Sam Jayanti is the founder of Ideamix. She is passionate about entrepreneurship as a path to personal fulfillment, and small business as the lifeblood of every economy. She attended Harvard College (A.B.) and Harvard Business School (MBA). Sam serves as a board member of Americares, one of the largest healthcare focused, humanitarian aid NGOs in the world. In her spare time, Sam loves playing tennis and skiing, and spending time with her family and 2 dogs.
Jackie: I’m excited to hear about your favorite products and the items that you’re passionate about.
Sam: Wonderful. Thank you for having me.
Jackie: Let me start. What is your favorite guilty pleasure purchase?
Sam: Two things: one, Teuscher champagne truffles— they are just hands down the best chocolate ever. It’s a Swiss company, and I think they actually bring them in fresh from Switzerland. They are really delicious. And the second is face cream from La Prairie, which is really amazing, but super expensive, so definitely a guilty pleasure.
Jackie: That’s a good combination. You’ve picked my absolute favorite chocolate as well.
Sam: [00:01:08] Oh, you love them, too?
Jackie: I do. I do. There used to be a store far too close to my old apartment, and I was quite relieved when they closed that location. With the holidays coming up, what gift do you most like to give?
Sam: It’s interesting because this really shifts for me every six months. I don’t know why, but I sort of get obsessive about products. I also get bored with products and move on, I guess, like everybody else does. Something I have really stayed with over this past year and a half is a wonderful brand called Bastide and they make these incredible potpourri crystals that you can put in a room or bathroom or wherever. The fragrances and scents are amazing. One is figue, which is one of my favorites. The other is neroli. And they’re both just wonderful. Any time of year, any season, they’re really amazing. They also make candles in those two fragrances. I’m a frequent buyer of those to give to friends.
Jackie: I’d like to be the recipient of that! What gift do you most like to receive?
Sam: Someone brought me very recently these new olive oils that I had never used. I’ve totally fallen in love with them. They’re by a California based company called Brightland. They are super high quality. They come in a few different flavors, and I am now a frequent user of them. They’re delicious in salads and delicious in cooking. The other gift that I love is pears from Harry and David, which are just always so good. I don’t know why we can’t buy those kinds of pears in the grocery store, but for some reason we can’t. And then, I discovered this new company that I’ve fallen in love with. A friend of mine gave me a gift from there, and I’ve started to use it, pertinent to your last question, to give gifts as well. It’s a company called Uncommon Goods, and they have just wonderful, cool, really fun products of all kinds. They’re made by small companies and small manufacturers. I love discovering new things through that site. You can always find something for whoever you’re buying a gift for. The gift I got from my friend was just this really fun, thoughtful wine bottle cork. They have products from all kinds of small and independent brands and little companies and manufacturers. There’s literally something that you can find for any person that you’re looking to give a gift to, child or adult. I love that about them.
Jackie: They have really cool, really interestingly designed products.
Jackie: Love them. Back in the days when we were traveling, what items made it into your carry on?
Sam: I know it seems like such a distant memory, but at some point we will resume our travel.
Sam: So I would say a few different things. I have been a power user of Clarisonic Face Brushes. It’s an amazing company. They created this sort of sonic cleansing technology and ever since then, it was like my skin changed. Second, I love the face cleansers that Clarins makes. I generally take a cottonseed cleanser for warmer temperatures, and then they make a shea butter one which is gentler and kinder for when it’s colder and drier. And then I definitely never leave home without a really awesome cream that’s super versatile called Weleda Skin Food. You can use it on your face and you can use it on your hands. So, it’s super versatile and you’re carrying one cream instead of lots of bottles. The other face creams that I love are made by Caudalie. They’re super easy to travel with because they come in tubes and it’s very efficient to pack. And then two other things. So one, Lululemon makes leggings in lots of different colors. They’re called “Fast and Free,” and they are just so easy to wear, for anything from yoga to tennis or hiking or just walking around. And then, I take a pair of really light sneakers. The ones I love right now are Puma. I think they’re called “Hybrid Fuego.” They pack really light, and they’re wonderful to have when you’re on a trip.
Jackie: You’re ready for anything! What would you say is the best design product in your home or office?
Sam: Hmm, great question. I feel like my home/office needs have changed so much because they’ve merged. Two things come to mind. One is a desk shelf that’s made by a company called Grovemade, which is based, I think, in Seattle. They’re beautiful. It’s just a very low profile shelf that you can put at the end of your desk. It creates these different tiers to put stuff. It’s just totally made my desk so much less of a mess and organized and just a great experience to work on. And then number two, I discovered these really recently, based on my daughter’s recommendation. A company called Corkcicle makes these fabulous cups, bottles, you know, all kinds of things. But I’m one of these people who is always drinking tea. And my daughter said to me at one point, I think you should buy these cups because you’re always microwaving your tea. This is a good development!
