Boss Lady: Charlotte Carson and Laura Dobell

Boss Lady is a series that shares personal insights from creative women in business. This week, we chat with Charlotte Carson and Laura Dobell, the founders of ClearLife, an ethical shop and publication that highlights and offers products, ideas, and services that connect customers with the environment they live in. “Our goal is to nurture bodies and spirits, to cultivate an inspired and sustainable lifestyle, without sacrificing taste.”

Boss Lady: Charlotte Carson and Laura Dobell of ClearLife - Social Stylate

Laura Dobell (left) and Charlotte Carson (right)

1. Tell us a little bit about yourself and your career.

Charlotte: I grew up on the west coast in Vancouver and moved to Toronto, for work about 15 years ago. On the west coast I grew up in an environment where it is the norm to care about the environment and live a active and healthy lifestyle. I grew up surrounded by tree huggers, environmentalist and plant based eating was pretty common out there even back then. I studied dance, art, and music growing up and was surrounded by family and friends who were creative and also out actively involved in or marching for a cause. When I came out to Toronto after university, I worked as a prop, fashion stylist and a producer on advertising shoots and also as a style editor for 5 national magazines, until co-founding ClearLife. I guess I have really circled back to my youth where social issues, really mattered in my upbringing.

Laura: It’s always a long journey to think about where each of us started to where we are presently. I also grew up in Vancouver, in a family that was environmentally conscious. I remember Saturday mornings, if we weren’t skiing or camping, my father would take us to return recycling items. My father was environmentally conscious before it was a thing. Back in the 90’s, I remember taking canvas bags to the grocery store and returning milk bottles. When I moved to Toronto, I worked in the fashion industry for many years. After I had my son, I knew that long hours and travel-for-work were not for me. So I decided to re-think what role work had in my life. I started a small design firm, doing home staging and residential design. At first it was just myself, and over the years, the team grew to 5. It was a wonderful opportunity, to run my own business in way accommodated a healthy lifestyle balance, while collaborating with other talented designers.

The studio is in the process of closing down as I move onto this venture with Charlotte. I have always been interested in health and wellness. Two years ago, I completed hot yoga teacher training, and teach at a local studio. Just as I was making plants to close down the studio, and not sure what was next, Charlotte presented the idea of ClearLife. The concept resonated with me, and I decided to join her on this journey to bring the ClearLife vision to fruition.

2. What prompted you to start ClearLife?

Laura: I’ll leave this to Charlotte, as she founded ClearLife Magazine two years ago. I am a more recent addition to the team.

Charlotte: ClearLife was really an act of passion and love for wanting to live ethically. We wanted to do something that meant something to us. To spend our days learning and doing things that were really important to changing the world, even if this was just in a small way. We wanted to create or be a part of a movement for change.

The big question was – OK we know about global warming, The Paris Accord, all the bigger environmental issues – but what is going on on a micro level? What about the day to day, the minute to minute issues that are all the little decisions and options that happen in our day to day that collectively around the world lead to global warming and health issues that are real.

There was this keen interest in how we could take all of our years of knowledge, work, large network of collaborators, and turn it into something we truly cared about that had an impact on the world and was an opportunity to offer solutions in the world for our global citizens that most brands were not offering to them.

After many years working freelance on other brands projects we felt there was a larger narrative missing on a global level. We had a huge desire to tell a different kind of story and offer a different kind of brand that truly stood for something and was part of the solution and not contributing to the destruction of our planet and our health globally. It was clear no one really cared or understood what the consequences were to our health and the planet on most brands agendas. Once we really started exploring this there was no question we had to do this.

We did it for ourselves as much as others. We asked ok – if these brands don’t care about our health or the planet – then let’s find ones that do and bring this to the people. Let’s also tell the stories with our publication side, consumers want to know on how to change their habits and what is really going on with materials and products and offer them information and products with the end goal being to heal the planet and stop the destruction of the globe.

