Sarah Brown, Founder of Pai Skincare shares her top career advice and what she looks for in prospective employees
When it comes to a skincare brand that caters for all skin types - from the most sensitive to the most resilient - Pai is one of our favourites for its comprehensive collection of cleansers, facial oils and serums.
At the helm of the company is Sarah Brown, who founded the company in 2007. Having quit her job as Head of International PR for a multi-national wine company in 2014 to follow her passion, Sarah retrained for over three years in the worlds of cosmetic and natural skin care to develop the skill set required to turn her vision into a reality.
Fast-forward eight years and Pai has garnered a reputation for excellence, having acquired fans in over 40 countries in which it is now sold. Our Get The Job platform is dedicated to helping the beauty industry’s finest find the best new recruits and so we asked the successful entrepreneur what she looks for in her prospective employees. From how to nail an interview to her top career advice, this is her journey from career change to start-up success and her recommendations for making your application stand out from the crowd.
GTG: What was the inspiration behind Pai Skincare?
SB: My own infuriating skin! Pai is everything I was looking for when my own skin went wrong. Not only do we offer products that work and you can trust, but we hold your hand through the stressful process of getting your skin back under control.
GTG: How did you start the company? Was there a moment that was pivotal to its success in your opinion?
SB: I was working in PR for an international wine brand, travelling all the time and under a lot of stress. Having always had fairly healthy skin, one day it went into meltdown! I woke up in the middle of the night with 90% of my body covered in itchy hives, and after several visits to Charing Cross Hospital was diagnosed with a skin allergy called Chronic Urticaria.
While at the time it felt like the worst thing in the world, in hindsight it was the best thing that could have happened to me. As it made me start Pai and gave me a personal insight into how our customers feel when their skin plays up.
With all these flawless complexions in magazines and on social media, it can feel so isolating when you break out or have a rash. My experience has shaped everything we do at Pai - from our super-strict ingredients policy to our 30 day money back guarantee.
GTG: What do you look for in prospective employees?
SB: Passion and enthusiasm. Experience helps, but you can teach people anything, but you can’t instil passion. It's either there or it isn't. We look for people that really believe in our mission – it means they’ll feel fulfilled in their work life and go the extra mile.
GTG: What sources do you recommend for finding the right candidates for your vacancies?
SB: We’ve been incredibly lucky so far in that lots of our team wrote to us speculatively expressing their love for the brand. We regularly create positions we didn’t even know needed filling to keep hold of a great candidate.
GTG: What do you think of Get The Job? What makes it different to other job platforms?
SB: Get The Job is a hub of people who live and breathe beauty. It is so focused and as a result draws in people who are passionate about the industry and already understand how it works, which is a real bonus.
GTG: What would make an interviewee stand out?
SB: A creative thinker who questions the status quo. We’re still a medium-sized brand and have so many areas in which to grow – so someone who’s done their research and can suggest alternative approaches to key challenges always stands out.
GTG: How important a role does social media play in your business development plans?
SB: We’ve built our brand on social media, so it’s incredibly important to us! It’s an amazing way to not only attract new customers, but to give live skin advice.
In terms of development, analysing your social media following is a great way to identify new markets, and it’s also a useful sounding board for new ideas.
GTG: What tips would you give to women wanting to work in the beauty industry?
SB: Read widely – everything from magazines to blogs and business pieces. Research the brands you’re interested in.
Networking is also incredibly valuable – whether it be face to face or via social media. It’s a great way to find out about vacancies or gain extra titbits of information that can be key to nailing an interview.
GTG: What are your recommendations for someone looking to start their own brand?
SB: Prepare yourself for a huge slog! Having your own business is brilliant, but it’s all-consuming and requires serious focus, determination and sacrifice.
GTG: What advice would you give your 20 year old self? Would you do anything differently in hindsight?
SB: Don't worry about what people think of you, be confident in your own unique qualities. I remember turning 30 and feeling liberated. I finally realised I could be myself.
GTG: What was the worst interview that you've ever done?
SB: My first ever serious job interview was at 21 when I'd just graduated and was looking to enter the advertising industry. The company will remain unnamed but the interviewer's strategy was to put me off my game. He put his feet up on the desk (cowboy boots and all) about three inches from my face and rolled his eyes every time I answered a question shouting 'BORING!'