Business 10 January 2017
While most mothers can kick their maternal instincts into gear instantly, rarely are maternal instincts the basis for starting a company. Nova Covington started her skincare company Goddess Garden after her then-5-month-old daughter, Paige, had an allergic reaction to the synthetic ingredients found in the sunscreen she was wearing and so she then took it upon herself to concoct a homemade sunscreen for Paige where she replaced the synthetic ingredients with all natural ones.
Fast forward about 13 years and Goddess Garden – which is made and manufactured in Boulder, Colorado – is a national B Corp certified brand sold in 10,000 retail stores in the U.S. alone, has extended into skincare and just received it's first Series A investment by Renewal Funds; a Vancouver based Venture Capital Firm. Goddess Garden's journey so far has been quite impressive and shows no signs of slowing down anytime soon. Covington, who is also the CEO of the company, told SWAAY that the company is expected to grow another 70 – 100% in 2017. Covington explains that in 2016, with the addition of their newly launched Sun Repair System skincare line that the brand got onto the shelves of Walgreen's and Toys-R-Us, expanded their CVS and Kroger store counts and will go on to enter Walmart in 2017 – including some of the big box retailer's locations in the southern region of the U.S., which will be a new market for Goddess Garden.
Even with all of the growth, Covington's mission for Goddess Garden remains the same and very clear: helping the planet and helping people safely enjoy the sun.
"Our mission is to create a positive impact. We want to make better products than we have access to. We want to replace the conventional alternatives with better, natural products that are actually effective."
Well, with a positive mission and exponential growth comes recognition. So, in August, Nova, who runs the company alongside her husband Paul, received a visit by Maria Contreras-Sweet, head of the U.S. Small Business Administration, to award Goddess Garden a grant on behalf of the STEP (State Trade Expansive Program). The grant by STEP is awarded to small businesses to help establish global strategies and reach international consumers. "The grant will help to pay for international marketing for the next 5 years, all because we were using plant-based, U.S. grown ingredients" explains the founder. Then, in September, Goddess Garden received the coveted New Hope NEXTY Award for "Under The Sun", a pre-sunscreen serum that is part of the Sun Repair System line. NEXTY awards are given to products that are considered to be the most progressive in the natural industry.
It only makes sense that Covington, who comes across as very down to earth, explains that the inspiration for the Sun Repair System line was as simple as necessity. "It was inspired by necessity. I looked around for a facial cream to wear under my makeup with SPF 30 that was also a natural option" with no products available on the market at the time, the obvious answer for the busy mom of two was to (once again) make it herself, so that was what she did. Thus, came the Face The Day Sunscreen & Firming Primer and the birth of the entire sun repair system line.
The line launched in May of this year and contains only 7 products but according to Covington, that's all you need: "The entire sun repair system is only 7 products, there's 7 really unique products in that line. We kept it simple." In a beauty market that is over-saturated with skincare products, any brand that uses all natural ingredients, is good for the environment and can get your daily skincare routine down to just 7 products that protect, nourish and repair your skin is definitely okay in our book. Not to mention the full set of the sun repair system comes in under $80 – saving you money and space on your beauty shelf.
But how does a mom originally from Oregon with a background in communications and leadership know exactly which natural ingredients can replace synthetic ones in order to create high quality, effective skincare products? Covington explains that her passion for the environment coupled with the help of her husband who has a nutrition science degree from Oregon State University, it was a matter of researching every potential replacement ingredient, testing products on employees, friends and family and seeing which ingredients improved sun damage by either stopping or reversing the effects. Over a period of 18 months each of Goddess Garden's twenty-five employees received different variations of every product to test. The samples that delivered the best results had the most effective ingredients and went on to make up the formulas for the sun repair system line. A glimpse of the summary of their research notes that Goddess Garden was able to replace common skincare ingredients like retinol, fragrance and parabens with lycopene, essential oils and glyceryl caprylate, respectively.
Nova Covington by Callaghan O'Hare"My goal is to make something that you can use everyday to make your skin look better. Many products use plastic fillers which deliver immediate results but it is not really improving [your skin]. I wanted something that worked over time."
Well, according to the test results of Goddess Garden's first clinical research, Covington has definitely created products that improve your skin over time. Participants that used the Under The Sun serum and Face The Day Sunscreen & Firming Primer together for 90 days saw a 23% reduction in wrinkles.A business venture that could otherwise be perceived as organic and seamless, has - like all companies - faced some challenges. Covington explains that the biggest challenge so far has been explaining to buyers what natural sunscreen was and that their product was in fact effective. "When we first started going into mass food and drug channels, the buyers didn't know what natural sunscreens were. Everyone who sees a dermatologist is told that they need zinc titanium in their sunscreen [but] the buyers in the store didn't know what those minerals were. We had to explain that our product is very effective and that our competitors have not been as effective and people were getting sunburned" explains Covington. The founder goes on to say that when meeting with buyers, they had to make it clear to buyers that they understood the importance of producing and selling an effective product because these were products that they were also using on their family, "we were formulating something for our own daughter, we made sure it works, we use this on our family and I would never sell a product that doesn't work… we want [our consumers] to enjoy the sun again."[thb_border]
The Quick 10
1. What app do you most use?
2. Briefly describe your morning routine.
Coffee. Kids. Goddess Garden.
