Podcast by InnovatorsBox®

Dear Workplace: Season 3

Sensemaking AI – 2: Skincare and AI

Dear Workplace – a Podcast by InnovatorsBox®. Hosted by Monica H. Kang.

Reimagine how you thrive at work through conversations that matter. Hosted by workplace creativity expert Monica H. Kang, we’ll study the latest trends, changes, and challenges to untangle workplace people problems. We’ll talk with executives, innovators, and experts and visit different industries around the world so that you get first dibs into the changing workforce. 



Yarden Horwitz is Co-founder of Spate, the artificial intelligence platform for identifying top trends in beauty. Over 150 beauty brands rely on the Spate platform to make critical business decisions in marketing and product development, including Estée Lauder, L'Oréal, P&G, Olaplex, Amika, Hero Cosmetics, and more. Prior to founding Spate in 2018, Yarden worked at Google where she specialized in data analysis, storytelling, and brand strategy for advertising clients. In 2015, Yarden launched the first Google Trends Report, and later co-founded the Google trendspotting division which identified trends such as turmeric, cold brew, and face masks before they took off. In 2016, she was named the Future Voice of Fashion by the Business of Fashion. Yarden sits on the boards of Cosmetic Executive Women (CEW) and NewBeauty Brain Trust, which are both exclusive to highly regarded experts in the beauty industry. She was named one of the most influential female leaders of 2022 by Entrepreneur Magazine.Yarden regularly covers top industry trends at high profile beauty events, including CEW's State of the Beauty Industry, Cosmoprof North America, and NYSCC Supplier's Day. She has been interviewed and quoted by top beauty industry publications including WWD, Vogue Business, Glossy, CEW, Global Cosmetics Industry, and BeautyMatter. Her work has been featured in the New York Times, Techcrunch, CNBC, Forbes, ELLE, Byrdie, Vogue, Washington Post, Wallstreet Journal, Business Insider, Cosmopolitan, Beauty Independent, AdAge, Glamour, Popsugar, Refinery29, Good Housekeeping, Food & Wine, The Guardian and more.

In this insightful episode, host Monica H. Kang delves into the evolving intersection of artificial intelligence and the beauty industry with Yarden Horwitz, co-founder of Spate. Together, they explore how AI is reshaping the way companies identify and respond to consumer trends, beyond the buzz and into the realm of intentional innovation.

Yarden shares her journey from Google to founding Spate, a company at the forefront of utilizing machine intelligence to predict the next big trends in beauty and skincare. The conversation touches on the importance of problem-solving in AI integration, the role of data in uncovering consumer insights, and the future of trend analysis across industries.

Whether you’re an entrepreneur, a marketer, or simply curious about the impact of AI, this episode offers valuable insights into making technology work meaningfully in the fast-paced world of consumer trends.

Episode Shownotes

1. Episode Title: Sensemaking AI – 2: Skincare and AI

2. Host: Monica H. Kang, Founder and CEO of InnovatorsBox

3. Episode Description: If AI can help everything, what about skincare? You may be surprised, but somebody has thought of that solution and has made headways in how we rethink skincare products and innovation. Meet Yarden Horwitz, co-founder of SPATE, who is changing how we do skincare innovation and market research with the help of AI. Studying the market is key for any product development and today, your product can take years to develop and can become costly. Yarden and her team want to help you rethink that. 

4. Guest:
Yarden Horwitz, Co-Founder, SPATE

5. Key Topics Covered:

  1. The integration of AI in product and service innovation
  2. The journey of Spate and its impact on beauty trend analysis
  3. The importance of AI in identifying consumer trends
  4. Challenges and strategies in AI-driven product development
  5. The future of Spate and the evolution of trend analysis across industries

6. Highlights

  • Yarden’s background in AI and its application in beauty and skincare
  • The role of AI in shaping beauty trends and product development
  • Insights into the process of identifying and predicting consumer trends with AI
  • The significance of focusing on problem-solving when integrating AI into solutions

7. Quotes from the guest:

    1. “The best AI-backed solutions are not the ones that you create because AI is there, but more because you had a problem to solve.”
    2. “Beauty of data and the beauty of AI is that we can also classify trends and understand where they’re at on the trend cycle…And so if it’s just getting started and it’s still quite niche, you likely have more time to launch on it, to iterate on it, and so on.”
    3. “Don’t get too stuck on trying to make a new innovation in AI work for you. Try to figure out the problem that you’re trying to solve first.”

