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From VS Angels To Obama: How A Hair Tool Sparked A Hot Business

Business

Not many people can say they’ve trimmed Obama’s eyebrows and curled Gigi Hadid’s hair in the same lifetime, but that’s just another week in the life of celebrity hairstylist and businesswoman, Sarah Potempa. In the past month alone, she’s flown to Paris to style 50 Victoria’s Secret Angels for the popular international runway show, hit Los Angeles to film an episode of Beauty Coach, and traveled to NYC to style actress Lea Michelle and Fifth Harmony’s Camila Cabello.


As flashy as it all sounds, though – and as star-studded as her clientele list is – Potempa’s primary business venture is putting her products into the hands of everyday women.

“For 10 years, I was at Proctor & Gamble working as a spokesperson, and I would talk to writers and editors about how to recreate celebrity hair at home,” she says.

“I was surprised to discover that many women don’t know how to do hair, and that even their own hair is a mystery to them.”

This realization served as the catalyst for Potempa’s line of innovative hair styling tools, a business she founded with her older sister, Erin, five years ago. Her younger sister, Emily, joined the team later, and all three now work together.

Most notable in the product lineup is The Beachwaver, an innovative curling iron that rotates at the user’s control to create three different types of curls. It comes in both a consumer and professional series, and features 350 custom parts, hand-assembled computer boards, a slick clamp that prevents kinks, 360-degree swivel cord, fully customizable temperature with LED screen, ergonomic handle, customized full-length internal heaters, and gold powder-infused tourmaline for uniform heating.

Basically, it’s like the fully-loaded, fancy sports car of hair tools. And while you’ve probably seen other versions of a rotating curling iron on the market, know that Potema’s The Beachwaver was the first of its kind. Since its inception, the tool has achieved cult status among everyday women and celebrities alike, and is the recipient of numerous accolades and awards, including Allure’s coveted Best of Beauty award.

The business is completely self-funded, and clearly a success, in no small part thanks to Potempa’s passion and pride, which reads through everything she does.

“Being a female entrepreneur in this business isn’t easy, and my sister and I have been through a lot. We’ve had a lot of people say a lot of things about how we wouldn’t make it, or that we wouldn’t be able to power through and fight when things got difficult.”

“We worked really hard and we are really proud of where we are.”

To that, Potempa adds that the joy of being an entrepreneur isn’t necessarily about becoming a multi-millionaire at the end of your run, but is rather about the run itself. So for those currently knee-deep in entrepreneurial mud, Potempa says to remember to enjoy the journey, and to be loyal to yourself, and your passion, along the way.

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The Quick 10

1. What app do you most use?

Instagram.

2. Briefly describe your morning routine.

I make coffee, check my phone and do my hair. And when I’m home, I’ll get my two kids ready for school.

3. Name a business mogul you admire.

There are a lot, but I’ll choose Mary Dillon, the CEO of Ulta. She came in new and has been transforming the business.

4. What product do you wish you had invented?

The iPhone. It seems like literally everyone has one.

5. What is your spirit animal?

The dog I just got is very similar to me. He is a Gentle Giant Malamute that’s super independent, really strong, but also sweet.

6. What is your life motto?

“Leap and the net will appear.”

7. Name your favorite work day snack.

Fresh green juice and almonds.

8. Every entrepreneur must be ... to be successful.

"Hardworking, and believe in the power of the universe"

9. What’s the most inspiring place you’ve traveled to?

Cambodia and Thailand. There’s something about the colors, intricate details, and their mentality. People were living in poverty, but so happy. When you’re working so hard at something for a long, there are definitely moments where you want to give up, or you ask yourself, “What’s the point?” But being able to “live in the moment” and stay happy is something I learned how to do after visiting southeast Asia.

10. Desert Island. Three things, go.

Book on how to build a ship, my husband, and a guitar.

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5 min read
Health

3 Healthy Ways to Relieve Stress Each Evening (Instead of Reaching for Another Cocktail)

When we envision a person who is suffering from substance use disorder (SUD)—defined by having a history of past misuse, experiencing increasing mental health symptoms, or having a family history of addiction—we often picture someone waking up and instantly grabbing their first drink. However, in my experience working with those battling SUD for nearly a decade, I've learned that everyone's relationship with alcohol looks different and having a few too many drinks at night can be just as dangerous.

The time of day, amount, or type of alcohol one drinks doesn't define if they suffer from SUD or not—it's the compulsion to drink. By focusing on healthy stress relievers and implementing them into your daily routine, you aren't just avoiding another glass at night, you are curbing any inclination for SUD that you may have.