3. Name a business mogul you admire.
4. What product do you wish you had invented?
5. What is your spirit animal?
6. What is your life motto?
“We arrive precisely when we mean to" (re-quoted incorrectly from Gandalf, on Lord of the Rings).
7. Name your favorite work day snack.
Nuts, raw veggies and grapes.
8. Every business/entrepreneur must be ____ to be successful.
9. What's the most inspiring place you've traveled to?
Cabo Pulmo, the world's best protected Coral Reef in Baja California, Mexico.
10. Desert Island. Three things, go.
(Besides family members) Goddess Garden Sunscreen, a good book, Satellite locator for the trip home ;)[/thb_border]
Working Girl, 1988. It's a beloved little comedy centering on Tess McGill (Melanie Griffith), new to the cutthroat business world and secretary to Katharine Parker (Sigourney Weaver). When Katherine steals a tip from Tess to further ascend the corporate ladder, Tess "borrows" Katherine's identity to regain what is rightfully hers. The movie closes with Tess winning the showdown while a scorned Katherine fades into irrelevance with her tail between her legs. Oh, and Tess also manages to steal Katherine's boyfriend along the way. It is a heartwarming tale about two women battling for a seat at the boys' table that just so happens to be written by a man.
Pop culture, literature and real-world anecdotes have been telling us for decades that women are in competition with one another. The mythos surrounding Corporate America says that everything is dog eat dog, which often translates to woman versus woman. This, unfortunately, is not entirely untrue and is likely due to the fact there are so few seats available at the countless tables where women rightfully belong but are conspicuously absent from. It's a grueling climb to the top, and it seems like every woman for herself along the way. As of this year, women hold 6.6% of Fortune 500 CEO roles. That does not occur by happenstance; it is systemic. But we at VIPER want to have a hand in changing this.
VIPER is an all-female nightlife team in Los Angeles. We're no strangers to the occasionally nuanced, but more often blatant, patriarchal paradigms of working in a world that was built for men. Because of this, we understand and embrace the idea of collective evolution: leaving doors open for women wherever we can. From the beginning, we knew that we wanted our company's principles and culture to be unmistakably female-focused; it has never been a gimmick for us. As Co-CEOs and founders of VIPER (born under our parent company KCH Group), not only do we look to leave doors of opportunities open, we also work to empower the individuals who will eventually walk through them. While we are highly selective of who we employ, the number one characteristic we search for in a potential VIPER Girl is enthusiasm. There is so much room for growth, independence and creativity in our company; we seek out the people who will be inspired by the environment we strive to cultivate. This is why we never want our VIPER Girls to feel they've been simply "hired." We want them to feel brought into the fold.
We know firsthand that it is entirely possible for a woman to carve out a path for herself without the help of women in positions of power. We also know that it is entirely unnecessary. There is no hesitation on our end to lift other women up, nor should there be from any other females in high places. There is a huge danger in fanning the flames of resentment and competition. Every day, our bodies, our livelihoods and even our rights are threatened by middle-aged men in power. Furthermore, our victories are ridiculed and consistently opposed by those exact men who are maintaining a status quo that exists to hold all others back. We cannot keep putting up with relentless discriminatory restrictions placed on us in retaliation to our brave steps forward. We need to take back the standards and redefine them for ourselves, together. We don't require assistance from men in setting the bar. We set the bar higher than they could ever hope to. We want to prove, through positive influence, that professional growth and economic independence is possible for women and we want to show that it isn't without sacrifice or mistakes. Since day one, we've chosen to be transparent about our flaws as leaders. Our VIPER Girls have seen us stand up for ourselves and soar. They've also seen us fumble and deal with the fallout. In order for us to evolve together, we need to show one another that we don't have to be perfect to build a beautiful world. If the world were perfect, it would never be beautiful.
This is what we've always believed in... And maybe that's how we were always able to believe in ourselves. We started our company in our early twenties with only fifteen hundred dollars. In the last three years we have dominated the nightlife industry and gained clientele that is unmatched. We understand, now more than ever, the impact women are capable of if we support and provide agency for each other. If we can thrive in the male-dominated business environment, we can certainly work to fix it. We will expand our reach and bring insurmountable change. Our futures can be reimagined and renegotiated. We can do it, together. We must.