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How to Scale a Mission-Driven Brand | SXSW 2021

Holly Thaggard
Founder at Supergoop!
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SXSW 2021
March 16, 2021, Online, Austin, USA
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About speakers

Holly Thaggard
Founder at Supergoop!
Maria Sharapova
Founder at Sugarpova
Christine Lagorio-Chafkin
Senior Writer at Inc. magazine

Maria Yuryevna Sharapova (born 19 April 1987) is a Russian former professional tennis player. Although she played under the banner of Russia with the Women's Tennis Association (WTA), she has lived in and been a United States permanent resident since 1994. Sharapova competed on the WTA Tour from 2001 to 2020 and had been ranked world No. 1 in singles by the WTA on five separate occasions, for a total of 21 weeks. She is one of ten women, and the only Russian, to hold the career Grand Slam. She is also an Olympic medalist, having won a silver medal in women's singles at the 2012 Summer Olympics in London. Sharapova achieved a rare level of longevity in tennis, with several tennis pundits and former players calling Sharapova one of tennis' best competitors

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About the talk

Join Supergoop! Founder and Chairman of the Board, Holly Thaggard, and her early-stage investor Maria Sharapova for an inspiring conversation, moderated by Christine Lagorio-Chafkin, Senior Writer at Inc.com and Inc. magazine, that shares insights on how Holly scaled her company from a mission to end the skin cancer epidemic to a business with millions in revenue, all while innovating a category and changing consumer behavior. Hear from Maria first-hand about how she identified a promising investment opportunity in a young, but high-growth brand with an authentic mission as its north star, and advice for other emerging entrepreneurs prioritizing mission and doing good.

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Hello and how to scale a mission-driven brand and Inked magazine and I'm the author of we are the nerd the first and tumultuous life of Reddit. I know podcast of the world's most fascinating. There's a Journeys here with me today. I'd like to introduce a sponder who's been called the Norma Rae of sunscreen. Can I get started when her friends in her twenties with diagnosed with skin cancer? And she set out to normalize SPF, wearing daily, an international

million-dollar I guess, Venture into all of our hand bags of every glossy magazine, I'm so glad also be joined by one of these investors and her friend business as well Olympic medalist, Maria Sharapova Maria. I'd like to welcome you here today, and I'd like for you to start us out. I'd love to hear the story of how you met Holly. It was our story goes that way back. I remember when I first moved to Florida, I was a 6 year old girl and my mother had and still this habit of wearing SPF every

single day as I was training for 6 to 7 hours a day and enjoy because the formula was working for me years down the line as I worked on my beauty routine and I tried a new product and I got a little older and smarter. And I knew what was better for my skin. I found super good on the shelves before I use the product for a couple of years and then I got to know Holly and Holly on her mission of creating an SPF that would prevent skin. Cancer was the sole reason why I wanted to invest in this for and it was it was an incredible Mission. It was a tough Mission because it

wasn't an ocular or a fool category at the time and she was on that mission. Changing the category and making it sexy, which was so much fun to be a part of in the last 7 years. Wonderful, let's turn to Holly and we're going to talk about stealing Mission driven brands. Yes, Christine. So my friend was diagnosed with skin cancer and we were in our late twenties. I learned that skin cancer is primarily preventable, it's one of those few cancers that's primarily preventable with a magic lotion SPF and when I looked at the category, my parents are entrepreneurs and

looked at both chemical, sunscreens, and mineral, mineral sunscreens and it was just incredibly. There was no innovation and I learned from my college friend, who was going through a residency in dermatology, it's really she touching me, holly, it's not about the peach. That's not how this happened. It's that little bit of cumulative exposure, every single day that causes skin cancer. And so your friend it happened at a very young age. So again, my friend gauge to look for the white space, we often said around the dinner table if it's already been done why bother? And I thought gosh if we're

going to get SPS into everyone's skincare routine every single day, it's only going to happen through product Innovation. We have to give and deliver beautiful large areas formulas, Amazing on the skin that you actually want to apply of every single day and I think he is still today product Innovation is at the core of what this brand is. All about. Of course, you can't do it without passion but I always say. So coming up with new game, changing ways to get SPF into everyone's routine. Is what what really makes me up in the morning and then I

