We had the pleasure of interviewing Sarah Palmer, a badass woman entrepreneur who has been supporting our work to level the playing field for girls in sport and STEM for more than four years. We’re so inspired by Sarah that we invited her to share a little wisdom from her journey with you.

So, who is Sarah Palmer?

Sarah is Co-Founder and former Creative Director of BRANWYN, the groundbreaking sustainable performance innerwear that’s shaking up the active underwear industry. Sarah’s extensive background in fashion and wellness helped her introduce a first-of-its-kind underwear made by active women for active women, using biodegradable merino wool. 

PLAG: How did sport prepare you for success in business? What specific skills did you gain and how do you use them in your role at BRANWYN? 

SP: Playing sports was perhaps one of the most impactful activities I did that prepared me for not only a robust career, but life in general. For context, I played three sports – one each season throughout middle school and high school, and I went on to play field hockey in college for one of the top DIII schools. Prior to that, I was a competitive gymnast for 13 years and dabbled in competitive horseback riding. Needless to say, sports were a huge part of my life and development as a child and young adult. 

As a start-up, BRANWYN requires a tremendous amount of time, energy and passion – much like many of the sports that I played. Especially in those first few years it required an immense amount of perseverance – picking ourselves up when we ran into supply chain issues, figuring out our marketing strategy, teamwork, doing jobs that we didn’t necessarily sign up for and working together to solve problems (more than I think any of us would like to admit!). But such is the nature of building a business from scratch.

PLAG: Briefly describe your experience with mentoring and how it impacted your life as an athlete. How have you benefited both personally and professionally from mentoring relationships? 

SP: Mentors for me came in the form of coaches. I was lucky enough to have the same coach in my respective sports throughout high school and college, so I was able to develop very deep and impactful relationships. There are two coaches in particular that stick out to me – my high school field hockey coach and my college coach. Both actually have a lot of similarities now that I think about it. They certainly shaped how I showed up on a team (which eventually translated to my professional life) and cultivated and nurtured my natural leadership skills and work ethic.  

Both personally and professionally, mentoring relationships have helped me get where I am today. Whether it’s perspective at one of life’s many crossroads, an introduction, or knowledge about an area or subject matter that I’m not as well versed in, all of my mentors have helped me become who I am today.

PLAG: How do you think girls, in particular, can benefit from being a part of a sports team?

SP: One of the greatest benefits of being a part of a sports team is learning how to collaborate and work with others to reach a common goal. When I played field hockey in high school, we won our conference championship my junior year. However, it was our semi-final game that was the most memorable game of the season. It was an away game, at one of our rivals, on a field that we all struggled playing on (it had a lot more dirt than grass and lots of divots). It was a tie game at the end of regulation that went into not one, but two overtimes before we finally put the ball in the back of the cage. I remember that we were all exhausted, but you never would have guessed it. The entire team, including the people on the bench, were in it, giving it all they had. If one of us felt like we couldn’t run one more step we would look to someone else on the field for a moment of eye contact and an emphatic “You got this!” to give us an extra boost of energy.

I believe that’s what made that win so much sweeter than the rest – the feeling that we were all in it together from start to finish, that it wasn’t just one person that carried the team, but all of us. 

PLAG: What is the best advice you’ve received from a coach? How have you applied that advice in your career? 

SP: If we ever had a particularly tough game that didn’t go our way, my high school field hockey coach would always tell us, “You have the rest of the day to be bummed/sad/angry/disappointed etc., but after that it’s time to move on. We can’t dwell on the past, we can only learn from it and move forward.”

That advice has stuck with me for many years – so much so that I share it with my closest friends and family when they are stuck in a rut. I think a big part of life (career included) is our mental game and how we as individuals respond to what life, or work, throws our way.  It’s important to allow ourselves the time and space to process what we’re feeling, and then learn and grow from it. This is something that I passed down to my team during my time as a coach.  

I remember one season in particular – the team had endless potential and great chemistry. However, they kept getting tripped up on the field when they would make a mistake – it would have a snowball effect. I brought in my mom, an incredibly talented and multi-faceted woman, to teach them the same breathwork and visualization that she had taught my brother and me. We went on to make the finals, the first time in nearly a decade.

PLAG: At puberty, girls’ confidence plummets. A national survey revealed that 70% of girls feel paralyzed by the fear of failure during puberty. This fear is so intense that many girls opt out of important growth opportunities during this time, like taking on challenges and trying new things.

How has a growth mindset contributed to your success? Are there any lessons you learned from failure in sport? 

SP: Playing sports between middle school and high school definitely taught me how to not only deal with failure (as well as mistakes) in the moment, but learn from it after the fact. You don’t have time to dwell on a bad pass in the middle of a game, otherwise you just end up in your head and often end up playing worse. As an athlete, I had to learn how to shake things off, learn from my mistakes or a loss and make the necessary changes to improve for the next time. 

As I got older this skill set me up for success in the workplace. I was better equipped to handle failure on the job, or even setbacks that required a change in strategy, as well as receive and process constructive criticism. Out of the many positive impacts that playing sports has on people I think this is one of the most important ones. Especially for women. 

PLAG: What advice would you give to women who aspire to leave an impact in the world for the next generation?

SP: Lead from both your head and your heart. Embrace the concept of compassionate leadership and learn how to be both masculine (analytical, action-oriented, driven) and feminine (intuitive, creative, vulnerable) in your approach. Be the female leader that you want to see more of in the world. 

It’s also worth mentioning one of my favorite phrases that I often think about, which is, “When you empower women, you empower the world.” I genuinely believe that if we continue to empower women with access to education, capital, and opportunity — with no strings attached — then we will experience tremendous benefits across the board, with a massive trickle-down effect.


Want more of this? Follow Sarah online. 

On the ‘gram, you can find her @sarahrosesrp and @branwynofficial. On the web, visit Sarah at westonrose.com and branwyn.com.

Because of Sarah and her co-founders Katie Sadle and Shawna Lauringson, BRANWYN exists to create a foundation of confidence upon which women athletes can perform their best and be the best version of themselves every. single. day. Because of them, we are.