Estimated reading time: 7 minutes
Sadie Bowler started doing hair when she was ten years old by following YouTube tutorials and practicing on her sisters. By high school, she was styling hair for weddings and photoshoots. By freshman year of university, Sadie co-founded & became CEO of SadieB Personal Care, a girl-centered startup with a mission to flip the script on beauty messaging and meet the personal care needs of “girls getting things done.”
“I have always been an entrepreneur at heart,” explains Sadie. “I was always trying to create value for people by something that I was doing myself.”
Merging her passion for quality hair products with her desire to support various girls’ causes, Sadie officially launched her company in May of 2022 on the principle that girls should prioritize “mental hygiene”–the daily practice of taking care of one’s mental health–over physical beauty and encourages them to do so by finding products that celebrate their lifestyles–not their appearances.
“Being immersed in the beauty industry, I didn’t find any products that spoke to girls,” remembers Sadie. “Our focus is to change the dialogue in the beauty industry: To uplift girls and their abilities and accomplishments rather than focusing on a look that they’re trying to achieve.”
With “unfair and unrealistic standards of beauty” continuously being set (and reset) and a growing mental health crisis among teenage girls in the United States, Sadie wants to continue creating valuable resources to help improve girls’ mental well-being. “It is really the vision of what I see SadieB becoming that keeps me going,” she shares.
In honor of Women in Business Day today, we spoke to Sadie about her journey in creating a company founded, led, and operated by girls for girls—and the actionable steps other organizations can take to do the same.
Keep reading to find out how she’s found motivation and power in female mentorship, the advice she wished she had known before becoming an entrepreneur, and the often underestimated value of turning to your inner circle for guidance along the way.
What’s one thing you wish you had known before starting your own company?
I think starting at such a young age, in high school, it was really hard to see this vision that we have now of what SadieB could become. So during those times when school was really hard and I was also working on this, I wish I had known [that vision] earlier on and it was pushing me from the beginning.
What do you think is one of the most important lessons you’ve learned being a young, female entrepreneur? What have been the most rewarding parts of this journey so far?
One of the things that I’ve learned–and one of the most amazing things along this journey–has been the support from other people. The entrepreneurial community in Utah and the female founder community are so strong, and the mentorship that I received from them is something that I want to be able to provide young girls when I’m 20 years down the road. The impact that mentors and people who believe in your vision have on what you’re working on…[they’ve] been a huge part of my success.
Speaking of mentors, your company was founded on the principle of investing in girls, from creating professional mentorship opportunities for them to inviting girls to be members of your advisory board. Do you think there are enough girl-centered companies like this out there?
I would say there are absolutely not enough companies that support girls and give them leadership positions, especially at such a young age. Girls often do not get the same internship opportunities and leadership positions as men do at this age. So, I think more companies should definitely be adding that aspect of including girls’ voices because, as we’ve seen, women’s and men’s voices working together are so much stronger and get so much more done when they’re uplifting each other.
Women showing me that they are great leaders has boosted my confidence and made me believe that I can do the same thing.
How do you think we can create more support and opportunities for young girls in leadership? And how can we also encourage more companies to follow your “powered by girls” motto and take changeable steps to amplify those young voices?
At Sadie B we have a Girl Advisory Board, so that’s who helps me do the majority of the work: the girls on my team. It’s such a unique situation and not one that would work for every company, but I think providing girls more opportunities has impacted my success so much and I think providing girls with mentors is important in uplifting them [too]. Women showing me that they are great leaders has boosted my confidence and made me believe that I can do the same thing. Continuing that process of paving the way for more young girls to believe that they can be, and are capable of being, amazing leaders is something that we can all do.
What does successful leadership look like to you?
The more uplifting and supportive you can be to those around you, the better. I think that’s what makes a great leader. Someone that’s encouraging you and the things that you’re accomplishing while also providing you great opportunities to accomplish more.
Are there three qualities you think every effective leader should have?
Being supportive and encouraging. Being honest in everything they’re doing and also being driven.
Do you have any advice for Girl Up leaders who also hope to pursue or are currently pursuing similar career paths in entrepreneurship & business?
How quickly small things add up. Starting a personal care company, that’s a huge thing, it takes a lot of work. But, I think about all the small steps I’ve taken over the last few years and how quickly those added up, especially when they’re amplified by the people supporting you. So start small. Even if you have a big goal, just start small. Also, when you meet failure or setbacks, don’t sit in suffering for too long. Pick yourself back up and look at it as an opportunity to grow and to change and to learn something.
I think one of the biggest ways you avoid sitting in suffering for too long is having that support system you’ve talked about, having that community who can help pick you back up and get you on your way. How do you think we can find those strong and supportive mentors?
Start with your family, your close friends. Start with one person, they’ll know someone that knows three more people and those three people will know eight more people, and it’ll just grow so quickly. Get to know their expertise and their experiences. Everyone has something to give. You just need to start asking questions to the people around you.
What do you think is the best way to deal with critics or naysayers who underestimate you because of your age or gender?
I’ve had a couple of experiences where I’ve either been the only woman in a room of men or where I’ve definitely been talked down to and not given the same opportunity because of my age and being a woman. But I think having those supportive voices around you can help balance that out. There’s more support than there are critics that bring you down. But, when those things happen, let them motivate you.
This interview has been edited for length & clarity.