Day in the Life: Ariel Kaye, Founder & CEO of Parachute

Ariel Kaye_2.jpg

We’re back with another installment of our Day in the Life series! Today we’re sitting down with Ariel Kaye, founder & CEO of the beloved home brand Parachute. We’re obsessed with her focus on responsible sourcing, customer happiness, and smart scaling. Read on to check out her wisdom for yourself!

Are you a night owl or a morning person? When do you do your most important work and why?

I definitely prefer life as a morning person. My baby girl, Lou, was born in January – she tends to dictate my mornings these days! Now that I’m back to work, mornings are when we get to spend a little extra time together. I also like to work out early in the day, and then I’ll come home to go through my emails.

By late afternoon, I typically start to feel a bit foggy. So if there’s something really important that I’m working on, I like to make sure to carve time out for it earlier in the day. It’s a big change from when I used to do some of my best work into the wee hours of the night!

What’s your commute like? Do you listen to music, podcasts, or audiobooks? Any current faves?

My commute typically takes me about 25 minutes. What I listen to during my drive really depends on my mood. Some days I actually prefer silence, using that extra time to think. But I’m also a big fan of SiriusXM – some of my favorite channels include ‘90s on 9, ‘70s on 7, The Beatles Channel, Soul Town, The Groove, and Yacht Rock Radio. It’s quite a range! I also listen to several podcasts, including The Daily, WorkParty, Goop, How I Built This, and Pod Save America.

Mark Twain said, “Eat a live frog first thing in the morning and nothing worse will happen to you the rest of the day.” What’s the first thing you do when you get into the office/to your desk?

As soon as I get into the office, I immediately fill a large glass with water, get to my desk, open my emails and scan for anything urgent. Then I open my calendar and decide how I’m going to use my time between meetings. Hyper-efficiency is a major focus for me right now.

Creating something that people care about and that has an impact are my favorite parts of being an entrepreneur.

What are you working on this week?

I’m currently working with my team on some exciting potential partnership opportunities, strategic new hires, and preparing for an upcoming board meeting.

What’s been the most rewarding part of running Parachute? The most challenging?

Creating something that people care about and that has an impact are my favorite parts of being an entrepreneur. Our customers are at the center of everything we do, from developing new products that help them start and end their days feeling their very best, to creating unique and engaging shopping experiences right in their neighborhoods. Thinking of the looks on our customers faces when they touch or feel our products for the first time, or find the exact inspiration they are looking for in one of our stores, is extremely rewarding.

As we scale, so do the magnitude of the decisions and the effects they have on the organization. For that reason, I’m always concerned with staying flexible and supportive as we continue to grow. Start-ups are often measured by the speed of their growth, but growing a brand does not happen overnight – and scaling a business while protecting company culture gets challenging.

Ultimately, I try not to focus on the optics of start up success, but rather the true health of the business, my team, what customers are saying, and how we can provide them the best home essentials and shopping experience in the world.

You’re super involved in the production process for Parachute. Do you still travel a lot for work? What trips do you have coming up?

I do tend to travel pretty often. The majority of my business travel these days is for press opportunities, speaking engagements, visiting potential new store locations and spending time with members of our new communities during our grand opening celebrations. I’m also still very involved in the process of selecting the best possible manufacturing partners to bring our products to life.

Do you ever reach inbox zero? How do you handle the constant influx of inquiries and communication CEOs are so familiar with?

Very rarely! I’ve probably only achieved “inbox zero” twice in the past few years.

When it comes to managing my inbox, it’s all about prioritizing my email responses based on their degree of urgency, and delegating when it makes sense. I also probably wind up deleting 30-40 emails every morning that aren’t relevant to me or my business, or are clearly spam.

What are some work habits that help you stay healthy, productive, and on track to reach your goals?

I make a point of taking a break during the workday to go for a walk around the block, clear my head, and make sure I get some fresh air. I’m also better and more focused when I’ve worked out in the morning, and took some time to get the blood flowing. Being organized and keeping a to-do list definitely helps me make sure that I’m accomplishing everything I need to do. And maintaining good lines of communication with my team so I know where I can support is critical.

Maintaining good lines of communication with my team so I know where I can support is critical.

What are you reading/watching right now?

I just started reading Educated by Tara Westover last night – so many of my friends and Parachute team members have been raving about it. In terms of TV, I’m currently watching “The Act,” “Billions,” and “Queer Eye,” and I just finished “Shrill.”

When do you go to bed? What’s your “optimal” # of sleep hours?

I typically go to bed between 9-11 p.m. There’s no such thing as optimal sleep right now – I’m waking up with the baby!

What’s the most rewarding part of your day?

Getting home after a productive day at the office and spending quality time with my husband and baby girl.

What’s something not a lot of people know about you?

I’m a trained opera singer – though you’d probably only know this if we’ve been out to karaoke together and I’ve had a drink or two!