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How Holly Thaggard and Supergoop! Took Solar Safety World

Foundr Journal publishes in-depth interviews with the world’s biggest entrepreneurs. Our articles spotlight key takeaways from every month’s challenge. We talked with Holly Thaggard, founding father of Supergoop!, about bringing SPF sunscreen to the lots. To learn extra, subscribe to the journal.


Holly Thaggard is keen about sunscreen.

“I’ve at all times had this imaginative and prescient to actually change the way in which the world thinks about sunscreen,” she says.

That zeal drove her to create the multimillion-dollar skincare firm, Supergoop!, that, when it launched in 2007, began turning the world of sun-care merchandise on its finish. Final yr,

Supergoop! reached $250 million in gross sales.

Thaggard didn’t merely put one other sunscreen product in the marketplace and hope for the perfect. She mixed her sunscreen with a curriculum on the significance of solar safety, which she launched in personal faculties. On the similar time, she saved constructing an opulent but enjoyable model that buyers actually wished to make part of their morning routines—each for themselves and their youngsters.

However Thaggard’s journey didn’t start in a startup incubator or within the boardroom of a enterprise capitalist. It began in a third-grade classroom and with the tragic information of a good friend’s analysis.

The Starting of Supergoop!

Thaggard began her profession in training, however after one yr as a third-grade trainer, Thaggard discovered the classroom setting a bit claustrophobic.

She nonetheless cherished instructing, however she determined to take an prolonged break and pivot her profession to performing as a harpist.

Quick-forward 10 years. Thaggard’s good friend and former faculty roommate broke the information that she had been identified with pores and skin most cancers. The information rattled Thaggard, who by no means anticipated somebody so younger to develop pores and skin most cancers.

Her good friend, who was going by way of her residency as a dermatologist, informed Thaggard one thing that may change the trajectory of Thaggard’s profession.

“She stated, ‘Holly, it’s not about seashores and bikinis. It’s about that each single day, little little bit of publicity, that’s cumulative.’”

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This was the early 2000s, when sunscreen and SPF had been relegated to seaside days, not every day skincare routines. And that is the place Holly noticed a chance.

Thaggard’s dad and mom had been entrepreneurs who had taught her not solely to search for the whitespace, however to search out methods to make the world a greater place by way of entrepreneurship.

In 2004, Thaggard began digging into sunscreen and skincare. What she discovered was what she calls a very sleepy market.

“There was no innovation in any respect in SPF, and UV broad spectrum safety particularly,” she remembers. As a substitute, she discovered very clinical-looking merchandise branded with the names of docs for credibility.

And each components she discovered included oxybenzone, a chemical that some folks fear may act as a hormone disruptor (although most research suggesting a dangerous impact have been carried out on rats utilizing a lot increased doses of oxybenzone than are present in sunscreen).

Thaggard wished to show all of that on its head. She wished to create a model that folks would need to use each day, a model that feels luxurious, and a model that was freed from regarding chemical compounds but nonetheless protected shoppers, particularly youngsters, from solar publicity.

“I actually began dreaming about SPF and determining loopy methods to get it into everybody’s routine, in order that it grew to become an opulent expertise and never a chore, not one thing that they needed to do after they had been headed to the seaside,” she says.

Not Simply One other Model

However for Thaggard, this was going to be greater than a skincare product. It was going to be a mission.

Thaggard nonetheless cherished being an educator, and instructing shoppers—particularly younger youngsters—concerning the significance of sunscreen.

“We needed to educate first, and we spent fairly a couple of years, after I began constructing my crew, speaking about why SPF earlier than we may even speak about Supergoop!,” says Thaggard. “As a result of folks didn’t really feel like they wanted to be carrying sunscreen each single day.”

As she started to construct out her product, speaking to chemists and figuring out FDA rules, she mirrored on her time within the classroom.

“By no means as soon as did I even see a tube of sunscreen on the college campus. But we had been on the market in the course of the day, underneath the solar and infrequently staying in after-school sports activities,” she remembers.

“And so it was that one quick yr, these eight months within the classroom, that, 10 years later, impressed me to create a brand new class within the trade.”

As a substitute of writing a marketing strategy, Thaggard wrote a curriculum, a technique to educate faculties, dad and mom, and college students concerning the significance of solar safety.

She wished to get her merchandise into faculties. Little did she know, public faculties prohibited sunscreen on campuses as a result of it’s an FDA-regulated product.

So, she began on the lookout for a completely different angle.

“I began knocking on personal college doorways and speaking to everybody that may pay attention about how badly Supergoop! was wanted within the classroom,” Thaggard says. “And that program took off and I had six faculties all through Louisiana and Texas.”

As Thaggard constructed her model by way of faculties, she realized a part of her journey would come with altering state legal guidelines round SPF in faculties. She calls it her ardour undertaking.

“I’ve by no means missed a chance to be on Capitol Hill, speaking to the Congress and representatives,” she says.

However there was one other downside: She wasn’t going to have the ability to scale her product knocking on college doorways separately and preventing battles with lawmakers.

Constructing a Retail Model

When she realized that her technique wasn’t going to scale, says Thaggard, she needed to pivot and be taught the enterprise of retail.

Boutique-style chains grew to become Thaggard’s goal retail buyer. They had been giant sufficient to take her product nationwide, however sufficiently small to work together with her personally.

“I needed to give attention to these retailers that had been influential in each main metropolis within the U.S., however weren’t so giant that it prohibited me from having the ability to present up, inform my story, take everybody within the skincare magnificence division to lunch, and produce a military of those that had been keen to unfold my message and get behind the model itself,” she explains.

Quickly, a sequence of kids’s boutiques known as Giggle, in addition to Pottery Barn Children and FAO Schwartz, had been stocking Supergoop!.

“They cherished inviting me into the shop on the weekends to actually stand there and speak with each individual that may come by about, ‘Hey, I do know you’ve received your stroller and your little child’s piano, however have we discovered the SPF? They’re going to put on it their total life.’ And so I began studying the enterprise of retail by way of children boutique retail,” says Thaggard.

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