8. Contact Information:

9. Closing Thoughts by Monica Kang:

Monica emphasizes the importance of intentional AI development and integration, urging innovators and entrepreneurs to be proactive rather than reactive and to focus on solving real problems with AI.

10. Episode Length and Release Date:

Episode Length: Approximately 22 minutes
Release Date: March 14, 2024


Monica H. Kang
With AI on the rise, I feel like I’ve seen more products and service suddenly all being related to AI. This service is backed with AI. That product integrates AI and it starts to make you wonder, is that really necessary? Is that a hype or is that really intentional? And it’s a question that today’s founder and guest wants you to reflect upon. Meet today’s guest, Yarden Horowitz, co founder of Spate. Spate is your machine intelligence solution for finding the next big consumer trend. And they have really made a big impact in how beauty strategists and innovators find what the next beauty care and skincare trends would be. But of course, to build that, they’ve had to ask the question, is this something that people really want? So how do you know? Well, Yarden wants to welcome you into that journey. 


Monica H. Kang
When she and Oliver, her co founder, were working at Google, they realized how much of not only the information Google’s data was able to be value, but more importantly, what you do with the information, aka finding and making sense of the patterns you find from the data. And that’s one thing that AI was able to help. But as she looks back into the success of Spade, she continues to realize how the best AI backed solutions are not the ones that you create because AI is there, but more because you had a problem to solve that you happen to found a way to integrate with AI. 


Monica H. Kang
So as you tune into today’s conversation, a Y combinator backed company founded by two x Googlers, I hope that this inspires you, whether you’re building the next company or thinking about how you might want to integrate a new AI backed solution to your products and services within a company. Take a moment to pause. What’s really the problem I’m solving, and how is this connected to how I’m serving the customers, not just now, but for the future? Because if we have noticed, AI and technology is changing rapidly. So let’s dive in, meet Yarden. 


Monica H. Kang
So very excited to have Yarden here to dive into all about AI and skincare. I mean, who knew? First, thank you so much for joining the show. Very excited to have you. 


Yarden Horwitz
First question. I mean, how did you find the intersection between skincare and AI? I guess to first start, how did you even start your career in skincare? What does that even mean? 


Yarden Horwitz
That’s a great question. I actually started more on the AI side of things. And just to clarify, I’m not a data scientist, but I got into AI pretty early on without knowing it, really. But my co founder and I are both ex Googlers. So while were at Google, we worked on some side projects, and during our time at Google, were working with advertisers, helping them figure out their strategy using Google data. And in doing that, we realized that they weren’t really tapping into data for product development, product innovation, marketing, and so on. And so we started tapping into Google searches, understanding what people were searching for. And we started in the fashion category, and were looking at billions of signals, search signals all across the fashion category. 


Yarden Horwitz
And, of course, when you’re looking at big data like that, you need to leverage AI in order to analyze that much data. And we launched our report in 2015. It was the first ever Google Trends report. The fashion Trends report. In 2015, it got picked up by the New York Times. It kind of blew up, and then it became our full time role, and that’s when we started leveraging it for beauty as well. And so when we started tapping into Google search data for the skincare category, we launched. I think that was in 2016. 2017, we launched a report, and it was just so fascinating. The trends were so interesting, and it was kind of the rise of all the natural ingredients and face masks and so on. And we just really loved that space. 


Yarden Horwitz
And so we continued to explore it further and just understand how trends were evolving specifically in the beauty category. 


Monica H. Kang
Well, let’s dive a little bit further into it, because I think as everyday consumers, unless you’re in the beauty and skincare or fashion, there’s a lot of behind the scene details and importance that we might miss. I’m curious, as you shared your journey and how you got into that space, what were kind of perhaps, jeez, like, I didn’t realize these are things that would be important or these are things that were trends. I’m curious if there are observations like that you made at the beginning. 