Jackie: Oh my gosh. I need to get online immediately for the desk shelf and the Corkcicle cup. I do exactly the same!
Sam: I couldn’t recommend them more. So great!
Jackie: So what are the items that are on the top of your holiday wish list this year?
Sam: So I think number one is a new iPad Pro 2020. I think there are two reasons: one, sadly, is that Apple devices start fading on you every couple of years is my experience. And two, because of how much we work from home now. The iPad has sort of become indispensable because it’s what I use for all my Zoom calls. I’m ready for a new one. I also love and am sadly an addict of Edie Parker clutch bags. They’re so great, and she’s always coming up with super fun designs, so that would be a fun gift to receive. And then, there’s a company I discovered a little brand a couple of years ago, and they have such great stuff because we’re huge skiers in our family. It’s a company called Powderhound and they’re based in London and they make these really wonderful ski themed homewares. They make these great kitchen towels and tea mugs and plates and that kind of stuff. I love all that stuff. Especially with the amount we’re cooking at home right now, it just brings a smile to my face to have a really cool mug or plate.
Jackie: It’s great to have something in the kitchen that inspires you. What is your favorite fashion find?
Sam: My favorite fashion finds always happen when I’m traveling. They never seem to happen in New York. I guess I never felt like shopping in New York. My discovery this summer was a little brand of sweaters called the Elder Statesman, and they just have amazing patterns and beautiful sweaters. The second is that I’m one of these people who’s always unhappy with my current set of trousers. I discovered this brand of jeans, an Italian brand called Liu Jo. And Farfetch is a game changer because you can buy all these little brands and they just have a great, nice and forgiving fit for my forty five-year-old body. And I love them! And then, over the spring, I discovered two amazing Parisian brands that I totally fell in love with. One is called Majestic Filatures, and they have these great knits and T-shirts and they’re so comfortable.
Jackie: They have great combinations of fabrics and things too. The prints are so cashmere and silk and cotton. Yeah, they’re brilliant.
Sam: Love them. Fell in love with them. And then I love wearing shirts, so I’m always looking for a great shirt. I discovered this brand called Figaret, and they make feminine, fun, structured and really lovely shirts.
Jackie: Gosh, that is a very successful shopping trip! What beauty products do you always try to keep in your purse?
Sam: So, number one, I am a huge lip balm addict. My kids know this, so their most successful gifts to me are all varieties of balms. My favorite is a little brand called Laneige. They make these little jars of lip balm in different flavors. I love the apple, lime, berry and vanilla flavors and always carry them around. Number two, I love this brand called Isdin, which makes sunblock. They started to make a mineral-based brush-on sunblock, which is really nice to have in your bag if you kind of need to put some on. It’s not liquid and gloppy and all that. And then, I don’t tend to wear very much makeup, but I love a really nice sheer gloss. And so I love the Dior Addict Lip Glow in pink. I always seem to carry around one of those. And then, there’s another lip gloss that Mac makes. I think it’s called Cremesheen in clear pink.
Jackie: Fantastic. In the last year, what item did you discover was indispensable?
Sam: Hmm. Definitely Corkcicle teacups. They also make these insulated bottles, which are amazing. And then from all the time on screens, I started to have really dry eyes. And my doctor recommended to me a heated eye mask that’s made by a company called Rooftree. It’s actually a really nice bedtime routine to put on for a few minutes. The first one I used was one of these microwave things, but I found that I just wasn’t going to use it if I had to microwave it every time. So he suggested this, which you just plug in next to your bed, and you can set it on a timer and then I just fell asleep with it, and then at some point take it off and continue sleeping. It’s been really great for my eyes. And then, I would say two other things. There’s a company called Pro Compression that makes compression socks. I discovered them when I was traveling a lot at the beginning of this year. My feet were swelling, and it’s kind of uncomfortable to put your shoes back on as you’re getting off the plane. These have totally taken that away. And they’re just comfortable and you sort of put them on right when you get on the plane or when you’re leaving the airport or wherever. And they’re great! And then, I started to need reading glasses, so I discovered this brand called Izipizi. They make great reading glasses, and they have super light frames. They also make blue light glasses, which I also started to use. They also do basic sunglasses. They’re just so light and they have fun colors and patterns and they’re very reasonably priced. I’ve fallen in love with them.
