How the Co-Founders of The Beachwaver Co® Are Empowering Women and Improving the Environment
  • July 17, 2019
  • beachwaver co-founders on we got goals sarah potempa erin potempa-wall emily potempa

    There’s a level of trust necessary for committing to a hair stylist. Not only does the stylist have to know his or her stuff, but you have to feel comfortable enough around him or her for both long, awkward silences and heart-to-heart conversations you never thought you’d have while wearing a full-body cape around your neck. And sure, “hair grows out,” eventually, but try telling that to my twelve-year-old self after that one time the stylist cut my bangs distressingly short—if I’d felt an instant connection with my stylist and felt comfortable putting the kibosh on those bangs, maybe I wouldn’t have had to wear a baseball cap for the entire summer.

    That familiarity is hard to achieve in person, and even harder to simulate over a podcast phone line—but as soon as I dialed in with Sarah Potempa, Erin Potempa-Wall, and Emily Potempa, I felt like I was in the friendliest, most uplifting salon of my life, with three hair fairy godmothers constantly affirming how awesome we all were. (And this was after 20+ minutes of technical malfunctions, which is enough to make even the kindest of podcast guests a little prickly—not so for the Potempa sisters, who were gracious and flexible throughout).

    After years talking to beauty editors about the struggles of educating regular people about achieving those always-popular beachy waves, Sarah took it upon herself to invent the Beachwaver, a rotating curling iron that makes it easy for even the least coordinated among us to look effortlessly put together. She partnered with her sister Erin, who left her gig as a corporate lawyer to help navigate the business world and all the patents, trademarks, and more of the less glamorous parts of entrepreneurship. They were later joined by Emily, who was the first person to ever try the Beachwaver and whose production experience on shows like Top Chef helped immensely with the Beachwaver’s initial launch on QVC.

    And in keeping with our current focus on building a better Earth, one of their big goals right now is “building up our platform so we can use it for good,” explains Erin, who’s the go-to sister for sustainability and environmental initiatives within The Beachwaver Co.

    “As a company, we’re taking a very serious look at our supply chain,” Erin continues. “We view it as we have this opportunity to bring out great product, but we also have a responsibility to do so in an environmentally sustainable manner,” which is showcased in their brand-new wet line, the Make Waves collection.

    Their commitment to creating a better world isn’t limited to the physical environment; Beachwaver also made a splash (pun totally intended) when they sponsored the World Surf League’s Maui Beachwaver Pro competition. Last fall, the World Surf League announced that starting in the 2019 season, they’re awarding equal prize money in men’s and women’s competitions, making it the first (and only) US-based global sports to do so.

    “As a brand, we are female-founded and self-funded, and we’re a company that wants to partner with like-minded groups,” Sarah explained. “It was a really cool opportunity for us, and we were so motivated by these women, and they do deserve the equal pay!”

    “When we’re looking at who we partner with, we want to make sure it’s in line with our brand mission statement,” Erin adds on. “A part of our mission statement is empowerment. Empowerment for us is really at the core of who we are as a women-owned company. We’re out there every day fighting the good fight, if you will, and it’s these little steps coupled with these larger partnerships that we hope someday is really truly going to make a difference.”

    But as motivating as it was to hear about their commitment to equal pay and then environment, my favorite part of the interview came at the very end, when I asked each sister to tell me about a specific strength held by each of her other sisters.

    I’m not going to lie, it got a little dusty in the recording room as I listened to Erin gush about Sarah’s ability to make anyone from a supermodel to a mom getting a makeover feel beautiful, or while I heard Sarah compliment Emily on her ability to become friends with anybody in any part of the world.

    The sisters agreed. “Everyone listening should go do this! Call your sister, call your mom,” said Sarah.

    “It’s a tough world out there!” added Erin. “It’s nice to hear those things once in awhile.”

    So take this as an official action item, listeners: listen to this podcast, and then take a second to call, text, or email a woman you love and tell them something specific you think they’re awesome at. You’ll make their day.

    And it would make OUR day if you rated or reviewed us on  iTunes and Spotify. Thanks for listening and being a part of our community.

    About Kristen Geil

    A native of Lexington, Kentucky, Kristen moved to Chicago in 2011 and received her MA in Writing, Rhetoric, and Discourse from DePaul while trying to maintain her southern accent. Kristen grew up playing sports, and since moving to Chicago, she’s fallen in love with the lakefront running path and the lively group fitness scene. Now, as a currently retired marathoner and sweat junkie, you can usually find her trying new workouts around the city and meticulously crafting Instagram-friendly smoothie bowls. Kristen came on to A Sweat Life full-time in 2018 as Editor-in-Chief, and she spends her days managing writers, building content strategy, and fighting for the Oxford comma.