A former equity sales trader at JP Morgan and Morgan Stanley in New York City, Sarah Gibson Tuttle is the Founder and CEO of Olive & June. Sarah relocated to Los Angeles and opened her Beverly Hills flagship nail salon in August 2013 after realizing that the City of Angels had everything she wanted—except for the perfect nail salon. That’s when she created a stylish space where women could expect and enjoy expert nail care on a regular basis. After opening three locations across Beverly Hills, Santa Monica and Pasadena, Sarah decided it was time to bring the mani magic home. In 2018, she launched a line of Nail Art Stickers inspired by the most requested designs from her salons, so that manicure afficianados everywhere could be a part of Olive & June, wherever they go. In 2020, as the @oliveandjune community grows, Sarah spoke with Beauty News to talk about how her company is weathering the storm and how incorporating Instagram Live content helped push a collection of innovative products, polishes, tools and how-tos into consumers’ homes.
Like many consumer brands, the pandemic has significantly impacted our business. We immediately went to work on our supply chain to make sure we were positioned as best as we could be to meet the spike in demand for at-home beauty solutions. In addition to the product side, our community — both new and old — wants so much more from us now: tutorials, hacks, answers to all of their burning at-home nail questions.
We are blown away to see the response and have been working around the clock to be as reactive as possible, as quickly as possible. When you have beautiful nails, you feel better about yourself, about your day, and that makes you feel better equipped to handle the state of the world. We want to always be the sunshine in someone’s day.
Startups never have a normal cadence to them — things are always changing, which is both exciting and a lot of work to manage. In the past few months, that cadence has been on hyperspeed. We have spent and continue to spend the vast majority of time thinking about how we could bring joy to our community.
A great example of this was launching our Mani Bootcamp a week into California’s shelter-in-place. We know how it can seem challenging to paint your nails at home so we wanted to create content that made it easy for everyone, especially those who were new to the Olive & June community. I went on IG Live every day for seven weeks and we created content across a multitude of topics: Mani 101, nail art, and more. The response was incredible and we currently host Lives on our channel three to four times a week due to community demand.
The key for us is listening to what the community is asking for and providing content which answers that need. We act on feedback in real time. Comments we receive on one IG Live, for example, will turn into a topic for a future Live. We originally launched a three-week Mani Bootcamp to give our community all the best tips and tricks to painting their nails, and it ended up going on for two months. We have added Dear Olive to our IG Live lineup, which is a call-in style advice column. Our community DMs us with their mani woes and then we go live I walk them through how to fix the problem in real time. The response to all of the content we have put out has been incredibly strong and we’re grateful to really be connecting with our community during an otherwise incredibly stressful time.
Working from home has been an interesting transition. Our most recent launch was a collaboration with Nabela Noor and we had so much planned to celebrate in real life. When we had to do everything over video conferencing, it felt daunting but it forced us to get really creative. The launch video we used was a slice of our conversations about the collection and it is one of our most watched videos to-date. What people want right now, what they need, is being real and whether you are in person or digitally connected, being real has always been at the core of who we are.
As for fulfilling online orders, the safety of everyone working with Olive & June is of the utmost importance. While our warehouse is still shipping out online orders, we have worked together to implement additional safety precautions that are compliant with CDC recommendations. This does mean that orders are taking longer to ship but workers are staying safe. We’re so lucky to have the community we do and are so appreciative of how understanding they have been.
We’ve stayed scrappy from the start, which has allowed us to make key investments in areas of the business. In this moment, we have been hiring and layering on more resources to handle the increased social media, customer service and shipping needs.
A worldwide pandemic isn’t something any of us were anticipating. The best advice I have is to react and pivot based on the direct feedback from your community, so you can continue to build meaningful connections and provide content they’re actually looking for.
Focus on making people happy and you will always resonate.