Women in Business Q&A: Ariel Kaye, Founder and CEO, Parachute

Ariel Kaye is the Founder and CEO of Parachute - a direct-to-consumer home essentials brand based in Venice Beach, CA. Prior to launching Parachute, Ariel spent ten years working in brand development and advertising in New York City. Long intrigued by the interplay of design and wellness, Ariel relocated from New York to her hometown of Los Angeles, intent on establishing a brand that addressed both the consumers' need for quality Bedding and sound sleep. Ariel earned a Master's Degree in Media Studies from the New School and a Bachelor of Arts Degree from the Gallatin School at NYU.

How has your life experience made you the leader you are today?
I've had great role models in my parents. They both have their own businesses and never pressured me to follow a conventional path. I quickly realized that I didn't have to climb the corporate ladder to be successful.

I've also always been the type of person who likes to make an impact professionally. Around 2011-2012, I had many friends join early stage start-ups or launch their own companies. I was inspired by the all encompassing nature of these ventures and what it meant to truly build something from the ground up. It was amazing to see their hard work and satisfaction. I knew starting my own business was the next step.

How has your previous employment experience aided your position at Parachute?
Prior to launching Parachute, I spent ten years working in brand development and advertising in New York. During my career, I led strategic endeavors including product development, content, digital campaigns and user experience with a focus on the consumer goods and luxury categories. My research yielded valuable insight into customer behavior and enabled me to better understand the consumer mindset, intention and motivation. I fell in love with building brands - thinking about products, people, what moves and motivates consumers.

What have the highlights and challenges been since launching Parachute?
Each day that I get to do what I love - work with people who teach me and inspire me - is a great success. Launching Parachute has been the hardest and most rewarding experience of my life. The process of building a business is completely transformative. Every day brings new challenges, but I'm constantly thinking about how to evolve the business while also building a happy team. Our positive customer feedback makes all the hard work and sacrifices worthwhile.

What advice can you offer women who want a leadership role?
Just do it. Don't even consider how being a female might make it more difficult. Go for it and don't look back.

How do you maintain a work/life balance?
Maintaining a work/life balance is an ongoing learning experience and challenge. When you start your own brand, you commit to making work your priority. However, a balance is critical to not burn out.

My best piece of advice is to be self-aware. Acknowledge when you need to step away and recharge, even if that only means designating an hour of phone-free time to spend with a loved one or committing to not checking your email after 10pm. Try to find an activity that forces you to put your phone down, step away from email - for me this is yoga - and make an effort to do this every day.

It's also important to stimulate your mind with non-work related reading material and to make time for other things that you're passionate about.

What do you think is the biggest issue for women in the workplace?
When you are so deeply, emotionally invested in building something, it's challenging to do anything but obsess over every mistake, delay or piece of criticism. It's easy to get wrapped up in the little things, but don't lose sight of the big picture. You have to be focused, resilient and have a sense of humor. When you don't sweat the small stuff, you can be in the present, acknowledge the progress you are making, and keep moving forward.

How has mentorship made a difference in your professional and personal life?
Having a solid network is so important. I rely on my friends who also have similar types of jobs or work in the same environment; they understand my day to day and are easy to relate to. I've also found that people are very willing to help - you just have to ask.

Joining Launchpad was invaluable for mentorship in my professional life. Launchpad is a startup accelerator, and it introduced me to a network of fellow entrepreneurs, which was critical. These are the people I bounce ideas off of and feel supported by.

Finally, I strongly believe in the reciprocal process of mentorship. I love speaking with people who are starting business and providing mentorship. So often, I find myself learning, growing and better overall from the relationship.

Which other female leaders do you admire and why?
Two of my investors, my mentors and bad ass women: Kara Nortman and Joanne Wilson. I love working with them.

What do you want Parachute to accomplish in the next year?
We will be launching our flagship retail location here in Venice Beach soon!