Episode 143: Sarah Kugelman, CEO and Founder of skyn ICELAND

Sarah Kugelman’s catalyst for creating the skincare line skyn ICELAND was her personal story of stress and illness, a story far too many of us—especially women—have experienced as we try to juggle our complex lives. As she healed herself, the CEO and founder focused on the toll modern life takes on skin and decided to do something about it.

Tune in to hear all about Sarah’s amazing journey from corporate life to entrepreneurship and her path to health, wellness and beautiful skin.

Dan Hodgdon
AnnouncerWelcome to WHERE BRAINS MEET BEAUTY® hosted by Jodi Katz, founder and creative director of Base Beauty Creative Agency.
Jodi KatzHey, everybody. It's Jodi Katz, your host of WHERE BRAINS MEET BEAUTY® Podcast. Thanks so much for tuning in today. This week's episode features Sarah Kugelman. She is the founder of skyn ICELAND, and if you missed last week's episode, it featured Wende Zomnir. She's the founding partner of Urban Decay. Hope you enjoy the episodes.

Hey, everybody, welcome back to the show. I am pleased to be sitting with Sarah Kugelman. She is the founder of skyn ICELAND. Welcome to WHERE BRAINS MEET BEAUTY®.
Sarah KugelmanThank you. Happy to be here.
Jodi KatzIt's so great to have you here. I met you many, many years ago, so it's cool that we have this as a little reunion.
Sarah KugelmanYes, very exciting.
Jodi KatzI'm going to start today with my favorite question, because I love minutiae. How are you going to spend your day today?
Sarah KugelmanWell, I was just talking about that, because I have an extremely busy day work-wise. I have back-to-back meetings, and I also have a 12-year-old daughter that just had back surgery. I am coordinating physical therapy, tutor schedule and dinner for her. It's going to be a real juggling type of a day, which is pretty typical of the way it goes as an entrepreneur, a single mother.
Jodi KatzThat's a lot to deal with.
Sarah KugelmanYeah, it is.
Jodi KatzHow do you program those days, when you have a kid who needs you, right, and you have a business that needs you? Do you have a trick or a system?
Sarah KugelmanI try to do what I can remotely sometimes. The amazing thing about technology is I can do phone meetings and work from anywhere. Sometimes I will do a conference call from the sidewalk outside my daughter's school. While she's in physical therapy, I'll be typing emails. I literally squeeze work in where I can.

