Can Home Essentials Brand Snowe Really Provide Luxury at Attainable Prices? She’s Banking On It.
When creating their first home, Rachel Cohen found a gap in the home goods market. With the arrival of her sought-after D2C brand, she's bringing whole-home luxury solutions at affordable prices to the masses.
The Helm: How would you explain your company to me in one sentence?
Rachel Cohen: Snowe is a direct-to-consumer brand building the home destination for the next generation.
The Helm: What was the vision behind Snowe? When did you start it, and why?
Rachel Cohen: When my partner Andres and I were creating our home together back in 2014, we were unhappy with the disposable quality and ubiquity of design in mass-produced homewares—at least those we were able to afford. The high-design, luxury offerings we would fall in love with were overpriced and inaccessible.
So we set out to create Snowe, a brand that would empower people to live their best life at home and to create all of the things we wanted for our home but could never find. In the process, we discovered an overwhelming demand from others for the exact same.
The Helm: Your home has also functioned as a showroom for Snowe. Where did that idea come from?
Rachel Cohen: Yes! It was a crazy idea that our customers loved. Our first foray into physical retail was ‘The Whitespace’—a shoppable loft that was connected to our home. We wanted to create an immersive, intimate experience for our customers to shop while being guided and inspired. We wanted them to discover other brands and beautifully designed pieces that we loved, all encapsulated in a home. It was more of a ‘retail lab’ than a traditional store or showroom, and it allowed us to engage closely with our customers and learn from them. We took all these learnings and applied them to our street-level stores, now in Flatiron (New York City) and Southampton.
The Helm: What are the pros and cons of running a business with your partner? When is the workday over?
Rachel Cohen: All in all, it’s an incredible advantage. We trust each other inherently and are always on the same page in our vision and how to get there. Our goals and incentives are intertwined, which means we are always in sync. And since we both work a ton, we are deeply understanding of each other’s responsibilities and commitments and support each other through them.
Unfortunately, this also means the workday isn’t over until a few minutes before bedtime, and it often spills into weekends. Work-life and home-life aren’t clearly separated, but our search for balance is ever-evolving, especially as the business grows. We do our best to heed some of the advice we’ve gotten over the years, like laptops out of the bedroom and setting up sacred time to connect outside of work, during which our phones are off. But what we’ve learned over the years is that the best approach is one of honesty, pragmatism, and balance. If it’s crunch time and the rules need to be bent slightly, we both understand what needs to get done.
The Helm: Why is now the time for Snowe to exist?
Rachel Cohen: Today’s customer is incredibly savvy and intentional in deciding the brands that they will get behind. They expect high-quality products at a great price point, they want the shopping experience to be simple and delightful, and they want to support the brands they connect with emotionally. They have access to the world digitally and are inundated by competing brands advertising to them constantly at every corner. They don’t want to be overwhelmed by choice. And beyond digital, they only want to go to retail stores that provide added value and convenience to the shopping experience.
Snowe was built as the perfect one-stop destination for your home essentials, targeting exactly this customer and solving these pain points. Andres and I launched Snowe because we were our own customer, and we were solving a very timely problem, but what we’ve found is that the appeal and the customer base is much broader than we could have ever imagined!
"What we’ve learned over the years is that the best approach is one of honesty, pragmatism and balance."
The Helm: What makes you different from your competitors?
Rachel Cohen: At Snowe, we differentiate on two main factors. The first is true luxury quality. Today, many brands tout luxury quality, with the term losing all meaning. Often times it’s good enough to get the customer’s attention, but not offer true, long-lasting, carefully-crafted quality. We work with some of the best factories in the world, across the US and Europe, and use only the best materials, applying innovative processes and heritage craftsmanship to create real masterpieces that you’ll want to live with for decades.
The second is that we are a simplified, whole-home solution. We developed an edited assortment of exactly what you need, and nothing you don’t, so that the choices are exceptionally easy. We’re so lucky that this has resonated so well—customers obsess, and sometimes it feels like a cult following. It has just really struck a chord of how people want to live today.
The Helm: What would you say the biggest misconception is about you or your industry?
Rachel Cohen: I think people think that because our prices are the same as some of our direct-to-consumer competition, that the products are similar. Once they try out the product that our team has spent months and years perfecting and value engineering, they realize the true difference.
"One of our greatest challenges has been to navigate building a breakout brand on a tight budget."
The Helm: What has been the most challenging thing about starting your own company?
Rachel Cohen: Building a brand is incredibly challenging. It takes time and can be very expensive. One of our greatest challenges has been to navigate building a breakout brand on a tight budget. We didn’t think it made sense to raise a ton of capital to build the brand. We wanted to build a brand whose voice was unique and as authentically ‘us’ as possible. This meant the road was significantly harder, and we had to make a ton of sacrifices in the early days in putting brand over small wins. It was built on the backs of our incredibly talented, hardworking team. A team that approaches each problem innovatively to figure out game-changing solutions without simply throwing money at the problem. It’s bred a rockstar brand-focused team that obsesses about every interaction with the customer.
The Helm: How do you invest in women around you?
Rachel Cohen: As a woman, I wish I could say that I’ve never been dismissed or underestimated in the workplace. But the status quo in many professional circles isn’t conducive to being a strong, driven woman. However, I am proud to be part of a company that empowers those around us, irrespective of their gender, sexual orientation, ethnicity, or any other such factor. That kind of support doesn’t come out of thin air; it comes from strong, diverse role models and respect for women while championing equality. Today we are a company that is well over 50% female, with women in leadership roles across the company. As a company, we have committed to causes that support women, including Women In Need (WIN), the largest provider of support and housing for women and families in need. As we grow, we plan to build on these commitments.
The Helm: What is the best advice you’ve ever received?
Rachel Cohen: I love this quote by Maya Angelou; “I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” It applies to almost everything in life and work, from friends, family, and to how we build meaningful relationships with our customers.
“It never gets easier, you just get faster,” by Greg Lamond also really resonates with me. It basically means that it’s not just about speed, it’s about constant learning, ever-growing, and building efficiency and foresight.
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