Jackie: Yeah. It’s interesting the things that you discover through the change of lifestyle that will stay with you long after. Is there a particular product that inspires you?
Sam: Yeah, such a great question. I have found a few that were new to me in the last little while. I got very interested, as you’d expect, given what we do here at Ideamix, in the stories behind the products and the people who founded them. One is a company called HyperIce, which makes an at-home massager that costs three hundred dollars or thereabouts. It’s called the Hypervolt. It is really amazing because you can use it anywhere. It’s super versatile, has a ton of settings. People use it before they go out to do a sport. They use it after. For all my sort of little aches and pains, it’s been incredible. It really is fantastic. I couldn’t recommend it more. And it’s quiet also, because the first version of those massagers were so loud that it felt like there was a machine gun going off in your ear.
Jackie: Either that, or so strong, you felt like you were being trapped in an earthquake!
Sam: Yes, absolutely. The second is a company called Ladder, and they make these supplements. The ones I love are a pre-workout powder that you can have in a glass of water. I’ve found that it keeps my energy level up through whatever type of activity. They also make a plant-based protein because I’ve just tried to be more vegetarian. But then you want to make sure you’re getting enough protein in. Their protein is really great. Then, I discovered a company kind of by accident. It’s called Ethique and is such a great idea. They make bar versions of all of the most commonly used products. So that way, they’re able to completely dispense with plastic packaging. And the products basically last 3-5 times longer. They make shampoo, conditioner, shower gel, deodorant, like all kinds of things. I thought it was such a great concept. It was started by a female scientist who was really looking for a more sustainable way to make these products, but make them super high-quality and natural and paraben-free, but deliver them in a way that was much more eco friendly. I was inspired by that story, and the products are high quality.
Jackie: And where do you get them?
Sam: I just buy them through their site. I discovered them initially at this little neighborhood store. Sadly, it closed in the last few months. But they’re available online.
Jackie: And finally, what brand do you most admire?
Sam: So many! One of the founders that I really admire is a woman called Nona Lim. She has been on the Ideamix radio podcast, as well as our YouTube series. Her company makes wonderful soups and broths and noodles of different kinds. They’re all Thai and Singaporean flavors. They have super high quality ingredients available at Whole Foods or through their site. They have turned into a total kitchen staple for me! I discovered the products through Whole Foods. And then they ran out, so I ended up finding them on her site. And then we’ve become friends since. She’s just a really admirable, inspiring founder and has built a great brand. I couldn’t recommend them more. I mean, I literally now have them in my fridge all the time and they’re such a quick, easy, high quality meal to prepare. Number two is a company called Cat Tongue Grips, and it was started by a female founder called Missy Kelly and her husband. They created a totally recyclable, slip-proof material that initially they started using on the back of a phone, or usual things that we’re holding that you want something slip-proof on. But over time, they realized that one of the key applications was among the handicapped. This product comes in a tape form. And it also comes in the form of things you can put on your iPads or computers or phones. It has been a game changer for the handicapped community! I really admire how they’ve built their brand very deliberately and organically. And now it’s a product that’s really available across the country at a number of different retailers and through their site. Now, they’re starting to take it global so that people can have access to the products. And so she is another just incredible person. The third, Marcia Kilgore, is someone I don’t know, but I’ve always been struck by her career and she is sort of a brand herself, in my view. And the companies she’s built are definitely fascinating. She started by building Bliss and then has gone on to found three or four more companies since. She’s a thoughtful serial entrepreneur. I would love to meet her at some point. It’s been fantastic to follow her career all these years. And then lastly, I would say, Frédéric Fekkai. He is a friend, but also a really fascinating entrepreneur. He built his eponymous brand and then sold it. He bought it back more recently in the last couple of years. It’s rare that you see an entrepreneur that does a 180 with their own brand. Usually, they sort of have a way of doing things for a particular business. And Frédéric is just somebody who is super adaptable, risk taking and not afraid of making mistakes. And I think he realized that fundamentally, the consumer that he was selling his products to now had really shifted. Not in their performance requirements for the hair care products, but in how they wanted to consume them, what they wanted the brands to represent… He totally reformulated it, both in terms of the ingredients and the product itself, but also in all the packaging to make it much more sustainable. I think doing that 180 is pretty exceptional and really admirable.
Jackie: Yeah, it is. It’s very nice and unusual to see that someone can take their own brand and evolve it in such a dramatic way that really meets their customer where they are. Well, these are fantastic suggestions! I think you filled out my entire Christmas list for me! These are some really interesting and incredibly useful products. So thank you so much. It was great to hear to hear about the products that you love and that inspire you!
Sam: Thank you so much for having me.