The Entrepreneur Running a Body-Positive Beauty Company From Maine
A Q&A with Megababe founder and Maine-enthusiast Katie Sturino
Katie Sturino is known for being many things, including the founder of Megababe, the wildly successful beauty brand she launched in the summer of 2017 to address some of the “taboo” body discomfort issues that many women face but have been ignored by the beauty industry. She’s also a social media influencer and body-positivity advocate, a fierce animal activist, a podcast host, and a designer who has clothing collaboration with Stitch Fix coming out this summer.
What many people don’t know is that Sturino is also an avid, longtime fan of Maine. She’s been coming up from her apartment in New York City for the past six years whenever she’s able, and since March she has been sheltering in the midcoast region. We took some time to speak with Sturino about what it’s like to be a small business owner amidst a pandemic, the importance of supporting your local haunts, and all her Maine recommendations.
You live in New York but have been in Maine for months now, since before any travel restrictions or shelter-in-place mandates. Why Maine?
Maine has rocked my world. I have always been in love with Maine. I have no formal connection to the state—I came one time, and I fell in love. And then for the last six years I’ve been trying to come back as often as possible. I had my bachelorette party here for my first marriage, and I just freaking love Maine. This has been an opportunity for me to try on life here, and I love it. Do I miss New York? Yes. I miss so many things about New York, and right now New York feels like a friend who’s suffering deeply. It’s hard to know that your city that you care so much about is not really doing well right now. But staying away is how we help the city, making room to get resources to those who really need them.
What has it been like as a small business owner forced to work remotely?
I will say that we’ve been very lucky because business has been good. We launched our Squeaky Clean hand sanitizer in January for the cold and flu season, not knowing that COVID was coming. We’ve been able to maintain stock because my sister, who works with me, has fought so hard to make sure that we have all the raw materials and the components. The price of alcohol went up, and lots of hand sanitizer places were raising prices. We had to limit stock and how many bottles you could buy, but we were committed to putting out our product at the same accessible price point. We’re in stock at Target and Ulta now, as well as our Megababe Beauty site.
What actions did you take when you realized that hand sanitizer would become such an essential item?
We started Megababe Cares. We put a form out and if you needed hand sanitizer, we would just send it to you for free. Free shipping, free product. If you’re immunocompromised and you aren’t leaving your home, we’ll send you a bottle. We sent to hospitals and anyone who needed help accessing sanitary products. Everything felt very dark, and it still feels dark, but Megababe Cares was a way to feel some sort of control. We were able to do something instead of just sitting there helpless. We got a lot of really beautiful notes from people about how we helped their grandpa or helped their mom, helped whomever it was. My friend texted me and said, “Listen, my friend is going through chemo out in Seattle, and she can’t get hand sanitizer, please send it to her.” We were happy to be able to help, even though it meant dipping into our own stock.
How has your routine changed since coming up to Maine?
We were up towards Bar Harbor for the first part of our stay, and, man, I was suddenly going on tide walks and immersed in nature all day. We’re in the Camden area now and are hiking Mount Battie each morning. I’ve only been up to my knees in the ocean so far, but I plan on getting in there as soon as the weather heats up a little.
How about the food?
It’s incredible. We go to Maine Street Meats in Rockport; they’ve got fresh bread, so we go and we pick that up curbside from them. I actually sent them a case of hand sanitizer because they had run out, so they’re repping Megababe. We also love Bleecker and Greer in Rockport for bread and Wiggins Meat Market in Rockland for meat. We’re eating tons of fresh seafood from the local fishermen and lobstermen. Maine Water Buffalo Co. in Appleton has this amazing buffalo mozzarella, and we can get Portland Pie Co. dough for our pizza at the grocery store. We get all of our produce at Fresh Off The Farm in Rockport and the Rockland Farmers’ Market.
In terms of restaurants, Long Grain in Camden is amazing. Everyone talks about Primo in Rockland, but I haven’t been there yet. It’s on our list. And all of these places are delivering and doing takeout. We pick up egg and cheese sandwiches at the Camden Deli.
You guys are all over the place!
Oh, yeah. We’ve been going to this coffee shop in Lincolnville, Green Tree Coffee and Tea, each day after hiking Battie. Blue Streak Roasters is our favorite coffee to make at home. And ice cream at Stone Fox Farm Creamery! There’s only two of us, but as a small business owner myself it’s really important to us that we do our part in supporting these delicious local spots and fishermen.