Plan your day, your week, your life! But also be flexible when things don’t go according to your plan.
Sara Saidy is an actor, director, writer, artist, and co-founder of Legendary Apothecary, a wellness and lifestyle brand rooted deeply in the vibrant, ever-shifting culture of Los Angeles. The company’s mission is to create a KINDer and more beautiful world for all of Mother Earth’s inhabitants.
After graduating from college, she left dental school behind and moved to the United States to study theater performance and visual arts, setting her on a path she’s walked ever since. She spent years acting, writing, and directing for the stage and screen before her artist’s eye and keen aesthetic sense drew her to the beauty industry. Over the next decade, she threw herself into the business, working in production, supply chain, operations, product development, and marketing for brands such as Estee Lauder, GLAMGLOW, Lisa Hoffman Beauty, Sara Happ, and Astara Skin Care. In 2015, she co-founded Legendary Apothecary with her partner with the goal of introducing consumers to a healthier lifestyle and personal care products that are KIND to Humans, KIND to Animals and KIND to Mother Earth.
A committed vegan for 20 years, with a deep passion for the planet and all of her inhabitants, and a love of yoga, she lives, works, and reads voraciously in Los Angeles, CA.
Where did the idea for Legendary Apothecary come from?
The idea for Legendary Apothecary came from an old-world recipe. When my grandmother was a little girl, her feet would become very dry to the point that they would crack and bleed. There was an apothecary woman who would go door to door and have tea with all the housewives. One day she was at my grandmother’s house, saw her feet and told her mom that she has a recipe that will cure her feet. My great grandmother was reluctant as she’d already tried everything, but she decided to give this simple recipe a try and within 3 days the bleeding stopped, the cracks went away and in less than a week, my grandmother’s feet were healed and became baby-smooth. This recipe has been in my family since then and we’ve all used it. When my grandmother was on her deathbed, I asked her where she got the recipe and she told us the story. My partner and I have been in the beauty industry for almost a decade. After she told us the story she said: you’re both in this business. Put this recipe in a bottle and share it with the world! The seed was planted.
It took us three years, lots of nights and weekends, and lots of trials and errors until finally Legendary Apothecary was born. In honor of my grandmother, we launched the brand on Mother’s Day and named it after the legendary apothecary woman.
What does your typical day look like and how do you make it productive?
I start my day at 5 am with a 2-3 mile walk, an hour of yoga, an hour of reading and 20 minutes of meditation. These practices help keep me grounded and also, it’s great to clear your mind before you start your workday. I use a planner (I know, it’s an ancient tool!) and colorful pens and block every hour of my day. I know there are lots of electronic calendar and time management tools out there but there’s nothing like writing down my ‘to do’s’ with a pen in my own handwriting. I believe that written goals (tasks) work both ways. We work on them and they work on us. When it’s on a program on my computer, it’s out of sight out of mind! I also love the feeling of checking tasks off my list. I recently watched a video of Tim Farris talking about batching. After employing the technique, I feel like I have an extra 1-2 hours in the day that I can spend on reading business and marketing books. I divide my tasks into batches, and I perform similar tasks at set times. I always schedule the hardest and most time-consuming task(s) at the beginning of the day before my mind gets cluttered with email, text messages, requests, social media, etc. I make sure that I block an appropriate amount of time for the task. I used to cramp a lot of big projects in one day which made it extremely stressful and made me feel like a failure at the end of the day because I wasn’t able to check everything off my list.
Now I only schedule 1-2 big tasks each day and because I start my day early, there are fewer distractions i.e. phone calls, text message, etc. but I also work very hard to limit distractions until I’m done with my big task of the day. I used to leave email and social media open in the background as I worked but now, I only check email and social media twice per day. Once after my big task is done and then an hour before the end of my day. This practice keeps me sane and allows me to stay focused. I spend my lunchtime not only consuming food, but I also consume a lot of content. I read about trends in the beauty industry, about new innovative ingredients, about marketing and social media and anything else that I find useful and related to our brand. I spend most of my afternoon reading and educating myself, researching and building a database of resources that I can pull from. I end my day by checking off items on my list and reviewing my schedule for the next day.
How do you bring ideas to life?
By collaboration with my partner and with our team members. We even ask our customers and friends and family for input.
What’s one trend that excites you?
