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Sarah Gibson Tuttle never thought she’d become an entrepreneur.
On this episode of Behind Her Empire, Tuttle talks about ditching her corporate job to become the founder and CEO of an at-home nail care business.
Tuttle founded her company, Olive & June, in 2013, wanting to bring salon quality “mani-pedis” to people at home. The idea came to her when discovering the accessibility of Drybar, a California-based chain of hair salons. Instead of hair, she wanted to do nails.
“I fell in love with Drybar, but I’ve always been a mani–you know, nail obsess-y. And so I thought I should do some nails. And that’s really [when] it really took a life of its own,” said Tuttle.
She took the leap from a decade-long job working in equity sales trading at Morgan Stanley and JP Morgan, even though she had little experience in nails. That has people think she was crazy, Tuttle said.
Tuttle felt like she was stagnating at her finance job. She realized she had no intention of running a group or joining management. Eventually, she said, she looked towards Los Angeles.
“I think I was ready for a change. And I had big, bright-eyed ambitions of what L.A. was like… And I think a lot of them came true,” said Tuttle.
She took her life savings and opened her first flagship store.
In Los Angeles, Tuttle found a community that gravitated towards Olive & June as an affordable but luxury brand. She compared her business to L.A. food hotspots like Umami Burger and Ürth Cafe–what she calls ‘elevated’ casual.
Early on, one investor advised her to find local L.A. investors whose wives love Olive & June. She said she didn’t appreciate the suggestions at the time, but later, she saw it come true as she found her investors’ wives regularly used the product.
“They might have thought it was a crazy concept,” she said. “But the most important person in their life said, ‘It’s amazing. She’s amazing, we should do it.’”
Tuttle said Olive & June has so far raised three rounds of funding. She plans to raise prices at her establishments annually, saying she intends for Olive & June to become the gold standard for nail treatment. Observing other brands like Flower Beauty, she said part of that price hike will be to provide more accessibility and higher-quality treatment.
“The point is to be available everywhere,” she said. “So people can be wearing the best quality nails, whether it be polish or press ons for a price that they can afford.”
Tuttle added that seeing people post photos of their manicures made Tuttle realize that her brand now has gone beyond her.
“I am not the fire, the community is the fire,” she said.
dot.LA Audience Engagement Fellow Joshua Letona contributed to this post.
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