Student entrepreneur seeks to change narrative behind sweat
February 22, 2022

Vanessa Sachs, a FACS master’s student in applied consumer analytics, won the UGA Entrepreneurship Idea Accelerator and a $2,500 prize with SWAKE, her concept for a workout-proof makeup line focused on “changing the narrative behind sweat.”

Sachs is currently working with a cosmetics chemist to develop a sweatproof foundation that can go from the office to the gym and back. She calls it makeup for the “lifelete,” or “the 9-to-5 achievers who work hard at their job and prioritize their daily workout.”

“With all of my family living in Florida, sweat is an integral part of my day-to-day,” Sachs said. “The term ‘SWAKE’ was a result of a slip of the tongue – I was trying to say I was ‘sweating my makeup off,’ but I said I was ‘swaking.’ That was my lightbulb moment. SWAKE came to me when I realized I just wasn’t confident about how I looked or felt when I was sweating. I wanted to invent something that would encourage all of the positive behind sweating such as growth, pushing boundaries and challenging yourself.”

The UGA Idea Accelerator Program, sponsored by UGA’s Entrepreneurship Program and ATDC, Georgia’s technology incubator, takes place twice each fall and spring semester.

The program provides students who are ready to start or expand their business with access to a board of experienced, successful entrepreneurs, advisers and investors who mentor student entrepreneurs.

Participants receive honest feedback and help with critical business decisions. Students are held accountable to key performance indicators and receive real-world experiences from seasoned mentors and investors.

Here, Sachs talks about the competition and her plans for her company.

How did you prepare for the competition?

“Practice and constructive criticism. I must have given my pitch to about 100 people before competition day. Each time I did, there was some new element or dialogue to insert or take out. I also spent hours talking to my bedroom wall, envisioning my end goal for SWAKE. I also must thank (FACS faculty member) Dee Warmath, (Terry College of Business lecturer) Jim Flannery, (Athens entrepreneur) Ashley Steele and (FACS graduate student) Jordan Bell for all of their help in getting my pitch ready for competition day. It was great to have diverse perspectives on SWAKE and what my business could be.”

What are your plans for your business?

“I plan to make SWAKE a common household name along with brands like Nike, Lululemon and Clinique. I envision something bigger than just a sweat-proof cosmetics line. I want SWAKE to be what empowers lifeletes all over the world to smash their goals, step out of their comfort zone and transform into the best version of themselves. From here, I am working with a cosmetic chemist to create the first four products in our lifelete line. I hope to launch SWAKE officially by February of 2023.”

How did the information you learned in your courses contribute to your business plan?

“I am immensely grateful for FACS and everything I have learned from my courses in the college. I was a biology and psychology undergraduate, so I knew base-level science knowledge to get into cosmetics, but all my entrepreneurial efforts to create SWAKE came from what I have learned in my courses in FHCE. From Social Entrepreneurship to Consumer-Based Analytics, I learned how to use data, empathy and the design thinking process to drive business efforts.”

How has this experience impacted your goals?

“This experience has only confirmed the passion and drive I have for the mission behind SWAKE. I plan to pursue SWAKE full-time once I graduate in August. I have always wanted to work in a way that positively impacts other people, and SWAKE will forever change the way we think and feel about sweat – I can’t think of anything I would want to do more.”

In this category: Innovation