Amid its upward trajectory, Saie is filling out its C-suite, starting with a new president.
The brand appointed Lucia Perdomo-Ruehlemann, the seasoned executive who most recently served as global brand president of Drunk Elephant, to helm the business. Perdomo-Ruehlemann also counts time at LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton and the Estée Lauder Cos. Inc. under her belt.
“Saie has exploded in the past year, and especially because of this accelerated pace, I am thoughtfully handpicking my leadership team to embrace the scale,” Crowell told Beauty Inc. “In addition to [Perdomo-Ruehlemann], we also have Tara Walton and Lauren Barrett joining as our head of sales and chief financial officer/chief operating officer, respectively.”
“My recruitment is to solidify the work that we have done. I’m really excited to broaden the awareness of the brand the Saie way — we do everything super thoughtfully,” Crowell continued. “We talk a lot about the Saie way, and [Perdomo-Ruehlemann] completely embodies it. She’s strategic, intuitive and thoughtful, and she has a really strong pioneering spirit which is really important.”
Crowell added that the brand has grown over 300 percent each year since its launch in 2019, and part of Perdomo-Ruehlemann’s job will be winning at retail and bolstering the d-to-c business. Saie is a Sephora-exclusive brand.
Perdomo-Ruehlemann excels at building out retail relationships. “We’re not in a hurry, we’re going to be very poised and very intentional,” she said. “Whether it’s awareness, d-to-c, digital, and absolutely leaning into our exclusivity with Sephora. They are masters at building global brands, and I’m excited to nurture what they do best.”
She also has experience building out teams internally, too. “I’ve had good experience building a team, and executive leadership for Drunk Elephant, for Fresh and for Jo Malone,” she said. “We’re looking at building this brand the same way.”
Saie won a Beauty Inc award last year for its out-of-the-box marketing initiatives, such as Saie Vintage — a planet-friendly approach to merch. This year, it also had a pop-up bodega with Saie products and branded merchandise in New York. “There’s this great tension between local relevance and having a global brand,” Perdomo-Ruehlemann said. “We want to lean into understanding who is talking about us. We need to crystallize who that Saie girl or woman is.”
Social listening is part of the brand’s DNA. When Crowell founded the brand, she also founded the Clean Beauty Crew, a 2,000-member-strong private Facebook group where Saie mines for consumer insights. “The members give up their time, they care so deeply about the brand and want to give their perspective on it,” Perdomo-Ruehlemann said. “It’s a brander’s dream.”
Part of what’s working is the brand’s planet promise, which includes its journey to eliminating plastic entirely from its packaging and a partnership with Terracycle. “We invest so heavily in making sure that our footprint is as small as possible and that we’re impacting the planet not just as little as possible, but in a positive way,” Crowell said.
Perdomo-Ruehlemann is taking the same intentionality to building the business. “We don’t look at Saie through the prism of, ‘How are we going to be the next Nars, or MAC Cosmetics?'” Perdomo-Ruehlemann said. “We want to optimize, and be the best us we can be without taking any shortcuts.”