Creating Beauty Narratives: An interview with Mind The Beauty CPO and Co-Founder, Sabrina Santangelo

Having been at the forefront of the beauty industry for more than 20 years, Sabrina seamlessly integrates her wealth of knowledge in project management, expertly navigating the journey from conceptualization to the creation of finished products. Over the years she has become the to-go-to person when it comes to TV Shopping within the beauty industry.

In December 23 we sat together at the Mind The Beauty office in Zürich to talk about Sabrina’s impressive career and her ambitions as the CPO & Co-Founder of the company.

Please tell us a little bit about your career path. Can you share some key highlights from your extensive 25-year journey in the beauty industry?

In my 25-year journey through the beauty industry, being at the forefront of the private label movement was a fantastic experience. I played a key role in developing private beauty labels for German drugstores, which taught me some serious life skills - think creativity, flexibility, resilience, and staying cool under pressure.

I learned some serious life skills - think creativity, flexibility, resilience, and staying cool under pressure

In Switzerland I took charge of major private labels for Mibelle during their pioneering days in the movement. It was a ride developing labels across Europe, and I eventually found my permanent home in the beauty world.

Reflecting on it all, it's been a journey that's kept me on my toes, and I'm sincerely grateful for the opportunities and growth. Being a Co-Founder at Mind The Beauty now feels like an organic development and I love every minute of it.

Your background in developing private labels for major German drugstore markets is impressive. How has your experience in this influenced your approach to developing private labels for Mind The Beauty?

Its true, these experiences have definitely left a mark on how I approach private label development for Mind The Beauty.

I think understanding the scope is key. It's not just about crafting products; it's about tailoring them to fit the unique needs and preferences of the markets. Whether it's the German landscape, the Swiss scene, or any other country - it demands its own thoughtful approach.

Then there's the art of observing developments and trends. The beauty industry is a dynamic playground, and staying ahead of the game is crucial. Being observant isn't just about keeping up; it's about leading the pack with innovative, trend-setting private labels.

Thinking out of the box and following through – that's where the magic happens. It's not just about having a creative spark; it's about having the courage to turn that spark into a full-blown, finished product. From concept to completion, that commitment is what ensures our private labels stand out.

It's not just about having a creative spark; it's about having the courage to turn that spark into a full-blown, finished product

And let's talk versatility in product creation. I thrive on the opportunity to get creative across various product categories. The beauty of it lies in the variety – embracing new developments and bringing that fresh perspective to our lineup.

So, I would say my journey has given me a holistic and adaptive approach to private label development and that is what I am trying to channel into Mind The Beauty really.

Transitioning from established markets to a startup environment can be quite a change. What motivated you to join forces with your co-founders Shirin and Giulia?

Transitioning from the established corporate world to a startup is indeed a shift, but for me, it feels more like coming home. I've been down this road before, helping start another beauty company from scratch and sticking with it for nine years. So, diving back into the startup hustle is a familiar and exciting journey.

In startups, you're not just confined to one role – you wear many hats. I was ready for it, understanding that tasks, big or small, all play a crucial part. There's a certain thrill in contributing to every aspect of the business when you don't yet have a massive team to delegate to.

What really motivated me to make this leap was the love for overseeing projects from start to finish. Unlike the corporate world where projects involve a multitude of people, here it gets really personal. We're close to our clients, and that connection makes the work truly individualized.

To me wearing different hats every day and solving diverse problems keep things interesting. It's the variety that fuels my passion for the job. This is more than just a career move; it's a dream job, a chance to be part of a dynamic team crafting something extraordinary from the ground up.

The co-founding team is a major motivation. We're a diverse bunch, each bringing a wealth of knowledge and experience. The combination is unbeatable, and it's this synergy that propels us forward. Building something great with Shirin and Giulia is not just a job – it's a shared journey, and that's what makes it all the more special.

Developing private labels isn’t your only unique niche expertise. Over the years you have become the to-go-to person when it comes to TV Shopping within the beauty industry. What is your approach to creating beauty products that resonate with this specific retail channel?

This is quite a complex process. There are many things to consider when designing for TV.

First of all, products need to be straightforward, easy for viewers to understand at a glance. When showcasing on TV, simplicity is key.

Effectiveness is paramount too. Products must visibly demonstrate results. Whether it's a radiant complexion from a moisturizer or the immediate impact of specific ingredients, viewers need to see the proof on screen.

