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How PopSugar Grew into a Media Empire

Life is sweet for PopSugar co-founder Lisa Sugar, as she balances motherhood and her rapidly growing business

“It takes a long time to build a media company,” says Lisa Sugar, who in 2006 founded the pop culture news site PopSugar alongside her husband Brian. “That June we had our first official day of training, we were six people,” recalls Sugar, whose team now numbers nearly 460. It isn’t just her staff that’s grown: That same June, Sugar went into labor two weeks early and gave birth to her oldest daughter. 

Over the past 10 years, Sugar has continued to expand both personally and professionally. These days, PopSugar operates internationally, with outposts in Australia, the U.K. and Japan, and is positioned for further growth into China. Additionally, the privately held company drives nearly $1 billion annually in sales to its retail partners, which include Target, Hilton, Levi’s, J. Crew and Neiman Marcus. Last October the site saw an unprecedented 1 billion page views and 93 million video views, according to Sugar.

At home, Sugar’s just as busy, thanks to her three daughters, Katie, Juliette and Elle. “Every day is definitely a little different,” she says of her home life. “Though there’s an absolute foundation and routine.” Indeed, her day begins at 6:45 A.M., when she starts checking email on her phone, and continues with Sugar rousing her girls and hitting the pavement by 7:55 A.M. to walk her older daughters to school.

Each morning, Sugar and her husband walk from their Pacific Heights home to the PopSugar offices downtown. “We make our way up and down the various hills of San Francisco. We really do walk most days, unless it’s pouring rain,” Sugar explains. “It’s nice for us; we can have a meeting or take calls.” As one would expect, Sugar’s day is filled with meetings, but there’s also the occasional soccer practice. “ Brian and I coached our kindergartener’s team this past fall,” she says. 

Generally by 5:30 P.M., Sugar is off to collect her daughters and then head home for family dinner. By the time the girls are in bed, Sugar is already plugged back in. “By 8 o’clock I’m back on my phone,” she says. “I’m a night owl, so I stay up until 11 or 12.” 

Considering her role at PopSugar, which recently refreshed its look, and her outside activities—including a book, set to be released later this year—it’s not too surprising Sugar looks for extra time wherever she can find it. “I’m so happy in what I do every day here, but between planning all the work and kids’ stuff, I now know the importance of having alone time.” 

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