“Laughter is essential. I have not found anything that motivates a team better than breaks of laughter. Short moments can help anyone through the most stressful times. Work hard, laugh harder!”
As President of First Impact New York, entrepreneur and cosmetic creator Sara Bumby has developed high-end skincare and cosmetic lines for the world’s leading brands and celebrities for over 15 years. Sara has personally formulated over 300 cosmetics now found on the shelves of high-end spas and major retailers like Sephora and Ulta. Managing an in-house staff of ten and a full beauty workforce of hundreds, she has helped thousands of skincare products with product development, inventory management, regulatory compliance and cosmetic safety assessments. In 2017 Sara launched Novare Beauty, a company developing a line of innovative solution based beauty products to make the lives of their customers easier.
Thank you so much for doing this with us! What is your “backstory”?
I graduated Muhlenberg College with a degree in Accounting & Business with a concentration in International Economics that gave me the tools I need to thrive as an entrepreneur. My post graduate experience in public relations, retail, and brand management helped me build the progressive and exciting company that is First Impact New York.
Today I use that knowledge, experience, and passion as President of FINY, working with many beauty brands on various topics — Brand Development, Product Development, Production Management Systems, and Regulatory Compliance (domestically and internationally).
I am a strong-willed entrepreneur and growing up in Manhattan allowed me to draw and learn from the most talented and diverse people within the cosmetic industry. I grasped every available opportunity, from stock rooms to store floors, and developed an early interest in the skincare products I encountered. In turn, I gained the knowledge to help cosmetic brands develop their vision by applying my experience to guide them in the creation of their high-end skincare collection. In 2002, I co-founded First Impact New York, Ltd. with my mother and mentor, Grayce Young.
Since First Impact New York, Ltd. was established, I have worked closely with a number of highly trained cosmetic chemists, labs, cosmetic packaging suppliers and distributors. I have a passion to create effective, result oriented skin care, using the most sought after and unique ingredients available today, and have helped many brands achieve success within the prestige market.
My ability to bring a project from concept to market, while helping to develop the growth of the brand, makes our services much sought-after in the cosmetic industry. Working with 14 regions across the world, my team thoroughly checks all FTC, FDA, US and international laws and regulations when a beauty brand is launching or needs help reformulating.
2017 was our most successful year to-date, encouraging me to make a brand-new investment and create my first direct to consumer product. Together with my top formulators we extensively researched, tested, and brought to life our first “Behave Aid®” product. KISS YOUR CRAVINGS GOODBYE® is the only natural, junk food-craving-reducing lip moisturizer on the market.
Can you share the funniest or most interesting story that happened to you since you started your company?
I’d spent 15 years developing cosmetics and skincare products to help women feel better about their physical appearances when I realized my very own office had a problem. My creative and super talented staff had a massive sweet tooth and junk food addiction, and we all encouraged each other daily to eat and share candy and chips. Instead of cultivating healthy eating habits among my energetic staff, I was spending $100 per month on junk food — it was an actual line item on the expense report. $100 on the candy bowl and desk snacking!!
When a full box of Trader Joe’s cupcakes fell out of the cabinet while I was looking for a marketing research report, I knew things had gotten bad. One of our staffers had cupcakes hidden in her drawer, popcorn in the cabinets, I even found KitKat stashes behind file cabinets.
After a tongue in cheek conversation at the office about how we need to “rein ourselves in” from junk food and substantially decrease our spending on candy, chips and chocolate, we started to brainstorm possible solutions and how we could accomplish this in a new and innovative way. I realized we had all the resources we needed to do that right in our conference room! That is how the Behave Aid® line came to be, and how the concept of KISS YOUR CRAVINGS GOODBYE® was born.
Launched in February of 2018 KISS YOUR CRAVING GOODBYE® (KYCG) is the only nutraceutical lip moisturizer on the market designed to encourage a healthy lifestyle by helping you reach for water instead of junk food to redirect cravings. It can be used in combination with moderation and healthy choices as well as different cleanses and diets. It is a natural, crave-reducing lip moisturizer that conditions and soothes the lips while addressing intense food cravings. This natural treatment is based on a blend of essential oils, rare plant extracts, and hydra-infused lip conditioning agents from around the world.
What do you think makes your company stand out? Can you share a story?
At FINY we have worked on creating a unique and extremely productive environment. Our tight knit team has become a family, and working with a family creates love, strength and productivity. There are tiffs, laughter, food, ideas, loudness and lots of personalities in a small space.
I’ve always been the person to see the humor in a situation. That is how we came up with the concept for the Behave Aid® line with our new company, Novare Beauty. Together the ten of us together came up with a product that really works, and I couldn’t be prouder.
On top of the hours of research and development my staff put into creating KISS YOUR CRAVINGS GOODBYE , this project took over my life. I formulated in my sleep, while I was cooking, when I was showering, constantly figuring out what ingredients work, taste and smell the best. We are still focused on expanding the flavors and discovering the exact blend of proprietary ingredients.
Now our huge ceramic bowl on the main table of our office isn’t filled with junk and candy and my staff is feeling better about themselves. They are motivated to take on our next challenge — adding to the Behave Aid® line.
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? Can you share a story?
