#WCW Sarah Potempa | Celebrity Hairstylist, and Founder of Beachwaver
June 12, 2019
Here at LIVELY, we’re constantly surrounded by swoon-worthy women that are killin’ it in their businesses. We're launching #WomenCrushWednesday to celebrate the boss babes who provide us with a constant flow of inspiration, support, and endless girl-crushes.
Up next, Celebrity Hairstylist and Founder of Beachwaver, Sarah Potempa
Where are you from?
I grew up in Libertyville, which is a town between Chicago and Milwaukee that’s close to the airport since I travel so much! I grew up in a house with five kids, and we had such a fun childhood! Libertyville is an amazing place to raise a family, which is where me and my husband are raising our two children today!
Tell us about your journey to an uber successful celebrity hairstylist to now a founder and entrepreneur?
As a celebrity hairstylist, I have created waves, braids, and iconic red carpet styles on the most talented and beautiful women in the world. Over the years, beauty editors would interview me to help everyday women recreate these celebrity looks. One day, I was on the phone with an editor explaining how to create the perfect beachy wave and I said, “Hold the curling iron upside down, wrap the hair backwards and away from your face!” She laughed and said, “It sounds so complicated, upside down and backwards!” I expressed how I wished there was an easier way. I immediately sketched out the idea for a curling iron that you could hold upright. In order to curl both sides and go away from the face, I designed a rotating iron that would revolutionize the way that women curl their hair. The concept was simple: you’d be able to hold the iron up-right, a little clamp on the bottom would hold the end of the hair, and a “go” button would give you full control of the rotation so you could curl your hair in to the perfect beach wave in minutes!
I shared this idea with my sister, Erin; she took a leap of faith, quit her job as a corporate lawyer, and invested the following two years into research and development to help me create this new product. From that moment on, we made it our mission to help people around the world feel more confident and beautiful in their everyday lives. When we first started @thebeachwaver, we were a team of two. Our sister Emily joined us. We drove the truck to deliver the product ourselves, we stored all of the products in our own apartments, we personally pitched to every buyer. We create our own content. We demo everyday and if it changes one person’s life, it’s all worth it!
With hard work, determination, and a loyal fan base, we are proud to have won 41 beauty awards! The Beachwaver is currently available in more than 5,000 locations across 13 countries! In summer 2019, we are launching a line of hair care that has clean ingredients, innovative formulas, and sustainable packaging. We are beyond excited to be a part of the full lifestyle beauty routine, with the launch of our B.Bungalow aroma experience fragrance collection! We are extremely proud to be a women-owned, self-funded and female-run company, and are committed to sustainability, empowerment, and making a positive impact on the world.
Here at LIVELY, we think every badass woman has had to take a risky leap of faith to get to where they are now. We call this our YOLO moment. What was yours?
After I graduated from NYU, I was an economic reporter in Southeast Asia. I loved traveling, however I definitely missed being creative and styling hair. Despite some feedback against this decision, I went back to beauty school at the Aveda Institute. It was a risky move at the time, but I wouldn’t change a thing!!
How do you find balance (assuming that “balance” is possible)?
I am fortunate to have an incredible support system. From my amazing husband, to my two young, creative kids, to my parents and siblings, I would not be able to balance my life as well as I do!
Additionally, my kids motivate me every single day. From a very young age, they believed in me and my business. I instilled in them that I travel and I go to work every day because I am good at my job, and I love my job. They are able to see the bigger picture with me, and because of that, they push me to do my best!
What’s the best advice you’ve received from a mentor?
I trained under Bob Recine, an editorial hairstylist who was a painter with Andy Warhol, for three years, and I really admire him. He once said that hair is a canvas. I take that with me everywhere I go and remember that creativity and art are a priority of my vision.
What’s the biggest myth of starting your own business?
I think that one of the biggest myths to starting your own business is that you have to have a lot of funds and resources to do so. It’s amazing what you can accomplish when you take the time to educate yourself. When Erin and I started The Beachwaver Co, we did everything ourselves. We didn’t have the funds to hire a team, so we taught ourselves to code, shipped products ourselves, pitched to every buyer that would listen, learned marketing - the list goes on and on! We are truly capable of learning anything if we set our minds to it.
When do you feel most empowered?
I feel most empowered when collaborating with a team. When I have an idea, there’s nothing more fulfilling than talking through with our team, implementing our ideas, and seeing it through.
What keeps you motivated when you’re feeling burnt out?
I remind myself that our potential is endless. We’ve spent many years building relationships, seizing opportunities, and overcoming challenges. We are frequently recognized by national press, and we receive fan messages every day that remind us to keep moving forward. I’m especially excited for this next chapter of people hearing our story, and I hope it motivates them to follow their passions!!
What are your thoughts on “following your gut”?
I believe that you have to know your own vision and forge your own path. You can’t live your life following someone else’s dream for you. Advice from loved ones and mentors is always welcome, but I advocate to stick to what you visualize for yourself. Believe in your own ideas, own them, and follow through.
Describe your personal aesthetic.
I would describe my person aesthetic has optimistic, colorful, happy, confident, & happy!
Fave 3 LIVELY Pieces?
The Tank One Piece in the Poolside Print, The Lounge Pant in Blush, and The Active Crossback Bra in Pink and Navy!
*All prices shown on the blog are in US dollars.