Yarden Horwitz
Oh, my goodness. All the time, people are searching for the weirdest things always. And that’s why search is so powerful. Tells you what consumers are thinking. Often they might not be searching or they might not be saying out loud what’s top of mind for them. But when they go to Google, they type in anything that they’re thinking about, any concerns they have, any questions they have. And so that’s why Google was just such a good starting point. And now, of course, TikTok is taking off, and we started to dive in more into TikTok data, which is just as equally as fascinating because it’s more about what are consumers engaging in, what type of topics, what type of trends are they taking on and exploring. And that in itself is just really fascinating. There’s a lot going on there. 


Yarden Horwitz
Consumers are continuing to create trends on TikTok, and something like the sleepy girl mocktail has been trending, which is more of a beverage trend, but it kind of ties into wellness. And it’s just every day I learn about a new trend that I’m like, oh, okay, this is what we’re doing now. Great. 


Monica H. Kang
So for marketers, as they’re noticing these trends, if they’re learning about something now. 


Monica H. Kang
Are they too late because they have. 


Monica H. Kang
To actually prepare and actually launch something, and that takes months, not just like few days. 


Yarden Horwitz
Yeah, that is a great question and something that comes up all the time. But the beauty of data and the beauty of AI is that we can also classify trends and understand where they’re at on the trend cycle. And so are they early stage trends? Are they rising star trends? How big are they? Are they mainstream already? Have they reached large audiences, or are they still quite niche? And all of these details help you identify if this trend is just getting started and how much time you have to act on it. And so if it’s just getting started and it’s still quite niche, you likely have more time to launch on it, to iterate on it, and so on. And then on top of that, you also want to identify how is it predicted to continue growing? 


Yarden Horwitz
Is it a sustained trend that is growing slowly over time, or is it a trend that just came out of nowhere and it’s taking off? And let’s know, Kim Kardashian wore this color lipstick or something like know, and it’s taking off and that’s it. It won’t be around next week. So the beauty of the beauty category is that the trends do have a bit more rhyme and reason to them than the fashion industry. That’s why we find the beauty category to be so fascinating and so interesting with data. But yes, it’s really important to identify, is this trend a sustained riser versus a rising star? Is it a trend that’s here to stay, or is it just a quick fad? And is it already mainstream, or is it still an early stage trend? And what does that mean for product marketers versus developers? 


Yarden Horwitz
Developers have more time to develop on trends that are here to stay, whereas marketers, if it’s a rising star and it’s a trend that’s a bit riskier, marketers can launch a quick video on it, a quick content piece on it, to leverage a trend and to act on it before really investing in it. 


Monica H. Kang
Well, this speaks volume to why then as a creator of AI solutions, it could also feel hard because I can imagine from the creator side, it’s like, okay, not only do you have to know what to do, how do you train the AI to know what decisions, what trends it should say, knock on wood, this is the right future trend to tell the customers. At the end of the day, your AI needs to be educated on everything that you just said. But as you have pointed out, it’s not going to be consistent. So just because something popped up consistently 100 times doesn’t mean that it’s going to be a sticky trend. There’s a lot of human context, societal context that I feel is so just not like quantity database. 


Monica H. Kang
So tell us a little bit more in that making because I know we probably have listeners who are like, yeah, I want to know the secret of how do you know how to build the right AI solution? And as a co founder, you really had to think this out. So, curious if you can bring back to the memory lane as you were building it out, what solutions and decisions you had to make. 


Yarden Horwitz
Yeah, that’s a good question. So of course there are ways of training the AI on this is a trend that lasted versus this is a trend that didn’t. It was also about understanding what are the different patterns that AI is spotting and letting AI take the lead a bit there. And so we used AI from the beginning in more of like a cluster analysis type of approach. So using AI to create or identify certain patterns across these billions of signals and divide up the trends or the data points into different trend cycles. So as I mentioned before, we have rising stars, sustained risers, we have also seasonal risers, we have sustained decliners, we have seasonal decliners and falling stars. And so these are the different trends or different patterns that we’re looking for. 


Yarden Horwitz
And AI is able to analyze billions of signals and cluster them and group them into those different groupings that we have classified. 


Monica H. Kang
For those who are still new to Spate, how would you introduce Spate? 


