Hello, beautiful!

Q&A with Founders Heidi Zak and Sabrina Riddle

by Shirley Chan {{"2014-11-03T18:41:43-08:00" | blogDate:'MMMM d, y'}}

Image by Madison Reed

We all know those women: the ones who seem to balance family, career, and even (gasp!) a social life without breaking a sweat.

How do they do it?
Are they secretly breaking a sweat?
And, because happiness is such a personal thing, what does it mean for your own life?

Let’s go right to the source and learn from women who head up vibrant, growing businesses AND busy households. You’ll get tips and inspiration for creating the life you want.

Today, we explore working with passion, making a difference, and the tricky idea of “having it all” with Heidi Zak, founder of ThirdLove—an innovative intimates brand that designs perfect-fitting lingerie at an affordable price—and Sabrina Riddle, CMO and co-founder of Madison Reed—the healthier, luxurious salon hair care experience delivered to your doorstep.

A good start can really set the tone for the day. What motivates you to get up every morning?

Sabrina: I take an hour or two in the morning with no distractions so my mind can wander and be creative. I could be thinking about anything in the world, and I still think about Madison Reed. That’s how I know I’m passionate about what I’m doing.

Heidi: Yes, it’s excitement. The best part of running a startup is that you don’t know what your day is going to hold. It’s the potential of every day being brand new, and it’s exciting to wonder, “What’s going to happen today?”

Madison Reed great hair

You both have a lot going on. What does “having it all” mean to you?

Heidi: I firmly believe you can’t have it all. There is just not enough time in the day to balance being a mom, wife, startup founder, and friend. It’s about understanding that not every day is perfect.

Sabrina: That’s right, it’s about letting go of this notion of perfection and to appreciate the people in your life. I also meet a lot of people in their 20s and 30s worrying about being on track. You have many years to work, so take the time to figure out what really drives you. Find work that you’re really passionate about.

ThirdLove beautiful bra

It sounds like you can’t have it all, but you can accomplish a lot by focusing on what’s important. So what’s the best career decision you’ve made?

Heidi: It was leaving Google and starting ThirdLove. It was a struggle, and it took me months to give up working at a great company with amazing benefits and working with really smart people. But the benefits of building something from the ground up made it the best decision of my career.

Sabrina: It was the same for me. It’s about not being afraid to do the unexpected thing. I was a lawyer and had a similar leaping off point. It forced me to learn new things and conquer new challenges all the time. That equipped me to thrive in a world where everything changes so rapidly.

Spectrum of shades

Wow, it’s scary to take that leap. In your current roles, how do you balance creativity and business?

Sabrina: The secret sauce is learning to strike that balance between the creative and analytic sides. Bringing new ideas to business is essential. On the other hand, you can’t always shoot from the hip.

Heidi: You stole my answer, that’s what I was going to say! It’s about hiring a team that has varying backgrounds and really listening to one another to make educated decisions. Having both creative and analytical minds means you come out even stronger.

Is it hard being women and leaders in the startup world?

Sabrina: Not really. It’s like when I was little, I was the only girl in my baseball league. When I got up to bat, the other team’s outfielders would move it, which was awesome because I’d hit it over their heads every time. So I think of it as, “If you’re underestimating me, watch out!” You need to speak strongly about what you know and how you know it.

Heidi: That’s a great example! One of the challenges of running a company that’s focused on women is explaining it to male investors who may not understand there’s a need. It’s a big opportunity for us to educate. Given that women spend 70% of the dollars and make most household buying decisions, I think that gets attention pretty quickly.

Great hair with Madison Reed

Speaking of focusing on women, both of your companies reinvent highly personal routines: bra shopping and hair coloring. How does technology help?

Heidi: I’m a firm believer in using technology to solve very common problems that a lot of people face. At ThirdLove, we have technology that lets a woman size herself for a bra from home. It makes the age-old awful bra-fitting experience more comfortable and convenient. That makes her life easier and better.

Sabrina: There are so many ways that technology can personalize shopping experiences and understand your needs. Hair color can be confusing, scary, and time-consuming. It was a no-brainer to bring technology to make that whole experience—from selection to putting it on—more delightful.

ThirdLove sizing app

Sabrina, a friend introduced you to ThirdLove and you got hooked. Why are you such a fan?

Sabrina: Frankly, trying on underwear in a department store is one of my least favorite things. The sizing app was great and the half sizes gave me more options for a perfect fit. I wear the 24/7 T-shirt Bra every day and own 5 of them. They’re comfortable, elegant, and make me feel beautiful with a little bit of a surprise, like the straps!

24/7 T-shirt Bra

Heidi, we heard that you use Madison Reed. Why are you a fan?

Heidi: When I heard about Madison Reed, my first reaction was, “I have to try it.” The idea of using something that was much more natural and less harsh with fewer chemicals made sense to me. Using healthier products is something I look for in most of my life. So why wouldn’t I try something similar in hair color?

Radiant Hair Color Kit

We’ve learned how it’s important to make time for the truly important things in life, and how your companies make that easier. Do you have any other time-saving tips?

Sabrina: Cook a big Sunday supper and turn the leftovers into lunches for the week.

Heidi: Get a great haircut that’s easy to style in the morning.

Thanks! Let’s end with wise words and advice from your moms.

Heidi: Always bring a jacket. Sage advice since I live in San Francisco!

Sabrina: Stop and smell the roses. I need to smell more roses…


Exclusively for Madison Reed fans, here’s a special offer to experience the ThirdLove magic for yourself! Enjoy 30% off your ThirdLove purchase with code “MADISON30″.

ThirdLove offer



Make them all good hair days. Sign up to receive email exclusive offers and tips and tricks.