Episode 178
October 3, 2023

Startups, Skincare, and Scarlett Johansson

Kate Foster, Co-Founder and CEO of The Outset

About this episode

Today, Lee is joined by Kate Foster, Co-Founder and CEO of The Outset, a skincare line, co-founded and represented by none other than Scarlett Johansson! In catching up with Kate we hear all about her journey; from growing up playing soccer and varsity softball to her internship in the PR department of Sex in the City at HBO to her marketing roles at esteemed brands like Victoria's Secret, Anne Taylor, and Juicy Couture, leading up to her role as the CMO of 'Not Your Daughter's Jeans.' She shares the pivotal moment when she realized she wanted to become CEO one day, how she launched her first company at the age of 40, the acquisition of her company by Meredith Corporation, and what it’s been like collaborating with Scarlett Johansson. To learn all about her fascinating journey, plus the exciting things coming up for her and The Outset, be sure to tune in!

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 In This Episode You’ll Hear About:

[02:07] Kate’s upbringing in California, her competitive nature as a kid, how she learned to get comfortable with failure, and how she gravitated towards leadership positions.

[10:34] How she first got a job in the beauty industry, fell in love with the work, and got a master’s in beauty, marketing, and management.

[15:54] The moment Kate first realized that she wanted to become CEO and what it was like going to Columbia Business School.

[18:54] Balancing starting a family with her career, and how building marketing for 'Not Your Daughter's Jeans' gave her the idea for her first startup ‘Swear By’.

[25:39] The story of how Kate met Scarlett Johansson and co-founded The Outset.

[32:04] Scarlett’s struggles with her skin and the authentic drive this gave her to create products that would help others.

[37:15] Kate’s favorite products from The Outset, an overview of their best sellers, and why they wanted to make the price point accessible.

[40:40] How Kate came up with the name ‘The Outset’, Scarlett’s decision not to have social media, and why they don’t consider themselves to be a celebrity brand.

[45:08] The benefits of not relying on Scarlett’s social media presence, the art of collaboration, and what Kate has learned from working with her.

[51:32] What’s next for The Outset and Kate’s advice for aspiring entrepreneurs.

 To Find Out More:

Kate Foster on LinkedIn

Kate Foster on Instagram

The Outset

The Outset on Instagram

Awesome CX
Lee Greene on LinkedIn

Stairway to CEO

Stairway to CEO on Instagram

Lee Greene on LinkedIn

Stairway to CEO

Stairway to CEO on Instagram


“I think that's the challenge that a lot of people face. Sometimes when you're doing a good job – they want to keep you there. And so it's difficult, often, to make parallel moves – if you've gotten too far ahead.” [0:16:38]

“I had to get serious about the other parts of my executive toolkit.” [0:17:31]

“It was a concept that I rejected. If I'm close to the customer, and I understand who the customer is, it doesn't matter if I'm the customer. It's about whether or not I can articulate ways to make their life better through our product offerings and understand their problems.”  [0:21:09]

“There's something really impactful about word of mouth, friend-to-friend, recommendations. And there just isn't a way to amplify these at scale. That's when I came up with this idea for my own startup.” [0:22:37]

“It was a totally crazy thing to leave a very stable job to [try] my hand at entrepreneurship on my own at 40 years old when most people are really doubling down on the growth of their career.” [0:22:58]

“When I met [Scarlett] it was just very natural and very easy. And I think it's because there's a foundation of shared values.” [0:30:56]

“Being curious about the world is something that me and Scarlett share and creates a very good foundation for partnership.” [0:31:13]
“[Scarlett’s] vision for what she articulated to me in that very first meeting is actually what we wound up building. I'm just so shocked because it never really works out that way [where] you can have this clarity of vision and be able to connect it to the execution.”  [0:31:43]

“It's not about ‘how to look like her’, it's about how to reveal your skin's true potential. And really, the customer is at the center of everything that we do.” [0:43:38]

“Trusting your gut is something that I'm constantly a work-in-progress on.” [0:47:11]

“Collaboration also comes from a place of trust and security. And people do their best collaborating when they feel that they're in a safe space.” [0:47:42]

Read the transcript

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