We wanted to be an example of how commerce can be for used for good. And we truly want to be a part of saving the planet.

3. As co-founders, how do you work together?

Charlotte: We have a really great synergy when working together that just works organically and very easily. We are both multitaskers, extremely positive and do-ers so we have just approached everything very naturally with a divide and conquer approach. We both hustle hard at whatever needs to be done and support each other and the team in a very natural way whenever anything needs to be done.

Laura: We each have different roles, but at the end of the day, we are a small, scrappy start up. We do whatever needs doing.

4. I am very passionate about the environment, so I love that you’re focused on sustainability. What does living a “ClearLife” mean to you?

Charlotte: It is about being a responsible global citizen – to the planet, yourself, and the people and wildlife in all of the choices you make in all of the moments that end up leading to the consequences of the bigger planet and life issues. It’s an understanding that every moment and choice counts and leads to a bigger picture.

It’s related to living a clean life including the food you eat, all the products you buy, what you put on your body and in it, and even the psychology and thoughts in your way of expressing yourself and existing with others.

It’s mind, body, spirit, choices, and the planet.

Laura: Living a ClearLife is being mindful and considerate while consuming (or choosing not to consume). In order to round that out, you’d need to understand what sustainability means to me. To me, sustainability is a way of meeting our needs without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs as well. It’s more than just environmentalism. It’s social and economic awareness and concern. These are big concepts. So what does this look like, actually? On a day to day basis, it means walking my son to school rather than driving, buying locally sourced, organic food, supporting small businesses, choosing non-toxic bath, beauty, and cleaning products, and choosing clothing that will stand the test of time in tailoring and style. It means re-using before recycling, and recycling before landfill. It means opting for “refills” rather than buying a whole new container. It means taking my bins when I go shopping, rather than taking plastic bags. It’s teaching my son that every choice counts.

5. What were your biggest challenges when you started the company?

Charlotte: Well, like any brand that isn’t formed by a larger corporation, or without seed funds, or a trust fund to back us up – the biggest challenge was how do we take this lofty idea with no funds and make it into a brand that can stand up to any brand in the world and be just as compelling, developed in content, and appealing to consumers – without the budget attached. It was a huge undertaking and just as big of a question mark. And so we began with the things we had as our assets instead of funds to back us up.

When Clear Life was created we had many things on our side. We had all the top photographers, journalists, make-up artists, model agents, and brands that were willing to come on board and work with us and even photo studios that gave us space to shoot out of. We hustled like mad to get collaborations, and sponsors on board to help with areas that would help with anything that had a cost involved as we were truly working without budgets. We had huge support from high level creatives who trusted our vision, and believed in us so they gave us their time, talent, and support.

The challenge that came into play as we evolved was not the incredible support we had, or the exceptional content we were generating, or getting brands on board, it was we had way bigger dreams from the business side and the planning side than we had bodies or knowledge. We didn’t have that MBA on board so to speak. We were overloaded with the creative side and underloaded with a business team and working without the funds to move business related (not creative) plans forward and have a sales and marketing or fundraising team in place to accomplish the things we needed to do to get to where we were capable of getting with the support we had if we had a stronger business support.

So we became superb problem solvers and just started to study any area we needed information on to do it ourselves when we didn’t have budgets for this. And we continue to work this way and work towards the best results possible for what we have available to us.

The journey has been a huge learning curve, and really rewarding as well.

Laura: We are still there, starting and being challenged. We are challenged by big dreams and not enough time in the day. We are challenged by only knowing what we know, suspecting there are many things that we need to learn, and then that ever elusive space of not knowing what we don’t know.

6. How do you hope to see the company/brand evolve?

Charlotte: We are so passionate about the protection of the environment, mankind and wildlife. So in light of all the damage being done by man made products that are toxic and harming the planet we wanted to create a solution not just for ourselves but to be a part of the change in the world that needs to happen.

