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Sharapova Holds Serve for Supergoop!

By Andrew Campbell, Correspondent | June 27, 2014

With Wimbledon here, the newly-crowned French Open champion is a proponent of proper sun protection and an owner of the fast-growing sun care brand.

No one is pushing harder for an all-encompassing set of sunscreen regulations than Holly Thaggard of Supergoop! and new business partner, tennis superstar and entrepreneur, Maria Sharapova. Together, they are setting out to raise awareness about the increasing rates of skin cancer and the importance of skin care. Supergoop! has enjoyed triple digit growth every year since its debut in 2007.  Available in prestige retailers such as Sephora, Nordstrom, Birchbox, QVC and on, with Sharapova as a key player in the company, the brand plans to further strengthen its domestic distribution and expand internationally while elevating the importance of UV protection on a global scale within the next five year.

I recently had the opportunity to talk to Holly Thaggard, founder and CEO of Supergoop!, to talk about the new partnership with Sharapova and their combination of skin care and sun care  products.
Summer is just around the corner and that means barbeques, picnics, heading to the beach and increased sun exposure and a higher risk of skin cancer. Application of sunscreen is highly recommended by the FDA director Dr. Janet Woodcock and regular reapplication is highly advisable, too. On April 7th of this year, HR 4250, the Sunscreen Innovation Act, was heard before a Senate Select committee on redefining the requirements and guidelines for the specifications of sunscreen.
1. As a business partner with Supergoop! what does Maria Sharapova bring to the table?

Having Maria join our company gives Supergoop! a louder voice in working to educate consumers on the importance of daily sun care. Skin cancer is diagnosed more frequently than all of the leading cancers combined. In fact, 1 in 5 Americans will be diagnosed with it in their lifetime, and yet through a simple act, it's primarily preventable. And, not only does the use of daily UV protection help safeguard against this life threatening illness, but it’s also proven to be a key weapon in the fight against the signs of skin aging.  To date, there has not been a broad reaching voice for UV education and we’ve finally found our megaphone in Maria.

2. How did you connect with Sharapova?

Maria has actually been a huge fan of Supergoop! for years.  She really believed in our product line from the very beginning, which initially had to do with efficacy and performance in formulas that feel great to wear on your skin.  When we first met in person, I think what quickly resonated with her, and in the end why she wanted to make an investment in Supergoop!, was the realization that she could genuinely help deliver our message of skin cancer prevention and sun protection education to a larger audience and so here we are!

3. What makes Supergoop! products different from, say, Coppertone?

We set out on a mission seven years ago to create highly efficacious and multi-benefit sun protection products that feel beautiful and luxurious on the skin.  Supergoop! is a company that has pioneered UV protection innovations in unique ways delivering products that feel great on the skin, not greasy, sticky or “goopy” like more traditional sunscreen. Ultimately our products feel so great you actually want to apply sun protection every single day. We’re challenging consumers to think beyond just “sunscreen” and seasonal use of sun protection and instead see it as an essential start to a healthy life habit, every morning. We like to say Supergoop! is “super broad spectrum” in that we provide broad spectrum protection from UVA and UVB rays but also address the defense needed from IRA rays. We go beyond traditional sun care and infuse our formulas with some of the most potent antioxidants which not only are the only defense against IRA rays (sun’s heat rays) but also help to deliver anti-aging skin care benefits with every application.

4. It appears that a majority of your products are tailored specifically for UV protection for daily activities. Can you explain the importance of offering all-day, year-round protection, as opposed to beach only use?

If only everyone realized how important quality UV protection is not only when outdoors at the beach, pool or when you are planning to "be in the sun," but also it's important when you are driving in the car, walking the dog, sitting at your desk in front of a window, even outside on a cloudy day. It's the times you are in the sun that are not obvious that can lead to the most damage in the long run. Obviously we know the dangers of skin cancer and ever louder we are hearing and proving that at least 90% of the signs of aging are caused by UV exposure. For this reason we have crafted a line of products that are easy to incorporate into your daily routine without having to add yet another product to your regimen in the morning. We think of Supergoop! as your morning skincare routine and so have multifunctional products that provide high SPF broad spectrum protection, as a given, but then also deliver the skincare benefits of hydration, firming, lessening of hyperpigmentation and wrinkles, color correction and coverage that are customers seek in their morning routines. We know two things 1) if it doesn’t feel good, you won’t want to use it 2) if it’s inconvenient, you simply won’t use it. So, with every product we develop we challenge ourselves to make it feel great and be simple to use every single day.

5.  Out of the lip balm, creams, sunscreens and moisturizers, what’s been your best seller? What have you launched new for the 2014 season and why?

City Sunscreen Serum SPF 30 with Uniprotect PT-3 is our most popular suncare formula and a perfect example of our mission to pioneer UV protection innovations.  Not often do you find lightweight, fast absorbing anti-aging serums with high UVA and UVB protection.  It’s definitely a consumer favorite.  Another great example of this is our new Sun Defying Sunscreen Oil SPF 50 with Meadowfoam Seed and Argan oils.  We’ve taken an SPF 50 and layered it in a beautiful, luxurious, non-greasy beauty oil that instantly makes your skin hydrated, supple and gorgeous while preventing photoaging and sun damage at the same time.  This product is exclusive to Sephora and QVC.  We anticipate it being very popular as last week for the launch on QVC we had a sell out show within 7 minutes on air.  In everything we do, we don’t take lightly our main mission to create formulas that perform and feel beautiful on the skin so that people want to apply them every single day.

6. Last year was difficult for many sunscreen companies due to the inclement weather. How were Supergoop!’s sales? What are you doing differently in terms of marketing promotion to boost 2014 results?

We had triple digit growth in 2013 and what is most interesting is that our Q4 sales were 4x those of 2012 during the same time period.  This tells us that consumers are thinking beyond seasonal sun protection.  We’ve also seen a significant increase in the attention the media has given to this message during Fall and Winter months which likely goes hand in hand with consumer buying decisions –a great thing for skin cancer prevention and anti-aging.  

7. On the regulatory front, Congress has taken up the sunscreen issue. How involved is SuperGoop! in the regulatory process? If Congress acts on the Sunscreen Innovation Act of 2014, how do you think it will impact your company and the industry.

While reassuring that The Food & Drug Administration (FDA) ensures the safety and effectiveness of sun protective products and ingredients, it has taken too long for approval of new sunscreen agents that definitely stands in the way of innovation.  

Americans are strongly in favor of supporting a program that allows for better sunscreen products in the market.  With the help of Congress, the FDA, the PASS Coalition, and the industry, our hope is that this process will be expedited so that consumers in the United States will have access to the latest safe and effective sunscreen OTC products.  On the industry side, opening up the usage of more UV filters allows for innovation and possibly more efficacious products in the category which will help in the both the fight against skin cancer and also aging.  All very exciting!

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