COOLA is passionate about making healthy suncare products that people love to wear every day. Company founder and chief eco-entrepreneur, Chris Birchby, recognized the public’s general perception of sunscreen as being heavy, greasy and a hassle, so he set out to create a lightweight, organic sunscreen that could be easily added to a daily routine.
Birchby hadn’t been fully attentive to the dangers of the sun until both of his parents were diagnosed with melanoma. When he moved to California for graduate school, Birchby experienced an organic lifestyle for the first time and instantly connected with the area’s quintessential laid-back attitude, which became the inspiration for the COOLA brand.
There were many hurdles that COOLA had to navigate. In the three years it took to get to market, the company experience production and manufacturing issues, false promises from labs, and a devastating warehouse fire. With a great deal of patience and willpower, they were finally able to hit the market with an organic product in 2007.
Birchby notes that while these setbacks delayed growth, they ended up benefiting the company in the long run. “By this point, we had reformulated and crafted our mission statement in a way that we had much more success the second time than if we had gone to market with the first run,” he says.
The company was also able to take the time to target a more niche market of resorts and spas, which became truly invested partners, lending feedback and constructive criticism as the brand continued to grow. COOLA was eventually able to expand to larger retail partners like Sephora, Ulta and Nordstrom, as well as create a partnership with Target’s sister brand, Bare Republic. The steady approach paid off and COOLA is now offered in more than 40 countries.
Today, COOLA is running smoothly, which can be attributed to the fact that it owns all its processes in-house, including product development, sales, marketing, creative, finance, accounting, analytics and logistics. But Birchby isn’t stopping; his goals include expanding to national grocery chains and aesthetic lifestyle stores, eventually serving the entire suncare industry with unique and innovative products.