Yarden Horwitz
It’s a great question. Spate is a machine intelligence platform, or I guess now we can say artificial intelligence platform that uses data to understand the next big trend in beauty as well as food and beverage. 


Monica H. Kang
And so continuing to dive on that conversation, I feel be great to kind of dive a little bit deeper, right? So for folks who are AI founders, because I think one of the things I really am excited to explore more is like, how do you know what to make the right decision? So much of that is changing and you are tapping into a trend of trend. So you’ve already hinted a little bit, but could you share a little bit more? Like, how do you decide as you’re developing the product and you’re continuing to need to ideate and improve where to invest and where not to invest? Like, what are some decisions looking back, that was the right decision, or maybe somehow mistakes looking back them. Jeez, maybe we should have done this. 


Yarden Horwitz
It’s a great question. I think there’s so much happening right now in the world of AI. I think there’s kind of this before ChatGPT versus after ChatGPT world that we’re living in right now. And again, I’m not a data scientist, so I’m not as technical or as in the weeds as other data scientists might be in how AI has evolved over time. But bigger picture, AI has been changing quite a bit in the last year and the applications have become very interesting. And so what we’ve noticed is that, yes, we use AI in our methodology. AI is a big part of our methodology. We are an AI company, but all the new technologies that are coming up, the new advancements, are also very helpful in actually just making our day to day processes easier. 


Yarden Horwitz
And so what we look for is we look at different bottlenecks in the way we run things on the day to day, internally at state, and we’re leveraging AI to help us make life easier for all of us, make things faster, improve it. And while it might not be directly in the product, it impacts the product at the end of the day. Just to add to that, I think what’s really interesting is rather than just jumping on every shiny object, that there’s so many things launching in AI and there’s so much happening, but rather than just trying to take every new launch and integrate it into your company or every type of advancement, now that OpenAI just launched the video, or, I don’t think it’s become available publicly yet, but they’ve announced it. 


Yarden Horwitz
And so company might see that and they might say, oh, we need to include that or incorporate that in some way. And I don’t think it’s meant to be like that. I think that will actually slow down your company, slow down your business. If you’re just trying to use everything. I think what is important is identify what is your roadblock, what is your bottleneck, what’s slowing your company down, and look for solutions to help optimize those processes. It’s great to try out new technology and of course, give everything a test, try it out. But if it’s not working and it’s not making you faster. Leave it behind, it’s okay. 


Monica H. Kang
And since you are in beauty and skincare, what’s happening because of AI and machine learning? How is that impacting that industry? What have you found interesting? 


Yarden Horwitz
That’s such a great question. There are many new applications. I think there are many tools identifying which product is best for you, which ingredients are best for you. If you use these ingredients or these products, you will like these products or doing like a quiz to identify different types of symptoms and how to find solutions to solve those problems. Those are definitely quite interesting. But I think overall, again, if I’m tying back to what’s been going on this past year, I think skincare companies can use AI in very low hanging fruit opportunity kind of ways. They can use chat GBT to help with their copywriting, their product launch announcements and so on. 


Yarden Horwitz
I think it’s about training and working with these technologies to help them understand your brand or figuring out what is the prompt that will really help tie into your brand and then use AI across the different processes that your company is running day to day. So if it’s copy, as I mentioned, or even imagery and so on, there’s so much opportunity there for brands to really tap into AI to help them get rid of the stuff that might slow them down and figure out ways to optimize or really focus in on products. 


Monica H. Kang
I’m hearing a lot of how it could not only help bring the innovation piece, but really helping make sure it makes a difference in the process. Innovation, how we do things differently, maybe perhaps more efficiently, more effectively within a less amount of time, because we’re always running out of time. And believe it or not, even in our conversation, I feel like we only got started, but want to be mindful of both our guests and our listeners. And so as we wrap up, few things I’m curious to explore more. State has already been around the corner. You’ve gone through different evolution. Where is fate heading next given these new innovations and societal changes that’s going on? 


