IWD Part 1: Q&A with Founders and Sisters, Sarah and Lauren
In celebration of International Women's Day, we're inviting you on journey of how we came to launch By Sarah and some of the stories along the way - the obstacles, the triumphs and what it's really like working with each other as sisters.
Why did you start By Sarah London?
Sarah: I began formulating organic, plant-based skincare initially for my sister, Lauren, following her recovery from leukaemia in 2012. Borne out of a frustration of the lack of transparency in skincare, I was inspired to develop a beautiful collection that would empower a more mindful approach to skincare, consciously-curating only the very finest, organic, plant-based oils and natural clays with known efficacy to promote the health of the skin.
Lauren: We both took a leap of faith to leave our corporate roles behind and join forces to bring By Sarah London to life. It was a big step into the unknown but having used the blends for many years (just without the By Sarah label!), I knew Sarah had created something really special and I was so excited to help bring her own formulations to the skincare market. And we haven't looked back since!
What's it like being female founders?
Sarah: It is incredibly empowering as a female founder to use my voice for what I believe in and to inspire others who are seeking a more sustainable approach to living, and in particular, a more mindful approach to caring for the skin. Less excess and a greater focus on really caring for your skin in a simple but highly effective way; for example, by using our Green Clay Cleansing Balm and Organic Facial Oil as your daily skincare.
Lauren: It's an incredibly empowering time to be female founders and we've been inspired by the many female entrepreneurs we've had the chance to meet and work with along the way. You can take a look at our interviews with Alice Law, Madeleine Shaw, Zoe Lind Van't Hof and Alice MacKinnon for some extra inspiration this International Women's Day.
What has been the hardest lesson?
Sarah: Building an ethical, sustainable skincare business comes with its challenges, from the meticulous sourcing of our natural ingredients to the finer details of our eco-friendly packaging. We are problem-solving each and everyday. But, we are committed to showing that it is possible, even when there are many nos and set backs along the way.
Lauren: Learning to be more patient. There's so much we have to share and so many innovative and creative ideas we're excited to tell you all about, but sometimes we do have to slow down to speed up (to borrow the phrase from our recent Journal article on slow beauty) as there are so many moving parts to a business that we also need to focus on.
What has been your highlight so far?
Sarah: By Sarah was just 4 months old when we received our first industry award for the Organic Facial Oil, being awarded "Best Facial Oil" by The Beauty Shortlist! It was a very special moment and it is incredibly touching that we continue to receive such wonderful praise and reviews for the cult favourite Organic Facial Oil.
Lauren: Seeing your response to our skincare collection makes me smile every day. From the heartfelt emails, social media comments and Feefo reviews, we really do have the best customers and community. I feel very lucky to be able to contribute in a really positive way to people's lives, or at the least, their beautiful every day skincare routines. And sharing my personal story with The Times last year was a pretty surreal moment; we received so many words of support and encouragement afterwards which was rather wonderful and particularly moving for me.
What's the best thing about working with your sister?
Sarah: Almost 8 years ago, when our world as a family was turned upside down, never could I have imagined that Lauren and I would be gifted an opportunity to work side by side, running a business we both care so deeply about. Most days we'll make each other laugh or we'll be there to lift each other up when the going gets tough or just need a little extra boost. This week we've been working closely as we prepare for our new product launch in March and working towards something extra special that's new for summer 2020! You can sign up here to be the first to know.
Lauren: The best thing is that while we're super close as sisters (Sarah was my stem cell donor when I was being treated for leukaemia), we're actually very different. And this means that, luckily, our strengths fall in different areas: Sarah brings her creative vision and flair while I bring the commercial and operational piece to the business. It's the perfect balance.
What's the best advice for starting your own business?
Sarah: Choose something you truly believe in, that aligns with your values and will inspire you each and everyday. It's also incredibly valuable to create a network of people around you that will be your cheerleaders; whether that's family, friends or other founders. Our community of customers are the best cheerleaders I could ever ask for!
Lauren: Just start! You can all too easily talk yourself out of doing something for fear of failing or fear of the unknown. But if you have a fire in your belly and a purpose that makes you feel alive every day, definitely go for it.
What's coming next at By Sarah this year?
Sarah: I'm delighted to be taking part in a number of panel events in the coming weeks to inspire other female founders or those that are simply interested in adopting a more sustainable approach to skincare. You can follow me on Instagram @bysarahlondon for all the behind the scenes and it would be great to see you there too!
Lauren: We're so excited to be bringing our latest product launch to the market later this month. It's been many months in development and contains a really innovative plant-based ingredient. We think you're going to love it! You can sign up to be the first to know about the launch here. There's so much more to come this year, so stay tuned to see what's next!
Do you work with your family too? We'd love to hear your stories. You can share them with us at email@example.com.
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