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]
5 Min Read
When I immigrated to the United States at 7 years old, at first, this country was so completely foreign to me that I didn't yet understand that there was any such thing as living in a "poor area."
Moreover, I couldn't even begin to conceive that I was most definitely living in one. The inner city was the only United States I knew.
I couldn't understand that there were different types of schools, charter schools, private schools, magnet schools... There was just school (public, of course). Going there every day simply became routine: Get up, go to school, go home. The option of extracurricular activities was scary to me at the time, and the area was already considered unsafe so I was never exposed to anything outside of that routine until I was about 12 years old.
I know firsthand that inner-city and underprivileged kids don't always have the same opportunities and resources to thrive in society as others.
Living in the inner city affects all families and people of all ages, but nobody is affected more than children. Growing up as a child in the inner city is challenging, and unfortunately, there is a natural disadvantage that comes with it. One that I understand firsthand.
Inner-city youths usually don't have adequate facilities to promote a healthy lifestyle both physically and mentally. Parks aren't always clean or safe, there isn't a variety of sports and other extracurricular activities outside of school. And the education isn't always on the same level as other more well-off areas. For most kids, a solid education is perhaps their only chance at getting off the streets, so they can create a better situation for their own kids. But if these inner-city kids aren't given the same educational opportunities as others, then they never will get out. The cycle continues.
Personally, I'm not sure who I would have been if it weren't for the opportunities my parents strove to create for me. If they hadn't believed in me enough to put me in modeling classes, I probably would never have been able to find my passion for performing in front of people, which then led me to join theater, which then segued into me competing in my first pageant. And, if you know me, you know that pageants have changed my life in a big way.
Because the environment I was living in, outside of my home, wasn't an inspirational or motivational one, I felt such a disconnect between the successful lives people were living on TV and the life that I was living or the future that I thought was attainable for me.
If we do not empower our inner-city youth it does our entire society a great disservice. We lose out on thousands, millions of potential doctors, innovators, entrepreneurs, politicians, and creatives. Think about where the world would be if people like Thomas Edison, Martin Luther King Jr, or Marie Curie hadn't grown up in supportive families or environments? Would they have believed in themselves and achieved all they have? Maybe note, and the way we live would certainly be very different.
I give all the credit for my success in life to my parents. I was lucky enough to have a mom and dad who supported me beyond all belief and had the ability to go so far out of their way in order to give me the opportunities that got me where I am today.
When I was 12, my dad would drive me two hours to a modeling school, sit in his car in the brutal Boston winter for four hours until class was out, and then drive us back home another two hours. Or when I changed schools and could join the band and learn how to play an instrument, my mom saved up all of our extra money on the side so that I could afford to be a part of the band and learn how to play the tuba and the trombone.
My parents always reminded me that they believed in my abilities, my passions, and my potential to really make a difference in the world. And knowing this became a driving force for me. If my parents thought I could do it, it gave me all the reassurance I needed.
To this day my parents constantly emphasize that I have the capabilities to achieve anything so long as I am kind to others, work hard, and have faith.
My parents have truly helped me become who I am today. Now that I am reaping the rewards of the seeds my parents sowed in me, I want to be a guiding light for the kids that may not have parents like mine. I may not be able to solve all the problems out in the world, but what I can do is give inner-city kids the hope and confidence they need to achieve a successful life despite their circumstances.
Growing up with the notion that we either are enough or not enough, just one or the other, is simply society's way of trying to cap our abilities. The place you are born, the economic class you are born into, and the parents you are born with should not decide where you end up in life. We are all more than enough, period.
That's how the name of my initiative came about, with the mission to instill confidence and empower inner-city youth to live to their full potential despite their circumstances.
The "More Than Enough" initiative consists of school talks, workshops, and one-on-one mentorship. But first, I like to focus on sharing my personal story, because I believe that when they hear about someone they can relate to and when they see what I have been able to do with my life, I can become an inspiration just by standing in front of them and telling my story.
Then I focus on building up their self-esteem and confidence within themselves, and shifting how they view the world around them. I always tell them that everything and anything they need to succeed in life, they already have inside of them. Then I give them the tools and concrete ways so they can stay on track and navigate who they truly are, what they want to do, and how to do it.
Working with inner-city and underprivileged youth is something that I am dedicating to doing for the rest of my life. I believe in the positive impact that this work will have on our society. Because no one should be capped on their capabilities.
If these kids don't have a role model in their lives, I am committed to being that for them.