The harly jae muse is our written offering which brings to you the life and stories of the intentional women who wear our clothes. We want to share with you who they are, what their influences are and what their deepest hopes & dreams are made of.
Sara Panton is the co-founder of premium essential oil company vitruvi & the author of Essential Well Being, a coffee table book filled with botanical and wellness recipes.
I have admired Sara from afar for quite some time. Always wondering “what is her secret to living a wellness-focused lifestyle while balancing the hustle that is entrepreneurship?”
Luckily for all of us, the answer is in the interview below.
Read on to discover how an uncomplicated approach to rituals can leave you feeling strong both mentally and physically. Sara also shares her thoughts on entrepreneurship, and I appreciate her realness on the topic. If you travel a lot for work, you will definitely want to note her tips for staying grounded.
There is so much to love & learn in this interview. I hope you take away from it as much as I did.
1. First, take us back to what has been your journey into becoming the woman that you are today?
Our parents Sue & Kerry were early adopters of the organic movement, they moved our family to the countryside when Sean and I were 10 and 13. Growing up around the ocean, apple trees, farms and understand where food comes from was hugely influential in how Sean and I have valued wellness and natural products.I wasn’t allowed to wear the traditional make-up brands my friends were using. Instead, I got to wear natural make up from the health food store. My mom was passionate about ensuring we were aware of what was going in our skin and on our bodies.Not in a way that was overly controlling, just educating us. I’m really appreciative of the lifestyle they created for our family and the choices and the foresight they had decades ago.
2. You were in med school when you and your brother Sean started vitruvi. Giving up the idea of being a doctor for the uncertainty of building a company must have been a difficult choice to make in your early twenties… How did you come to that decision?
It's hard to put into words, but sometimes you need to put your ego in check even when you’ve spent a lot of time and money into something. Let me explain further what I mean by that…I grew up in a small town, and I knew I wanted to help people and I wanted to take a path in life that had a certain amount of struggle and gave back.Without knowing about the world of business or other options of careers this meant being a doctor. I spent many years obsessing and working very hard to get the right undergraduate courses needed, etc.But when I got there, it didn’t feel like my place or my people. I didn’t look up to any of the teachers, I didn’t want their life or even really respect what they were about.It took many nights and days of thinking to make the choice. Sometimes it's needed to get perspective on the story you’re telling yourself and check in with the ‘why’ and the ‘what-if’s’ instead.
3. Congratulations on an amazing book launch – I will cherish my copy forever! How do you picture women using it, and for what intent?
Thank you! My hope is that it gets filled with essential oil marks, maybe drops of coconut oil, oatmeal and honey from face masks and toner making. Maybe a bathtub plunge or two. Beyond that I hope it represents a reminder to check in with yourself and your reason for investing in your wellness and wellbeing.My hope is always that our products not only offer a safe and non-toxic way to scent a home, but that they also act as a reminder to fill your cup back up so you can have the energy and stamina to a great impactful life — whatever that means to each individual.
4. You travel a lot for work, what are your essentials to stay grounded?
I’ve been able to normalize constant travel by creating really helpful routines and rituals that help me feel in flow.
I try to do an intense workout the day before my flight so that travel day is more of a recovery day or I sneak in a workout the morning of. Activity is very important to me - even when I am traveling. I do pilates on the road as well as at home.
I travel very light and don’t like lots of ‘stuff’ around me. I travel with a uniform of basically the same things every time.
Drink Green Tea/bring my own matcha on flights
Apply Lavender essential oil under my nose during my flights
Apply vitruvi’s ‘After Oil’ on my neck and shoulders during flights and before & after
Do dry brushing and use a foam roller to help with lymph drainage and swelling
5. What were you like as a teenager?
In many ways very similar to how I am now. Very brainy, a big reader and thinker, enjoy a cup of tea, never stays at a party too late. I’ve always loved running, getting lostin a beauty store like Sephora or Shoppers Drugmart, I still look forward to the latest edition of Vogue each month (I have since I was 13). I wasn’t ‘trouble’ or interested in making anyones lives more difficult than they already were. I kept to myself largely and have always had a very small close group of girlfriends.
6. What do you wear for important corporate meetings and why?
Whatever I feel most myself in. I basically wear the same thing everyday. It's usually jeans and a t-shirt and blazer, or jeans (my favourite are citizen of humanity) and a silk or linen shirt or button up.I’m normally in sneakers, or boots like Veja or Stella McCartney sneakers/shoes that I wear often. I did once wear Blundstones to a presentation in font of LVMH, because I wanted to be comfortable and feel like myself… the presentation went very well. But I don’t know if I would do that again!
7. As we are heading into the holiday season, what essential oil blend do we all need to try in our vitruvi diffusers?
8.What do you love most about living in Kitsilano?
Being by the water, the community, and the access to great fitness classes keep me sane. I attribute my ability to juggle a lot and have a high capacity for work and responsibilities with living in Kitsilano.I can workout early in the morning at Turf before the office, and then usually take Charlie, my dog, for a beach walk every evening.I jog Point Grey road almost every weekend. Getting fresh air and time outside everyday is really a non-negotiable for me, I don’t even think about it.
9. Running a growing business is sometimes compared to riding a roller-coaster of emotions, do you agree? What tips do you have for the entrepreneur out there who is seeking more evenness?
Don’t fight it. You made the choice, live with it and make it your new normal. Don't get too preoccupied with being overwhelmed, this is your life now so figure it out and don’t complain.I know this might sound harsh, but I believe in the power of choice and that if you start to fight the abundance of opportunities or stress or learning that starts coming your way, then the universe will just make it go away.One of our core values at vitruvi is “seek the discomfort of the unknown, that’s where the magic happens”. It’s all about leaning into what we don’t know and what doesn’t feel familiar.
10. It is particularly interesting to ask you – what would the ultimate selfcare day look like for you?
Really similar to what my everyday looks like except probably with a massage, acupuncture, and bath. Vitruvi and Essential Well Being are all about transforming seemingly simple moments of the day into secret spa moments of self care.For me that means most of my day now is just habits that have been transformed into rituals that leave me feeling strong both mentally and physically. I work out at a private pilates studio called A La Ligne. I credit it with really helping to keep my body and mind strong despite a lot of constant travel. Katie is the creator of it, and her energy work, perspective, and method is world class. I meditate daily, eat simply, try to journal or write down things throughout the day. Connect with friends and call my family every day or so.I don’t believe in making this overly complicated, but I do believe very much in investing in very good food and fuelling my body with simple plant-based food.
11. Lastly, for fun, what is your favourite harly jae outfit?