With both of us having a background in fashion and design we understand great design and have a very similar sense of visual style. But we wanted to take that from the superficial level of just the visual side to a loftier vision that included a vision that also has a mandate of understanding each decision counts that you make including what materials are in the products you use, the clothing you wear, the homes you live in and the items you fill your house with.

As people very keyed into the design, fashion and beauty areas – we recognized even with our access to virtually every brand available – that home and fashion products are very behind in their approach to the safety of our planet. And we decided if we have trouble finding this, then so do others, so we wanted to curate a place that had beautiful quality products without sacrificing your health or the planet.

Our plans is to be a global destination for ethical products and a community for information and sharing with a like minded global community.

Laura: We hope to see the brand become more than a brand. We want ClearLife to become a movement, across the world, bringing ideas and action together. Connecting people with the opportunity to make better choices.

7. Do you have plans to expand your e-commerce business?

Charlotte: Yes our e-commerce plans are big. We are working diligently at this time to create a new website with a team to grow into a beautifully curated marketplace for ethical home, fashion & beauty brands.

Laura: Yes. Absolutely. We will be collaborating with more brands in the future. Any product or brand that we collaborate with will have to meet a very specific set of criteria. We are working on a ClearLife rating system, which will be used to accurately describe any product in our marketplace. At a glance, a consumer will be able to know if a product is ethically sourced, made of natural materials, gluten free, chemical free etc. We are presently working on a re-vamped website, that should be more user friendly to navigate through.

8. What is your most successful form of marketing?

Charlotte: We have compelling stories and imagery we shoot ourselves that has captivated a growing audience of like minded individuals through our social channels.
We believe in and live the lifestyle we are promoting so our message is authentic and relatable to our audience.

Laura: Presently, all the great people we know in the industry, just spreading the word and pitching in to help out. We are active on social media as well. More marketing initiatives coming soon!

9. Is there anything you wish you knew prior to starting ClearLife?

Charlotte: Looking backwards is a position I don’t believe in -for me facing forward is the best and only position to be in. I guess really most entrepreneurs move with a lot of risk because they realize you can’t know everything going into anything or you just won’t do it.

Laura: This comes down to not knowing what you don’t know. Every day I learn something new, and wish I had known that thing before starting out.

10. What advice would you offer to other self-starters and those who hope to start their own business?

Charlotte: Start with a solid plan and a niche marketing idea. Surround yourself with a team that is capable, driven, and understands the work involved and will help drive the mission forward. Listen to and work with experts in the area you are pursuing. Network, learn, listen and don’t be afraid to make mistakes.

Laura: Just do it, but also start out as you intend to continue. Going back to re-do work is time consuming. Measure twice. Always measure twice.

For more information on ClearLife: Instagram | Facebook


April Mood Board

Hello! Julie here, Social Stylate’s Graphic Designer, reporting from under a cozy blanket because it still feels like winter. Check out what’s inspiring us in April 2018 with our mood board!

We’re well into spring, but you wouldn’t know it! Sure, bright blossoms are peeking out of the ground and the trees are dusted with tiny vibrant leaves, but the temperatures still have us in our winter wear. That didn’t stop us from pouring over Lilliana Vazquez’s Tesoro Collective shop for some gorgeous, affordable spring fashion finds! Check out for a curated collection of on-trend tops, bottoms, and dresses. Also tingling our fashion senses is NYFW Bridal, taking place April 12th-18th.

Looking for a special way to celebrate your love (on a day besides Valentine’s Day)? Top-tier skincare company Natura Bisse brings us a Beauty Lovers’ Day tradition straight from Barcelona! Inspired by St. George’s Day (La Diada de Sant Jordi if you’re in Catalonia!), it’s a day to exchange roses and books with your love. Join your favorite skincare experts at Houppette on​ April 26th​ ​a​nd Natura Bisse and show your beautiful skin some love.

