Sarah Gibson Tuttle, Founder and CEO of Olive & June, on Bringing the Nail Salon Home

Amanda Kahn
Amanda Kahn
Jan 23, 2024

The pandemic shook up normal life, inspired lots of new recipes and plenty of new trends. One of those trends—a personal favorite of mine—was press-on nails. Gone are the days of losing hours in a nail salon, regardless of your style and color of choice. 

In Episode 113 of Earned, Conor sits down with Sarah Gibson Tuttle, Founder and CEO of Olive & June, the No. 1 brand in the nail industry today. 


To start, we dive into the overall journey of Olive & June, and Sarah explains how she got her inspiration for the original business model from Drybar, the premium blow-out hair salon. To reach the full potential for what Olive & June could do, Sarah reveals that her goal was an affordable and accessible salon manicure in whatever time the customer had to spend. Next, we explore how the brand navigated the pandemic and pivoted into becoming a product-driven company. Sarah explains how mindful the team at Olive & June is about holding their consumers in the highest regard, and keeping their focus on delivering the right product to the right market at the right price. While unpacking her 10 year finance career, Sarah shares that she’s a firm believer in the idea that you only get to live your life once, and then imparts the wisdom to dig deep and make a change when you know something isn’t right, or could be better.

We learn about Olive & June’s approach to the influencer space, and how the brand’s goal is to solve consumer pain points, which leads to a philosophy of only launching products that fulfill actual customer needs. Sarah emphasizes that today’s beauty consumer wants REAL recommendations from real people, which is why creating stellar products is key to success. In her own publishing journey, Sarah prides herself on being very authentic—showing her audience that relationships aren’t always transactional, while still protecting her own boundaries. To close the show, Sarah speaks to her goals of eventually taking a more active role in investing in other female-founded brands, which she hopes will break down barriers for women to come.  

We’ve included a couple of highlights from the episode below, but be sure to check out the full video above, or tune into the podcast on Spotify, Apple Podcasts, and Google Podcasts!

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The following interview has been lightly edited for concision. 

“We launched with innovation and came out of the gates very strong”: How Sarah Gibson Tuttle Focused a Brand on Solving Problems

Conor Begley: I'm curious, as you look at the last four years of the business and being the fastest growing brand in the category, do you think there were particular turning points outside of the pandemic that played a big role in getting you to this point? And then, what have been the learnings for you as you’ve gotten into being a product business vs. a service business?

Sarah Gibson Tuttle: It's funny, because you look back and you're like, “thank God I made a bunch of the right decisions because it led us here.” We weren't trying to pivot. We were expanding a current business that had been a bigger business in year one by almost 100 percent. It was on fire immediately, and it was clear that we were solving a pain point for the consumer. We launched with innovation and we came out of the gates very strong by saying that The Poppy—which is our patented polished bottle handle and the mani system—this is the new way to do your nails.

Because everything was innovative, whether it was things you had never seen before, like The Poppy, or bringing back different components, or a polish formula that lasted longer than other polishes on the market, we launched in the right way. We were able to be very clear about who we were from the beginning. Always being solution-based, always thinking about our pain points for our consumer, and then we added education and content on top of that. I think ultimately very few nail brands, if any, were doing that. We knew that was going to go hand in hand with the innovation and product. 

“There are really stellar influencers that have so much insight into how the product works”: Olive and June’s Sarah Gibson Tuttle on Always Keeping The Consumer In Mind  

Conor Begley: You’re surging with influencers over the last six months. You're up close to 60% YoY, while your next closest competitor is around 1%. What's going on there? What are you guys doing in the influencer space? What's working? Why is it growing? How are you guys approaching it?

Sarah Gibson Tuttle: Everyone at Olive & June, in every role, is obsessed with solving consumer pain points. When we first started, we didn't have any money for sponsored posts, so that wasn't really even something I thought about. It was really about, when do I buy something that someone recommends? Do I buy it because there's a sponsored post? Sometimes because they say “I’ll love this product forever,” the company hires them. Most of the time I only want to buy a product when it's unsponsored.

We were super thoughtful about the consumer, especially the beauty consumer, who wants real recommendations. We were gifting our product from the beginning, and every product we create has innovation tied to it. So we won’t launch a product unless it is better, and unless it fills a real need. Let's get the product into people's hands and then let it do its thing.

When I say this, I pray that you’ll remember, because there'll be a lot of people that won’t, but there was a movie called Field of Dreams, and Kevin Costner says, “if you build it, they will come.” I believe so firmly in that. Launch a product that's really, really good—that's better than anything in the market, that's actually transformational—and people, once they get it, they will post about it. They will care about it. They will be into it. That's our approach.

Keep up with new episodes of Earned by following the podcast on Spotify, Apple Podcasts, and Google Podcasts, or subscribing to our YouTube channel. To catch up on our previous episodes, featuring leaders from brands like Revolve, K18, Instagram, and Roblox, visit our Earned Podcast page.