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We all have that one mama in our crew who continually inspires us and keeps us all motivated amidst the craziness of working mama life. For us, that’s Sara Happ — who is not only a self-proclaimed cheerleader for the women in her life, but a mama to her beloved Julia Gracie and the original inventor of The Lip Scrub (long before lip scrubs even became a “thing”) on a mission to give us ladies the plush and plump kissers we’ve always wanted. We love Sara’s refreshingly honest, positive, and can-do attitude, and she always knows how to make us laugh. Here, the superwoman opens up about how she went about making her dream beauty product, how motherhood has made her a better woman, and why it’s just so important for us to team up and tackle the juggle with our fellow mamas. Read on…

Sara Happ creator of The Lip Scrub

It’s amazing what people will do for and with you if you simply ask for their help and expertise.

Sara! As you know, we are big fans of yours. Tell us about how you got started. Were you always interested in beauty?

I created The Lip Scrub in 2005 out of sheer necessity. I actually worked at ESPN at the time, but beauty was my love. I kept reading beauty editors who said, “Exfoliate lips with a washcloth or toothbrush.” I googled “lip scrub,” and there were zero results (?!?). I was stunned. So I went to my kitchen and made this delicious sugar and essential oil blend in mixing bowls. I became obsessed with it. It tasted so good, smoothed my lips like nobody’s business, and I knew I could be first to market with it if I executed it right.

Did you have a mentor or someone who really influenced and helped to develop you in the early days? What was that like?

Mentors are essential. The first thing I did when I had The Lip Scrub formula perfected was reach out to the former CEO of Hard Candy, whom I’d read about in Business Week. I cold called him and said, “I have this product that doesn’t exist yet. Can we meet?” A week later, we had lunch. It’s amazing what people will do for and with you if you simply ask for their help and expertise.

What is your philosophy as a business woman and as a boss?

My philosophy in work and as a boss is that there is room for everyone. In work, that means when giant companies knock our products off, I take a deep breath and remind myself that our following is cult, indie, and STRONG. There’s power in that. As a boss, that means titles genuinely don’t matter. Ideas do. Everyone’s voice carries equal weight around our conference table.

We love that you are a self-described cheerleader of women. What tips would you give to young female entrepreneurs who are just starting out? 

I’d advise female entrepreneurs who are just beginning to find women THEY admire. Then learn everything you can about them. Then, if you’ve done your homework on who they are and how they operate, reach out to them and ask for their insight. There are so many female powerhouses ready and willing to lend you their time, but it’s important that you show that you’re not just a networker — that you genuinely know and love what they’ve done, and have specific questions that would help you get where you’re trying to go.

Sara Happ

How has community factored into your life?  Do you have a core group of women who support you in your home town? How has heymama been important to you?

When I heard you (Katya and Amri) telling your stories about why you created this…about feeling lost, disenfranchised after having your babies, I think I yelled, “Yessss!!!!” (loudly?) at both of you. Because that was my story in 2013 when I had Julia Grace. I wasn’t quite sure who I wanted to be as a working mom, who I could be as a working mom. I’d gone from being a business owner to a “sleep-deprived-yoga-pants-only” girl with spit up on her, who felt guilty for being on conference calls while I breastfed, and guilty that I even wanted to keep working. But at the same time, I wasn’t sure I had it in me to run my company.

That is where your community comes in. HeyMama has been pivotal for me. You connected me with brilliant, hard-working, kind badasses who know that the juggle is real. But more than that, they want to help. They want to be of service to each other. To lock arms and get it done. That’s revolutionary!

Beyond that, I live in Manhattan Beach, California, where I have an incredible group of mamas who are my squad. Some work. Some don’t. All of us are a judgement-free zone, and we’re committed to holding hands and loving each other through motherhood, which includes texting at 2am because you forgot what the appropriate dose of Tylenol is. Or dropping off ice cream and cases of LaCroix when one of us is down for the count.

So much of growing any idea is showing up, every day, and being committed to working through the tough stuff. As for karma, good begets good. Love begets good. Karma takes care of the rest.

How did you take your business from a startup to being the best-selling (and original!) Lip Scrub? Can you tell us 3 things that were integral to scaling your business?

Scaling was and remains the hardest part.

