The founder and CEO of recently launched Saint Haven, a brand inspired by her own children, is reimagining wardrobe staples to cozy effect.
As she fluidly rattles off information about needles, knitting machines, tech packs and patterns, it’s hard to believe that it was only a handful of years ago that Atherton’s Jacqueline Sacks was introduced to the world of textile production. It started simply enough, with a situation many parents can relate to: The then-stay-at-home mom found that dressing her daughters was a daily challenge, especially since one had eczema and the other sensory processing issues that made tags and coarse fabrics problematic.
“They wouldn’t wear what I laid out for them for school, dinner or special occasions,” she recalls. “I realized that they really wanted to be in pajamas all day. But that wasn’t really acceptable for day to day.”
Nothing in the market addressed her needs: apparel for children that is supersoft, comparable to sleepwear by brands such as Hanro and Cosabella, yet suitable for wearing out and about. So she took matters into her own hands. At first, she lined her girls’ clothes with a stretchy modal (a type of rayon), augmented existing items in their closet, and asked a seamstress to construct pieces. Then Sacks began thinking bigger — beyond her own family — and, thus, Saint Haven (sainthaven.com) was born.
Early on, she knocked on manufacturers’ doors in Los Angeles, observing their operations and peppering them with questions. She connected with a lingerie entrepreneur, Souad Sinai, who is now Saint Haven’s chief designer. Sacks also had convenient access to an excellent sounding board for her fledgling business: Husband David, previously the COO of PayPal and founder-CEO of Yammer, is a co-founder and general partner of Craft Ventures. (Saint Haven and Craft are headquartered in the same building in San Francisco’s Jackson Square neighborhood.)
“My hope was to bring something to the market that would not only make children happy, but raise the level of your standard basic garment,” says Sacks. “I wanted my garments to be for both day or sleep. If a child wakes up, is having an issue, doesn’t want to change their shirt, you risk being late for school… You can say, ‘Fine, wear it.’” Of course, the same textile could be used in clothing for adults. (Think a comfortable, perfect-fitting T-shirt that can just as easily be worn to bed as under a blazer. )
After a couple of years of research and development, including establishing a relationship with a mill in Portugal, Saint Haven debuted in December. It launched with apparel for babies, kids and women, and there are plans to expand to menswear, too. The products are made of a micromodal (92 percent) and elastane (8 percent) material with an exquisitely soft hand.
In refining the brand’s sustainable proprietary fabric — making it soft, breathable and nontoxic —Sacks had another priority: ease of care. Hence, everything can be tossed into the washer and dryer. “We couldn’t really expect moms to air-dry it or be gentle with it,” she says. Spoken like a busy mother of three
A Day in the Life
For this multitasking entrepreneur and mom, the daily routine entails four shifts: morning (family and prep), day (work), night (family time, part two) and late night (more work).
7:30 a.m.: After a quick breakfast with her three kids and the mad dash to get them off to school, Sacks hops in the shower. While getting ready, she listens to a Blinkist episode on entrepreneurism: Brene Brown’s “Daring Greatly: How the Courage to Be Vulnerable Transforms the Way We Live, Love, Parent and Lead.”
8:30 a.m.: She hits Drybar at Stanford Shopping Center, where she gets her hair styled while tackling urgent texts and emails, as well as setting her priorities for the workday. (She’s a regular here, popping in several days a week to save time and trouble.)
9:00 a.m.: Sacks grabs a bottle of Pressed Juicery — Greens 3 is a favorite — and takes an Uber to her San Francisco office, which allows her to get work done during the 45-minute commute. “As soon as I walk in the door,” she says, “my focus shifts to meetings and leading the team.”
11:00 a.m.: The weekly Saint Haven team meeting is devoted to product news, the state of the business and around-the-table updates on KPIs (key performance indicators)
12:30 p.m.: Sacks meets with VP of Operations Benjamin Davis — employee No. 2 at Saint Haven! — to make sure the wheels are greased.
1:00 p.m.: Once a week, Sacks takes a different team member out to lunch for a 1:1 connect; today she’s joined by Chief of Staff Amy Keith, who was the company’s first hire. “Stepping outside the office allows for a different type of conversation,” says Sacks, “and I like to get a temperature check on how they are doing both professionally and personally. I guess it’s the mom in me.”
3:00 p.m.: During the daily product review call with Chief Designer Souad Sinai, who is based in Saint Haven’s Santa Monica office, the topics include product development and manufacturing issues.
5:30 p.m.: Over dinner in their Atherton home, Sacks encourages the kids to discuss their “rose and thorn — what’s the positive thing that happened to you today and what’s the thing you wish didn’t happen,” she says of the family tradition. “This is one of my favorite moments of the day.”
9:30 p.m.: The kids are finally in bed and mom duty is done for the day.
Midnight: Back to work! “This is the best time to take calls with manufacturers in Portugal,” Sacks explains. “It’s the end of my day, but the start of theirs.” (It’s 8 a.m. in Portugal.)
1:30 a.m.: Bedtime. “I run on limited hours of sleep,” she says. “I average four to six hours before I wake up and do it all over again.”