Monica Saracino believes in giving back.
The retail-merchandising executive with a heart of gold started off volunteering in the healthcare world as a teenager. She went on to hone her marketing skills at Rutgers and then Cornell University. Since then, as her career flourished, she has continued to make improving her community and the world a top priority.
In 2015, she co-founded Project Underground, an LA-based, socially conscious beauty innovation engine. Just this year, she and her team launched three paraben- and phthalates-free Target-exclusive brands through which a portion of proceeds is donated to deserving causes.
Here, Saracino explains why exploring and finding balance in a shifting world is the key to living the process:
Live The Process: Have you always been interested in beauty and/or social consciousness?
Monica Saracino: I have been passionate about social causes since childhood. Born and raised in New York City, I experienced firsthand how important it is to give back to one’s community. I began as a teenager volunteering with the NYC Health + Hospitals Corporation. My passion evolved to a focus on education and developing leadership skills for inner-city youth through targeted programs. My goal was to provide young students with career guidance, financial literacy and confidence. Today, I am fortunate enough to expand my sphere of influence and give back on a larger scale.
LTP: When did you found your company? And what are some of the most recent brands you’ve launched?
MS: Project Underground was launched in early 2015 as a beauty innovation engine. I assembled an amazing team of experts to help develop and launch three new brands in beauty: Marlowe., Mayfair Soap Foundry and You Are Amazing. The brands each fulfill a consumer need, have a unique combination of high quality formulations at an affordable price, are presented in beautifully designed packaging and give back to the community. Each product is free of parabens and phthalates, has never been tested on animals and is made in the USA. Our products are available exclusively at Target and Target.com.
Marlowe. is a skincare line that features both a unisex hand and body lotion collection and a men’s face, shave and shower line-up. The formulas have been created with a special Marlowe. M blend, which is a highly moisturizing combination of antioxidants and extracts (such as passionflower, green tea, willow bark and deep sea algae) designed to nourish, smooth and revitalize skin. For each unit sold, soap is distributed to people at risk for hygiene-related illnesses in partnership with Clean the World.
Mayfair Soap Foundry is a modern luxurious bath and body line that was inspired by a bath made for royalty. The line includes products such as bath salts, sugar scrubs and body soufflés in two unforgettable fragrances. For each Mayfair product purchased, a donation is made to help Starlight Children’s Foundation improve the quality of life for kids and families around the U.S. experiencing difficult health challenges.
You Are Amazing is a fun-loving, boldly scented bath and body brand that was made to give girls a positive start to each day. The line offers body lotions, mists, body scrubs and washes in eight beautiful fragrances. For each product purchased, You Are Amazing has partnered with Girl Up, the United Nations Foundation’s adolescent girl campaign to support leadership development opportunities to empower girls to change the world.
LTP: Why is travel so important to you, and how does that inform your work and lifestyle?
MS: To me, travel is not only a chance to explore and experience new places; it is an opportunity to shape who I am and how I think. My family has grown up all over the world: from Europe to the Middle East, from Asia to the Caribbean. I took my first trip overseas when I was 3 months old and, since then, I have visited over 20 different countries and taken more than 40 trips outside the United States. I would not be who I am today without these adventures. As the world changes, trends and behaviors shift, and I love learning about it from people around the world. For me, this is critical to innovation and the creative process. I believe that to differentiate yourself and your business, you need to take something from each experience to create a whole new story.
LTP: What inspires you to give back to the community?
MS: The inspiration to give back comes from the results I have seen and the positive feedback I have received over the years. The energy also comes from the amazing, selfless people I have met along the way, who lead and dedicate themselves to driving change. I have volunteered for and supported a number of organizations that focus on empowering youth, education and wellness. Today, I am extremely honored to be working hand in hand with Girl Up (the United Nations Foundation), Starlight Children’s Foundation and Clean the World.
LTP: What does happiness look like to you?
MS: Happiness is the excitement my two little girls experience when I pick them up from “school” after work, and we go home to have a dance party before a family dinner.
LTP: What does it mean to you to “Live The Process” and how can we all do that more each day?
MS: To me, to “Live The Process” means to live a balanced life. Balance is doing all the things you love while working towards your life goals. For me, that is time with my family, practicing yoga, playing golf with my husband, building a business and having a positive impact on peoples’ lives. Each day will have a different balance, but making time for the things that motivate you and enrich your life is critical in order to “Live The Process.”