Girl Scout alum Sarah Gibson-Tuttle had a cushy finance job in New York City when she decided in 2012 to set out on her own as an entrepreneur.
“I was a successful equity sales trader with J.P. Morgan and Morgan Stanley for a full decade,” she says. “I worked on a trading desk, and I really enjoyed the pace. But what I thought it was lacking was the true building of something.”
So, Sarah moved to Los Angeles to create Olive & June, a nail salon that would eventually spawn its own line of at-home nail products.
“As we built our chain of salons, I realized that true democratization in this category would be to teach everyone how to paint their own nails,” explains Sarah. “We were going to have to create an epic consumer-focused brand.” She shuttered her three salons during the COVID-19 pandemic to focus on her consumer line, which is now sold via ecommerce sites as well as in Target stores.
Since most nail products are designed for professionals who work in salons, Sarah and her team needed to create unique products that make it easy for the average person to do fool-proof manicures and pedicures at home.
Sarah remembers selling Girl Scout Cookies as a Brownie and a Junior, and how it taught her the importance of asking a lot of questions.
“Thin Mints, Samoas/Caramel DeLites, and Trefoils are my favorites. They’re all very different cookies. But when you think about the consumer, you need to ask clarifying questions so that you can figure out what’s best for them,” Sarah explains. “It’s the same thing we do at Olive & June–we’re not pushing everything to every consumer.”
“We’re so thoughtful about every product we release and are obsessed with the consumer experience,” she continues. “When these products are in your hands, do they make it easier to paint your nails?”
To that end, Olive & June created The Poppy Manicure Tool, which stabilizes your non-dominant hand, and they added additional resin to their polishes to make the paint last longer. They also offer online classes and live question and answer sessions.
“The nail market is an anomaly in the beauty industry, with 90 percent of sales done in salons and only ten percent at home. That kind of environment allows for a lot of opportunity, but also a lot of risk,” she adds.
But Sarah trusted both her gut and her data.
“It was very clear to me that there was no access to a consumer-focused nail product. And it has worked better than expected because we did double our projections in the first year.”
Sarah plans to continue to innovate.
“To me, building something means you can have a community and you can serve them.”
Vallery Lomas—a Silver Award Girl Scout—just released her first cookbook. She started out as a lawyer, and shares advice for changing fields.