Along with welcoming the spring season, our mind is on advocacy as we celebrate Earth Day on April 22nd. Ready for some serious grassroots inspiration, Social Stylate will be attending the Great Dames event, “Firestarters: Igniting the Spark Within You” series in North Wilmington. Featured speaker Ashley Biden will join a group of truly amazing women April 9th and May 7th to speak on a range of admirable causes to empower our communities. We are also spotlighting Michelle Krusiec’s advocacy work this month in the realm of trauma survivors. As​ ​springtime warms up, we’re inspired by our community in the season of renewal. We hope you will be, as well!



Exciting Changes Happening At Houppette

Houppette Cosmetics and Skincare Boutique - Social Stylate

Our client, Houppette, recently announced plans to close their Kennett Square, PA location in order to make their new Greenville, DE location larger and offer more services. We spoke to the owners, Cristi Miller and Elizabeth Johnson, about the big news.

1. So the bad news is that Kennett Square residents will now have to come to Greenville to shop (tax-free!), but the good news is that Houppette is going to be bigger AND better than ever! What is the goal/vision for the new expanded concept store?

Our goal at Houppette is always to provide our customers with the very best service, selection, and overall experience possible. Our vision is for an elevated Houppette concept. Having been in business for 17 years, it’s time to reinvent and modernize our concept and the shopping experience for our customers. There are exciting new trends in the beauty industry that we are excited to showcase in our new store–more details to come closer to our opening!

2. It’s great that the two of you will be back to working under the same roof! How do you work together?

We feel that we have an extraordinary working relationship, and we’re very fortunate to have each other. We collaborate very well, and always respect one another’s opinions. We really don’t struggle balancing business and friendship; we have an unconditional mutual respect for one another at the heart of our personal and business relationship. Likewise, our strengths and weaknesses compliment one another nicely. We both wear so many hats, and seem to always find a balance. Where one of us falls short, the other one picks up, and where and when that happens can even depend on the day.

3. In our opinion, online shopping will never compare to the fun of physically going into a store, not to mention the importance of supporting small, local businesses. How do you keep up with the digital shopping space?

Thank you so much for the shout out for small business! As we have seen with many brick and mortar stores closing, competing with online is a big challenge. Meeting that challenge is part of our strategy in growing our store and concept. We know that there are very fundamental and important aspects to a shopping experience that you cannot get online. We strive to offer our customers a friendly face, honest, personalized product recommendations based on our knowledge of the products and the customer. We’re so fortunate to have so many customers who love to come into Houppette and say that it’s their “happy place”. We love hearing that and will keep offering that feel-good, fun beauty experience to everyone who comes to our store.

4. One of our favorite things about shopping in the Greenville store is the intimacy of the small space. Will the new expanded location have that same feel?

Although customers complimented us on how beautiful the Kennett Square store was, we heard more often that they preferred the cozy, intimate feel of the Greenville location. We take our customer feedback very seriously, and plan to keep that intimate atmosphere in the new space in Greenville.

5. You both do such a great job of making women feel beautiful and confident. At the end of the day, what does beauty mean to you?

Helping women feel beautiful and confident is the most important part of what we do, and it is what we love most about every day. True beauty absolutely comes from within, and nothing can compare to a happy, confident smile, genuinely feeling good in your own skin, and enjoying your life and loved ones. That’s truly what it’s all about at the end of the day.

Houppette is a luxury cosmetics, makeup, and accessory boutique known for their high-end product assortment and extraordinary customer service. For more information, you can follow them on Facebook and Instagram.



10 Reasons To Visit Newark As A Post-Grad

Hometown of the Blue Hens, Newark may be thought of as a college town, but it’s so much more than that. With co-ops, art classes, escape rooms, and a brand new brewery, there’s plenty to do after graduation is long behind you. Whether if it’s been a few years since you’ve been back or you live the next town over, it’s time to schedule another visit and see what fun things Newark has to offer!

