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Breaking Glass

Two powerhouse Princeton grads take on the beauty box industry

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Ruth Fombrun (at left) and Carron White are the highly educated, super impressive founders of Sahshé.
Ruth Fombrun (at left) and Carron White are the highly educated, super impressive founders of Sahshé. - (Aaron Houston)

You really can't talk about Ruth Fombrun and Carron White and their beauty box company, Sahshé, without mentioning their credentials. These aren't just women who love to play with makeup. They went to Princeton. Carron speaks Arabic and worked in the State Department. Ruth majored in chemical engineering and worked for Sealed Air Co. Yeah, whoa.

They met freshman year, during orientation week. Ruth remembers Carron coming up to her table when she was eating lunch alone one day. She thought Carron was nice. Carron felt the same way. They've been friends ever since.

They remained just friends until Carron came up with the idea for Sahshé, a personalized subscription beauty box for women of color. She pulled Ruth into the startup with her, offering her a place to make good use of that engineering degree, and they set about creating a subscription box specifically for women of color.

They now have an office space in Newark and are known to work up to 23 and a half hours a day on shipping days. (Don't round up. That extra half hour is a victory, Ruth says. Shipping days used to be 24-hour days.)

But Sahshé is their full-time job. They have 200 customers and thousands more on a waiting list. For both women, that's a dream come true.

"I just always thought it would be cool to be my own boss," Ruth said.

For Carron, the high is slightly different.

"I was more intrigued by the possibility of controlling my own destiny since I spent so much time, I don't want to say I wasn't doing well, but I wasn't content," she said. "So that's where the whole pivot in my life came from, not wanting to spend more years of this one life that we get doing things that made my unhappy."

That's why their advice to women looking to start businesses of their own is to just do it.

"You can't be afraid to just go ahead and start," Ruth said.

Carron agreed.

"Because then someone else will start, and you'll look dumb," she said with a smile.

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