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People always ask me how Goddess Garden became an overnight success. I laugh. The reality of growing a successful business was quite different. Throughout it all, we just took things one step at a time, one day at a time. That’s what I tell my team. None of this happened overnight, but luckily a lot of great todays led us to where we are now.
I started my company as a way to solve a problem. My baby daughter, Paige, was the inspiration for our first product. As a six-month old, she was allergic to most synthetic ingredients (even in so-called “natural” body care products). Poor baby! As a mom, I started looking at all of the junk we were using on our kids and ourselves. This was the beginning of Goddess Garden.
There were a few natural sunscreen alternatives, but they had the texture of toothpaste and felt greasy to me. I knew there had to be a better way. Enter my super-supportive husband, Paul, who created our first sunscreen. He helped me turn our basement into a lab. As a nutritional scientist, he used the best food-grade ingredients he could find and made it with only sheer minerals, plant-based organic oils and pure lavender for the scent.
In fact, my whole family and friends had a role in making this happen. They were my first customers, and they continue to support me. My husband, Paul, is now the CFO and helps me run the company.
The “Garden” beings to grow
After that, I started making all of my family’s skincare products. I made a diaper-rash ointment. I made lotion and shampoo. I even made an eye gel to counter those sleepless nights that go hand in hand with being an entrepreneur and a mom with young children. Pretty soon my friends were buying these products, too.
In 2005, we attended our first event, the Telluride Bluegrass Festival. I was still making an entire line of products, and we took them all to the festival. At 9,000 feet with intense mountain sun, we sold out of mineral sunscreen by the second day. What a great test market! We had 10,000 people happy to try our sunscreen. Once they saw how sheer it was and tested how it felt on their skin, they were hooked! While I believed in all our products—and still do—I turned to my one-step-at-a-time approach. The festival showed us the biggest need was for a safe and effective mineral sunscreen. After the festival, we took a step back and began to focus exclusively on products to help people enjoy being outside.
Listening and learning from other moms
I think a large part of our success has been paying attention to what people really want and need. As a mom looking for the best for her family, I am my own target market. Learning from other moms, Goddess Garden grew up at the Boulder Farmer’s Market, following in the footsteps of amazing brands like Celestial Seasonings and Justin’s. We were fortunate to have the chance to learn from our customers, and all of this helped us make the best mineral sunscreen on the market.
In 2009, we sold sunscreen to our first Whole Foods store, and launched our products in 100 natural grocery stores around the country, including a great chain in Seattle called PCC. One of the things we noticed from our Farmer’s Market days was that people had a preconceived notion of mineral sunscreen being thick and pasty. To get past this, we placed the first testers on the shelves so people could try them. We also noticed a lot of people liked the convenience of continuous sprays, so in 2014, we created the first organic continuous spray. In 2016 we came out with our sunscreen sticks and an award-winning line of facial care that counters wrinkles and other sun damage. And we’ll keeping working to make life easier!
Solving problems though innovation
Innovation and intuition are key. We’ll always pay attention to people and do what we can to try to help them enjoy the outdoors a little more—worry free! And part of being able to enjoy nature is doing our part to protect it. From day one, we didn’t want our products to solve one problem, but create another for Mother Earth. That’s why our products are made with minerals and nourishing, plant-based ingredients. Paul and I have always had a huge respect for nature, and we created a company that matched our beliefs. When we outgrew the basement and moved into a building in Boulder County and later a certified B Corp. We set up our process to conserve energy, and we recycle everything we can. Even our packaging is recyclable, which is rare in the skincare industry.
We want to be good environmental stewards and to set a good example for our children. After all, Goddess Garden came into existence because I was trying to be a good mom and help others do the same. Those principles worked for us when we started and continue to work for us now. And we must be doing something right because we’ve doubled in size every year! We even caught the eye of Renewal Funds, a Vancouver-based venture capital firm, that specializes in helping sustainable, mission-driven businesses. They partnered with us in our first Series A investment to help accelerate our company mission—to offer products that help people eliminate toxins from the home and environment, particularly those affecting the coral reefs.
I wish I could tell you exactly how I did it, but the truth is, I didn’t do it by myself. We’ve become a national brand because I’ve been fortunate enough to be surrounded by good people—people who care—people who work hard, support our passion and help each other out. And we take things one step at a time and stay true to who we are—family, friends, neighbors and people who love the outdoors and want to help others love it, too!
-Nova Covington, Founder of Goddess Garden
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