Sarah Kugelman is a visionary who develops concepts and creates brands ahead of their time. As a serial entrepreneur she has built two successful beauty brands that have become synonymous with key inflection points in the beauty industry – digital and wellness. She is adept at turning ideas into multi-million dollar scalable, global businesses via her ability to build strong teams, implement powerful marketing strategies, develop world class products and drive investor value.
Most recently, Ms. Kugelman founded and was CEO of the global skincare brand skyn ICELAND, Solutions for Stressed Skin. Launched in January 2005, it was one of the first clean, indie skincare brands and she grew it into a $25 million global beauty brand. Its cult item, Hydro Cool Firming Eye Gels, made a name for the brand in the beauty hall of fame by winning the 2007 CEW Indie Beauty Award and a multitude of other key industry awards. Due to Ms. Kugelman’s insight in building a team of makeup artist ambassadors early on to bring authenticity and viral word-of-mouth to the brand, it became a key staple of celebrities, makeup artists and influencers the world over.
Over the past fifteen years, Ms. Kugelman not only held the role of Chairman of the Board at skyn ICELAND, but as CEO, was involved in every aspect of the business from developing the financial plans to overseeing operations and logistics to spearheading all marketing, branding, digital, creative and product development. In 2019, Ms Kugelman strengthened the company’s focus on digital by re-platforming the website, investing in a targeted digital marketing strategy and investing behind social media. This resulted in a complete turnaround and double-digit growth.
Ms. Kugelman secured all of the global distribution for the brand including key retail partners such as Ulta, Sephora, Mecca, Amazon, Marks & Spencer, John Lewis, and forged alliances with partners in China, India, Russia, Australia, Iceland, Scandinavia and the Netherlands. Her successful leadership encompassed building, training and managing a corporate team of 15 executives as well as an internal field sales force of over 70 people across the U.S. and abroad. 2019, was the best year in the brand’s history with 40% topline growth, expansion to approximately 3,000 doors and distribution in over 20 countries.
In 1999, Ms. Kugelman revolutionized the beauty industry by creating the first beauty website, gloss.com, a multimedia beauty brand for which she raised $25 million in venture capital and grew to over 100 employees with offices in New York and San Francisco. Sarah sold gloss.com to The Estèe Lauder Companies in 2000 and then spent three years with the company in senior management positions. In 2000, Columbia Business School wrote a case study on gloss.com.
Ms. Kugelman has also held senior marketing positions at prominent companies such as Banana Republic (fragrance), Bath & Body Works and L’Orèal. She has made frequent television appearances, been covered in multiple national and international publications (including Vogue, Hampton’s Magazine, Time Inc) and has been a guest speaker at leading universities (Harvard Business School, MIT, Columbia Business School and Tufts University) and industry conferences (the first WWD Beauty Digital conference, Wells Fargo Beauty Industry Conference, Citibank Annual Beauty Conference). In 2006, Ms. Kugelman was a finalist in the FGI Rising Star Awards and in 2013 Sarah won a SmartCEO Brava Award.
Sarah has an M.B.A. in Marketing and International Business from Columbia Business School and a B.A. cum laude from Tufts University. Sarah sat on the American Cancer Society’s Manhattan Leadership Board for five years and was a a Co-Chair of FARE’s annual luncheon for six years which raises money and awareness for children with food allergies. Both causes are near and dear to her heart. In 2019, Sarah was one of the annual honorees at the FARE luncheon for contributing to the advancement of treatments in food allergies. She currently sits on the Board of Advisors for the Derby Entrepreneurship Center at Tufts, with the goal of advancing female entrepreneurs. She lives in New York City with her 13yr old daughter and dog Jackson.