I think it's safe to say one reason we all love going to Sephora so much is because we get to play with all the makeup available, right? Today's leading lady doesn't just get to play with makeup, but she gets to design it — from the bright neons to the blushing pastels, to the product design, to the trend forecasting. As founder and creative director of POP beauty Sara Strand doesn't just have a job, she lives her job.
Sara attended the hard school of life and says with a smile that she has yet to graduate. In her profession an industry an education is helpful, she says, but not a must. She started out carrying kits and washing brushes, assisting as a makeup artist for years before she even got to touch anybody's face! She says you can learn techniques in school, but you can't learn talent or color vision. That is something you just have inherently.
Sara was raised in a family of entrepreneurs and was rearing to go out into the world and do her own thing as soon as possible. She says she was lucky to have been given the opportunities she has, especially because she always felt misplaced in school, which she says was never her thing. She wanted to go out in the world and do and learn and experience life for herself. After reading every single book she could find on the subject of beauty, Sara moved to London when she was 17 to get her start as a makeup artist.
When Sara isn't working you can find her singing, because get this, she released her first album when she was only 12 years old. The powerhouse, who used to be singed to Sony music, is now in the studio recording what will be the sounds for her new album. Aside from makeup and music she believes there's really not room for much more in her life, including sleep!
Visualize where you want to be, and pour passion and determination to get there.
How did you discover your current job?
It was a process. I was there from day one
What is your typical day like? What types of things do you do in your job?
One thing I really love about my job is that every day is different. Most of the time I am in the office working on new ideas and concepts and putting the collections into life, but since I am also the image and face of the brand, I also do events, press meetings and travel quite a bit. You might also find me in the lab mixing colors and/or nosing around. I come up with the concepts for the products, as well as the art and the design. I hand-mix all the colors in the line. I write all copy, and I generally try to push the brand forward creatively. I set the tone for what is POP. I do a lot of trend forecasting to make sure POP is always bang on trend (or one step ahead). I also go out into stores and do PA’s and events, and I deal with marketing and how the brand is represented to the press and in stores. Those are just a few aspects of what my job entails.
What is the most rewarding part of your job? The most challenging?
The most rewarding part to me is seeing a product/collection bloom from idea to reality. Also, when people tell me the products have helped them in some way -- to look better, to feel better -- that is what we are in this industry for, to make women look amazing and therefore feel amazing, so it's very rewarding! Also, it is of course incredibly rewarding to get up very morning and work with something you love and are passionate about -- then it does not feel like a job! The most challenging part … Hmmm, well it is an extremely competitive industry, and you always have to keep one step ahead. My job and commitment to the brand really is more a choice of life than a choice of job, and that can be both incredibly rewarding and challenging at the same time!
What is the biggest personal sacrifice you have to make because of your job?
I have moved to the other side of the world -- putting a 14 hour flight in between me and my friends and family. But I would not really call it a “sacrifice” as I don’t see it as that. Sometimes I can get frustrated with missing people and not being able to just meet up for a glass of wine or have dinner with my sister, but I am a free spirit and am happy to go where life takes me. I need adventures to stay inspired. If I really felt strongly that I was making too many sacrifices I think I would make myself re-think and change my situation.
What is one lesson you've learned in your job that sticks with you?
Enjoy what you do! (Whatever it might be!) Put passion into your work! And also stop and breathe for a second if things get hectic.
What do you feel is the biggest challenge for women today, particularly females in your industry?
The beauty industry is packed with intelligent, capable and creative women (go ladies!!!) in top positions, so what I have seen as a possible challenge is how to make enough time in the day for work and family and how to juggle the two. But I also see a lot of women proving it is possible. Also, of course in this industry there can be that pressure to be “ perfect” (whatever that is), not to age and and to always look your best.
Who are your role models?
My grandmother, my sisters and generally talented women/people with drive, integrity and kindness who have the guts to follow their dreams!
What are some of the rules you live by?
Live, love, laugh! Believe in the power of positive thinking, take charge yourself and always, always trust your instincts!
What advice do you have for girls who want to be in your industry?
Go for it! But really be prepared to work hard to get to where you want to be. We don’t sit around playing with makeup all the time (just some of the time). You need to have a true passion for beauty, or it will be difficult to sustain the long run. Keep an upbeat and positive attitude. Always read all the fashion magazines. (I read all of them, every month.) Visualize where you want to be, and pour passion and determination to get there. Don’t allow people to water down your vision!
Where do you see yourself five years from now?
Lounging on a desert island with a hot man and a cocktail in hand! Honestly, I just want to grow and excel and be the best I can be -- at work, at home and with my family and friends.
Is there anything else you would like to add?
Beauty is just as much a matter of how you feel as what products you put on your face, so smile, fall in love, go on a roller coaster, have a glass of champagne with lunch, send yourself flowers, hug someone you don’t know -- just do those little, small things that make you feel happy and alive, and you will be a knockout in no time!