The movement towards ‘KIND Beauty’. Every day we are exposed to so many chemicals and environmental toxins that we can’t control. The one thing that we can control is what we put in and on our bodies. Our skin is our biggest organ. About 60% of what we put on it gets absorbed into our bloodstream. Yet in the United States, beauty products can contain harmful and even toxic chemicals, mainly due to lack of regulation and oversight. In recent years, the clean beauty industry has been experiencing huge growths as consumers are becoming more conscious. Consumers are learning that plant-derived ingredients have an abundance of nutrients and limit the need for animal-derived ingredients. They’re also becoming aware of the fact that there’s absolutely no need for animal testing which is cruel and ineffective. Additionally, there has been a slow shift towards more eco-friendly packaging which I suspect is going to grow bigger as consumers learn more about the effects of different materials on our planet. These are the reasons why we made it our mission to create beauty products that are KIND to Humans, KIND to Animals and KIND to Mother Earth.
What is one habit of yours that makes you more productive as an entrepreneur?
Plan, plan, plan. Whether it’s our budget, marketing strategy or small details such as the social media calendar, I believe planning is one of the key components of success. Planning requires you to step back, think bigger and ask more questions, all of which lead to making more informed decisions and holding yourself accountable for execution.
What advice would you give your younger self?
You are smarter, more capable, more creative and more beautiful inside than you think you are. It is none of your business what others think of you. Dare to dream, dare to be imperfect and dare write your own story.
Tell us something that’s true that almost nobody agrees with you on.
If you make a quality product that does what it says, people will pay for it regardless of the price. In the beginning, a lot of people around us told us that our product was too expensive, but we were not willing to compromise quality. We have yet to hear a customer complain about the price. What we hear the most is that it’s worth every penny!
As an entrepreneur, what is the one thing you do over and over and recommend everyone else do?
Educate myself. The more I learn the more I realize how little I know. The good news is that thanks to technology, learning is easier than ever.
What is one strategy that has helped you grow your business?
Networking. In today’s world, it’s all about who you know! The last three jobs that I had before we founded our company, were through people that I knew. I didn’t have to do any job search or reach out to a recruiting agency.
Talk to anyone and everyone every chance you get. And be kind to people. You never know when you are going to need them and what they can do for you. I try to live by this principle: Be kind to people on your way up because you’re going to run into them on your way down.
What is one failure you had as an entrepreneur, and how did you overcome it?
I’ve had many but I don’t think of them as failures. They’re simply opportunities to learn and grow. Every time that I’ve made a bad decision, it’s been because I didn’t ask more questions. It’s something that I’m not good at mainly because I’m really mindful of people’s time. But I’ve learned the hard way now and I have reminders on my phone, on my bathroom mirror, and at my desk to ensure that I don’t make the same mistake again.
What is one business idea that you’re willing to give away to our readers?
An App or service that would give people affordable access to alternative and natural medicine. A lot of times people don’t explore the natural alternatives because insurance doesn’t cover it. As a result, we are becoming sicker due to overuse of pharmaceuticals that generally treat only the symptoms not the root cause of the illness.
What is the best $100 you recently spent? What and why?
Plants! We live in a loft in Los Angeles and our view is the neighbor’s window. We recently went and bought a lot of big and little plants and put them on our balcony and it has made a world of difference in my mood and the energy of our loft.
What is one piece of software or a web service that helps you be productive?
I write a lot. I write marketing copies, I write blogs and articles for our website, as well as other websites. I recently started using Grammarly and it has helped me save so much time. It tells me when I’ve made a grammatical or spelling mistake, it checks for plagiarism, and it tracks my performance. It helps me work smarter not harder!
What is the one book that you recommend our community should read and why?
Crushing It! by Gary Veynerchuck. It made me realize that we live in a very different world than we did pre-social media. It also opened my eyes to the importance (and the how-to) of building a ‘personal brand’.
What is your favorite quote?
‘Live as if everything is rigged in your favor.’ Rumi
- Collaborate — It truly takes a village. There are people all around to help, support and inspire.
- Plan — Plan your day, your week, your life! But also be flexible when things don’t go according to your plan.
- Education — Education is empowerment.
- Values — Let your values and beliefs guide you. They won’t lead you astray.
Carlyn runs the day-to-day publishing operation here at ideamensch and interacts with our awesome customers and entrepreneurs. She is likely editing this with a cat on her lap.