the hands-on exposure it gave me to computer science, naturalist studies, problem-solving from a young age. I frequently changed my mind about what I wanted to be when I grew up and my parents encouraged it all… I love that they did because now I have this outlook on life that there is nothing I can’t handle with enough determination.
When did you first leave home? Where did you go?
As soon as I finished university, I used the money I’d saved during college to take myself on a several month trip through Europe to study art. Even at that young age, I knew that the time there learning about art, culture, languages, and being on my own would be one of the best investments I could make into myself. And it was. I learned so much about life and the world during that trip that I never learned in university and I still carry many of those lessons memories with me to this day.
Where do you live now? Was there a particular draw to this place? Is there something about it that is inspiring to you?
I currently live in San Francisco, California but visit Los Angeles weekly and go to New York quite frequently as well. I always like to say, “home is where the suitcase is”. I’ve spent the last 3 ½ years of my life commuting between Los Angeles and San Francisco for various work reasons and have always loved both. Los Angeles is one of the most creatively inspiring places to me and San Francisco inspires my entrepreneurial side, so I think they are a good balance for me.
How did you get into the beauty world?
Not many people know this but I actually started my career in beauty at the age of 17 when I paid my way through college working behind a Lancome beauty counter!
I started as a part time clerk making minimum wage and by the time I graduated, I was managing a location, helping write national sales strategy documents, & managing a team of 10. Reflecting back on this, I am impressed with my teenage self. Adult me, wishes I had partied more in school. But I’ve always been quite focused on my goals and work and attribute my success during this time to the fact that I made a conscious decision to really “bring it” when I showed up.
How did you first come to make Paradox? Was there a particular moment when you knew it was what you wanted to pursue?
As much as I loved beauty in college, this was pre-ecommerce and the beauty industry was way too slow for me at the time. So after school I decided to go into digital marketing. I did this for many years but when I was traveling (up to 3 times per week) for work and my mainstream beauty products started causing issues on my skin — I switched to organics — but when I switched to organic products that brought about an entirely new set of issues. The products came in packaging that was difficult for me to take with me while I was on-the-go or traveling, they would explode in my carry-on or get confiscated by TSA — and they certainly weren’t as beautiful or fun to use as my old favorite from mainstream luxury beauty brands. So I searched, and when I couldn’t find something that checked all of my boxes of being chic, sustainably-sourced, effective, clean, and easy to take with me on-the-go — I decided to make my own.
What were you doing before you started Paradox?
I worked as a digital marketing executive for an ad agency leading projects for clients like Disney, Marvel, United Health, etc. I loved it! I was also running a beauty / fashion blog called Accidentally Jetset where I wrote about fashion, beauty, and travel through the lens of also having a career.
How would you describe your product? Why clean beauty? What is it about oils?
Our first product, Marrakech Liquid Gold, is a 100% fair trade organic moisturizing oil for face & hair. It’s made with the highest-quality cold-pressed argan oil and a special blend of pure rose oil from Marrakech which work synergistically to naturally hydrate the skin, prevent free radical damage, soothe redness, and add a natural glow to the skin. It comes in a beautiful gold bottle and a super strong pump mechanism that makes it easy to take with you on the go.
We’re currently working on expanding the Paradox line with a series of products that are equally chic, sustainably-sourced, healthy, effective, and easy for women to take with them while on-the-go.
I find that modern women are so busy and find it difficult to find time for themselves so when they do have time to take a moment of self-care, it needs to check all of their boxes which is why I created Paradox.
What inspires your work? What motivates to you to do what you do?
I draw inspiration from many sources but mainly my experiences traveling and the people around me who encourage me daily.
What is the best piece of advice you were given when you were starting out?
Listen to your gut.
What do you include in your beauty regimen? Favorite clean beauty products, other than Paradox, right now?
I’m a clean beauty hoarder. For skincare, some current favorites are Paradox, Immunocologie, The Ordinary, and recently I’ve been blending a lot of my own products. For makeup, I love the Kjaer Weis, Kosas, Henne Organics.
What’s your favorite part about being a business owner?
I love watching watching the business grow and hearing the stories of women who use Paradox and are experiencing a shift in skin health by using wholesome, clean products.
What are your biggest challenges? Do you have an achilles heel?
Building something from nothing is always hard, and there are challenges daily. But there is no progress without struggle so I try to keep myself in a problem-solving mindset and approach each challenge from the perspective of doing something creative, and new.
What lessons have you learned?
Before starting Paradox, I never really knew just how many hours went into starting a company. It is all consuming. As an entrepreneur, I’m constantly striving to learn how to be hyper-efficient with my time. One of my favorite tricks is taking walking meetings.
What does the word authentic mean to you? How does your work allow you to live authentically?
To me, living authentically means following your passions and doing the things you know you were born to do rather than living a life that others expect of you. My work at Paradox is one of those things for me.
How would you describe yourself in five words?
Creative. Driven. Curious. Adventurer. Family.
Do you have a morning ritual?
Yes! My boyfriend makes disgusting way-too-healthy smoothies and I drink lemon water while we’re getting ready.
Any badass women you love?
So many. My mom is a huge source of inspiration to me. My friend Alix Peabody just launched a rose company and I am constantly inspired by her drive and ambition. Rosie O’Neil, the Founder of Sugarfina is another one — it’s inspiring to see what she’s built while still managing to be one of the nicest people I’ve ever met. I have so much respect for what Emily Weiss has built at Glossier. And finally, Gabrielle “coco’ Chanel for building one of the most powerful brands in the world with so many people doubting her.
Words you live by?
Anything is possible with enough hard work and imagination.
When do you feel like the best version of yourself?
When I am in action!