  1. I asked a manufacturer to take a chance on me. No cosmetics labs made nor had the machinery to make The Lip Scrub (because none existed). I begged labs to meet with me. Most turned me down. Or, they thought it was adorable that I was making this stuff in my kitchen, and told me to keep stirring away. I used those No’s as fuel. It only took one lab to say yes, and off we went. 
  2. I surround myself with people who do exactly what I suck at. I’m quick to call out my weaknesses, and thrilled when people can do what I can’t.
  3. I genuinely believe that the world rewards hard work. And I believe in karma. So much of growing any idea is showing up, every day, and being committed to working through the tough stuff. As for karma, good begets good. Love begets good. Karma takes care of the rest.

Sara Happ

You just launched the first-ever clay mask for lips, the Sweet Clay Lip Mask! Not only does Instagram love it (hello, selfies!), beauty editors and celebs are clamoring for it too. How did you come up with the idea? Do you have any more product launches in the works?

Why, thank you! I’m always looking for what doesn’t exist. I’m a mask girl. I love to slather on a good, thick, clay mask and soak in a bubble bath. But nothing like that existed for lips. So I went to my chemist and said, “Let’s create a yummy, frosting-like clay mask that actually soothes and heals lips, okay?” It took about two years but we got it right.

Now we’re out to solve the 15 (yes, exactly 15) lip problems I’ve heard about from women since 2005. There are ways we can fix what’s broken. I’m all about thoughtful chemistry that approaches common issues with uncommon solutions.

You are constantly on the go traveling between home on the West Coast and QVC on the East Coast. Do you have any tips for beating jet lag and/or time-saving hacks that you’ve incorporated into your daily life?

Yes, I fly a ton. My trick is to always carry on. It saves so. much. time. — no lost bags, no waiting for that conveyer belt. And it forces you to pare down to what you really need. I pack my essentials first: makeup, toiletries, pajamas, comfy clothes… the basics. THEN outfits and shoes. And I only pack what I know and love.

Jet lag: so cliché, but drink water and water and more water.

I unplug on the plane. I rarely work. Usually, I snuggle into some cashmere and sleep, or I read a good book. I use that as my quiet downtime. Which also helps with jet lag.

Given you’ve spent the past 10 years in the business, what are some of your go-to products or beauty rituals that you can’t live without?

I can’t live without:

We know you have a love affair with living in your Southern California town. What is it that you love so much about beach life?

Manhattan Beach is 20 minutes from, say, Beverly Hills, but it feels quiet and removed, like a true small town. People wear yoga clothes and no makeup, we smile at one another, and we don’t beep. It’s kind of heaven.

We love how you light up when you talk about your daughter. How has motherhood changed you? Your relationship with work? With others?

I am so in love with my Julia Gracie, it’s just ridiculous! Motherhood changes everything. It’s made me more patient. It’s made me less judgmental (how easy was it to know how to parent before you had a child?). In my work, it’s made me better at time management. When I’m with her, 98% of the time my phone is off. Laptop closed. I’m her mom and nothing else, or I try to be at least.

What have you found to be the most surprising thing about motherhood?

Motherhood is so wonderful and it is so hard. Someone once described it to me as your heart walking outside of your body…your child is your heart, and you put them out into the world, and you feel everything about them and with them so deeply, yet you can’t protect them entirely. I love her on such a visceral level. Again, it’s where community comes in. Having mamas who have your back and remind you that you’re doing your best. And that that is enough.

It can be really challenging juggling motherhood and business! Is there anything that really pushes your buttons?

Mom guilt is so real. On such an animal level, we want to do everything we can for these little beings. But we’re human. So we fail. Or we’re human. So we doubt ourselves. I try to give myself the advice that I readily give my girlfriends: we’re giving it our all, every day. Our babies know they are loved. And we need to go easy on ourselves.

You are on QVC! So exciting. Can you tell us about the experience? How did it happen? Has it been a game changer for you business? 

QVC is crazy fun. I could have never imagined when I was in my tiny kitchen whipping this stuff up with sore wrists and a messy bun that it would be where it is today. I have the best team in LA and in Pennsylvania who walk me through the process. It takes a village.

3 pearls of wisdom

1.

Don’t be afraid to say you’re scared or to ask for help. Reach out to other mamas. You’ll quickly find everyone feels like they’re in the trenches too, and we just need to laugh with each other and dole out hugs.

2.

Kneel down and look your child in the eyes, especially when you’re tired. There’s something about seeing into their little souls that just slows things down.

3.

Remember that kids are resilient. We as humans are resilient. Love wins, and if we keep loving our babies and each other, we’re on the right path. Glennon Doyle has my favorite quote: “We can do hard things.” I think she’s spot on.

xx Sara Happ

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