Typically what I'll do is squeeze things in, if I have a crazy day like that and I'm juggling. Then after I put her to bed, then I'll work from like 10:00 PM until like one or two in the morning.
Jodi KatzBecause the work doesn't stop.
Sarah KugelmanIt does not. It does not. Having a global business, there's always somebody up somewhere. I pretty much can work all the time.
Jodi KatzDo you have a lot of parents on your team?
Sarah KugelmanI really don't. I'm one of the only parents on my team.
Jodi KatzWe have a lot of parents on this team. The funniness about it is there's always something, right? A household just had the flu. Actually two households just had the flu. One needed this, one needed that, and we all can commiserate with each other because as parents, it's never the day the way it should be planned, right? There's always something.
Sarah KugelmanRight, exactly. In a way it's good having your own business because you're a little more flexible, but in a way it just adds more to your plate, so I don't know. You feel like you're always juggling and never doing anything 100%, sadly.
Jodi KatzWell, there is no perfection, I think. That's my point of view, anyway.
Sarah KugelmanAgreed.
Jodi KatzIt shouldn't even be a word in our language.
Sarah KugelmanI agree.
Jodi KatzIt doesn't exist, so we just do our best.
Sarah KugelmanI think too, that's very much a part of, unfortunately, being a woman. I think we self-bully a lot, and are always talking about how we aren't good at this or perfect at that or could be doing this better. I just feel like that's a real female thing.
Jodi KatzWell, we are superheroes, I do believe. This is my philosophy ... I have no science to back it up ... but that we really are superwomen. We have these powers, and they radiate from our fingertips and our head and our toes, and we are capable of so much. Therefore, then we all put harder expectations on ourselves, but we are superpowers.
Sarah KugelmanYeah, I agree. We have this incredible ability to multitask. We're able to focus on a lot of things at the same time and do a lot of things concurrently, which I think is really different from men because I don't think they have that specific talent.
Jodi KatzLet's talk about your career history. Because it's so fun rereading my notes from our call, because you've done so many amazing things and I didn't know where to start. I feel like what I want to start with is something you said which is so funny, that really amazing things happen for you at dinner parties.
Sarah KugelmanIt's true. I mean, you never know when you're going to be in the right place at the right time, and when you're not even thinking about business, how you make connections and you find people that help you maybe get to the next step, or realize something that you've been thinking about or envisioning. I'm a huge believer in ... people call it different things, but creative visualization or putting the energy out there or the power of now, but seeing what you want and then making it happen through connections.
Jodi KatzThere's two specific dinner parties that you told me about. One of them was many years ago when you were at Banana Republic, is that right?
Sarah KugelmanYes.
Jodi KatzOkay. Let's go back in time to Banana Republic.
Sarah KugelmanOkay. I was a marketing director, merchandising director, at Banana Republic. I was running the fragrance business, and I had written a business plan for what later became Gloss.com, but it was sitting in a drawer. At the time I was in San Francisco and Silicon Valley was exploding, and I went to a dinner party and I was sitting next to a friend of mine who was a banker at Credit Suisse First Boston.

He literally overheard me talking to somebody on my left about this business plan for a beauty website. He tapped me on the shoulder and he was like, "What are you talking about?" I said, "Oh, my business." He said, "What business?" I said, "You know, this beauty internet site." He said, "You've never told me about that."

Then we started talking about it, and he said, "Is anybody doing that?" I said no, and he said, "All right. I'm going to call a couple of my investors tomorrow, and then I'm going to call you back and tell you whether I think it's a good idea." He called me at noon the next day on a Saturday. He said, "I need you to call in sick to work. I'm taking you to Silicon Valley to meet with investors." That was the beginning of my Gloss.com story.
Jodi KatzWhat was Gloss.com?
Sarah KugelmanIn 1999 I launched a beauty internet site, which was the first beauty internet site, and it was a destination place for buying beauty as well as content for beauty, so it was a magazine and a store, and we sold it to Estee Lauder one year later.
Jodi KatzThis is insane, right? This whole dotcom boom that was happening around the Y2K time period. Really, that might've been the only place that touched beauty, because it was about so many other things, right? It was the first time we had those food delivery startups, right? There were so many things that were incubated that we know of now as normal, but I can't think of other ways where beauty was part of this moment. I remember this company, right? I didn't obviously know you, but this was so revolutionary, right? It feels silly to say shopping for beauty online is revolutionary.
Sarah KugelmanRight, and now it's so normal and mainstream. You couldn't imagine how then, nobody was thinking about that. It was totally out of the box. Literally, it was just such a crazy experience. I mean, I came to New York to find brands that would sell to us. People looked at me like I had three heads, like who in prestige was going to sell on the internet? That would destroy any brand.

We saw this huge revolution. I saw this huge revolution coming, and I said, "You've got to get on the train. The train's leaving the station." Some people got on, and other people didn't get it yet.
Jodi KatzCan we go back in time? I want to know about what was the first brand that agreed to sell on Gloss.com?
Sarah KugelmanIt was Elizabeth Arden. We came to New York, and I had two partners. The three of us stayed in a studio apartment and we were sleeping on the floor. We were all employed by the jobs that we had at the time. The investors had basically earmarked $5 million, but they said, "We're not going to give you the money unless you actually have some brands that sign on."

