Pai is one of the most exciting beauty brands around at the moment. We met entrepreneur and founder Sarah Brown, who started the company back in 2007 that is now loved by Léa Seydoux and Natalie Portman.
Sarah has had an exciting and unusual career journey. She quit her job as Head of International PR for a big wine company back in 2014 when she spotted a gap in the market for organic beauty products. Fast-forward to 2016 and Pai now has serums, cleansers, moisturisers, toners – everything those with sensitive skin could possibly need!
We’re definitely fans of the brand here at List for Life but we wanted to know how exactly Pai came about. So we just had to find out…
1. What’s your career background, talk us through your career journey.
Before I created Pai, I worked in PR and in my late twenties was Head of International PR for a big wine brand working out of their US headquarters.
I learnt a lot, but I was travelling all the time and under a lot of stress, which is how my beauty career started – with a really bad rash that I desperately needed to fix!
2. Why and how did you set up Pai?
I’d developed a condition called Chronic Urticaria which made my skin hypersensitive – I became unable to tolerate any of the beauty products I’d used for years.
After years of popping pills and trawling the beauty market (in vain) for a solution, I started Pai with the aim of helping others in the same skin rut.
I quit my job and started creating my own products in a converted (and very drafty!) garage in West London.
3. What’s Pai’s USP? What sets your business apart?
Pai is for people with sensitive or difficult skin. Our products are certified organic and are free from all common irritants, harsh preservatives and synthetics.
We’re also fanatical about the ingredients we use. They have to be lovingly grown, cleanly extracted and carefully handled during manufacture.
Our heart and soul goes into the creation of our products and we continue to make them all from our own factory. It was incredibly important to me that we retained full control of the formulation and production process – so that we kept that connection with our products.
All of this care and due diligence results in products that feel beautiful and really work to soothe, rebalance and restore your skin’s natural radiance.
4. What were the hardest parts of starting Pai?
Lots of things – when I told family and friends I was quitting my job to start a skincare company they thought I was mad.
There were daily hurdles to overcome; everything from access to finance, to fixing the products’ perishability with only natural ingredients, to getting my creams certified by the Soil Association (organic). It has all been a huge adventure and I continue to love what I do!
5. What’s been the biggest ‘pinch me’ moment of your career so far?
Natalie Portman was an early adopter of the brand and discovering that she knew and loved our products was definitely one of those ‘pinch me’ moments. We were asked to send her Moisturiser in preparation for her Black Swan Oscar win!
6. What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever been given?
“Let us not look back in anger, nor forward in fear, but around in awareness.”
It’s a James Thurber quote that I learned from my lovely brother, and a nice reminder to live in the here and now and enjoy the journey.
It’s pretty pertinent to running a business – you can’t waste a minute worrying about what’s on the horizon or dwelling on past mistakes, it just paralyses you.