I first learned about The Sage Lifestyle from a beauty editor friend of mine. Out for brunch one day, we inevitably ended up discussing some of our new favorite products and brands that we had discovered. She told me about a woman that was making the most wonderful smelling scented candles and perfumes, all named after types of gemstones. Later, she brought me a sample to try out, I was instantly hooked.
I’ve been using the perfumes for several years now and they have become some of my favorite scents. Upon delving further into The Sage Lifestyle I discovered that not only was Sage Machado, the brainchild behind the brand, a talented perfumier but also a wonderful jewelry designer, and entrepreneur. So when trying to decide upon this March’s Monthly Muse I instantly thought of her.
Was owning your own boutique something you always wanted to do?
I always knew I wanted to be in the arts, but did not discover my passion for retail until I got my first job at a vintage clothing boutique at age 15.
How did you get your start?
While working at a boutique on Melrose at age 17 I did the buying and also managed the store. I worked 9 AM to 9 PM, and came home and made jewelry till 3 AM almost every day. It was a harsh schedule, but there was no better way to understand your clientele than to be fortunate enough to be working in a boutique and actually selling your own goods. It really gave me an insight to what the customer wanted.
I would not tell them I designed it which allowed them to be completely honest, and I could really educate myself, continue to expand my collection, and really give the customer what they were looking for! Making the customer happy and having a broad range of products to satisfy a large audience was always a goal of mine.
After about one year of designing exclusively for that boutique, the word got out, and other stores started to come to me and ask for me to design jewelry for them. I resisted and remained exclusive at my store for the next two years. Finally, a determined sales rep continued to ask me to design a collection for him, which I ultimately did. That was the beginning of my journey.
My first collection for the sales rep did incredibly well, soon after I flew to New York and got a Barneys account on my own and with the money I gave notice at the boutique I had so lovingly managed. I opened my first design studio and began my business! It consisted of two separate rooms adjoined by one door, on one side production shipping and manufacturing, on the other – a studio where I would see both wholesale accounts and retail upon appointment! I was ecstatic and ready to work hard and grow my business!
What are some of the challenges you faced early in your career?
Financing was always a struggle. I managed to grow my business completely with money for my own pocket, never borrowed money from anybody or any bank. I did this by really developing strong relationships with my vendors. I was very loyal and, in turn, asked them for extended terms which enabled me to have a better cash flow.
Learning to manage employees, deal with their personal issues, and keep the balance between friend and boss is something I still work hard to keep in check.
Honestly, I was so ready to work hard, and conquer any challenge that came my way as I was determined to succeed. As I look back they never seemed like challenges, just small obstacles that I was going to overcome. Not succeeding was never going to happen in my mind, I was on a mission and my path was clear!
When did the idea of starting up your own business come to you?
As I mentioned earlier, it was a natural evolution for me to turn my passion for making jewelry into a serious business because I saw the want for the product. I had worked for three boutiques between ages fifteen and seventeen, and not only saw and understood their success, but I was also raised by a mother who was an artist of many talents. She understood what it was to have your own business and I learned not to be scared of this idea. I was a natural born entrepreneur.
What are some of the challenges you face daily with running your own business?
Balancing all of the different divisions within my company is something that keeps me spinning every day. There are many facets to what I do and I continue to try to maintain an equal balance between them while staying focused on the big picture.
Cash flow and inventory is also a constant struggle. Learning to manage your inventory and maintain a proper cash flow is something that takes constant attention.
Dealing with vendors, being a small company, and always being up against the big boys is something that you are often reminded of. Not being able to order extremely large quantities affects your per-unit price as well as the availability of a product. This is something that has been a constant source of agitation since I opened my company.
I refuse to produce in China, which means I pay much higher prices, and this is something I stand firm on. I am passionate about which countries I allow myself to work with in order to maintain a high-quality product with integrity.
What are some tips you would give someone that wants to start their own boutique or perfumery?
It looks really pretty on the outside… but do not fool yourself, it is hard work. To be successful you must be dedicated, prepared to work long hours, be there when other people are sick, and have a solid passion for what you’re going to embark upon. Be aware of your market, observe your competition, make sure that you are filling a need, a niche that is unique.
Honestly, the most important thing is your work ethic. If you’re someone who is coming from working for another company and thinks that being an entrepreneur is fun because you make your own hours and you are your own boss, you’re in for a shock. While it is all of that, you must also be prepared to do whatever it takes all the time to get the job done. You must be determined, passionate, and fearless and never take no for an answer. Roll up your sleeves and get ready to work your ass off!
What are some of your favorite scents that you have created?
That is a very tough question… I am an earthy girl, I love dark, rich, intense, more unisex fragrances. I find them more alluring , mysterious, and definitely sexy. So, within my collection, (which by the way, I haven’t worn anybody else’s perfume in over 18 years since I created my line) I’d pick, Onyx, Garnet, Amber, Topaz, Peridot, and Diamond! However, Pearl perfume lies closest to my heart. This was the scent I developed while I was eight months pregnant with my first born daughter, Sophie Rose. This perfume was inspired by her!
What are some tips you can give to someone looking to discover their signature scent?
It is a process of asking yourself some specific questions to unlock the mystery of what scents you are attracted to.
