Interviews

The Interview — April Uchitel, CEO at Violet Grey

CEO at Violet Grey

April is the CEO at VIOLET GREY, a content and commerce company that was born out of Hollywood beauty culture. Prior to Violet Grey, April was the Chief Brand Officer and founding team member at the digital shopping destination Spring. With over 25 years of experience in the fashion industry, working with global and emerging brands, April led brand curation, acquisition, and strategic engagement efforts, bringing Spring’s total brand partners to more than 1,600. Prior to Spring, April was the EVP of Global Sales & Strategy at DVF, where for 9 years she ran global sales & merchandising, and played an essential role in developing DVF into the iconic brand it is today.

April has long been considered a thought leader in the fashion world, speaking at key industry events including Fast Company’s Innovation Festival, FIT’s Global Conference, Social Media Week, NYU’s Disruption in Luxury Retail Conference, and Master Card’s Women in Wireless Event, and is on the Style Board at Glam4Good. April is passionate about supporting and developing emerging talent has been a mentor in the prestigious CFDA Incubator program for the past 5 years. In 2015, The New York Business Journal honored April as part of their inaugural Women of Influence Awards. 

For more on April check out her Instagram. Also be sure to follow VIOLET GREY on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, and check their site for the best beauty finds. 

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February 4, 2019

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R&S

What lead you to VIOLET GREY:

April

I had known Cassandra Grey loosley for many years and had her speak on a panel when I was the CBO of Spring. My family and I made a personal decision to move to LA last July, and when a friend and one of VIOLET GREY’S advisors, Ara Katz, heard I was moving, she put Cassandra and I back in touch to explore opportunities. I signed on as Interim CEO while Cassandra was closing a round of fundraising and officially took the role in March 2018—and never looked back!

R&S

What do you love most about being CEO:

April

I love being able to move a founder’s vision forward. To build a dream team and a culture that I wish had existed in my previous companies. A startup is a very specific culture that moves at a significant pace. It is not easy and is not for everyone—so those who are inspired by the mission and the potential know it is about working on the roadmap every single day. It is incredibly rewarding when a group of talented people with various strengths, insights, ideas, and skills come together to build something extraordinary!

R&S

Biggest challenge you've faced in your career and how did you overcome this obstacle:

April

The biggest challenge I faced was when I realized the fashion industry was truly broken and I did not want to be a 50 year old garmento. I knew I had to pivot and reinvent—but had invested 25 years so was not ready to fully walk away. I took 1 year of self assessment, moved the family from Tribeca to our weekend house in upstate New York, and I started mentoring in the CFDA Incubator program and advising and consulting on digital brands. The intent was to use distance to think about what drove me and how I could best leverage my skills, assess what I loved about what I had been doing, and see what made sense strategically as a next step in my career. I had to reprogram myself and become open to the unexpected, in order to push myself out of my comfort zone. When one of my consulting clients, SPRING, landed in my lap—I know I found my next thing.

R&S

One thing you wish you knew before starting at Violet Grey:

April

As a new CEO, I had not really thought through about the true level of accountability that comes with the role. It is very strange when you become “they,” as in: “they should know you worked all weekend and need a break” or “they should not expect you to do that” or “they should pay you more!” :) When you become “the they” it really takes some getting used to!

R&S

Best career advice you’ve ever received:

April

Be an advocate for yourself—all the time. No one will look out for you like you need to look out for you. Heads down working hard and waiting to be recognized is NOT the way to go. That said, you have to perform at a high level in order to champion your efforts. :)

R&S

Who has had the biggest impact on your career:

April

Ara Katz. She is a super, unique mindful human—who sees the world in a way I never did. She is how I landed at Spring as we met on an advisory board, and funnily enough, how I got to VIOLET GREY when she reconnected Cassandra and I as soon as she heard I was moving to LA!

R&S

Describe your own beauty routine:

April

I never had a real routine before VIOLET GREY. I was the girl who used anything anyone gave me. As you age you really just want stuff that works! Being at VIOLET GREY has completely transformed the way I think about and treat my skin. I am also super spoiled as we get a lots of products for free—so I fully take advantage of that! I learned years ago not to wash my face 2x a day as that can be really drying, so I only rinse my face in the morning. I use Dr Gross Alpha Beta Extra Strength Daily Peel pads 2-3x a week and alternate days between Melanie Simon Serum C and Dr Sturm Hyaluronic Serum. I then use Angela Caglia’s rose-quartz face roller to de-puff and boost circulation. I apply Augustinus Bader The Cream with a drop of Dr Sturm Glow Drops. At night, I use Bioderma to remove makeup and wash my face with Royal Fern cleanser. I alternate between Vintner’s Daughter (if I am feeling really dry) and Augustinus Bader and ALWAYS apply Lucas papaw ointment on my lips or any other dry spots. I mask at least once a week. Hanacure and Erno Lazlo are my favorite. I also Dermaflash as needed. PHEW!

R&S

Your go-­to power outfit:

April

I LOVE a good jumpsuit!! Since leaving fashion in 2011 and moving to startup life (translation: running around NYC for 6 hours a day)—my power outfit went from of-the-moment looks with the latest shoe and It bag combination to a uniform of denim on denim or army pants with a classic black blazer or vintage camo. Otherwise, leather skirts with sweatshirts and sneakers totally prevail.

R&S

Favorite fragrance:

April

I was in Morocco earlier this year and picked up an INCREDIBLE, locally-made rollerball of Orange Blossom/Neroli. I keep it in my car (so my car smells amazing) and re-apply just before walking into a dinner, a party, or a panel where I know I will be hugging people—and they freak out! Another go to is Diptyque Philosykos.

R&S

What can we expect from VIOLET GREY in the next few years:

April

SO MUCH GOOD STUFF! More killer content that we hope educates and inspires, many more amazing new products that we have discovered in the market and more visibility and storytelling around our Committee members—the incredible group of top artists, brand founders, stylists and tastemakers that approve every single one of our products that lands on our shelves.