Thought Leadership

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Less Is More – Making the Most Out Of a Specialty Brand: Sara Happ, CEO and Founder of Sarah Happ Inc.

by | November 18, 2021

Being an entrepreneur is not easy. Every day brings new challenges and it’s up to us to learn how to navigate them as smoothly as possible.

Take my guest this week, Sara Happ, who’s the CEO and Founder of her own brand, Sara Happ. Through her experience owning and operating a beauty brand, Sara shared a valuable piece of advice given to her by her brother. This is what he said on the subject of overcoming challenges, “It doesn’t get easier, you just get better at rolling with the things.” Wise words!

In Sara’s experience, this has shown itself through the hurdles she currently faces in her work, which she says aren’t dissimilar to the ones she’s faced at earlier stages of her brand. We’re all dealing with the same problems at different magnitudes — as explained by Sara, “kitchen problems versus Nordstrom problems.” It’s all about figuring out ways to manage that stress — to prepare yourself for whatever challenge lay ahead.

Right from the jump, Sara was met with her fair share of challenges. When she mentioned the idea for her brand to a friend in 2005, she was met with hesitation. The idea was great, but she was warned against executing it until she had obtained her MBA from her alma mater, USC. Sara describes what she did next as the best decision she could’ve ever made for herself: She chose to go through with it anyway.

Believing that time was not her friend, Sara decided to jump on her idea before anyone else got to it first. It may come as a surprise to hear that she didn’t enter into the process with a business strategy rather, she decided to trust her gut and let her enthusiasm guide her! With a concentration on all things lip, Sara brought together her love for beauty, entrepreneurship and lips to create her brand, Sara Happ.

I was shocked to hear the history behind lip products and how they’ve been formulated to dehydrate the lips — which, unfortunately, works in bringing consumers back for more. After all, the lips are a part of the face — why shouldn’t they be cared for in the same way? With this in mind, Sara invested herself in the often overlooked area of lip care — for her, this is glamor. She also believes that lip care should be for for everyone — everyone should be able to experience glamor.

Sara often gets asked as to why she doesn’t expand her product line. Her answer is simply that Sara Happ is a specialty brand, and this focus allows for her to really perfect what she does. When the customer knows what to expect from a brand, and knows that they can deliver quality products, they’re more likely to trust in the brand. Simply, she got really good at doing one thing — and her consumers love her for it.

And her team is just as trustworthy — Sara makes sure to hire people who can help her in the areas in which she feels less confident (for her it’s in the financial and mathematical arenas) and also makes sure to keep her circle small. On any given day, her company only has 9 employees! That’s a tiny team with a mighty force.

It just goes to show you that size doesn’t matter as much as the effort put in. Focus is a good thing — specialty sells!