Yarden Horwitz
Yes, great question. I think it ties back to something else I mentioned. But when were at Google, we noticed how trends do go from category to category, and so we covered a lot of different categories during our time at Google. We started with fashion, we ended up getting into beauty and so on. What I think is so fascinating is that we had spotted a trend like turmeric in the food category, and then it came into skincare with turmeric face masks, and then it came into fashion with turmeric the color yellow. And so really our vision for spate is to continue to get better at tracking that. And that’s where AI can really come in, is uncovering trends across different categories, different markets, and getting better at predicting the evolution of a trend by analyzing all those different signals. 


Yarden Horwitz
And so for spate, we now focus on beauty. We also have food and beverage. And the goal really is to tap into more categories, tap into more data sets. So not just search, not just TikTok, expand across different data sets as well as markets. So understanding how trends spread, know trends in beauty. Of course, a lot of them come from Korea, then go to the US, then we saw them go to Japan. And so, understanding what is this trickle effect and how can we learn better from it to get even better? Predictive modeling. 


Monica H. Kang
That is super cool to be reminded. I think at times when we’re in our day to day routine and so busy, we don’t see that why that dress is popular or why that new product is a popular phone. Like from the tech to the everyday. Even with the soap. Why is everyone suddenly buying that soap? Is there something special there? Maybe it’s the scent, but maybe it ties back to, as you said, so it’s so key. I think whether you are marketer, consumer even, or an innovator listening, thinking about that, how connected all of this are when you see from the data lens. What’s a final piece of advice you want to share with our listeners, whether they are an innovator, entrepreneur, or somebody who’s just wanting to better understand about AI? 


Yarden Horwitz
I kind of mentioned it before, but I’m going to say it again because I think it’s really important. Don’t get too stuck on trying to make a new innovation in AI work for you. Try to figure out the problem that you’re trying to solve first and find the innovation piece of AI that can help you address that problem. There are a lot of shiny new objects happening in this space. A lot of launches every day. I get newsletters nancing a bunch of different new startups, new companies doing cool things. You can test them out, see what they’re doing, and try out all these different tools. But don’t get too distracted. Focus on the problem that you’re trying to solve and use tools that actually help you fix those problems, rather than just trying to incorporate AI for the sake of incorporating it. 


Monica H. Kang
Be proactive, not reactive. I think it’s such an important reminder. Thank you for humbling us and bringing that back to ground us. Final question is, what is the best way for folks to stay in touch with you and follow up with you. 


Yarden Horwitz
Yes, follow up and stay in touch and just learn about what spate is doing through the spate Instagram the Spatenyc. I believe that’s our handle. That is definitely the best way of seeing what we’re up to. We also do have a newsletter. You can find it at Spate NYC Slash Subscribe I believe, but on our website you will find our newsletter where we offer free data all the time. 


Monica H. Kang
And I’m going to do a shout out because they are really fun and interesting and very well organized. I passed it on to a few friends, so take a moment to check out whether you are interested in skincare or not. As Karen has highlighted, it connects back to the trend and just understanding how you utilize data and information in a more thoughtful way and how you package that to make it useful for strategic decision making. So thank you so much for joining us, folks. We’ll be back again with another story and we will see you soon. Thank you for joining us. 


Monica H. Kang
Thank you for tuning in to another conversation at dear workplace. This is your host, Monica Kang, and I hope this has inspired you but also challenged you to rethink about AI development in your products differently. Yes, it’s important and we should think more proactively. But don’t just do it for the sake of it. As Yarden has reminded us, it’s important to do it intentionally. And in case you’re curious about, well, what are other ways that people might be using, we’re going to ask our next guest how he is integrating AI and music. That’s right, so join us next week. We’ll see you there soon. Have a good one. Thanks again for joining us. This is your host, Monica Kang at dear workplace, and I’m so glad you were here. 


Monica H. Kang
This show is possible thanks to our amazing podcast team who has worked with me at Innovators Fox Studios. Shout out to audio Engineering and producing by Sam Lehmart, Audio Engineering assistant by Ravi Lad, website and marketing support by Kree Pandey, graphic support by Lea Orsini, Christine Eribal, and original music by InnovatorsBox Studios, and writing, interviewing, podcasting, directing, and all that jazz by me, Monica Kang. Share us your feedback and suggestions as we continue to look to improve and answer the questions that you have about the workplace. Have a great day and I’ll see you soon. It. 

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