Kate Fissenden / Melbourne, Australia
Founder / General Manager of Stevie K Cosmetics & Charles + Lee
Meet Kate Fissenden, boss babe and Founder/CEO of two successful beauty brands, Stevie K Cosmetics and Charles + Lee. Stevie K Cosmetics is a makeup brand that is bold and outspoken, for women who are bored with makeup and want to make a statement. While men's skincare brand Charles + Lee, was created with the mission to bridge the gap between women's spin off ranges and ridiculously priced niche brands.
This week, we spoke with Kate about all things business and entrepreneurship and got to know a little bit more about her.
What inspired you to create your own cosmetics brands (“Stevie K Cosmetics” and “Charles & Lee”) and take this career path?
I’d been working in the beauty/skincare industry for around 10 years and grew frustrated that my ideas weren’t being heard. I had worked with some of Australia’s big beauty brands and had assisted with developing ranges that I felt were lacking certain things. It was a big argument with my (male) boss over ‘what women want’ that I quit my job on the spot and endeavored to create brands that I believed in.
To me this industry is not just a job or a career. It’s what I live and breathe. I decided I had to give it a crack or I would regret it forever. So, I invested my house deposit and got the ball rolling (after many red wines)
What do you think is the biggest challenge for women in business?
I would like to believe that the playing field is becoming more even for men and women but once you find yourself the only female in a board room of men, you realise how far we still have to come. I find I have two main challenges with being a woman in business. The first is not being listened to/condescended/’man-splained’ when speaking. I have done this gig for a long time, yet I still find I am spoken over by those who have been in the biz for a year or two.
The second is being called a bitch or ‘emotional’ when you are assertive. I’m pretty strong minded and can handle it but bloody hell do some men need to just take a seat. I don’t know why the above are still a thing, but alas here we are. Not to put the blame on just men, women are bad at this too. I am however, lucky to have some amazing people on my team (both male and female) and they’re all rock stars who support one another.
As an entrepreneur running two successful companies, what’s does your average morning routine look like?
The only thing that is ever the same is that I’m up at 5am each day to play with Bowie (my golden retriever pup) and that I need a coffee before I can function in the morning, and a wine before I can wind down at night. I’m either then off to the office to work on packaging designs, product development, branding, strategy meetings or to the studio for content creation.
Both brands are super visual, so our content stream needs to be steady which means many hours behind the camera. I read a lot about business owners who get up, meditate, drink green juice and follow a strict to do list and I would LOVE to be one of those people. However, I can’t do lists and need to be always on the go.
On your day off, what do you like to do?
Not much at all! I will be honest and say I really struggle to switch off from work mode, so when I need a break I enjoy going for a long drive somewhere, a solid Netflix session, an ugly day in my trackies with panda eyes and unbrushed hair…
Your daily beauty/makeup/ tanning routine?
Working in the beauty industry, I have a lot of fun products at my disposal! But for me, I like to keep it simple if I don’t have any events on. My daily go to is always dry shampoo, a light foundation, orange or red smoky shadow and a truck load of mascara. I also prefer a light stained lip as opposed to a lipstick. (funnily enough, all of the aforementioned are Stevie K products we are working on).
If you could give some advice to the younger you, what would it be?
“You don’t need to have it all worked out yet”. When I was 17, I was set on being a marine biologist so I could work with sharks. I was super deflated when I found the studying thing just didn’t work for me. Taking a receptionist job at a beauty house when I was 19 was the best thing I ever did, it was like a light switch for me. That is where I needed to be.
Who has been the biggest influence on your life?
Tricky one! Obviously, my mum who has taught me how to be strong willed and determined (also stubborn, feisty and a giant brat), but also my partner Andy. He has been by my side through it all. There have been numerous times I have wanted to throw in the towel, but he grounds me and reminds me of why I started. He is very level headed where as I work on intuition and passion which is a double-edged sword.
Dream/favourite holiday destination?
I adore Canada. I was lucky enough to spend a white Christmas up at Big White a couple of years back and fell in love at first sight. I’m a winter baby, so I enjoy the cold weather and rugging up by the fire.
Where do you see yourself in the next 3-5 years?
I would love to have a larger portfolio of brands and see Stevie K/Charles + Lee worldwide. We are already readily on track for the second aspect, with the brands headed to South Africa, NZ, UK, USA and Korea in the coming months.
Kate is the Founder/General Manager of Stevie K Cosmetics and Charles + Lee. She was kind enough to give us a discount code for you to use on Stevie K Cosmetics:
Type in HEYSTEVIE at checkout to receive 20% off!