remember when I was a little kid like sunscreen was just this thing that popped up in, you know, it's spring and summer on the end of an aisle in a grocery store or a general store open in Lake or something like Target. And it wasn't something that people thought about in the middle of winter stuff, completely like crashing into a business, you are creating a whole new category. Yeah. That's a great question. Because at the time, those you mentioned back in 2000 and gosh, to 3, it was only thought of as a seasonal product that

was on in diffusion cap, distorted in the summer months and then pulled back at fault. And I think, you know what really helps me stay knowing early that I wanted to DC's Analyze This category and make sure that it looked as beautiful on the Shelf in at Christmas in the dead of winter on the 4th of July. I think, you know, I had to find the right Retail Partners that could support that vision. And this was well before social media, and this was at a time when the consumer was not even finding Partnerships with wholesale and Retail accounts. I really looked for those

that could help story-tell and it could also be aligned with my vision and give me the opportunity to create product Innovation. That would be as productive on the Shelf, 12-months a year and it started very small. In fact, it's how I knew Sephora was the right partner for me. Because they originally proposed a plan for the 12 weeks of Summer, which was of course, like nails on a chalkboard for me. But I had to sit down and talk with him and say we're trying to DC's Analyze This category. SPS should be worn every single day. I'm so let's talk about what size

of the Shelf. You can give me and guarantee distribution for 12 months and that really ultimately allowed me to go back to put in your drawer in October. Do you have to actually kind of tape? Take a little hit there and say I'll I'll steal back the amount of space. All I'll have. If you leave it up there longer, if you'll give me 12 months, which seems like an interesting fact to make. And I think could be asked to other businesses, you know, who are saying you want to, you want to scale about, we need to hit those right

targets. Need to stay true to our mission. First, you need to put so great about having a mission because you can make decisions along the way that don't you're not making decisions for money or you're not making decisions for the wrong reasons. It's everything truly ladders, that's your mission. I knew that you know, real meaningful change doesn't happen overnight. It says it's you know, forget that in your business, in your business model and I think of it as a 10-year Journey that you're going. So I think it's really important for entrepreneurs to realize that this decisions you make early

on really shape your future. And those six in a gave me soon turned into 12 inches to 1 show. When she'll turn to to to, to 3324 were sitting with full gondolas today, in the front of store for cash. I think 9 months out of out of the year did happen slowly, but real meaningful change, does happen slowly, and so you have to invest in the time. And then I think also coinciding with that, you have to look at what I had to look out with a world. Where social media did not exist and everything was in the hands of the beauty editors, and I had to chip away at

getting those articles mentioned outside of May and June. Because I can 2002 STS was only mentioned in the month of May and giving it to her today. I mean, I can't keep up with my 365 days a year. And I think that the world is starting to see that SPS and Son care is, truly only skin care if it's protecting from the one environmental aggressor. Yeah. Absolutely. But a lot of other health and wellness company is as well and that's been a big focus of yours in the health and wellness day. If there's almost as inherent hi to a mission, right? There's this

inherent is concealed in business. Are the attraction for you. I think I'm inspired by people that want to create healthy changes and then that's why the health and wellness face has become a topic of conversation the last few years. Because people are realizing that these small little habits that we begin to do every single day. Ultimately make a big difference. So whether it's a Sarah body, whether it's a single day, it's a small little things that you go back to your

childhood. How do you take care of your body? How do you take care of your skin? And I think it's also about Reinventing categories challenging to change like your favorite meal that you put in your coffee, right. And I think that's the challenge that Holly face in. The beginning was just the product was seasonal, people thought of it as something that you put on your body when you're going out in tanning. So how do you change the perspective of a category? That's somewhat known that isn't as appealing and making it cool and significant again. Yeah, and I'm curious what your

ball has been in, in advising in particular. 3 Franc. I learn just as much from Holly as I give her advice. I think that's the beauty of a collaboration of working together of not, just invent investing dollars but of investing time and knowledge and education. That's when of the best relationship forms. When when I heard Holly's Mission, and I knew that she started with a beauty product that began with SPF Foundation, that include SPF, that was the mission that she was

on, and I wanted to be a part of it. Yeah. Absolutely must be at your own company. Several years ago while you were in the midst of your tennis career. I I can't imagine the amount of work that must have taken by one of my favorite moments was when we was talking about. I'm really interested in design and obsession with beautiful sponsor. I'm very serious in nature, and I think that's what draws me to the meeting people and understanding their business. Even though it might be a

