5 Tips for Starting a Company from Supergoop! CEO Holly Thaggard

Holly Thaggard is a former school teacher turned ultra-successful entrepreneur. The Supergoop! Founder and CEO is a passionate advocate for the use of sunscreen in both adults and children, and shared her advice with us.

When asked about her motivation for starting Supergoop!, Holly recalls how a young friend of hers was diagnosed with skin cancer. She spoke to a close friend of hers, who at the time was finishing her residency in dermatology, about the subject. Her friend explained that sun exposure at a young age is often the source for issues later in life, prompting Holly to research the topic even further – after all, she was used to watching kids play outdoors without wearing any trace of sunscreen. She “learned that the number one reason why people do not wear sunscreen is that it does not feel good on the skin. I also realized that early prevention from the sun was key. I was inspired to fill the void in the market for a sunscreen brand that was highly efficacious, ingredient conscious, healthy, and a “feel-good” SPF that everyone would want to wear every day.”

Holly started her venture by introducing the first Supergoop! formula into classrooms. Although her products are now sold on the shelves of stores like Sephora and Nordstrom, she explains that “what has been so exciting is that our journey is now coming full circle, as this spring we launched our “Ounce by Ounce” outreach program in partnership with MD Anderson Cancer Center to put sunscreen into schools across America.”

Her brand is constantly adding new products to its portfolio; Holly opened up about the inspiration for these innovations: playing “in a very distinctive category – literally no one gets up every morning and thinks the way we do. Brands today are about doing one thing very, very well. We are all about protecting the skin, and there are so many places to go to offer the consumer something unique, even within the narrower but fast-growing category of sun protection.”

When asked about her top 5 tips for starting a company and building a brand, Holly gave the following advice:

1) Be passionate about your project. As she explains, “Supergoop! was never about commercializing and making money. It was about developing a business concept around something I found to be particularly passionate about. In my case, it was about stopping the epidemic of skin cancer in the U.S. and bringing awareness to a primarily preventable disease. From there, I developed a product and identified my market and business strategy. It might sound cliché but being passionate about your project is critical to its success.”

2) Build a personal library around non-fiction books about how other founders were successful in building their brands. As Holly explains, “brand founders are often open to sharing the crazy ups and downs of starting a brand. This not only puts into perspective what lies ahead, but you’ll also later reflect on these when you have similar experiences. It helps to realize that the roller coaster is just part of your own story.”

3) Never turn down an opportunity to tell your story to anyone, anywhere. Why? “Along the way it’s important to build an army of brand ambassadors, and nobody can share your reason for being more passionate than yourself.”

4) Recognize early that having a big idea is not enough. Holly emphasizes the importance of “recognizing when a big idea comes to you and then not letting it go –learning how to turn ideas into actions that lead to success.

5) Be humble and grateful. Entrepreneurship is a road paved with many obstacles to overcome but Holly says to “know that nobody expects you to be perfect. By stepping up and fixing things, by asking for help and being appreciative of the help you are given when things go wrong, you will be leaps and bounds better at what you do.”

Holly’s advice to conclude our conversation? “Don’t skip one single day of protecting your skin, no matter the season or the weather.”

Contributor: Or Gozal

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