Rachel Cohen Leads A Home Essentials Company That Has The Working Woman In Mind
The co-founder of Snowe weighs in on hair-drying towels, entrepreneurship, and how she found success.
Dishwasher-safe wine glasses, duvet covers that include ties to prevent bunching and the perfect-sized hand towel that also (bonus!) doubles as a hair towel—these are all the genius products behind Snowe, Rachel Cohen’s new home brand geared towards busy millennials. After graduating from the Wharton School of Business with work and life partner Andrés Modak, the couple had trouble finding beautiful investment pieces for their New York City apartment. “We found that the more affordably-priced products were the same things we’d see in our friends’ apartments. High-end department stores and boutiques had beautiful products from a design standpoint, but they were completely out of our price range,” Rachel says. “We wanted something that married the two—where you can have thoughtful design at a more reasonable price.” Another crucial element to the fiber of the brand was practicality. For Snowe’s target customer, quality would not be enough. There had to be items you could love and would really want to live with on a daily basis. “If we are going to use things everyday, they should be luxurious but they also have to be practical,” she says. Thus, Snowe was born. And with it came innovative, high-quality home must-haves that would simplify the life of the working woman.
All of the brand's dinnerware, glassware and flatware is dishwasher-safe. That means, after a ten-person dinner party, you can chuck everything in the dishwasher (stemware included!) without the concern that your wine glasses or serving pieces are too precious. All linens are machine washable and duvet covers come with small ties to prevent the comforter from bunching up. When designing the size of towels, she realized that, as a woman, it was difficult to find the perfect hair towel. Either there were giant bath towels that would weigh down the head or tiny hand towels. The Snowe hand towel falls in the middle, while also being extremely lightweight and extra absorbent. At the end of the day, Cohen views her company as a solution to the busy, modern professional. “A huge motivator is just being able to enhance how people live,” she says. “I love that we can design things that can impact how people interact on a daily basis. It’s about having a glass of wine at the end of the day and loving the glass that you’re sipping out of, and not saving those moments only for special occasions.” Below, she shares her advice on starting a business—and enjoying life while you're at it.
1. Differentiate your brand
For us, the way we envisioned the brand coming to life—from what you see on the site and our photography—was to differentiate from traditional home catalogues that showcase big, sweeping shots of mansions and homes that the majority of us don’t live in. We wanted a sense of something that was real, that was lived in. That means shots where the bed isn’t always made, it’s rumpled. This vision carries through from our site, to our social media accounts and marketing campaigns.
2. Get two birds with one stone
I need to prioritize things like exercise because it’s one of the only times when I can totally turn off and clear my mind. Spending time with family and friends is also a priority for me so sometimes I’ll combine the two. I’ll do workouts with my friends when I haven’t gotten to see them in a while and we both know we’re not going to be able to fit it in. Sometimes we’ll do a group class together and then have a quick bite afterwards to catch up.
3. Pull resources
It takes a village. My family isn’t working on the business day to day, but there are things they have done to help us get up and running. As we were getting our warehouse set up, some of our products were ready earlier than expected. Since my parents live just outside New York City, their basement was the most cost-effective option for us to store the items in the interim.
4. You’ll get out of work what you put into it
In school, I owned the fact that I studied hard. I’ve always known that to be successful requires hard work. You can’t shy away from tough tasks. Andrés and I have always taken the approach that no job is too small. We’ve done everything—packed boxes, schlepped inventory. Thinking something is beneath you, especially in a startup environment, will stand in the way of your success.
5. Rally a team of advisors
Andrés and I have surrounded ourselves strategically with advisors who are experts in some of the areas we have less experience in and who also have deep expertise building and operating similar companies.
6. Ask your customers for feedback
Now that we have a really strong customer base, we rely a lot on customer feedback. We speak to customers constantly and we’re always asking what they love about the product, what could have improved their experience, what they would like to see next, and we use that to inform a lot of our decisions. As a purveyor of home goods—and a busy entrepreneur—we asked Rachel for her tips for entertaining when you’re crunched on time. Get them here.
Image courtesy of Ivanka Trump. Illustration by Jonny Ruzzo