Chase Polan is all about processes.
The entrepreneur, advocate and founder of natural skincare line, Kypris, grew up visiting her grandparent’s West Virginia farm, where she learned the importance of respecting the land so it continues to thrive and produce amazing ingredients. That experience ultimately inspired her interest in wellness and self-care.
Providing herself with a solid background, she studied chemistry and biology at Barnard College, math and accounting at UCLA and completed programs in Cosmetic Chemistry. Then, in 2004, Polan created Beautiful Minds, providing educational services to clients from homeless young adults to elite high school students.
Ultimately, in 2012, a move to Arizona provided her the opportunity to combine her love of advocating for women, wellness and sustainability to create her own skincare collection. All about promoting positivity around beauty, she drew inspiration from her former experience as a model, from the teachings of Dr. Esther Steinberg about nature’s effect on healing and from environmentalist and writer Bill McKibben’s standard of good farming practices.
Here, Polan explains why, for her, the journey is the best part:
Live The Process: Can you describe your grandparent’s farm from which you took such important lessons and inspiration?
Chase Polan: The farm is on an expanse of land that travels up and down mountains. It has fields that are trampled by cows, others that grow hay and one that hosts a fruit and vegetable garden. If the trees could talk, they would tell stories about the French and Indian War. There is a deep history: In the spring, arrowheads come up as the land is tilled, reminding everyone of the involvement in the decision of West Virginia to oppose slavery and side with the Union; that mud packs made from the mineral rich land were used to treat the sick and wounded because the minerals were known to heal.
Now, you can drive a few miles up the road to a spa that will slather you in the local mineral waters and muds. It's rich in white sulfur that is very healing. There are ponds and one of the deepest caves in the Appalachian mountains on the back side. The woods are immense. My grandfather prohibited hunting. In fact, one winter a doe was hit by a car. Her two young fawns had to be nursed in one of the barns, which of course meant they were promptly named. (True to my family's form, no one could agree on the names.) I have no idea where the photos are, but these two deer would visit us during the summer even as adults with fawns of their own. We counted them as part of the family, since they too had a proclivity for oreos and donuts . . . at breakfast from the kitchen table.
I primarily grew up in a small beach town, so there was little similarity. Many people I knew were on low-fat diets and wore little to no clothing. There was an apparent preference for designer everything. Tan lines galore. Lots of time in salt water. Plus, I was dealing with the challenges of managing school and whatever job or volunteer work I was doing, and sports. The farm was the polar opposite. No one cared what you ate, what you wore; there were actual mountains.
LTP: You accrued copious knowledge and experience before starting this venture. What did you research?
CP: Kypris is not my first company. It's technically the second company that I launched, but the third company I worked on. So, while I did take courses through UCLA extension to focus on basic accounting and finance principles, my primary research focus was on science and sustainability.
I really like processes. Primarily, I focus on, first, the process required to make the product that I want to put out into the world and all that entails. Then, second, I research the process required to ensure that it’s a viable business. One isn’t more or less important than the other, but each has nonnegotiable elements.
LTP: What makes Kypris stand out from other beauty lines?
CP: Kypris is a 100% natural and nature-derived line that really embraces science. I love the lab. I love the idea of working with nature in a repetitive manner, while making space for its inherent variations. I also really love green chemistry and some biotechnology that has essentially created ingredients from nothing: Plant stem cells are an excellent example of this. While there are natural lines and cosmeceutical lines, I'm not sure that there is another line out there that is natural—with clinically proven actives—that prioritizes working (in the way we do) with small farms, suppliers and coops.
LTP: What comprises your personal wellness routine?
CP: I read, write, meditate, pray and move. These activities are the first three hours of most of my days. I get very grumpy if I skip any part of this ritual. I eat cleanly—meaning as organic and local as possible. The Kypris products are vegan, but I'm not a vegan, so that means seeking out meat that is humanely raised and slaughtered. I indulge in quality sweets instead of abstaining.
LTP: What does happiness look like to you?
CP: Owning my time, the ability to be a lifelong student, spending my days with people I love and working on projects I love with people I admire, like, respect and learn from.
LTP: What does it mean to you to “Live The Process” and how can we each do that every day?
CP: Instead of fretting over a desired goal or situation, I pick points along the arc of the work or relationship to assess the progression. Once a goal is set, I really try to focus on the process rather than the outcome. I get to be present for a chunk of time until I reach the prescheduled moment to reassess.