A Conversation with Sara Panton of Vitruvi

This Women’s History Month, we’re shining a spotlight on the women behind some of the most thoughtful brands in the beauty and wellness industries, and learning more about how they #EmbraceEquity. Today, we’re sitting down with Sara Panton, co-founder and CEO of Vitruvi, to discuss the power of scent, running a business, and her hopes for the future of wellness.

It’s no secret that Team Standard Dose loves Vitruvi. From leaning on our humidifiers during the winter to using our diffusers to unwind, we love the thought and intention behind every product. What inspired you to create your brand? 
Thank you; I’ve been a fan of Standard Dose since it launched, and we love working with you. I appreciate you acknowledging the thought and intention that goes into our products – first and foremost we are a design company, and we care immensely about the quality of our products. 

When my brother Sean and I learned about the toxic chemicals used in traditional air care and home scenting products, we set out to create a better alternative for people and for the planet. We were inspired to rethink how individuals could shape the air in their homes, using scent as a tool for self-expression.

Scent is incredibly powerful, and is deeply tied to our emotions and memories. What does scent mean to you, and what do you hope it gives to your community?
As an introvert, I use scent as a tool to set the tone for the room and to take up space. The way a room is scented is an incredibly powerful way to show up, and I hope that the aromas that we create at Vitruvi help people express themselves and make the air their own.

What is your favorite scent?
My favorite scent is our Legacy Essential Oil Blend (available in the Signature Scent Kit). It’s an aromatic blend that I had been creating in my own living room for years; when we launched our rebrand in 2022, I knew I wanted to bottle the scent of Vitruvi with that aroma. It’s a warming mix of Bergamot, Cedarwood, Rose, and Frankincense.

How would you like to see the conversation around wellness shift?
I would like to see the wellness conversation further shift into emphasizing the importance of taking care of our mental health as much as we do our physical health – more resourcing around therapy, meditation, and breathing. I would also like more of a conversation around our relationship to technology, and how our workplaces, emails, and social media accounts make us addicted to our phones and computers.

What are some joys and challenges you’ve experienced as a founder?
Founding a company is one of the hardest things I’ve ever done. It is unrelenting and also incredibly fulfilling. It’s a constant mirror and commitment to my own self development, holding me accountable to doing very real personal work so that I can show up for my team and coworkers in a way that best serves the business. Navigating a company through the pandemic, retail landscape changes, the digital marketing industry flipping upside down, and an unstable economy has been a huge challenge. 

How do you care for your mental health throughout the process of running a company?
Running a company is a commitment to personal development. I committed years ago to doing the work behind the scenes so that I can show up proactively for the people I work with and ultimately for the customers and community we’re responsible for. But most importantly, so that I can move stress through my body. If you don’t move it through you, you get sick – it’s that simple. 

I’ve seen a therapist regularly for the past two years, and it has dramatically changed my life. I’ve also established a meditation practice and have tools for breathing exercises. And I’ve changed my relationship with caffeine and screen time, which had a very positive impact on my mental health.

What advice would you give to women starting the journey of entrepreneurship? 
The advice I would give to anyone starting the journey of entrepreneurship is: don’t read the business books, or listen to the podcasts, or get swept up in panel discussions, business magazines, and awards. Rather: listen to your customer, follow where the sales are, and keep it simple. Just do the work, every single day. 

The second biggest piece of advice I can give to someone who is starting a company is to sort out the friendships that are important to you and make sure you commit to them. Show up for the people you love; they will love you unconditionally, but don’t let it get to the point where you need to hedge your bets on that. 

Lastly, treat everyone with respect. The world is small, and you never know who will show up again or how relationships will shift. Life is too short not to be kind. Even when people are not kind to you, that is their journey—stay on yours.

Vitruvi is passionate about supporting women in business, and you donate a portion of your proceeds to organizations like Black Girl Ventures, which helps Black women founders grow their businesses. Can you speak to why this work is important to you?
I’ve witnessed firsthand what it means to be a woman and founder today. I did not grow up surrounded by business, thought leaders, or access to funding to create a company. I believe that when people have access, then they have the opportunity to explore their own personal potential. The more we can have people create companies from different backgrounds and lived experiences, the better the businesses that are created will be, and the more customers they will serve.

The theme of International Women’s Day 2023 is #EmbraceEquity. How does Vitruvi promote gender equality within your company and in your mission?
Our mission is to make people feel at home – in their spaces, but also within themselves. We do this by supporting causes that align with this. More than 70% of our customers identify as women; it’s important to me that our team understands our customers, what their needs are, and how we as a company need to design and create products for them.

Finally, can you tell us a little bit about a woman who inspires you this Women’s History Month?
My great-grandmother passed away just a few weeks ago. She lived to 105 and was an incredibly strong, positive, family and community-oriented person. Her resilience and ability to live through so much with humor and grace has really stayed with me these past weeks. We as people, and especially as women, can do hard things. She is the embodiment of that to me.

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