Lucia Ruehlemann, President of Saie Beauty, on Shifting the Focus From Market Share to “Heart Share”

Amanda Kahn
Amanda Kahn
Feb 13, 2024

Wellness is all the rage these days. Consumers are becoming more mindful of what they put in their bodies or on their bodies—and therefore, on their face. Enter Saie Beauty.

In Episode 116 of Earned, Conor sits down with Lucia Ruehlemann, President of Saie Beauty—a clean makeup brand prioritizing superhero ingredients and high-performance outcomes, all while maintaining sustainable packaging and products.


To start, we dive into Lucia’s decade of experience building successful indie brands such as Fresh and Drunk Elephant. Unlocking what makes Lucia who she is, we learn how she balances her family of six, and finds joy through the evolving situation that she calls “controlled chaos.” Lucia credits her children with reverse mentoring her, and shares insights on what’s culturally relevant to younger generations. Next, we explore how Lucia brings the same idea—creating love beyond reason—from her family to the brand she’s working on. Lucia shares with us how her family has processed the tragic loss of her eldest son, Jeremy, and turned it into valuable, core lessons that can be applied to everyone’s lives. While unpacking Lucia’s personal relationships, she shares that you’re “in it together” with the people you work with, and that having deep respect and admiration can help people through tough times and conversations.

We learn about how the beauty industry is relationship-based, and how mission-critical it can be to chase core business, rather than viral moments. By tapping into creators who have a genuine love and affinity for your brand, Lucia emphasizes that these are the individuals who can truly share your brand story. Lucia then describes her experience working at powerhouse beauty conglomerates LVMH and Estée Lauder, which she characterizes as best in class, and shares how they equipped her with an edge that allowed her to be more effective at indie brands. To close the show, Lucia shares her goals of learning to live well, re-focusing on gratitude and mindfulness, and staying playful. 

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, or wherever you listen!

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The following interview has been lightly edited for concision. 

“There's enough room in this space for everyone. There's no need to be crazy competitive. If we help each other, everybody wins”: How Lucia Ruehlemann Brings Grace Into the Beauty Space

Conor Begley: We'll go on to the next quote from Jean Marc. You have always been so gracious with me in our relationship, and just to use his quote, “she has personal relationships that are deep, and her professional relationships with people like Sephora are the best I've ever seen. She maintains and cultivates relationships in a beautiful way. I've worked with her for 12 years and I've been her competitor for six years, but we still have a weekly call or email or text. She maintains private relationships so well, we never even talk about business.” So I'm curious, is this a deep part of who you are as a person? Is this something that's intentional for you, or is it something that's just inherent to who you are?

Lucia Ruehlemann: Yeah, relationships for me are inherent to who I am. I work at them not as work, but as a true pleasure. Growing up, my dad used to always say, knock with your feet because your hands should be full. Be gracious, bring things, show up grateful. I have been very blessed. I have incredible people in my life whom I find fascinating. It's this curiosity and this connection when you start off as business partners, and then you admire each other. There's trust, there's loyalty and there winds up being love too. How are the kids? What's going on? How can you help me? How can I help you?

There's enough room in this space for everyone. There's no need to be crazy competitive. If we help each other, everybody wins. I really believe that. With respect to Jean Marc and what he said in Sephora, I've learned from the best. He's got amazing relationships as well. With Sephora specifically, we're in it together. I've known many of those executives for over 20 years. There's a very deep respect and admiration for each other. Are the conversations always easy? No, but now there's candor, there's trust, there are many, many fireside chats, and then relationships transcend. 

“It's okay to say yes to things. It's also okay to say no to some things. Then when you lean in, you do it excellently”: Saie Beauty’s Lucia Ruehlemann on Making Choices That Are Meaningful for Your Brand 

Conor Begley: So Saie is growing the fastest organically of any brand in the top 50, 130% growth in EMV. I'd love to dive in there a little bit. You oversee much more than influencer marketing, but what do you think philosophically it is about your approach that has led you to have so much success across three different brands?

Lucia Ruehlemann: I would say first, if you were to say the secret sauce, I am not that smart. I have been blessed with amazing teams. Honestly, hands down, like you talk about reverse mentorship—I've learned so much from the teams at each one of those companies, and I continue to learn. I think that a common denominator in the brands you've talked about is at the heart of what they do. They're great storytellers and what they do is what I’ve found works for us. For those brands, it is tapping into creators who genuinely love the brand and can retell your story. That sounds simple, but it's not. Because a lot of times folks are like, “Oh my gosh, culture is moving so fast, I need to do everything.” Calm down, take a pause. What makes sense? Yes, what's culturally relevant, but what's brand relevant for you? And it's okay to say yes to things. It's also okay to say no to some things. Then, when you lean in, you do it excellently. Your execution is flawless, and it makes sense. It's meaningful for your brand. So I would say those are common denominators with the three experiences.

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.