This afternoon we’re catching up with Sarah Jean Baker; founder of Sarah Jean. Sarah is the amazing Brisbane-based #girlboss, who has created a range of vegan and cruelty free false eyelashes and a glue that is applied with a mascara like brush. If you’re anything like me and have the shortest eyelashes in the world (#seriously) & not very handy with applying the glue to your lashes then Sarah Jean is for you!
Thank you for chatting to us Sarah! Firstly, when did Sarah Jean start and how?
It’s my pleasure. SARAH JEAN launched in March, 2016 after more than a year of R&D. I was applying party lashes for my sister’s hen’s party and it was messy…. I had sticky fingers, smudged eye shadow and I thought ‘there has to be an easier way’. So that really started the research phase to see what was on the market that made false eyelash application easy. After extensive research, I saw there was an opportunity to develop something – what that would be, I was still to work out at that point.
Tell us about the inspiration behind Sarah Jean and why you started the business?
SARAH JEAN aims to solve a common beauty dilemma – making lash application at home mess and fuss free. Upon starting the research, I could see there wasn’t anything on the market in terms of a glue that was different to the usual super-glue style bottle or that had a liquid eyeliner style brush. The SARAH JEAN adhesive has a mascara style brush which applies just the right amount of adhesive. It’s also easy to remove without damaging your real lashes.
Did you have a realization that your previous job just wasn’t for you anymore?
I am still doing my other job…I am lucky I work for myself providing copywriting services….so I work crazy hours but while the demand is there, I’ll do both (and just have little sleep!).
What makes Sarah Jean different from other beauty brands?
SARAH JEAN introduces the world’s first party eyelash glue that has a mascara-style brush. This applies just the right amount of glue without any drips or mess. The glue is latex free, water soluble, anti-allergenic and vegan friendly. With the tweezer applicator tool, lashes are easily applied as the glue does stick to the tweezers rubber tips – so no more sticky fingers!
Lashes are just as easy to remove! Gently peel off the false lashes and massage your real lashes with a foaming face cleanser. This softens the glue which forms little balls that can be wiped away without damaging your real lashes.
What is your favourite aspect about your brand?
The packaging is feminine, all the products are really well made and it’s the outcome of thousands of hours and hard work. My favourite aspect is offering a unique product – it offers a new approach to lash application. The lashes are very pretty too; incredibly lightweight and comfortable…forget about bulky, uncomfortable, fake looking lashes! I’m now in R&D for a couple of new products to introduce to the collection which is super exciting an easier this time around so I am familiar with the manufacturing and importing process.
What did you find most difficult about starting up your own business, and in particular in an industry where there is so much competition already?
Based on extensive research of local and international lash products, the SARAH JEAN adhesive is unique. It was challenging finding manufacturers who could see my vision. Many factories would say ‘You can’t put an eyelash glue in a mascara bottle…it hasn’t been done before’. This was the point! I also wanted the products to be excellent quality. There are a lot of lashes on the market but a majority of them have thick strips and lash strands so they look quite fake while being uncomfortable. Or the more delicate lashes are made from real hair. The SARAH JEAN lashes have a very fine black strip or clear strip so they blend beautifully with your real lashes while being comfortable to wear; and they’re synthetic so a great option for people who don’t like real hair. Finding a glue formula that is latex free, anti-allergenic, water soluble, in clear and black, and also cruelty free was not easy! But I believed in my product concept and brand and I wasn’t going to compromise on quality or the outcome.
What is your biggest business tip for entrepreneurs in the evolving city of Brisbane?
Do your research and persistence is everything!! I constantly seek out opportunities whether it’s to meet people who also have online businesses so we can share experiences; connecting with members of the different business chambers for resources and advice; or attending events to stay abreast of what’s happening in the business world, I can do all of that in Brisbane. Brisbane really is evolving and is a great base to launch any business. Research and persistence is key – there will be hard days but a walk along the Brisbane River is a great way to refresh!
What is your favourite product you sell?
The three piece kit: it includes a set of lashes, the eyelash adhesive and tweezers (so all three products really!).
Is there anything new and exciting heading your way – your five-year plan ?
Absolutely! I am in the R&D phase for other products so watch these space. I’ve also started selling on Amazon in the US which has been a huge learning experience but all part of the process. I have wonderful stockists nationally as well, so the plan is to keep the momentum going and getting the brand out there.
Can we shop online or are there places around Brisbane we can get the goodies from as well?
People can shop at sarahjean.com.au, at various other online stockists, at any number of the Malouf Pharmacies and also at some of Brisbane’s loveliest salons. For exact locations, all the details are on the Stockists page via the website.
Do you see yourself expanding onto other beauty products or is fine tuning Sarah Jean your main focus?
I’ve currently got a few gorgeous new lash styles I am contemplating as limited edition styles; and the product I am in R&D with at the moment is another unique product – it offers a way to apply skincare without it absorbing into your fingers. So you stop wasting your precious skin care on your fingers and get better value since your products will go further!
How do you like to get the word out there about Sarah Jean?
I have some amazing customers who buy several products at a time so it’s leveraging off their experiences – good old word of mouth. I am across all arms of digital including Google, social, influencers and traditional platforms via PR. Running an e-comm business certainly isn’t without its challenges and you have to be across it all but I’d rather work 80 hours for myself than 40 hours for someone else.
Do you think you would incorporate other aspects of beauty e.g: nails?
Yes definitely, perhaps not nails as there are so many gorgeous nail brands available already. I am an inventor (which I am not sure if that’s a good thing or a path to more work!) so I like to identify ways to improve things. I am trialling a couple of beautiful liquid eyeliners that have specially designed nips (tips) for applying with lashes. So there’s a bit going on behind the scenes!!
What is your tip for Boss Women in the entrepreneurial sense?
Seek out people with more experience than you and ask lots of questions. Don’t be deterred by barriers as you will be faced with many. But be well planned and well researched, and learn to be resourceful. If one method failed, look at other avenues. Don’t give up and be flexible. Plans change and things will always take longer than you expected but that’s part of the journey. And don’t compare yourself to other businesses. You don’t know what’s really go on… i.e. a brand may look like they’re flourishing but you never know what their situation is and how much work goes on behind the scenes.
Is there anything else you would like to add in; or even tips and trends for our readers?
Yes, people can use the code THREADS to receive 15% off their order (exp 30/11/17). SARAH JEAN offers a unique and different approach to applying false lashes at home. I recommend people to check the lashes for size and cut if need be, then have a trial or two placing the lashes with the tweezers. There’s a demo video on the homepage on my website they can view before trying.