While you may feel the desire to reach for another drink after dinner and putting the kids to bed to relieve some of the stress you incurred that day, there are other things that you can do that are much more beneficial to your mental health and wellbeing.

Risks of Reaching for Another Drink

Reaching for another cocktail or glass of wine can feel like a great way to relieve the stress of the day at the time, but over time it can actually lead to the opposite. Excessive drinking is known to lead to increased anxiety, depression, and other mental health disorders such as increased risk of family problems, altered judgment, and worsened sleep quality. These can all lead to increased stress and create a continuous cycle I have seen in many of my patients, which often prove difficult to break.

Increased alcohol consumption can directly impact an individual's mood and temperament, too. In my patients, I've seen a connection between increased alcohol consumption and irritability, fatigue, and loss of interest in activities that previously brought that person joy—activities that people should always put time into, especially right now during the pandemic.

While drinking in moderation doesn't have serious implications for some, others are already at increased risk for SUD. One drink per day is considered moderate for women, while eight drinks or more in a single week is categorized as heavy drinking. It's important to monitor your intake—whether you are at increased risk for SUD or not. It is all too easy for one glass to become another, and then another. And if you keep reaching for just one more drink, you can start to build a tolerance, as it requires more and more alcohol to achieve the desired effect. This can result in dangerous, addictive habits that will alter your life, and the lives of those who care for you.

Three Healthy Ways to Relieve Evening Stress

Stress relief from alcohol is short-lived, but choosing healthier, alternative stress relievers can provide long-lasting benefits for both your mental and physical wellbeing. At Wellbridge, our team not only focuses on treating addiction but also on teaching healthy habits to support ongoing sobriety. And many of these learnings can be implemented to avoid addiction by handling stress better as well!

Below are three healthy stress relief ideas you can implement into your routine:

  1. Mindfulness exercises can be a powerful and mentally stimulating stress reliever. Throughout our therapeutic program at Wellbridge, we provide different opportunities to cultivate mindfulness. For example, breathing exercises, such as box breathing or diaphragmatic breathing, mindful walking, and progressive muscle relaxation. If you're looking for entry, guided meditation, check out this YouTube channel where experts post mindfulness exercises each week.
  2. Human connection is invaluable. Whether it is your spouse, your children, a friend, or even a therapist, connecting with someone else can be a great way to relieve stress. The additional perspective that another person provides can also help us feel that the anxieties and stressors we are experiencing are more manageable. If you are feeling increased stress from loneliness or isolation, reach out and schedule a Zoom coffee hour with a friend, or call a loved one to check-in and chat.
  3. Physical activity is an excellent stress reliever as well, for so many reasons. Not only can it help us get our mind off of stress, it enables our bodies to release endorphins and provides long-lasting physical health benefits. Physical activity doesn't need to be a full-blown workout if you don't feel up to it, or simply don't have extended periods of time to dedicate to a longer exercise regimen. Even a short walk or some stretching can go a long way towards improving your mood. I enjoy following guided, online yoga practices for both mindfulness practice and physical activity.

Despite my years working in this space, I am no stranger to giving in to stress. However, I've learned that by allotting myself a little time each morning and evening for activities that set a positive tone in my life—like meditation, journaling, and exercise—I've been able to better manage my stress and feel more prepared for heightened periods of stress. Do I manage to set aside personal time every morning and evening? Definitely not—life happens! But by doing our best to take regular time out for ourselves, we're all certain to be in a better place emotionally and mentally.

Putting Your Mental Health & Wellbeing First

It's important to also recognize that it isn't just stress that causes us to reach for another drink at night. With the added pressures and responsibilities of women in today's world, having another glass of our favorite drink at the end of the day can often seem like a quicker and easier option than other healthier ways to relieve stress.

However, it's essential to put your mental health and wellbeing front and center in your priority list—something that many women struggle with. But just like the oxygen masks on an airplane, you can't take care of others if you don't take care of yourself first. By focusing on implementing small, healthy habits and making them a seamless part of your daily routine, you ensure that you can show up in all aspects of your life and for all the people in your life.

If you are struggling with increased stress, be specific and honest with your support system about your need to preserve your mental wellbeing. Prioritizing your needs will help you be there for other people you care about in your life.

I always refer back to a quote from a Dar Williams song—a song about therapy no less! "Oh, how I loved everybody else when I finally got to talk so much about myself." Talk about your needs with others and find time to develop healthy coping habits. And if you feel as though you've already created an unhealthy relationship with alcohol, discuss that relationship with a medical advisor to learn if advanced treatment is the right option for you.