Grayce Young, my amazing and brilliant mother, is the reason why I’m able to lead two successful companies today and enjoy time with my husband and two boys as well.
I’m a third generation female leader in the skincare industry. My grandmother worked at Fortunoff circa 1950, raising 7 children simultaneously. My mother worked as a fitting model at Avedon and transitioned to Shiseido and then Prescriptives, who were breaking into the U.S. beauty market at that time. Grayce was then hired as the “Director of Wellbeing” at the very first Sephora store at Rockefeller Center in the mid 90s. She operated there curating 151 brands for over 7 years, until 2002 when Sephora relocated their headquarters to San Francisco. This was when we decided to start FINY together.
We started as a retail management company, until the day Grayce agreed to the next adventure. Honestly, I was not at the meeting, which would forever change my life. Grayce went to a usual client meeting for us. During our recap call, she informed me she agreed to have us help our client with product development. In passing she asked me, “Do you think you can handle this?” I confidently responded, “Sure, how hard can this be?” Ah…those famous last words still echo in my ears 16 years later.
It was hard work — 16-hour days, 6 days a week with a huge learning curve, deadlines, and craziness! But in the end, we did it! The product shipped the day it was due, and the next day the reorder came in. I called Grayce in shock. I asked her, “Why would I have a reorder?” I really thought we were helping a client. I had no idea I would have to do this again! But I fell in love with the new career without even realizing it could be a career.
Fast forward 11 years — Grayce officially announced her retirement and stated that I would be President starting the next business day. Once again, I took on the challenge and said, “Sure, how hard can this be?”
Are you working on any exciting projects now?
At First Impact New York we help clients create their own skincare and beauty lines, but at Novare we have so many great ideas of our own. Requests for KISS YOUR CRAVINGS GOODBYE® are pouring in from beauty subscription boxes, we are selling at national retailers, and our social media presence is terrific. We launched with one flavor, No-Sin Cinnamon, and we’re excited to say that we’ll be coming out with two new flavors in late-August of this year! We are extending the Behave-Aid® solution-based product line with several new products in the works Novare will be introducing another beauty product along with a health and wellness problem solver in 2019.
How have you used your success to bring goodness to the world?
At FINY and Novare Beauty doing good is of the utmost importance and we have a team who oversees our volunteering and good works. We donate money to the local YMCA to help kids go to summer camp and a part of all KISS YOUR CRAVINGS GOODBYE® proceeds go to The Locker Project. This group helps to feed children who do not have enough to eat. Also, we each take several days a year away from our desks to participate in community activities such as the Breast Cancer Awareness walk and donating products and clothes to a shelter for battered women aiming to reenter the workforce. There is so much out there to do, and we are always looking for a good way to support our community.
Do you have a favorite book that made a deep impact on your life? Can you share a story?
Finding the right balance between hands-on management and freedom for people to create is essential and I love to read books that teach me how to improve upon this. I’ve read many management books, and my 2 biggest inspirations on how to run a company came from:
- Stephen C. Londin. FISH! Sticks: A Remarkable Way to Adapt to Changing Times and Keep Your Work Fresh.
- Captain D. Michael Abrashoff. It’s Your Ship: Management Techniques from the Best Damn Ship in the Navy.
My latest inspirations have come from I Can’t Make This Up: Life Lessons by Kevin Hart and Neil Strauss.
I look to these books when challenges surface — “Omg, how do I do this right?” Books have helped me through so many questions: “How do I build a corporate culture I am proud of? How do I create a company where I am happy and it’s a place where I want to be?” Through reading I’ve been able to figure out my work life balance and be at peace with tough decisions when work has to come first.
I want to be a flexible, goal -focused CEO, and I’m still learning how to do that. I asked my employee Caitlyn to describe me as a CEO and she said:
“Sara is super upbeat, involved and encouraging. She nurtures the staff’s experience and encourages them to move forward.”
What are your “5 things I wish someone told me before I started my company” and why. Please share a story or example for each.
I always thought I would spend my life behind a desk, plugging away at numbers, helping companies to achieve their goals. Even if someone had told me about all that I would achieve, I am not sure I would have believed them. The five things I would have liked to have known:
- Sleep-Working is a thing. I used to think my personal/family “to do” list was tough, now I have added work dynamics, projects, deadlines, plans, new product concepts for clients… ah! The checklist goes on and on. I tried the notebook by the bed trick, but it didn’t work. So now I’m either up and working or thinking about work as I sleep. Then next day at work I randomly blurt my sleep revelations when something triggers them to the surface.
- Be ready for anything in a meeting.
- Laughter is essential. I have not found anything that motivates a team better than breaks of laughter. Short moments can help anyone through the most stressful times. Work hard, laugh harder!
- Make sure you have all your corporate documents. I learned this lesson first hand after my Tax Accountant/Attorney died. My files were never found. Moral of this story — when you are doing anything official, especially if your name is on it, make sure you have copies in your files.
- Once you think you have it down, don’t worry, it will change!
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 I might see this. :-)
Ellen DeGeneres because she has overcome so much, broken so many ceilings, and is all around amazing. Plus, she always makes me laugh.
Also, Kevin Hart because of all he has built on sheer will and determination. Oh, and he always makes me laugh.
This was very inspiring. Thank you so much for joining us!