What do you prefer, more floral, light fragrances or do you like rich, earthy, or fruity scents ? Maybe perfume tends to give you a headache, which means you would prefer something subtle, or a skin fragrance.
Understanding and learning this is the key to truly finding your signature scent.
Once you have established this the next thing is to try the scent on and remember what you love should be what you are left with at least two to four hours after the initial application, people make the terrible mistake of falling in love at first smell. This is also essential to finding a perfume you truly are in love with. If you love it in two to four hours that is what is going to become a part of you, and will become your signature scent.
Having one scent is not enough for me, and if you are anything like me, you will find yourself a handful of perfumes that you can use day to night, then switching out each season to add a nice variety and create your own fragrance wardrobe!
When creating new products either jewelry candles or perfumes for your store what is your process?
It is a very different process for jewelry compared to perfume. For jewelry, I work more like a painter. Using the gemstones as my paints and creating in-the-moment; combining stones and findings. Designing masterpieces that are inspired by the fusion of the elements I am working with and with a natural attraction inspired by the vibrations of the gemstones. I find inspiration everywhere, but mostly turn to antique jewelry and tribal jewelry from all over the world. I have an incredibly large library of gemstones and vintage jewels that I have collected over the past 23 years and continue to add to this treasure trove. These are my archives.
For the perfumes, it starts off of course with the gemstone that I am going to embody and capture its essence. In this process I start by evoking color first, when you smell Turquoise, I want you to feel the beach; feel the blue, smell the ocean, the sand, and all of the other elements that we experience there. Next, I look at flowers and essences that are found where the stone is found and try to pull in some natural elements that go back to the gemstones region. Lastly, I ask myself, “Who is a woman whom I have experienced is attracted to turquoise? What does she want to smell like, what does she represent? What is her essence?” I want to make her feel like her authentic self, I want Turquoise to be her signature scent!
What should you look for when buying candles?
Well that depends on who you are as a person. For me, I live an organic and conscious lifestyle, so I want a candle that is as natural as possible. What does this mean? It means free of paraffin and lead wicks, it also means that it doesn’t have any of the nasty chemicals which are found in a ton of candles on the market today, including some very high-end luxury candles. But, to each their own, and it really is such a personal thing.
Some people prefer candles that are very light on scent and they want just a very gentle candle while others desire is a very strong candle that will smell up the whole room or even a house. My candles tend to be quite potent and are known for smelling up a room even while not burning. I use a high concentration of fragrance in my candles to assure that! I encourage people to be cautious and follow the burn instructions while burning the candles, mine or any. Trim your wick and be very aware of where you place your candle. I like to be conscious of the types of fragrance I am burning in different rooms of the home and try to choose fragrances that complement the type of environment and experience we are trying to create in each room. For example, never burn an overly fragrant candle in the kitchen while serving food.
What are some of the best ways to ensure that your perfumes or candle scents last?
Perfumes should be kept out of sunlight, and away from extreme heat to maintain their integrity. My perfumes will last for decades if kept properly. They age much like a fine wine and enhance in time. Candles, also you want to keep away from extreme sunlight and heat. You also want to keep the wax clean as it tends to collect dust. In fact, the best way to clean dust and debris off your wax is baby wipes. Again, always trim the wicks before relighting the candle, this will allow the wax to burn down evenly and make your candle last longer.
You name many of your products based on stones what is the reason for this?
My entire perfume and candle collection was inspired by my love and passion for gemstones. I’m a jewelry designer first, who after five years of working with these divine gemstones decided that it was time to create a new division of my company 18 years ago!
With a love for perfume, I decided that I would apply my knowledge and passion for gemstones and create a perfume collection that would embody the essence of each stone. My original perfume collection consisted of only five fragrances. Today, there are 20. I have created a collection that has covered each scent category from floral to fruity, earthy to subtle, and everything in between. It is a niche perfume collection that has attracted perfumistas worldwide!
You’ve traveled extensively what are some of your favorite places you’ve been and how do they inspire your work?
This is a very hard question for me as there are so many places I have yet to go but I dream of experiencing. I am inspired by so many of the lost arts that are found in so many remote areas of the world that I have yet to see. I have, however, collected and coveted their work for the past 20 years and I continue to dream of all the places I have yet to discover and all the intricate artwork and treasures I will find. Having said that, you will find a continuous presence of Indian, Tibetan, Moroccan, French, and Italian influences throughout my work, home, and lifestyle!
While the treasures of my work and life are brought to me and inspired by my experiences in those countries, the spiritual and leisurely sage you will find hiking in the mountains every day, meditating under the leaves of her favorite tree at the top of the mountain, or swimming in the ocean, searching for treasures on the beautiful ocean shore and basking in the sun!
If you had one tip on how to live a more stylish life what would it be?
Get inspired… connect to all the beautiful things in life, nature, art, museums… find your inspiration and let it hope to lead you to create your own signature style, free from trends but truly your authentic self! Which you will learn to express in your own unique way that makes you stylish! Be a visionary, be unique, be bold, be beautiful! Most importantly, be yourself!
Hope you all enjoyed this post. If you want to see more from Sage’s line, The Sage Lifestyle, you can check it out here. As always, thanks for reading and if you have any other articles you would like to see on the site leave the ideas down in the comments below.
The Everyday Editor
Photos by The Sage Lifestyle