One of my favorite aspects of the beauty industry is that I am surrounded by amazing women entrepreneurs, women CEOs, women leaders, all of them absolutely beautiful – inside and out. From this realization a few months ago came the idea of interviewing some of my favorite female beauty executives, to learn more about them, to learn from them, and to be inspired by them.
To start this series, below is my interview with Sarah Kugelman, President & Founder of the niche skin care brand skynICELAND. I have known Sarah for a number of years; I have mentioned her in my blog in the past; I consider her a friend. Over the years, we have become close enough to share the highs of beauty entrepreneurship, as well as the challenges that us “small, niche” brands face. I have learned from her, yet in the below interview were a number of new things I discovered about her. Enjoy!
AP: What city were you born in? SK: Manhattan.
AP: What city to do you live in? SK: Manhattan!
AP: What is your middle name? SK: Dean. I was named after my uncle who was Daniel. My sister is named Dana. So we have inverted names. I’m Sarah Dean and she’s Dana Sayre (a family name)
AP: What is your astrological sign? SK: Sagittarius (fire!!).
AP: What is your favorite thing about the beauty industry? SK: The product. It’s what always keeps me going at the end of the day. I’m a product junkie at heart!!
AP: What is your least favorite thing? SK: Products that are not genuine and have marketing stories that feed mistruths to the consumer. It really hurts all of us.
AP: What is your most prized possession? SK: I don’t know if you’d call her a possession exactly but my daughter is my most prized treasure. I live for her! There is no material thing that matters once you have a child!
AP: What is something about you most people don’t know? SK: I studied to be an actress for many years.
AP: Do you wear a watch? If yes, what model? SK: Yes, and I’m still always late! I am not really into watches, so I don’t know the exact name, but it’s a beautiful gold Cartier with diamonds that my husband gave me when I gave birth to our daughter. Every time I look at it, it reminds of the day she was born.
AP: Diamonds or pearls? SK: Definitely diamonds!
AP: If you could have dinner with the person of your choice, who would it be? SK: There are so many! Probably Oprah Winfrey, President Clinton, or Richard Gere!!
AP: What is your secret to work/life balance? SK: I’m still trying to find the right balance but here are some important things I try to make a priority: taking my daughter to school every morning. I try not to go out at night during the week and spend very focused/concentrated time with her when I get home in the evening. I work out at least once a week (I’m trying to get that to 3x a week!). I don’t get to work before 8:30am and I don’t stay past 7pm. I do sometimes work at home at night and on the weekends, but try NOT TO! And, I have certain activities that I do when I feel really stressed: I get massages (so important!), take yoga, go to acupuncture, focus on my diet (cutting out sugar, white flour, alcohol and butter, eating more EFA’s and antioxidants, taking vitamins), take warm baths, light a candle, watch ‘silly’ TV. This helps me to calm down, refocus and remember my priorities.
AP: What are your three top tips for travel? SK: I always bring a yummy, cozy wrap. It is always cold and uncomfortable on planes and this helps me feel like I’m creating my own environment. I always bring my skyn ICELAND Arctic Face Mist, which refreshes and hydrates my skin. And it smells heavenly! And, my Hydro Cool Firming Eye Gels, because I get puffy under-eyes when I travel. I always carry my ipod, you never know when you are going to need some calming or energizing music!
AP: What is your favorite book? SK: The Namesake. Hands down.
AP: What is your cocktail of choice? SK: Champagne.
AP: What is your #1 beauty secret? SK: Never go to bed without washing your face!
AP: What fragrance do you wear? SK: I wear a Jasmine fragrance created by the perfumer Sarah Horowitz.
AP: Who is your mentor? SK: I am really fortunate to say that I’ve had some wonderful women mentor me throughout my career. My boss at Bath and Body Works, Sandy Cookerly Jones, my boss at Estee Lauder, Sandy Cataldo, Jennifer Balbier, the product guru (who heads up creative product development for MAC), whom I’ve worked with on and off for over 17 years , and Susan Rafaj, a beauty industry veteran and marketing expert (she is in her 80’s and still going strong, she is my hero!).
AP: Botox or not? SK: As I say to my husband all the time “I’m not going to grow old gracefully!” so why not?
AP: Hair color: natural or not? SK: I’ll never tell!
AP: 3 songs on your ipod right now. SK: Seal’s ‘Whirlpool’, Sheryl Crow’s ‘Are you strong enough to be my man’, Duncan Sheik ‘Barely Breathing’, Lisa Loeb ‘Stay.’ Oldish songs that always make me feel good.
AP: Quote to live by. SK: Live every day like it’s your last!
AP: Words of advice for young women starting their careers today. SK: Do something you love and feel really passionate about. The rest will follow.