The self-funded sunscreen brand that has grown 300% in sales since its debut

January 31, 2022, 11:00 AM UTC

In an effort to make eco-conscious sun care products more accessible, skin care startup Everyday Humans will be launching as the first plastic neutral-certified SPF brand in more than 700 Target stores nationwide.

The news comes following the company’s omni-channel success for its cult-favorite product: Resting Beach Face Sunscreen Serum, a plastic neutral and lightweight sunscreen serum hybrid that leaves zero white cast. The product is so popular that the brand has grown 300% in sales since its debut.

Founder Charlotte Pienaar originally started the business in 2018 under the name “Everyday For Every Body.” Pienaar participated in the Target Takeoff accelerator program in early 2019, and re-launched the brand as Everyday Humans in June 2020.

Fortune recently spoke with Pienaar, who shared more about the company’s first year in business and how she manages as a self-funded founder.

Everyday Humans founder Charlotte Pienaar.
Courtesy of Everyday Humans

The following interview has been condensed and lightly edited for clarity.

Fortune: Can you share a bit about your professional background and experience prior to launching Everyday Humans?

Pienaar: I worked briefly in equity capital markets at investment banks Macquarie and Credit Suisse after graduating from New York University with a degree in economics and pre-business. At 27, I decided to take the plunge and join a startup and have since moved away from corporate life.

My non-traditional journey took me from building social communities within an app, creating a magazine, selling digital billboard ad spaces, to working in operations, marketing and distribution for indie fashion and beauty startups. I found that my strength and passion are in entrepreneurship and young consumers. I truly enjoy building companies from the ground up and seeing products in happy customers’ hands.

Personally, tackling the addiction to plastic is something I care about as my father founded a material science company that creates solutions for our throwaway society, so you can say that reducing plastic will always be a family thing.

What inspired you to start Everyday Humans? Who is your target demographic?

I used to tan a lot in my teens, and now that I’m in my thirties—and seeing the first signs of aging—I wish someone had told me earlier the importance of taking care of my skin by using the most vital weapon against wrinkles: SPF. The education around preventive care and using sunscreen has exploded in the past few years.

But at the same time, young people are concerned about what’s actually in the formula, the related environmental impact and more importantly, authentic representation.

And that’s why I started Everyday Humans, a conscious and inclusive sun-led skincare brand that helps inspire Gen Z and millennials of all skin tones and types to wear SPF everyday. The brand takes inspiration from the creative energy and intersection of street fashion, urban culture, nature conservation and experimental art—interests and topics that excites, inspires, and resonates with myself and many humans in the “Zillennial” sub-set. 

The Everyday Humans product lineup.
Courtesy of Everyday Humans

The “Resting Beach Face Sunscreen Serum” is a particularly popular product for the brand. What went into the research and development process like for that product? Why do you think it resonates so much with buyers?

The first iteration of our sunscreen serum was developed in Australia and launched in the summer of 2018. Six months after our debut, I was accepted into the Target Takeoff Accelerator program, and the feedback from mentors I accumulated over those five weeks helped our research and development process significantly.

As a POC brand called Everyday Humans, inclusivity is a non-negotiable and we start from the formula. We created iteration two, a weightless sunscreen-serum hybrid that is truly invisible on all skin tones and leaves you with a healthy lit-from-within glow.

A year after launch, we sought feedback from customers to further improve our product and launched iteration three, which has even more skincare benefits including an added hydration boost plus anti-pollution benefits, and features an improved natural fragrance that make this multi-purpose product an all rounder SPF and skin care solution. On top of that, the range is now certified plastic-neutral, climate-neutral, and cruelty-free. 

To be honest, I was overwhelmed by the amount of support and response by the range of retailers placing a purchase order with us. We re-launched the brand in the middle of the pandemic in May 2020 and managed to sign Target, Ulta Beauty, JC Penney, Sephora APAC, Revolve, Free People, and to my surprise, over 200 local indie retailers nationwide. 

I believe it resonates with buyers because we built our range to be retail ready from the get-go. What we’ve created has not yet been served in the traditional sunscreen aisles: a unique combination of efficacious formulas, affordable price points, culturally relevant branding coupled with buttoned-up compliance and shelf-ready presence.

Your company started off self-funded. What was that experience like? What other kind of support or workforce do you have working at the company now? Have you since taken on investors or plan to in the future?

Being self-funded means we place focus on our business’ cash conversion cycle, having diverse revenue streams and sound operational efficiencies to help keep us lean and productive. Our focus is on sustainable and not break-neck speed growth from day one, hence we will be cash flow positive this year.

We are fortunate to have a network of like-minded entrepreneurs, industry insiders, and venture friends cheering us along and are able to attract and retain talent with relevant departmental experience who believe in our mission. We are not actively looking for institutional investors, but are always interested in having a conversation. 

Resting Beach Face is an antioxidant infused SPF30 sunscreen serum with hyaluronic acid.
Courtesy of Everyday Humans

Looking forward in five years, how do you want to grow Everyday Humans? What other kinds of eco-conscious products do you want to sell?

In five years, I want Everyday Humans to be the top-of-mind conscious brand for Zillennials by having a strong and differentiated assortment strategy, a sizable community of loyal customers who believe in our vision and mission, which can allow us to be creative and innovative within our category and beyond. We have an exciting pipeline of sun-led skincare products coming up that we don’t want to unveil too much.

But our team is continually innovating in the affordable planet-friendly skincare space, formulating best-in-class formulas that incorporate more sustainably manufactured ingredients, and in eco-conscious formats that achieves and exceeds our plastic reduction goals. I’m excited to unveil what our team will be launching soon, so stay tuned.

This is an installment of Startup Year One, a special series of interviews with founders about the major lessons they have learned in the immediate aftermath of their businesses’ first year of operation.