Today’s Notable Young entrepreneur is Chitra Desikan, the owner of Subtle Green, a luxury skincare company based in Montreal. Opting to pursue passion over dollars, she left a career as an aerospace engineer to dive headfirst into the world of natural skincare.
Describe what you do in less than 140 characters. Go.
I’m an artist, software engineer, and entrepreneur. At Subtle Green, I design products while collaborating on company direction and execution.
What was the inspiration for your career route?
While working in as a software professional in San Diego, California, I had a revealing experience with natural skincare. My skin was stressed, blotchy and dull from long hours at work and a poor lifestyle. Traditional skincare wasn’t cutting it. I happened to step into a natural spa and had a memorable facial with aroma-therapeutic essential oils that left my skin looking and feeling great for weeks. This started me on a path to learn more.
I discovered that natural skincare compares to mainstream skincare just as a natural, fresh smoothie compares to a processed man ‘n cheese. The healthy aspect of natural skincare, coupled with my desire to customize everything in my life, inspired me to start Subtle Green.
What is the most memorable milestone in your career so far?
The day I took the decision to quit my job to start my own company is a milestone for me.
Where do you see yourself in 5 years, 10 years, 20 years?
Subtle Green is a company that looks forward to the future.
In 5 years, we want to open a store in Montreal and one in San Diego where we will consult and customize for our clients. They can walk in, choose their ingredients, smell the essential oils, and experience the brand in person.
In 10 years, we would open Subtle Green to include a wellness centre and spa as well as branch out to bring a luxe lifestyle through beautifully designed reclaimed furniture and healthy eateries.
In 20 years, we see Subtle Green collaborating with space exploration companies/agencies to develop skincare, furnishings, and technology to bring wellness to space explorers in new, perhaps hostile environments. This would bring me full circle to the aerospace engineering career I started with.
Do you have any advice for other young professionals?
Believe in yourself and your dreams, no matter how lofty people tell you they are. It might take hard work and some adjustments to your lifestyle, but it’s absolutely worth it to work for yourself and what you’re passionate about.
Do you support any charities? If so, which one(s) and why is it (or they) important to you?
Medecins Sans Frontiers. It’s important to me to be a world citizen and not just a citizen of a first world nation. While I may feel overwhelmed by my struggles as an entrepreneur, I try to remember that I lead a privileged life of safety, health, and opportunity that many people in the world do not have. This organization knows no boundaries to help and heal those in need. It’s important and grounding to me.
World Wildlife Fund. Subtle Green wants to be a company that delivers great products without harvesting and exploiting the planet. Plus we LOVE animals. WWF is committed to ensuring that our human footprint does not infringe on, or destroy, other diverse forms of life that make this planet what we have come to enjoy. We respect and support that.
What is one major challenge that you’ve had to overcome in your career? How did you overcome it?
The main challenge was to come to terms with the loss of a pretty decent paycheque to start my own company. I went from making money to seeding money into my own company without any guarantees that I was going to make it.
I overcame this by considering what really matters to me at the end – did I want to feel safe while working for someone else’s cause or did I want to be courageous and try to make a difference in the world. No matter how many times I played it out, the latter always seemed to win.
What does the word notable mean to you?
Relevant, interesting and to be considered. In a world of over stimulation, rushed reading from too much information, notable is something worth taking a pause and a moment for.
Where is your favourite place to wine/ dine in your city and why?
Modavie Resto Bar – in the old port of Montreal. Live jazz, great food and ambience in the oldest, most romantic part of the city – It’s transporting! It’s so Montreal!
What’s the most visited website on your Internet browser? The most played song on your phone?
These days – ca.msn.com for the news. I’m also into slow jazz lately like Summertime by Ella Fitzgerald
Who’s one person you think everyone should be following on social media?
Elon Musk – he’s a tech-visionary that drives environmentally friendly initiatives that are both beautiful and advanced to improve our collective way of life.
What’s your favourite country to visit and why? And what’s the next one you plan on travelling to?
While I don’t have a favourite country, I do like San Diego as a city because it was home once. It is always sunny and fills one with hope. I want to visit Ljubljana – Slovenia.
What gives you the greatest FOMO?
Nothing gives me FOMO. I try to be Zen (when not working).
What’s your guiltiest pleasure?
Nutella on strawberries.
What’s something you wish you didn’t spend so much money on? What’s something you wish you spent more on?
I wish I did not spend so much money on winter clothes. I wish I spent more money on home reno
And finally, what does success look like to you? Work, play, or otherwise…
Success is looking back and knowing I did my best to get here; feeling accomplished and confident right now; and looking forward to new lofty dreams.
At work doing what I love.
Plan travel where I want and when I want to.
Otherwise to own little homes at many of my favourite cities in the world so I can live and be home all over the world.