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Ten years ago, two parents in a Vanagon full of natural body products made the winding trek to the Telluride Bluegrass Festival. Four sunny days later, what came back down the mountain was a company: Goddess Garden.
Co-founders Nova and Paul had been making natural body products for their family and friends for a while, but they’d never done any kind of official event. When the chance to have a booth at the Telluride Bluegrass Festival came up, they jumped at it. The festival draws 10,000 thought leaders from all over the country, many of whom regularly use natural products. Nova and Paul felt it would be an ideal opportunity to introduce their products and spread the word.
It wasn’t exactly “the word” that spread; however, it was the scent. Paul and Nova were joined by Nova’s brother and first investor, Cheyenne. Together, the trio kept the festivarians covered by providing free sunscreen. The more people used the sunscreen, the more others noticed it. Soon, people from all over the festival were coming up to their booth, saying they smelled this amazing bergamot-patchouli or lavender-mint sunscreen, and asking if it was Goddess Garden’s.
As luck would have it, the weather was on their side, too. The festival was four days of blue skies at 9,000 feet. Sunscreen was on top of everyone’s mind and the samples were a hit! The harsh, mountain rays really put their products to the test, but no one who sampled the products suffered a sunburn! After the first day, everyone was talking about how well their products worked and how the scent was so pleasant and “un-chemical.” Midway into the festival, Nova and Paul completely sold out of their mineral sunscreen. They had to start a mailing list to ship it to people who were not able to purchase it onsite. They also managed to get their first spa contracts in Telluride, which later led to a successful B2B business.
We’d all like to say Nova and Paul foresaw the success of their sunscreen, but that wasn’t the case. Sunscreen was almost an afterthought—albeit a very good one! Nova and Paul were already making a rich, shea butter lotion and, in the days leading up to the festival, they decided to add minerals to turn the lotion into a sunscreen. The result was a luxurious lotion that offered powerful sun protection. It turns out it was exactly what people had been waiting for!
After the festival, Goddess Garden grew. They started attending Farmer’s Markets and continued to sell to their new spa customers. All the while, Nova and Paul kept thinking about that festival and how people really loved their sunscreen. For Nova and Paul, their mission became as clear as the blue skies that made the perfect introductory environment for their mineral sunscreen. The world was ready for a more natural sunscreen that went on sheer, smelled amazing and offered powerful protection—even in the strong Colorado mountain sun! They dropped the rest of their products and began to specialize in suncare.
As demand for mineral sunscreen grew, so did Goddess Garden. Today, multiple Vanagons can’t hold us all, but we’ll never forget that our roots are firmly planted at the Telluride Bluegrass Festival.
It’s been an amazing decade and we want to thank all our fans for believing in us then, and for letting us continue to do what we love: helping people love the sun!
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