Subtle Innovation: Rachel Reid's Growth as She Redefines the Beauty Industry

Roughly six months into developing her beauty startup, Rachel Reid got a phone call that almost ground the whole project to a halt. A team member who ran the company’s social media alerted her to a business that had just launched in the UK with a product design almost identical to Subtl Beauty, her own company. After months of dedicating all her free time outside her day job to this project — waking up at 6:30 am to cram in an hour and a half before work; spending all her nights and weekends pouring over development details — it felt like another company beating her to the launch had rendered all her time, effort, and money pointless. Reid was driving around Pittsburgh’s Southside when she got the call and, panicking, immediately ordered her partner to stop the car.

“It’s like when you when you hear something awful… and you get that feeling where that wave of heat washes over you; that flushed feeling. Your stomach drops and you’re like, oh my god, the world is ending.” Reid said, describing her reaction to the call. “…I had been spending every waking hour working on this. It felt like this big waste of time.”

It took her an hour to bounce back. She went for a walk. She “felt all her feelings”. She ran errands at Giant Eagle. And then, while pumping gas, Reid made the deliberate choice to take Subtl Beauty forward with renewed and redoubled effort. Capital was what she needed most to grow effectively, and that — the fundraising element of startups — was the challenge she dreaded most. To truly bring this project to life, she knew that raising money would be her Herculean task. So, while filling her tank, she called family members and friends and left messages asking for help to raise the funds.  

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