I'm always on the lookout for ingredients that deliver instant results, enhancing the product's appeal on a platform like TV Shopping.

Then it’s important to understand that it is not just about the product itself; it's about crafting a compelling narrative. I consider how to create a storyline that can be effectively communicated on TV. What makes the product special? How can the presenter convey that story in a way that engages the audience? The product should be easy for the TV presenter to showcase.

It's about crafting a compelling narrative

While trendy products have their place, overly trendy or doctor brands might not resonate as well on shopping TV. The focus is on products with benefits like anti aging, firming, regenerating, and lifting.

Certain categories thrive on shopping TV but very basic products like cleansers might not be as popular, as viewers typically acquire those from drugstores. Specialized serums, on the other hand, stand a good chance of becoming bestsellers.

Design plays a crucial role too. Considering that every angle must look appealing on screen, the product design can't be overly shiny for example. It needs to be visually striking, ensuring it captures attention during TV broadcasts.

In the realm of TV shopping, speed to market and adaptability are crucial. How do you ensure that your label's beauty products meet these demands while maintaining quality and innovation?

I guess it is all about having the right strategies in place. Also I am quite used to tight deadlines coming from the fashion industry with saisonal collections.

One key aspect is our extensive catalog of formulations. These have been meticulously developed over the years in collaboration with labs in Italy and Germany. The beauty of it is that we can swiftly tailor these formulations to meet specific preferences, ensuring adaptability without sacrificing quality.

Building strong, long-term partnerships with suppliers is another crucial factor. These relationships are the backbone of our ability to meet the unique requirements of TV shopping production. Our partners understand our needs, and this familiarity expedites the entire process.

With the right people on board, anything is possible

Navigating the intricacies of TV shopping production can be very complex, but with the right people on board, anything is possible. It's about having a team that's not just experienced but also understands the urgency and dynamism of the industry.

It's a challenging process, but it's this complexity that keeps things exciting and rewarding.

Reflecting on the first three years since launching Mind The Beauty alongside your co-founders Shirin and Giulia, what have been the most valuable lessons or insights you've gained?

The first three years since launching Mind The Beauty with my co-founders have been an incredible journey, packed with valuable lessons and insights:

Firstly, the importance of being willing to put in the hard work, even when it's inconvenient or when rest seems more appealing. This dedication is crucial for navigating the challenges and seizing opportunities.

Each product we create is like a little love story. I find myself deeply invested in the creations, treating them with special care. It's this personal connection that adds a unique touch to what we have to offer.

In the fast-paced world we operate in, being very fast is sometimes a necessity. Learning to navigate and make decisions swiftly has been a crucial lesson too.

Working as a team has been an eye-opener. We've discovered that collectively, we can achieve amazing things. The synergy within our team contributes significantly to our strength and power. We've managed to pull together a multitude of projects. It's a testament to our collective capability and resilience. There's a sense of astonishment at all we've accomplished.

What stands out the most is the great team and the family-like atmosphere we've cultivated within the company

Our strong relationships with partners are fundamental. These are built on trust and contribute significantly to our success. Having reliable and supportive partners has been a cornerstone of our journey.

What stands out the most is the great team and the family-like atmosphere we've cultivated within the company. It's this positive and supportive environment that fuels our creativity and the success.

What do you love to do when work is finished and you have no other plans?

When the workday wraps up and there are no other plans on the horizon, my favorite thing to do is indulge in my love for travel.

Exploring destinations like Andalusia, Italy, which is where I am originally from and various Arabic countries, with Morocco being a particular favorite, is a passion of mine

On the flip side, I find solace and beauty in the Swiss Alps. There's something incredibly calming about the stunning landscapes of the Swiss Alps. It's a place I hold dear, and whenever the opportunity arises, I love to escape there and soak in the serene surroundings.

As someone deeply involved in the world of beauty, what's your favorite self-care ritual or beauty hack that you swear by?

One self-care ritual that I really like is indulging in face masks. It's not just a skincare routine for me; it's a delightful ritual that I sometimes share with friends.

There's a certain joy in testing out different face masks, and it's become a bit of a tradition to do so with a few of my friends. We make it an enjoyable occasion by choosing our favorite masks, grabbing a drink, and simply relishing the moment.