10 Reasons To Visit Newark As A Post-Grad - Social Stylate

Check out the art scene. Sign up for a class or take in one of the many upcoming exhibits through Newark Arts Alliance. Young at Art is the current exhibit (until March 24) featuring artists ranging in age from 5-18. Paint, sip, repeat at Painting with a Twist. Offering complimentary beverages of the caffeinated, alcoholic, or refreshing variety while you learn to paint beautiful and unique images from experienced artists. Great for girl’s night, birthday parties, or just an excuse to paint with your friends! Take in the national movie scene with Main Street Movies, where you can reserve your seats ahead of time or book a party with your friends and family. Plus, every Tuesday is Bargain Tuesday and all tickets are $6!

10 Reasons To Visit Newark As A Post-Grad - Midnight Oil Brewing Company - Social Stylate

Feeling thirsty? The newest brewery in town, Midnight Oil Brewing Company, made its debut on Super Bowl Sunday featuring their own craft beers, some here for good (like Insomnia Stout and Hop Envy IPA) and some just for the season (hello Luna and Heathen Holiday Ale!), so get them while they’re in! Many of the bars in town have their very own Trivia Night, so head to Deer Park Tavern on Mondays and Mad-Macs on Thursdays to test your random fact knowledge!

If adventure is your middle name, sign up for Axxiom Escape Rooms where you’ll be locked in a room, given clues, and made to work together with your group to escape within an hour! Room themes include Sherlock Holmes, Pirates of the Caribbean, National Treasures, and more! Take advantage of National Trails Day on June 2 and choose one of the many awesome hikes in the area, like Mason Dixon Trail, Chestnut Hill Trail, and J.F. Hall Trail!

If you’re looking to get to know the area better, join Newark Parks & Rec for their 50th anniversary and 50 Days of Fun! With events happening each month like planting a tree on Arbor Day (April 27) or stargazing at the Newark Reservoir (July 20) or a summertime evening swim (Aug 10), you’re bound to stay active this year. Continue supporting the community by shopping local at Newark Natural Foods Co-Op Farmers Market. Buying directly from local agriculturalists help keep the small-town feel of Newark while supporting farming families and raising awareness for environmental issues. It’s a win-win!

10 Reasons To Visit Newark As A Post-Grad - Caffe Gelato - Social Stylate

You’ll need something to eat after all that activity! Caffé Gelato, a Newark Main Street staple, features Italian-inspired cuisine, 1,500 bottles of wine, and a sophisticated atmosphere, not to mention its namesake: made-in-house (and exquisite) gelato. Their warm and friendly ambiance is seconded only to their delicious dishes. Offering specials like Lobster and Goat Cheese Ravioli and favorites such as House-Crafted Cheese Tortellini, there are also plenty of specials throughout the week: 1/2 price pasta on Sundays, 1/2 price bottles of vino on Tuesdays, and $6 paninis on Thursdays! Plus, if you wear your UD apparel on Sundays, you get 50% off brunch. Yes, we’ll have another glass of your Italian Prosecco! Grazie!

If you’re looking for something unique to try, check out some of Caffé Gelato’s upcoming events, such as Pasta Making and Chianti on March 15, Kentucky Bourbon Dinner on April 26, or bring your children for Kid’s Cooking Class on June 9! Stay tuned for PAWS on the Porch, where you can celebrate and support Paws for People during Spring Happy Hours! Paws for People (Pet-assisted Visitation Volunteer Services- PAWS), is a non-profit organization offering healing pet therapy to elders and children, alike, providing them with loving, gentle affection from their well-trained and compassionate furry friends.

Newark is an exciting little town, bustling with things to do for people of all ages. Whether you grew up here, only stayed four years, or are considering moving to the area, Newark is a great corner of the world. Filled with small-town vibes, a great sense of community, and an endless amount of places to explore, Newark is so much more than a college town.