HairStylist Spotlight: Sarah Potempa
Posted: Jul 03 2015
- How long have you been in the hair business? I have been in the hair industry for over 15 years! I started shampooing at a small salon in my hometown in high school and was obsessed with braiding and creating photo shoots with my little sister as my model!
- What made you come up with the idea for the beach waver? As a celebrity hairstylist I was continually asked by clients, friends, and beauty editors how to get the “beachy” wave. I tried to teach them how to use a curling iron by holding it backwards and upside down, but it was always really difficult to get the look yourself. I thought, there must be a better way! I sketched out the idea for a curling iron that you could hold upright and it would create the same pattern as wrapping. My sister and I then began a three year research and development process to create the Beachwaver Pro, the rotating curling iron!
- What was your first step in getting it started? Research! We worked with a whole team of designers, engineers and 3D printing companies to create a prototype based on my original sketch.
- What was a crucial decision you had to make in the beginning and how did you not let it define your business? We had to make the decision to outsource to a design firm or research and create everything ourselves. My sister and I are adventurous, curious, and hard-working and opted to learn as much as we could to complete the process ourselves. This was an incredible challenge that created a strong foundation to grow into a successful business.
- How did you attain your first big retail account? I was working with clothing designer Rachel Zoe when she was launching her collection on QVC. At the time, I had the idea for an easier curling iron. During one of her promotional TV segments, Rachel urgently needed two models to wear her clothes and show off her jewelry in New York City. Since I was there with her already, she asked me to go on camera! I had never modeled before and rarely wore 5 inch heels. Needless to say, this was an interesting day. I got to know the marketing director from QVC that day and started talking to him about my idea for a curling iron that rotated to make it easy for you to get celebrity looking waves. He loved the idea and the next time I saw him with Rachel he introduced me to an event planner that was bringing talent in to QVC. Once we had our prototype ready, we met with the beauty buyers and they loved it!
- Were you nervous the first time going on QVC? I was really excited and at the time didn’t know much about the process. We had booked three models to demo the Beachwaver on camera and one of these models was one of my best friends that I had studied abroad with, Jamin! She kept me calm and was practicing with me backstage before the show! Luckily, I had two beauty shows that day so we got to go on air 2 times the first day! They estimated a new company gets 5-6 airings in the first year and we ended up with close to 50! Now I love going live!
- What would be the top 3 most important things when launching your business? Research, patience, and dedication.
- How much time do you devote to styling hair as your business grows? I style hair everyday, whether it’s a celebrity, my sister or myself. I honestly love it and feel so lucky that I have a career that is so creative and such a unique form of art. On Instagram, I started my New Year’s resolution on January 1 to create 365 days of braids for no reason other than I love styling hair!
- Have you had an “epic fail” yet and how would you say it has made you and your team stronger? Selling out too fast! Understanding logistics and shipping has been a huge learning curve for us and has taught us so much about the world! We now appreciate getting our mail quickly, the intricacies of groceries being available, and all of the hard-working people that help our society function.
- As a stylist, who has been your favorite celebrity client to work with? I love clients that are open to creative and new hairstyles. Lea Michele loves when I do braids and intricate updos and Jaime King is always up for a strong “look,” inspired by her years in fashion! Honestly, each job and every celebrity is unique and it always ends up being a fun, collaborative effort with the makeup artist and the clothing stylist!
- What client or job was your “ I made it” moment? The time I flew to Alaska to do a photo shoot in the glaciers and on top of the mountains was an incredible experience that fulfilled my dream of traveling and styling hair! The best part was after I returned from the trip they decided they wanted to shoot more photos at the beach in Costa Rica! I couldn’t believe how lucky I was and truly felt in that moment that I had a dream job.
- What are your favorite styling products? I love Aussie! I’ve worked with them for over 9 years and love how versatile and lightweight the products are. There are multiple benefits in a lot of the products, like a mouse that has a built in conditioner and a dry shampoo that has built in volumizer.
- What are your favorite brushes? My favorite brush is the On Set Styling Brush. It is a nylon boar bristle blend that smoothes and polishes every style.
- What are your favorite styling tools? My favorite styling tools are my Beachwavers and Ceramic Iron. I developed these to be the exact specs that I love to use. The Beachwaver is a rotating curling iron with a ceramic rod, digital temperature clock and an extra long barrel. It is completely different from other curling irons. It has a motor and three computer boards with customized full length internal heaters and a fast recovery time. With it’s innovative technology comes simplicity, so not only does it drastically reduce your styling time, but it it does all the work for you. There is no straining on your wrist, and you always get a beautiful, red carpet look in minutes. I can style hair and loose, beachy waves or glamorous old Hollywood waves with one tool. For updos, my clients are obsessed with the Wrap Up because I rarely need to use bobby pins! When they take the tool out it’s easy and gives you relaxed waves overnight!
To learn more about Sara Potempa’s product line visit: Sara Potempa’s website