We came to New York. We called in to our jobs and said we were taking vacation time, and our first meeting was with Elizabeth Arden. It was with Joseph Spellman, and we spent two days rehearsing, like, "What are we going to say? If he asks us this question, how are we going to respond? How's the whole meeting going to go?" We go in, we're super nervous, and we're like, "What if anybody sees us and calls our boss back home and tells them that we're moonlighting?"

We go in, and I make this whole presentation to him. I said, "We have this company. We're launching this website. It's going to be great. There's going to be all these brands. It's going to be like you see this amazing product, you click on it, you buy it," and he's sitting, doesn't say anything, quiet through the whole conversation. Then I stopped and I looked at him, and I said, "We're here because we want to know if you'll sell to us," and he said, "Yes." I was like, "Yes?" It was the only answer we had not prepared for. We didn't know what to say. "Yes? Oh, okay."

My partners and I, Deanna Kangos was one of my partners. We looked at each other and we were like, "Okay, bye," and we left, and we called the investors and we're like, "Okay, we have Elizabeth Arden," and they came with a bunch of other brands. That was pretty much a turning point for us. Then ironically, when we sold the business to Estee Lauder, one of the first people that I talked to there or connected with was Joseph Spellman, because then he was at Estee Lauder. It was quite an extraordinary full-circle moment.
Jodi KatzDid you have relationships in beauty before that Elizabeth Arden meeting?
Sarah KugelmanI did, only because I had been working. I had worked for L'Oreal for a couple of years. I'd worked for Bath and Body Works and then I was at Banana Republic, so I did. Between Deanna and I, we had quite a few contacts in the industry. We called all the people that we knew and then had them also network for us. That was how we got in to see a whole bunch of people.
Jodi KatzThen one year later, you were acquired?
Sarah KugelmanOne year later.
Jodi KatzWere you expecting that?
Sarah KugelmanNot at all. It was a complete surprise. In fact, I was the one that got the call from Lauder, and they called me on my cell phone. I got a call from a banker and he said, "I'm calling from Estee Lauder and I'd like to talk to you." I got really concerned, because we had done a promotion with Bobby Brown and we basically did a limited-edition lip gloss that was going to be sold on the red carpet. We checked every box and said, before we ran this program, "Did you tell corporate? Is this approved?"

Because we knew it was a very tricky time, because Lauder didn't want to align with any websites because they knew once they did, then everybody would think they were buying them or investing in them. We said, "Are you sure Lauder knows that you're doing this program?" "Yes, yes, yes, everybody knows." Well, it turned out they didn't, and everybody got in a lot of trouble. I thought they were calling to bring legal action against us, so I didn't call them back. I was scared.

I finally told my partners, and they were like, "You'd better call them back." It took me three days to return the phone call, and when I finally called them back, they said, "We think you're doing something really interesting. We'd like to talk to you about it further, so can you come to New York?" That was like, "Whoa." We had to sneak into the Lauder offices on a Saturday very surreptitiously, without anybody seeing us, and have these secret meetings. It was quite cool.
Jodi KatzFrom the time of the phone call to the sale being official, how much time passed?
Sarah KugelmanAbout three to four months.
Jodi KatzWow, that's fast.
Sarah KugelmanIt was really, really fast.
Jodi KatzIt must've been so almost jarring, to start it and you're still in the rush of starting it and the energy of starting it, and then you pass it off.
Sarah KugelmanIt was really frustrating, yeah. It was a really, really hard transition for me, because I felt like there was so much more I wanted to do with the business. I had this vision for the brand that I'd just only scratched the surface on, and we had so much momentum and it was so exciting. I saw what was going on in the market, and I knew if we didn't take the opportunity to sell to Lauder, we probably would have gone out of business. It was like have a great exit too early, or probably go out of business.
Jodi KatzRight. What was next for you, after that high?
Sarah KugelmanI transitioned into an executive role at Lauder. That was hard, leaving corporate and becoming an entrepreneur and then going back into the corporate environment.
Jodi KatzWhat was the hardest?
Sarah KugelmanIt's just it's really hard. As an entrepreneur, you're making decisions so quickly every day, and nobody's telling you you can't do that or, "We don't do it this way." You're just following your instinct and your vision. When you go back into corporate, everything's a lot more methodical. It's slower. There's a lot of people involved in every decision. There's politics, face time, all those things that I just feel are really counterproductive.

