While hiking in Norway, Patricia Pao, founder and chief executive officer of Restorsea, noticed a building perched on a fjord. Curiosity led her on a tour of what turned out to be the country’s largest salmon hatchery, where she learned about the transformative powers of an enzyme released during the hatching process. “The hands of the workers looked like they were 20,” she says. At that moment, Pao knew she had found a winner. The beauty veteran, who discovered glycolic acid in 1991 while at Avon, decided to strike out on her own. She launched the antiaging skin-care line Restorsea at Bergdorf Goodman in October 2012. Shortly after launch, Pao noticed online sales were 12 to 15 times Bergdorf’s, and decided to focus primarily on e-commerce. Today, Restorsea attributes 90 percent of sales to its Web site, or about $3 million to $5 million, according to industry sources. “When an opportunity happens and someone gives you a shot, you run as fast and as hard as you can to achieve it,” says Pao. “This is my shot.”
This story first appeared in the May 9, 2014 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.