Emily DiDonato and Christina Uribe are the founders of Covey.
I had the immense honor of asking a few questions to two women I deeply admire, the newly minted entrepreneurs Emily DiDonato and Christina Uribe. Emily and Christina are the founders of Covey, the newest skincare brand you should know about.
One of the first things that caught my attention from the Covey co-founders was how both founders complement each other perfectly. Emily DiDonato is a world-renowned supermodel and Christina Uribe is a account executive at Google… a partnership that shares a passion for skincare, has the know-how of a marketer, and the experience of a supermodel (whose face many times must act as a canvas and must remain virtually flawless).
The idea for Covey came to the duo after their routines became overly complicated, and not even an arsenal of products was doing the trick. With social media constantly pushing new products, fads, and trends, Christina explained that she felt she was playing product roulette swapping products in and out, adding that “it was crazy that I fell into the trap of such a complex routine — it was like playing skin-care mad scientist.”
The “aha” moment happened in 2018, during a trip to Iceland. Both Emily and Christina realized they had packed enough beauty products, specifically skincare, to stock a huge Sephora. As many of us have done, they had invested in elaborate and expensive 12 step routines and became frustrated about the time-consuming routines that weren’t even being effective. After the trip, they started researching everything skincare-related, including going over 500,000 comments on -slightly obscure- skincare discussion boards (hello r/SkincareAddiction!). As Christina shared: “We fell down Reddit rabbit hole after rabbit hole to find the answers to our questions. We realized that if a supermodel and Googler couldn’t figure out the answers to our questions, who could?”
Emily and Christina with the Covey Routine holy grail.
And the supermodel and Googler definitely figured it out! They perfected 3 tried-and-true essentials for a simple, everyday routine you can use both morning and night. As a research nerd myself, the amount of R&D that went into the Covey products is a testament to how effective the products are (and in case there was any doubt, the myriad of positive reviews applauding the formula definitely proves the 'skinimalism' method Christina and Emily created works).
I had the pleasure of asking Christina and Emily some questions about Covey, whether they bootstrapped their business or opted to raise capital, and more…
What were some of the first steps you took to make your vision of starting a skincare line, of starting Covey, a reality?
Emily DiDonato: When we realized we had the shared pain point of overcomplicated skincare routines, we immediately began what we call ‘spiraling’ - we analyzed 500,000 comments across skincare discussion boards (like Skincare Addiction on Reddit) and product reviews to find out what consumers were asking for in their skincare routines. It turned out that we weren’t alone in our desire for a simple, effective skincare routine. I also started polling my own audience on social to get their feedback, too.
Christina Uribe: Once we saw the overwhelming need for a brand like Covey, we started ideating around what the perfect skincare routine would look like to us. We came to the conclusion that we wanted fewer, more efficient steps in a routine. We wanted the products to work for both day and night so that you didn’t have to worry about swapping products in and out. And we wanted it to be TSA-approved, so that your routine could easily go where you go.
The Covey holy grail: the First of All Cleanser, the Next Up Vit. C Serum
& the Last But Not Least Moisturizer.
As a research fanatic myself, I really admire all the research that you put into the R&D phase of Covey — how was that process like?
Emily DiDonato: We used a proprietary algorithm to analyze those 500,000 comments and reviews. That was the most important part of us launching Covey - we wanted this to be a skincare line that was a direct response to what consumers want in their skincare today. There’s a reason that skinimalism and ‘DermTok’ are on the rise: Consumers are tired of being sold 12-step routines that don’t work, or worse, create more irritation. They want easy, effortless routines that they know are going to work. That’s also why we decided to partner with our Consulting Dermatologist, Dr. Julie Russak, who helped us narrow down which products to include and the latest, science-backed ingredients to include.
Christina Uribe: We also had over 10 iterations of each formula. We tapped into a focus group of 150 people of all backgrounds, ages, and skin types who have been a part of the Covey flock since before we had any formulas in the works. This group not only gave us insight into what they were looking for in their skincare, but they tested all of our formulas and provided feedback throughout the formulation process.
Although this number has decreased even further due to the pandemic, less than 3% of VC funding goes to female founders, how was your experience pitching/seeking investment (or why did you decide to bootstrap)?
Christina Uribe: We decided to self-fund Covey because we wanted to be in the driver’s seat. We have a clear understanding of the brand and how we see it growing, and our roadmap for getting there. We have an amazing team of advisors (all female!) who are with us along the way to offer us guidance, mentorship and support, too.
A throwback photo from Covey co-founders, Christina and Emily.
How would you like Covey to evolve?
Emily DiDonato: Our community is our North Star. We’re listening to their feedback and letting that inform our next launches. We will always create the absolute essentials, and who better to tell us what she is looking for than our customer?
What is something you wish you would’ve known before starting Covey?
Emily DiDonato: I wish I knew there were going to be so many moments where we felt so stuck and like things weren’t going to work out but with time, effort, planning, and putting our heads down, we were able to keep moving things forward and build the brand of our dreams.
Christina Uribe: Before starting Covey, I never realized how much of a “box” I put myself in. I assumed, based on my career and education, I only had certain skills and I was really limiting myself. Just because you don’t have experience doing something, doesn’t mean you’re not capable of not only doing it, but doing it well.