Black Girl In Om—Sarah Ribner: Clean Beauty Entrepreneur

Interview by Lauren Ash

Some of you know that I was majorly inspired by my recent participation in W.E.L.L. Summit! While there, I was exposed to conversations about clean beauty—this seemingly radical idea that what we put on our bodies shouldn't be toxic or harmful to ourselves or the environment. I was blessed to meet Sarah Ribner on day one of this wellness-focused weekend. You may have already known her from Shark Tank! Her passion for clean beauty is seen in the amazing brand she co-founded, Piper Wai! Learn more about this yoga-loving beauty entrepreneur in our interview below!

Who is Sarah Ribner?

As an entrepreneur (and certified workaholic), my identity is often tied to my work. I’m an entrepreneur, who co-founded PiperWai Natural Deodorant, and I’m the girl that just can’t switch off work mode! But aside from building a natural deodorant empire, I’m a daughter, friend, avid traveler, graduate school student, handcrafter of fashion accessories and personal care products, Shark Tank alum, and a pet parent to an adorable Toy Australian Shepherd puppy.

I can definitely relate with the challenges of entrepreneurship that can lead to being a workaholic. Have you found some work/life balance practices that work for you?

My goal, like any entrepreneur, is to be as productive as possible without burning out. Saturday is the one day per week I try not to even look at my work email, and I schedule all the rejuvenating gym sessions, at-home spa treatments, and anything else pampering I can possibly fit into one day. I also learned to love my to-do list. Lists can seem daunting when they feel infinitely long, so I like to categorize mine by high, medium and low priority with a suggested deadline that seems reasonable.

You sound like me! And way to go in establishing one day to intentionally spend cultivating self-care. Speaking of: what does Black Girl In Om mean to you?

I once heard an old Native American prophecy about the coming of the Seventh Fire. The prophecy predicts that humanity will either choose a path to earth’s destruction, or return caring for the earth and our spirituality, eventually igniting the Eighth Fire’s era of mutual respect, love and living in a more natural way. There is some truth in this prophecy as we see it all around us today. In a society that is increasingly impersonal and technology dependent, movements like Black Girl In Om are forging a path to empowerment through the ancient practices of meditation and yoga, while promoting a connection to our own spirituality. BGIO is part of this shift, inspiring women of color to lead a more spiritual life encompassing self-care, and love for one another and for our planet. 

How do you identify with Black Girl In Om's mission?

I view Black Girl In Om’s mission as a platform for self-care and wellness to help women of color feel confident in their own skin. Every day, I promote a product, PiperWai Natural Deodorant, that is a small yet impactful part of our daily routine. PiperWai solves a very persistent and complicated personal problem while nourishing our customers’ skin without exposing them to toxic ingredients. PiperWai inspires confidence in many of our customers – confidence to know that they’re controlling body odor in a healthy and natural way. We used the product to create a platform encouraging health and wellness. 

Yes! I love this! I've felt this confidence in using PiperWai, so thank you for that! I'd love to know: what are your self-care and self-love practices?

I take a holistic view of my wellness, encompassing my inner and outer self. My regular wellness and self-love practices are meant to nurture vitality, confidence, energy, and overall health in order to be the most effective version of myself. It certainly took some time to lock down a routine that works for me, but it was well worth the effort!

I usually begin my day with a 15-minute yoga session and 10 minutes of meditation (my favorite app for guided sessions is Daily Yoga). Since this is early in the morning in the peace and quiet of my own home, it’s a great time to include affirmations and mantras, especially since my mind is more relaxed and open before the stressors of the day creep in. I’m also a huge breakfast fan, so I carve out time for a large nutritious breakfast with my favorite liver detox drink (hot water, lemon juice, turmeric, and ginger), setting the stage for clean eating throughout the day and ensuring my body isn’t nutrient starved or craving junk food.  

As a PiperWai co-founder, I’m constantly promoting nontoxic skincare and skincare routines that avoid potentially harmful ingredients that enter your bloodstream through your skin. Whenever possible, I choose all-natural personal care products. Occasionally I make my own skincare and haircare in my kitchen, which also serves as a relaxing creative outlet.

Last but not least, I journal. I often forget to write long, cathartic journal entries, rather I use a book with three years’ of daily pre-written questions. I write down each answer every day so that over time I can look back on this like a time capsule, revealing incremental changes in my thoughts or overall wellbeing. 

Thank you for sharing! What's one ritual you recommend more women of color adopt to cultivate inner beauty and wellness?

We live in a society that often shuns vulnerability. As women, and particularly women of color, we sometimes unintentionally silence our own needs and settle for less than what we deserve for fear of appearing overly needy or too vulnerable. I’ve found journaling is a helpful way to organize your thoughts to discover your most pressing needs, whether that is to be noticed, heard, adored or anything else you need to feel safe and authentic. Not just journaling to recap the day, but ask yourself insightful questions. Once you discover your top needs, write them down as a reminder, or read them aloud as daily affirmations. 

We're huge advocates of both vulnerability and storytelling at Black Girl In Om! Alright, last question. What's one wellness product you can't live without?

PiperWai Natural Deodorant! It’s easy to view wellness as solely exercise and clean eating, however at PiperWai we urge consumers to go the extra mile by using personal care products derived from plant-based ingredients and free of potential harmful additives. Natural deodorant is a small yet significant part of a total self-care regimen.  

And beyond Piper Wai, which, as you know, I love? What else do you love?

I use oils for everything! Oils feel light and hydrating unlike a lot of lotions that leave thick residue behind. I use calendula and carrot seed oils for a burst of Vitamin A and other antioxidant-rich properties to manage hyperpigmentation and scars left from acne breakouts. Depending on the season, I use a lighter face oil mixed with sunflower and ginger root oils, and in the colder, dryer months I use coffee bean or rosehip seed oils. Argan is amazing for managing split ends, coconut oil is versatile but I love it for a good lip scrub, and I swear by a body oil mixture with grapeseed, sunflower and jojoba oils in place of  a body lotion.  

Thanks, Sarah!