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 problem. 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 captivated with sunscreen.

“I’ve all the time had this imaginative and prescient to actually change the best way 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 12 months,

Supergoop! reached $250 million in gross sales.

Thaggard didn’t merely put one other sunscreen product available on the market 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 stored constructing an opulent but enjoyable model that customers 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 buddy’s prognosis.

The Starting of Supergoop!

Thaggard began her profession in schooling, however after one 12 months as a third-grade trainer, Thaggard discovered the classroom setting a bit claustrophobic.

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

Quick-forward 10 years. Thaggard’s buddy and former school roommate broke the information that she had been recognized 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 buddy, who was going by way of her residency as a dermatologist, advised 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 have been relegated to seaside days, not every day skincare routines. And that is the place Holly noticed a chance.

Thaggard’s dad and mom have been entrepreneurs who had taught her not solely to search for the whitespace, however to seek 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 specifically,” she remembers. As an alternative, she discovered very clinical-looking merchandise branded with the names of medical doctors for credibility.

And each system she discovered included oxybenzone, a chemical that some individuals fear would possibly act as a hormone disruptor (although most research suggesting a dangerous impact have been carried out on rats utilizing a lot greater 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 individuals would wish to use each day, a model that feels luxurious, and a model that was freed from regarding chemical substances 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 once they have 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 beloved being an educator, and educating shoppers—particularly younger youngsters—in regards to the significance of sunscreen.

“We needed to educate first, and we spent fairly a number of years, once I began constructing my crew, speaking about why SPF earlier than we might even discuss Supergoop!,” says Thaggard. “As a result of individuals didn’t really feel like they wanted to be sporting sunscreen each single day.”

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

“By no means as soon as did I even see a tube of sunscreen on the varsity campus. But we have 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 brief 12 months, these eight months within the classroom, that, 10 years later, impressed me to create a brand new class within the business.”

As an alternative of writing a marketing strategy, Thaggard wrote a curriculum, a strategy to educate faculties, dad and mom, and college students in regards to 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 searching for a totally different angle.

“I began knocking on personal college doorways and speaking to everybody that may hear 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 drawback: She wasn’t going to have the ability to scale her product knocking on college doorways one after the other and combating 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 have been giant sufficient to take her product nationwide, however sufficiently small to work along with her personally.

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

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

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

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