business that I'm not entirely familiar with her. I don't know, all the ins and out and learning from Holly's learning about the direct-to-consumer business, and I seen that shift. I remember when you just asked me about what was it that I helped with, in the beginning. I remember those early meetings in Sephora and we're, we're educating the Retail Partners on what this product is. Like, I was their deep into these conversations. And what I'm doing now is certainly different. I'm at the stage of where the company is, that's what keeps me exciting. Is, this is this Grove tire,

and it's a learning pattern, what you needed years ago isn't necessarily what you need to do. But you still gather all the knowledge when it's about design I was always curious about design through my travels. I would find all the different Frank gehry buildings around the world and I thought of them as a little souvenir. Is that I was pastor and take photographs and send little postcards to my mom back home. So I'm taking those Aesthetics and I brought them into my home, interior design collaboration, I have coming up in the next couple of months. So I guess all those little pieces. They

tie into my travels and having something like these other hobbies to do. While I was very passionate about the sport. Should I play for 20 years of my life? Absolutely, I left. A sorry I was going to say you know that Maria brings so much and I think that you know really helping us amplify this message. You know when you are inspired to change the way the world thinks about sunscreen can't be shy to ask for help. And I think that, you know, Maria had a voice that

really helped us at a time and yes, her roles and responsibilities. And and the things that we collaborate on today changed over the years but I think being humble and being flexible and creative, that's, that's all good things. That has always impressed me about talking with you. And yours are a part of control and grow and scale. Sure. And you know, I think when Maria even joined the super good family, we weren't necessarily even looking for an investor. We were just looking for help every which way I could. Everyone that was willing and able to excited to come along and help us build was

what was most exciting and that you're right. We have gone through several Capital raises and I have always thought about my investor Partners as being part of my family and taking the time to meet with hundreds and hundreds of interested folks and really deep very selective about who I was bringing into my family, the little bit also like I think about Retail Partners because I get that question a lot too. And, and founder is not knowing what the right retailed mixes for their portfolio. And I think, he know you have to think about having that dinner at your home. And who could you put

at the same dining room table and then exit into the kitchen and not be scared one bit about what everyone was saying, like, that's how I've always chosen our Retail Partners and then the same is true with our investors who I want to be having to my house with my two children in and spending time with and who's thinking about our business in in a similar way that we are. And and it's and I get that question quite a bit from Founders that are very nervous about taking on investors. So I would just have to say the most important stuff there is to take you to the time and then I think to

nurture the relationships before you actually need the money. So our brand super goof looked, I think a lot bigger because of our presents at Sephora than it really was in Revenue. So I started getting those FedEx letters from investors at a very early stage like maybe free free a million dollars and every one of those letters that I got this that were interested in learning more about your business. I dropped everything and flew out sat down at the table and told our story. And I did it at that point primarily because I thought if I'm going to see if I'm going to be in a room full of smart

people and telling them my story up of at least walk away with several new families. Free fans, so take those meetings early because what that enabled me to do overtime with get to know them. I often were given business cards, that would say, if you need anything, if you have any questions along the way, call me because I often started this meeting's out with saying we're way too small but I'm I'm excited to meet you and I took him up on that every one of those offers and even our our private Equity today was one of those first letters that I received. And I had the opportunity for many

years to get to know them, and send understand how they approach things of a forever taking, an investment from them. Or people that you actually want. I only think of people that you will be comfortable, sharing your vulnerabilities and ensuring said, that's with because I always say and it was very relative, it's very easy to succeed with any team, what team members are but it's very challenging and I think the true character comes out and people is when you faced when you faced Perfections, when You Face losses, when

you're great expectations or old, they say don't come to fruition. When you're expected them to until you have to take a step back and you have to listen to these team members, and you have to believe in them and their journey in their drive because ultimately, they are what you wake up for, write you. When I when I play tennis, I had a fitness trainer and so much of my victory is in my losses also depended on their work. And so I know when they were sitting watching all of their work was coming into license and I wanted them to succeed with me and I wanted them to inspire me. When I

was down. So I say that is very important as you look for business partners, as well. Absolutely, just, just back. The last year has been a challenge for so many businesses. It's been just incredibly hard, but you might as last year and I'm still curious how you managed in the midst of a travel restrictions and supply-chain, run. How did you do that? You're in, in China, and Canada. Now, is that right across border China, we launched in Canada, and the UK market during

