Dana Knees has the "Sense" for Success!

Creating your own company out of thin air is by no means an easy task, but founder and CEO of Pastiche, Dana Knees, did just that. With a profound amount of experience in the marketing field, Dana took her knowledge of the perfume industries and started her own company from scratch. Dana and her husband, Bill, have combined their corporate experience and have launched the custom perfume social selling company.

The perfume industry has introduced 1,400 new fragrances to the marketplace in the last year alone. In the past, as few as 100 fragrances were launched per year. Dana’s goal with Pastiche is to bring back the feeling of perfume as a luxury and an art form: something unique and personalized rather than mass marketed. 


GRACESHIP: How did you get started in the perfume industry?

DANA: "An opportunity came my way to go to work for Coty Beauty in New York City. Coty is a company really responsible for setting the trend for celebrities doing fragrances, people like Beyonce, Jennifer Lopez, Jennifer Anniston; everyone goes to Coty.

They were a great company and I actually shifted from sales into brand marketing where I was there for eight years. Then an opportunity came my way at Robertet Fragrances.  

I love all my jobs, but this ended up being the one that really showed me the true artistry of perfume. I worked with a team of master perfumers and I became the liaison between clients in New York including Coty, Avon, and Bath and Body Works. There's nothing that we use today that is not fragranced really. Soap, Hairspray, Shampoos, everything. That was the job where I really discovered my appreciation for the perfumers. They really are artists."


GRACESHIP: How did you come up with the idea of Pastiche?

DANA: "I moved to San Diego about 7 years ago due to my husband’s career. Working for somebody else didn't intrigue me anymore. I think that I always knew I would just eventually do my own thing.

I went to the fragrance department in the stores and I was really overwhelmed. I thought, “Gosh, if I am overwhelmed then the average consumer is probably overwhelmed.” I walked up to the counter and saw all of these bottles of different perfumes, sprayed them onto blotters, and walked out of the store with five to seven blotters in my hand, and I couldn't remember what I had smelled. I realized that there’s got to be a more simple way to pick your own fragrance."


GRACESHIP: What is a typical day like at home for you?

DANA: "Well Bill and I are a husband and wife team. Bill controls the day to day operations in terms of manufacturing, the legalities, all the business things we have to deal with. I am more of the sales, recruiting, training, and product development person. 

So most everyday I am out for a few hours running errands, and the other part of my day I am on the phone. Right now I’m in the stage where I am really looking to recruit: to find fragrance designers, find people to host parties for me. I'm very busy right now with the holidays, people asking me to do events. People are very excited to have Pastiche involved in the holiday motif because we're so different and unique. The other part of my day when I'm at home is thinking down the road to what kind of new products we see bringing into the line as we grow."

GRACESHIP: What are your must have beauty products that you cannot live without?

DANA: "My body lotion. I feel strongly that your body lotion should complement your perfume. Women will sometimes say, "That fragrance doesn't smell the same way on me as it does my friend." And I always say that the huge variable there is your body lotion. You have got to wear a body lotion that connects with your fragrance. It's something that can just cause it to go into a different character.

I also carry around my atomizer. The rule of thumb with an atomizer is that you should refresh your perfume as much as your refresh your lipstick. People should not expect a fragrance to last 12 hours. Depending on what kind of fragrance you purchased,what you're doing throughout the day, and how moist your skin is determines how long your fragrance will last."


GRACESHIP: What has been the hardest part about starting your own business?

DANA: "I think the hardest part as an entrepreneur, is you have to do everything yourself. It’s very expensive to outsource and have teams of people doing things for you. Bill and I are very fortunate in that we have lots of experience behind us. We have made a lot of connections and wonderful friends in the industry, from advertising and marketing to package design. The hard part is still that you are a team of two versus working in a company where you have have big teams working on product and development and bringing them to market."

GRACESHIP: At GRACESHIP we sell a lot of our bags to young professional women just starting out their careers, So what advice can you give to other women starting their own businesses?

DANA: "I think the biggest thing is to not give up and to not doubt yourself or your concept. If you believe it’s great then it is great, and it’s just a matter of you pushing it forward, doing a little bit every single day, and keeping yourself motivated."


GRACESHIP: What is your ultimate goal for Pastiche?

DANA: "I think the ultimate goal is to grow this business. Bill and I really see Pastiche as our final ride in our careers. We just want to enjoy the adventure. We both love working and being challenged. Pastiche has been a great opportunity, it’s our baby. I think it'll be fun to watch as we keep recruiting and bringing in new jobs to the market, we're excited about that."


GRACESHIP: With you and Bill both leaving the corporate world, hows it like working with your husband? Has it improved your relationship or strengthened your family?

DANA: "Well Bill and I are a husband and wife team. Bill controls the day to day operations in terms of manufacturing, the legalities, all the business things we have to deal with. I am more of the sales, recruiting, training, and the product development person.

I think the great thing that Bill and I have together is that we respect one another's opinion. Our roles are very separate, I do things he doesn't really want to do, and he does things I don't want to do. That’s when you know you have the perfect team!

From a family perspective. It's WOW, it’s just ideal. I have a son who is sophomore in college and one who is in middle school. And I just keep thinking all the time, "Wow, what a blessing we have." It's so important to spend time with your kids, I think it’s tough growing up in today’s society. Bill would have never been able to pick them up from school and take them to their sporting events if he was still working his 8-7 job. It’s really cool that I can share that responsibility with him. So yes, I would absolutely say that it strengthens the family."

GRACESHIP: What is the best professional advice that you have ever been given.

DANA: "I always say, find a person who is your mentor or your role model and really listen to that person. I was just fortunate that I had a cousin who I really admired and respected and I just went from there. I just think that it’s really important to keep doors open. When someone says you should try this, you should try it! When I said I worked for these companies where doors opened, I was willing to always take a walk through the door, I didn't say "Im too afraid for that or oh I don't want to work for that person." I think you have to have that openness, I really believe things happen when you do that."


GRACESHIP: Do you have any words that you live by?

DANA: "Future, hope and a vision that you can have whatever you want."


If you are interested in hosting your own Pastiche Custom Perfume party please visit http://www.pasticheperfume.com/.


Kelsey Lindsey
Kelsey Lindsey


1 Response

Tonya Grant
Tonya Grant

November 19, 2013

Wonderful, inspiring interview! Thank you for sharing.

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