It was hard to fit back into that, although there's so many amazing things about the company and I got so much out of that experience. After three years, it was really hard for me to continue in that kind of a structure. I really wanted to do my own thing again.
Jodi KatzWhat came next in your ideas?
Sarah KugelmanI always am mulling a lot of ideas, and I think whether it's good or bad, I'm usually really ahead of what's happening. I think in many cases ... Gloss as an example, skyn ICELAND as example ... I was too early for my time. I started working on Gloss in 1995, and then that's why the business plan was in my drawer, because nobody was ready to do it.

It was a similar thing with skyn ICELAND. I mean, I started thinking about it in 2003. I took a leave of absence from Lauder, and I spent a year and a half studying the whole connection between stress and skin and working with experts and looking at research, and I launched the line in 2005. It took a while for me to get the whole thing baked.

Then even in 2005, I think it took a lot of education. I mean, I saw not only a market opportunity, but I was very, very passionate. My own personal passion, stress and wellness. I had had a lot of health issues related to stress, and so I'd become very interested in eating organically and doing yoga and acupuncture and all kinds of alternative therapies. It was one of the reasons I'd moved to California. It was something I've been doing for a long time, and I wanted to figure out how do I combine this personal passion with what I do professionally, and that was what really drove me.

Then as a marketing person, I looked at the market and what was going on in skincare and beauty, and I saw that there was a real trend towards wellness and lifestyle. I felt like stress was just an epidemic that was going to get worse and worse. I thought if I could link stress and what was going on on the inside with what was happening on the outside, that that was a very powerful concept, and that if I could bring that to life with skincare, it was something that could really create a dialogue.

For me it was much more than creating an eye cream that helps with wrinkles. It was more about creating this community and this movement and concept. The first few years were really hard. I mean, not only was there a recession, but people didn't really get the connection between stress and skin, so there was a lot of education and information that we needed to teach the customer about and get them to make that connection, where now we don't educate at all. People just get it.
Jodi KatzLet's go back in time to this idea of stress. How was stress manifesting so much that you were like, "Oh, let me study this"? Because, I mean, we all feel stress, so what does that mean to you?
Sarah KugelmanYeah, so I think we all feel stressed, and it's just a question of degree. For me, what happened was I was stressed because I was working really long hours. I was traveling, I wasn't eating right. Sometimes it's that combination of things that just wears down your immune system. At a certain point, I would always like push myself and push myself. I would sleep five hours a night and then I'd get on a plane.

Finally my body just gave out and said, "Stop. I'm not going to let you go anymore." I just thought I was sick, but I didn't understand what was happening physiologically. I basically was having this adrenal fatigue moment, and what happens is your body releases adrenaline to keep you going, and at a certain point your body runs out of adrenaline and you literally are scraping the bottom of the gas tank.

What happened to me at that time, when your immune system breaks down like that, you start catching a lot of weird things that you normally wouldn't get. It's not like you get a cold. I got chickenpox in my thirties. I got really, really sick and then I just didn't take care of myself, and then I just kept getting sick on top of that until I ended up in the hospital. My doctor said to me, "If you don't learn to manage your stress, you're not going to live to see 40."
Jodi KatzOh, my gosh. How old were you at this time?
Sarah KugelmanI was 30, like 31, 32.
Jodi KatzThis is interesting, because at that time in your life you probably had friends who were also moving quickly, stretched and maxed out. Were they having these physical reactions to it the way that you had?
Sarah KugelmanWell, it was a weird thing because the company I was working for at the time ... I won't say who ... but a lot of people were having health issues, and it was because we were all working such long hours then traveling so much. It was almost like a badge of honor to get sick, because it meant you were actually just giving everything to your job, but that was just so demented. There were a lot of really young people getting very sick.