March of the tin to make to guess, we had to do our playbook out and cancel a whole lot of parties. But we figured out how to do it differently. And I think that's the beauty of when you figure out ways in, which he says lunch is on schedule. Fortunately SPF is an over-the-counter drugs, so it's regulated by the government and it was a necessity so I didn't stop. But we've launched and I found that I was able to be on zoom in Hong Kong one day and Canada the next and and in London, the next do it, if I was able to actually think

more people are very heartfelt genuine conversations over. Zoom that I would have ever been able to had. I have had I kept those flights to all of those countries and I think, you know, again it goes back to the mission if you want to change the way the world thinks about sunscreen, you can't stay in your own backyard. Both of you are used to traveling a lot around the globe. How has, how have you handled this year and do you have any other folks going forward into 2021, how to

cut a Justino? Keep keep keep keep it or just starting to starting to resume, you know, more of those activities that were used to, in the past. I would say it's a routine with a big part of my life, and I feel like this last year, it's all been about routine and maintaining them. And there's a part of me that wants to be a little bit more, and I think other work closer to the finish line. And then, we're, we're, we're, we're still figuring out how to create those little moments of Joy. I spent so many years on the road, I was on the road for 10 months out of the year. So, for me, being

spontaneous and has been spending time with my family and cookies. And, you know, realizing that says, I was missing those small moments those holidays, at home. Like I spend Christmas every year, thinking of what I was going to pack for my trip to Australia, flying out on Christmas Eve or the day after Christmas. And, and this year, although it was a small family as a for I I loved every second of it. So I'm finding my little Sparks of joy and I think taking care of your body is also a fundamental. I need to start my day, having a positive outlook

off of my body of the way that I feel, I always say that a strong body was just online. So even if it's 30 minutes of movement, if it's 45 and give yourself an hour, if you're able to go Outdoors your way cuz I think it's, it's just as healthy for your mind isn't just for your body. Any any tips for making it work? Do you know, I had I did travel a lot near that to the level that Maria has traveled over the years, but I was often in New York weekly and and out of the country. And I think, you know, this year was funny. I was looking back at my journal from last year

and one in January, I said, I want one of my resolutions was to have more family dinners. So, I definitely got what I asked for it, but I'm 13 and 16 and were able to to do our work from anywhere and do it and come together for lunch or dinner. And that was really special for us. And I think getting out and having that time is so important, it's actually helps me be more in a routine because I had trouble keeping up with flights and travel and family, dinners and commitments

and working out. And you know, I've been able to be in the gym at 7 a.m. every single morning with my trainer and switch between my voice and pilates. And just make that a priority because I really only have to come 8:34. I Rise shine and SPS call. So, you know, I think there's there's a lot of really great things that came out of that. Right. On the years, it took to get your product on store shelves, on the expansion of still going on internationally. And Maria obviously has shown a tremendous

price on just quickly. Each of you has a mission into your brand and me and I know it's just a really difficult persevere through the challenges. Yeah, I actually believe I truly believe that hard work pays off and we always think of when you put in certain Investments with her former money in capital, we, we always want to see a return on that investment very fast and and it has Holly mentioned previously. It is so important to be patient because every diligent move that you make a very

smart move that you make it might not pay off tomorrow every dollar spent, you know, you have to take a lot of chances in order to see the reward, you have to invest in people of your time and energy in order to see that sexy patient with your hard work, you know, be diligent. Do your homework safe, please. And thank you, no matter. You know, if you're just starting a company or your CEO, or president of those little things music really loudly, I totally agree and game changing businesses. Are not built overnight. You have to be willing to put in the time, which is, I think why it's so

important that you be. So passionate about your idea that you literally cannot sleep at night, because it's only that passion, it's going to drive you two to continue. Putting in the time, that's necessary to create real meaningful change in this world. Wonderful. I hope everyone today has learned something about how to build a mission into your business at the challenges that come with it and the rewards that can come from it. Thank you so much for joining us today. Holly staggered Maria Sharapova.

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Holly Thaggard
Maria Sharapova
Christine Lagorio-Chafkin