#BeautyBoss: Sarah Potempa, CEO & Founder of The Beachwaver Co.
This week’s #BeautyBoss is Sarah Potempa, CEO & Founder of The Beachwaver Co.—a line of innovative, award-winning, and easy-to-use hair tools. A celebrity hairdresser, Potempa has styled countless stars for magazine covers and red carpet events, and over time she came up with the idea for the Beachwaver—the first-ever rotating curling iron. Within a few years, Potempa, her sister and a team of engineers launched the Beachwaver Pro, which instantly became a favorite of beauty editors, celebs and stylists alike. Her products are sold everywhere from Target to Ulta, making her a true beauty success story.
“As a teenager, I really loved doing hair,” says Potempa. “I have a big family so I was always doing my sister’s hair for games and events. When I was looking for a job, I decided to call all the salons in my hometown and was eventually hired as a shampoo girl at a small salon by a lady named Patty. On my first day she sat me down with a stack of magazines including French and Italian Vogue, and asked me to look at the advertisements to see the amazing fashions and hairstyles. She told me about platform artists and made me watch Vidal Sassoon’s education videos. She was my original mentor and that changed my career.”
We recently sat down with the celebrity hairstylist and CEO to chat about who inspires her, beauty tips, secrets to success, and more:
What inspired the creation of The Beachwaver Co.?
For many years I was telling people how to curl their hair, and was surprised at how many of them found it challenging and wanted tips on how to do it. One day after getting off the phone with an editor for an article on how to create beach waves, I sketched out the idea for the Beach Waver. Not long after, my sister quit her job as a corporate lawyer and we started the business and patent together. It took about two years.
How long have you been in business?
I started in 2010, but the product didn’t launch until January 2012.
What’s your favorite product from your line?
I would say the The Beachwaver Co. BEACHWAVER PRO 1.25, which is our biggest barrel. I’m a hairdresser, and when I’m working on celebrity clients, that’s usually my go-to. I like the width because I’m able to get those loose, relaxed and perfect waves for my clients. We also have some exciting new launches coming up.
Where are your products sold?
We sell the products on our website, as well as in Nordstrom, Ultra, Target, Bed Bath & Beyond, Amazon, Bloomingdales and QVC.
Who inspires you?
My family. My dad won the National Championship for football at Notre Dame and was on the cover of Sports Illustrated. He still goes to all the games and is a great public speaker, and it was very motivating as a kid seeing him interact with all of the excited fans.
As far as the beauty industry goes, I had incredible mentors. Patty was the woman who originally inspired me to become a hairdresser, and when I moved to New York to study at NYU, I ended up assisting Bob Recine, an artist who uses hair as his medium. His work is so unique and I was very inspired by him.
I also worked with Danilo, Gwen Stefani’s longtime stylist, who is phenomenally creative. He has worked with Gwen for so many years and established her iconic look with the 1940s-inspired victory rolls. He took celebrity to the next level and he was able to create editorial hair with artists and musicians, making them iconic. I was very inspired by him.
Secret to success?
Leap and the net will appear. My grandma gave me a frame with that quote in it and I thought it was so amazing. You just have to go for it, because you have no idea what will happen and you just kind of figure it out as you go. My sister Erin and I started the company ourselves and we continue to run the company ourselves. It definitely hasn’t been easy. It takes a combination of hard work, the ability to dream big, and to not be afraid of anything. For those who want to be entrepreneurs or build a brand, just take that leap, go for your dreams, and things will fall into place at some point.
Making sure that you do that one little thing that makes you feel a bit more confident. Sometimes wearing a little lipstick makes me feel better. I’m married, I have two kids and they make me super happy, but being a busy mom, it’s okay to spend some time on yourself and focus on your beauty routine. Even if I’m just dropping my kids off at school, I like to feel and look good.
Green juice—any kind of juicing is super healthy. I love to do detoxes and take time just to breathe, slow down, and take a minute to appreciate everything. I also enjoy hot yoga. Trying new workouts with hot yoga and a juice is literally the best morning ever.
I love to take things day by day. As I’ve gotten older, my best advice is that you really should live in the moment and try to enjoy what you’re doing. Your future self is going to thank you for it. Whatever you’re doing right now should make you happy—and if it doesn’t, then you should do something else. It’s helped me realize that I need to always appreciate where I am in the present moment.
[Images courtesy of The Beachwaver Co.]