Being in skincare too, of course there's a vanity portion of this. What started happening was everything that was going on on the inside was showing on my skin. I had cystic acne and my skin was really dull, and I had this like green pallor to my skin and I looked older than I was. I'll never forget, I went to a dinner once. I had to go to a con for work because there's a big show there every summer. I went to a dinner, and all the women looked glowing and hydrated and healthy. I had pimples on my face and my skin looked terrible. I was like green.

I was like, "All right, I've got to pull it together. I've got to do something about this." That's what really led me to start to study it, and to understand what is really happening inside that is making me look like this. I felt like, "I know so many people that are stressed. It can't just be me. Other people have to be dealing with this too."
Jodi KatzLet's talk a little bit about that demented thinking that you just mentioned around this badge of honor, right? The harder you work, the sicker you get, the more devoted you are to the company, right? This is pretty common, especially when I was growing up in the marketing industry. Now that I'm an entrepreneur, I get to undo that. How are you able to undo that for your team?
Sarah KugelmanI mean, last night was a perfect example. I had a meeting that went late and I got out of the meeting at 6:25, and I was the last person in my office. I was actually really excited about that. I was like, "Oh, my gosh, I feel so good that I've created an environment where people leave the office at a normal hour and have a life." I think that's one of the things I do.

The other thing is that my team doesn't feel stressed out if they have a doctor's appointment and they have to come to work at 10, that nobody's judging them because of that. I feel like there's a lot of freedom in my team to have a life and do the things that you have to do, because I remember that for me that was a big part of the stress. I was always scheduled into meetings that I had no control over, and I couldn't control my own schedule. I would constantly make a doctor's appointment, have to reschedule it, constantly make plans with friends, cancel. I think having control over your life and over your schedule is just a much more positive way to live.
Jodi KatzOh, that's so interesting that you mentioned this idea of not having control over your schedule. I was talking with a team member here who's my age, and I had an interaction like that with somebody from the outside. She's like, "Oh, I don't have control over my schedule." I turned to Robin. I'm like, "Why are we different?" Robin's like, "Because we treat each other like adults," right? I mean, isn't that what it comes down to?
Sarah KugelmanRight.
Jodi KatzYou're an adult. If you need to go to the doctor, then you go to the doctor, and then we'll find another time for the meeting. Isn't it about respect?
Sarah KugelmanIt's like I remember in public school, we had to ask to go to the bathroom. It's like, "Why do I need approval to go to the bathroom?" It's the same kind of thing. You know what you have to do. You're in charge of your schedule and your life and your work and you get it done, and if you don't, then you don't have a job anymore. Obviously I like to give my team accountability and responsibility.
Jodi KatzThis is very unusual, right? We probably know more people who work in these environments where they have to raise their hand and ask permission or sneak around.
Sarah KugelmanYes. Yes.
Jodi KatzWhich is such a bad feeling.
Sarah KugelmanIt's a horrible feeling. I think at the end of the day, you get much less out of people too. My team is so committed and dedicated and loyal to me, and it's not an easy environment. It's very stressful. The business is hard and challenging. In order to, I feel, get that loyalty, it's because I respect people and give them that freedom.
Jodi KatzI think of the scenes from the TV show, The Office, where people are racing out at 5:00 because they don't want Michael to call them. I've lived through jobs like that, where you put your desk in a certain way so you want people to think you're there, but you're really not there.

