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Sarah Payne: “When we see others who look different from us being represented in advertising, seeds are planted to help us realize there are far more ways to perceive beauty”

In the beauty industry, diversity is becoming more common in a number of ways — brands are hearing consumers and their desire to be represented, whether it’s sexuality, curves, skin tone, ageism, or breaking down the perceptions of “perfect” skin. When done authentically, the rewards for a business are great. But beyond that, there’s a […]

In the beauty industry, diversity is becoming more common in a number of ways — brands are hearing consumers and their desire to be represented, whether it’s sexuality, curves, skin tone, ageism, or breaking down the perceptions of “perfect” skin. When done authentically, the rewards for a business are great. But beyond that, there’s a strong social impact: when we see others who look different from us being represented in advertising, seeds are planted to help us realize there are far more ways to perceive beauty. Businesses who embrace diversity help us recognize the beauty in those who are different from us, breaking down stigma’s and outdated perceptions. When your business shows diversity in a way that’s authentic, the impact can of course increase sales. But in a digital world, you’re also increasing your shareability, loyalty, and piquing the interest of those who may not have paid attention to your brand before. Maybe that’s showing someone with acne scars in your posts, hiring a 70-something instead of a 20-something year old model, or showing a variety of skin tones and women in hijab’s. The sky is the limit when you’re true to your authenticity, because when you start paying attention, you realize it’s always the same visuals and perceptions being shared with us on what beauty looks like — and it’s a lie. Beauty is everywhere, in everyone.


As a part of our series about “How Diversity Can Increase a Company’s Bottom Line”, I had the pleasure of interviewing Sarah Payne. Sarah is a professional esthetician and co-founder of Sarah Nicole Skincare. Sarah is driven to help women who desire more skin confidence and a positive relationship with their complexion. With an authentic less is more approach, she helps women discover freedom within themselves to feel more confident and beautiful in their natural skin. You can follow her on Instagram @sarahnpayne


Thank you so much for doing this with us Sarah! Our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit more. Can you share your “backstory” with us?

I’ve worked in the beauty industry for close to 10 years now. After a long spa career, I wanted something new and exciting. But at the same time, I wanted to help women on a bigger scale than what I could do one-on-one in the treatment room. Every day I helped women overcome skin problems that were impacting their confidence and self-worth — and after battling my own personal skin hell, I realized the emotional relationship women have with their skin is a universal experience we all share. It doesn’t matter your skin tone, socioeconomic situation, age, and frankly your gender. We often tie in our appearance to our worth and value, and this is particularly true for women. I’m on a mission to help women overcome not only their tangible skin problems, but rewrite the story we tell ourselves that’s impacting our emotional wellbeing, too.

Can you share the funniest or most interesting story that happened to you since you started your career? Can you tell us the lesson or take away you took out of that story?

There’s something about a dimly lit treatment room with relaxing spa music that causes people to let their guard down. Sometimes it took months for a client to open up, but quite often during their first appointment it was an open book tell-all. Some were sugarcoated with humor while others were laying out their deepest fears to someone they had just met.

A beautiful 40-something treating herself to a birthday facial, only to spend the hour discussing her fears of being left for a younger woman and questioning if Botox is the solution to staying youthful for her husband.

An anxious 25 year old concerned about the mild breakouts on her chin because she’s going on a beach vacation with girlfriends and doesn’t want to be judged when everyone is going makeup free with their “perfect” skin.

What was so eye-opening about these stories was how laden they were with deep-rooted insecurities, self-judgement and worries shaped by false beliefs caused by personal experiences, the stories we tell ourselves, and society.

What do you think makes your company stand out? Can you share a story?

As a brand, we believe in skin confidence — it’s something many of us want to experience and yet the phrase is frequently thrown around by the beauty industry in advertising campaigns. Instead of promoting the concept purely as a marketing ploy to generate sales, we’re keen to practice what we preach. We believe everyone deserves to feel confident and beautiful in their skin and we want to help our customers find freedom, not just sell a skincare product and move on to the next mark.

Are you working on any new or exciting projects now? How do you think that might help people?

We’re focused on building a positive, shame-free community for our customers, a supportive and uplifting digital space. So whether you’re having a bad skin day and need a self-love boost or you’re really proud of how good your skin looks, you can share it and we’ll be your cheerleaders along the way. I truly believe this is where many brands miss the mark — they miss following through on their proclaimed mission of helping others. And in a social media driven world, I believe having a safe space outside of filters and Insta-perfection will greatly help consumers overcome the struggles of chasing ideals of perfect, flawless skin — because it doesn’t exist. At least not in the way it’s portrayed on social media.

What advice would you give to other CEOs or founders to help their employees to thrive?

I think many of us — not just CEO’s and founders — can be guilty of not putting ourselves in someone else’s shoes when their actions frustrate us. Showing compassion and understanding can go a long way. Treat your employees like gold.

What advice would you give to other CEOs or founders about how to manage a large team?

Don’t expedite the hiring process just because you really need to fill a position. Take your time interviewing so you’re confident in your decision, not only in their capabilities, but in how they will mesh with the rest of your team. If your gut tells you they may be problematic, it may not be worth it if they disrupt your company culture.

Ok. Thank you for that. Let’s now jump to the main part of our interview. This may be obvious to you, but it is not intuitive to many people. Can you articulate to our readers how increased diversity can help a company’s bottom line. (Please share a story or example for each.)

In the beauty industry, diversity is becoming more common in a number of ways — brands are hearing consumers and their desire to be represented, whether it’s sexuality, curves, skin tone, ageism, or breaking down the perceptions of “perfect” skin. When done authentically, the rewards for a business are great. But beyond that, there’s a strong social impact: when we see others who look different from us being represented in advertising, seeds are planted to help us realize there are far more ways to perceive beauty. Businesses who embrace diversity help us recognize the beauty in those who are different from us, breaking down stigma’s and outdated perceptions.

When your business shows diversity in a way that’s authentic, the impact can of course increase sales. But in a digital world, you’re also increasing your shareability, loyalty, and piquing the interest of those who may not have paid attention to your brand before. Maybe that’s showing someone with acne scars in your posts, hiring a 70-something instead of a 20-something year old model, or showing a variety of skin tones and women in hijab’s. The sky is the limit when you’re true to your authenticity, because when you start paying attention, you realize it’s always the same visuals and perceptions being shared with us on what beauty looks like — and it’s a lie. Beauty is everywhere, in everyone.

How have you used your success to bring goodness to the world?

I have so many ideas for the future on how I would like to create more good in the world — but right now I’m focused on individuals. Maybe I’ll call it “trickle down goodness”!

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”?

“Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.” — Mark Twain

None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are?

My business and life partner, Ilya Feynberg. I wouldn’t be here if he hadn’t planted the seed to start Sarah Nicole Skincare. His involvement has been paramount to turning an idea into a living, breathing business driven by passion.

We are very blessed that some of the biggest names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might just see this 🙂

Miki Agrawal — her energy and perspective are contagious, she’s so refreshing. I would absolutely love an opportunity to have lunch with her one day!

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