Carina Chaz is the founder of DedCool, a uni-sex, vegan, and non-toxic fragrance company. She is passionate about bringing a chic edge to the world of fragrance and inspiring individuals to explore their identities with bold scents.
Where did you grow up?
I was born and raised in Los Angeles, California. My parents raised me with an organic and plant-based lifestyle – classic LA. I went away to attend college for a year. At that point in my life I was trying to figure out what I wanted to do and how I wanted to carry myself in the world. I was always creating fragrances, and I knew that I needed that creative outlet to continue. Being away from home wasn’t the right choice for me; I returned to Los Angeles after that first year. I jumped around to several different schools – trying to figure out the best way to integrate my urge to start a business with my passion for education and want to earn a degree. I graduated with a bachelor’s degree in Business Entrepreneurship and Liberal Arts from Antioch University in 2017.
What inspired you to pursue fragrances?
I have always been drawn to the strong female entrepreneur – from Amelia Earhart to Freida Kahlo. I was especially drawn to Coco Chanel because she built her career from scratch and chose to stay true to her ideas even when they were against the status-quo. Thirteen year-old me also loved that we shared the same initials. At that time, I had this idea to create my own scent. I called it Carina Chaz no. 13 – in homage to Coco Chanel. I worked one-on-one with a chemist to create the scent and to learn more about the chemistry behind fragrance creation. For my thirteenth birthday party, I gave that fragrance out as a party favor for the guests.
Although I have changed since I was thirteen, I am still impressed by and drawn to the emotive ability of scents. Fragrance has helped me create my identity.
Your parents own a skin and body care goods company, LaNatura. How did this foster an entrepreneurial spirit in you?
My parents’ manufacture body products for high end buyers. When I was growing up, their factory and lab was my playground. After school, my friends and I would come to the lab and create our own candles and lip balms.
In the late 90s/early 2000s, I had this idea that involved expanding their lip balm offerings. I wanted them to create new, fun flavors, and colors. My parents created this little project for me within their company to rebrand their lip balm line, which we introduced to their company in 2003. We had a small panel with some of my friends, and we picked the colors and flavors. The lip balms I designed are still being sold all over the world.
My parents had faith that I had developed their entrepreneurial spirit. They taught me every side of their business – the labor, the packing, the little things that no one is super interested in doing. It shaped my whole creative side.
What inspired you to create DedCool?
DedCool is an emulation of myself. I couldn’t find the scent that I wanted to wear; only traditional style fragrances, which were not open to gender fluidity, were being sold. I wanted a scent that was cooler, edgier, and that was not stuck on gender stereotypes. I created DedCool to fill in the gap of what was missing from the market.
My idea to create a 100% uni-sex fragrance started as a passion project and now, almost four years later, has grown immensely. We have evolved from three scents to ten.
What should we look for in the future with DedCool?
It is pretty amazing to do what I love and to have a great response to it; I am so grateful. Our products are in retail stores all over the world, sitting next to some of the biggest fragrance companies. We recently introduced the Chazstick lip balm; it is made from shea butter, so it actually works to moisturize your lips. We also just launched the DedCool Massage Candle: scented candles that you can use on your own skin. We put a lot of research and education into the creation of each product to ensure they are vegan, biodegradable, and effective. I want our company to be more than just a product manufacturer; every creation has to have an intention behind it. For example, we created our massage candles to foster intimate, vulnerable moments, such as having open conversations about sexuality and gender identity with romantic partners. We have an exciting launch schedule for 2020!
In the future, I want us to push sustainability to the forefront of our company. At DedCool, we want to promote fragrance and meaningful self-care into an experience that encourages individuals to feel self-pride and confidence.
How do you incorporate Sustainability into your business?
Fragrances traditionally are not biodegradable. At DedCool, we use safe-synthetics that are biodegradable. We bottle everything in glass and our packaging is from recycled materials. Our goal is to make everything as sustainable and with the lowest carbon footprint as possible.
For our packaging and printing, we outsource to companies that are located in a five mile radius and whose materials are ethically sourced. This way, we are reducing our carbon footprint by minimizing the transportation needed to get from the materials to the final product. We make small batches every two weeks to insure quality and to make sure we are not creating more than we need. Everything is made in house and we prioritize minimizing our waste.
What has been the largest challenge you’ve faced while creating DedCool?
I was twenty-two when I launched the brand. It was frowned upon to be a self taught perfumer, so there were many people who didn’t think I would succeed. In general, it is hard to have your own business because you are your only advocate. DedCool started with very low momentum; not many people believed in the brand. I had to put my best foot forward and believe in my brand because no one else would.
What advice would you give to young high school or college students who are undecided about their interests and paths in life?
I did not know what I wanted to do while I was in college: it took some deep soul searching. I learned that I had to put my art out there and hope people would understand. No one likes rejection, but it is a natural part of putting something out into the world.
We live in an age of digital media, of facades and false truths. It is easy to get caught up in that and to let it get you down. So, it is essential to separate the facade from your own truth. I had to stay strong with my truth that DedCool had something different and important to say.
What keeps you driven to pursue dedcool?
I am an advocate for sustainability and gender fluidity, and we need more of those in our world. Also, knowing that I have an impact on people’s lives, and that I can promote these things as a young business person, keeps me driven. The great response I have received from our customers, my colleagues, and other small business owners motivates me to work hard and continue pursuing DedCool.
Do you have any passions or rituals that keep you grounded outside of work?
I go to the farmers market with my mom every Sunday, and I love to lay low on the weekends. As a business owner, I am on 24/7. I feel grounded when I turn off and take time to find a social, personal, and work life balance. I have a ritual of taking long walks on the weekend without my phone.
What does being powerful mean to you? When do you feel powerful?
The willingness to listen and learn is a powerful tool. When I open myself up to listen and learn, I cultivate power. With DedCool, I have a vehicle to promote ways to practice self-love and sustainability. When I am educating others and sharing insights, I feel powerful.
Follow Carina on instagram @carinachaz, and stay up to date with the latest DedCool products and trends @dedcool.