I actually left a full-time job to go out on my own, I guess 13, 14, years ago, because I didn't think that I could become a mom there. Whatever "mom" meant ... I didn't even know, I didn't have kids ... whatever taking care of a baby would require and wanting to do it, that I wouldn't be able to do that, because I had to privately go to the doctor's office and not just say like, "I'm going to the doctor."
Sarah KugelmanI know. It just makes me want to cry. It makes me think about I went to Columbia Business School, and I don't know the exact numbers, but I would say probably 80% of the women I graduated with stopped working in the first five years, because I think the workplace was so unforgiving and a lot of them wanted to have children and didn't feel like they could and still have a career, or there was the glass ceiling and there was just only so far they could go. Why give up having a family or spending time with your family to make less than all the men around you and not be able to advance in your career? It just wasn't worth it. That to me is such a sad statement about what is going on.
Jodi KatzI think about the stress that you just talked about through the lens of my own experience. When I left my full-time job to go out on my own, I didn't know what was ahead of me, but it turned out that to get pregnant I'd have to go through IVF. That requires doctor's appointments almost every day for some time period.
Sarah KugelmanI did it too, so I totally understand.
Jodi KatzIt was like the universe gave me the gift of the courage to walk away from that job, so that I could go through the stressful experience with IVF without the added stress of having to beg for time in the morning to go to the doctor.
Sarah KugelmanRight. Well, I recently was asked to join the Tufts Entrepreneurship Center board, which that's where I went undergrad. My mission, I've been talking to them about what my mission is being on the board, and my mission is going to be to try to create opportunities and support for women that want to be entrepreneurs and figuring out how to support women in the workplace, so that they are not suffering from these exact kinds of situations.
Jodi KatzAlmost undo this, right? If you're sick and you come to work, it's stupid. It's not awesome. You're not helping anybody.
Sarah KugelmanExactly. Exactly. There's no badge of honor to killing yourself in the workplace. It's about being the best that you can be physically, so mentally you can think and contribute.
Jodi KatzHow does Iceland tie into stress management?
Sarah KugelmanWhen I was developing skyn ICELAND, I ended up just going to Iceland on vacation with my sister. I'd always been interested in it because I imagined it to be a place that was clean and pure. Then I went there and it actually is exactly that, and I found it just really, really inspiring. Since I was at the time working on skyn ICELAND and developing it, it brought it all together for me. Here I was in New York where things are stressful and busy and dirty. Then I went to Iceland and it's clean and beautiful and natural and people have beautiful skin. I thought, "Well, what's going on here?"

It not only became a marketing integration for me, but it also became a source of a lot of our key ingredients. We source amazing ingredients, botanicals and medicinal herbs and [inaudible] elements that all have these incredible properties, and we incorporate them into all the products. It really became this Iceland connection for me that has just filtered through the brand since the beginning.
Jodi KatzYou mentioned that you were ahead, right, ahead of the industry, and I can think of so many times when you've been ahead. Like the eye patches, the soothing and cooling eye patches. You've been doing this for a really, really long time.
Sarah KugelmanYeah, a really long time. I launched the eye patches in 2006. I was actually talking about this yesterday, because I was saying I don't know if I could prove it, but I'm pretty sure we were first. I found the technology, and I thought it was so cool and interesting and it worked really well. At the time, the customer wasn't totally ready for it yet. They were like, "Why do I need this extra step? What does this do?" It was hard enough getting people to use an eye cream. It really, really took a while for people to adopt. Now, obviously it's just been a huge part of our business.
Jodi KatzHow do you manage the first of its kind with the fact that, in this digital-first marketplace, we really need people to jump on things quickly to move them forward, to fuel the resources that are required to move the business forward? How do you manage the sometimes you're too early with the fact that you also need to sell products to keep the business going?
Sarah KugelmanI mean, the hard thing is that also when you're a small company, you don't have the resources, the capital to spend to support it. Typically what I would say if you're working for a larger company is even if you're early, you educate the market and then you spend behind it. You have to be super creative and resourceful, which is why we ended up working with makeup artists, because it was really an inexpensive way for us to educate the marketplace. We started sending the product to makeup artists, explaining, training them, getting it in their tool box, and through that having them fall in love with the product, use it on their clients, and then it just was a snowball effect.

