Sarah Tay, Tay Clean and Pure Skincare, Woman Entrepreneur
I knew of Tay Skincare before I got the chance to meet the entrepreneur behind the products. I was speaking with Gloss 48, 3 women entrepreneurs up in the Boston area about their new site. A site the carries unique independent skin/cosmetic products. They sent me a gift of Tay products to thank me for talking with them. When Sarah approached me at the Womens Entrepreneur Festival I knew exactly who she was. I liked what she had built and when she later reached out to me through email I was happy to get together and talk.
Sarah grew up in CA, in the valley. Her mother was an accountant for the postal office and her father also worked for the postal service on the processing side and is involved in real estate too. Both of Sarahs parents were born in Bangkok so Sarah is the first generation being raised in the US. She was born in Los Angeles. Sarah said as a kid they traveled summers in Asia, Europe and Australia. She also grew up with an organic garden in her back yard so a lot of their travel included camping.
After graduating high school Sarah did not go that far but down the freeway to UCLA. While she was at UCLA she would come out to NYC at least once a year to see friends and fell in love with the city. When she was at UCLA she knew that she also wanted to go to art school. She spent two years building her portfolio and then applied to Pratt where she got into their graduate school design program. That was her first foray into living in NYC.
Sarah interned for Abon the entire time she was at Pratt. That internship is how she landed in the beauty industry. She did not even know what Avon was when she was growing up. She had never heard of it. While she was there she worked in graphic design doing layouts and catalogs for them and through that began to understand the business. It was 2002.
Sarah graduated and landed a job at L'Oreal as an art director. She worked on in store packaging. She loved it. One day she stood up and looked around the office from her cubicle and saw a woman sitting over the way who was 47 and a guy standing next to her talking who was 50 and she thought I do not want to stay here and become them. It was a wake-up call. She was 26. She took a step back and began to think about doing something new.
She was offered a job at OmniCom in their creative agency. She began to work with large clients and it was there where she learned to run a business. She was responsible for her own profit and loss statement which included staffing and profitability. Although it was a challenging job she felt that she was still looking for something else.
Sarah got recruited to CVS to work in their retail marketing department. She worked on the creative side doing ad campaigns, broadcast and instore radio ads. They had brought in a woman from Target who began to transform the stores. BTW, if you have not been into the new CVS stores they are brilliantly designed. The woman they brought in did an amazing job. Regardless of that success a year into the job the company layed off a bunch of employees and Sarah was part of that.
The day she was laid off she had got a call from Cover Girl. She did not know that she was laid off yet but that call made her think did she really want to be drawn back into the corporate world. The answer was no. She turned down the job and then found out about being laid off. The answer no with now no job propostions she was empowering so she decided she was going to do something on her own. Skincare sopke the loudest to her. She has saved some money so why not. Tay Skincare was born.
Sarah knew what she wanted in the ingredients. At first she spend a lot of time on the packaging. She did a lot of research and tested everything. She worked with different woods and to see how water contacted with it. She chose bamboo. Then she began working on the product. The whole process took about a year and a half. All and all she went through 80 rounds of testing.
Sarah called in help from former L'Oreal employees who wanted to help her. She outsourced contacts who understood social media. She first sold to Bigelow, Birchbox, Fred Segal and Alchemist in Miami. She also signed on with a few distribution sales people. She has her own ecommerce site that is about to be launched. She has made progress but not enough which is why she came to talk to me.
The products are great but what is more impressive is Sarah. She is building a business the old fashioned way, with her own sweat and determination. We talked at length about how to build her business without taking any money. My advice was simple, dial for dollars to the right people. Eventually you will get your foot in the door in the right location that will give you a big order and through that you can factor your business and build.
I got a nice note from Sarah in the mail a few days later telling me that it was so good to hear someone tell her she was doing the right thing as she is a one person act and sometimes it is hard to know if you are going down the right path. A little positive feedback can go a long way. But the best part is she got a call the day after we spoke from Harrods who gave her a nice order so she is off to the races. Congratulations Sarah! I keep thinking about Sarah. I love that she has built a business with no money but her own. Perhaps at one point she will bring in some investors but she could also continue to finance her business through sales. TIme will tell but I am sure she must feel pretty damn good.