Because when we launched that product too, there wasn't social media. Now it would be a little bit easier, but even then it was harder. It was really an underground movement and creating that momentum that then had the snowball effect that grew the business, and finally got itself to retail.
Jodi KatzHow do you keep up your positive attitude when you are in these moments where you know it's a great idea, you know it's the next thing, but the world isn't ready for it yet?
Sarah KugelmanI just think it's when you really believe something, nobody can tell you that it's not going to work. I can't tell you how many people told me my company was never going to make it and was going to fail.
Jodi KatzWait, people really said that to you?
Sarah KugelmanSo many people said that to me, so many people.
Jodi KatzPeople in our business.
Sarah KugelmanOh, yeah. Like, tons.
Jodi KatzIn what context?
Sarah KugelmanOh, gosh. I mean, when I first started the company, I had breakfast with somebody who had started a company in the sector and sold it, and said, "Why would you want to do this? It's so difficult. There's so many people that try this and fail. I mean, the chances of you succeeding are so small." Why bother, basically.

That was depressing. I just thought, instead of taking it to heart ... I mean, I had a few hours where I was like, what the hell, but then I was like, "You know what? He just doesn't understand what I'm doing, and he doesn't know who I am and he doesn't understand my determination. There's always going to be somebody who's successful in this space. Why can't it be me?" That's what always drove me. There's always going to be somebody who's successful, so why shouldn't it be me? I have a good idea and I have something that I think is important. I have an important message to get out there.

I think it's just really, really believing in yourself and what you're doing, and that even in the darkest hours, like when I went through the recession and I felt like we were going to go out of business and we barely had any customers. When I say customers, I mean retailers. We had very few retailers, but the customer kept buying the product.

They would do anything to find the product, and we would get emails and phone calls like, "Where can I find skyn ICELAND? I'm out of such-and-such. I tried another product, but it just doesn't work. I need my skyn ICELAND." That's when I realized, okay, there's something really amazing about the product. It can't be replaced. People can't switch. There's something in this that's going to make it. There were little signs like that that just kept me going.

I mean, there was one point when I was literally 10 days away from going broke. We were out of money. I went to the Women's Wear Daily Beauty Awards luncheon, and we were nominated for the indie beauty award of the year. I literally almost didn't go, because I had just had my daughter and I was on maternity leave sort of. My husband at the time and my mom were like, "You have to go. What if you win?" I was like, "I'm not winning." Literally I was sitting the night before the luncheon. I was like, "I don't know. In 10 days, we're out of money."

Then I went to the luncheon and we won, and I was just like, "Okay, I think that's a sign that I need to keep doing this." There were just a lot of signs along the way. I would say look for the signs that are telling you to keep going.
Jodi KatzOkay, so this is amazing. Now I want to hear practically, so you're ten or nine days away from going out of business, you win this award. How did you manage to take advantage of those nine days so you didn't have to close the door? What's the next step when you get this big win? How do you convert that big win into sustaining the business?
Sarah KugelmanYeah. I think in that particular instance, there was an investor who was circling around, and I think I said, "Well, we won this award and we now have this momentum." I think it's those kinds of things. Also, then investors who are nervous about taking a risk want to hear, and then feel maybe a little bit more comfortable about committing.
Jodi KatzAwesome. That's so amazing. Well, this is a really good note to end our conversation on, right? Such a positive.
Sarah KugelmanVery positive, yes.
Jodi KatzWell, thank you so much for sharing your wisdom with us today, Sarah.
Sarah KugelmanThank you. It was really fun.
Jodi KatzFor our listeners, I hope you enjoyed this interview. Please subscribe to our series on iTunes and for updates about the show. Follow us on Instagram at @wherebrainsmeetbeautypodcast.
AnnouncerThanks for listening to WHERE BRAINS MEET BEAUTY® with Jodi Katz. Tune in again for more authentic conversations with beauty leaders.

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