Gigi Goldman is a lucky lady. Three years ago the mother of three had zero self-care time. Needing a go-to product, something that would multitask and be organic, she turned to coconut oil. Gigi used it on everything: chapped lips; dry skin; flat hair; sunburned shoulders. Her husband, the Chief Operating Officer of a San Diego beauty supply chain and Co-founder a beauty distribution company, suggested they start a beauty line made with the versatile ingredient. In 2014 the pair started researching products and began looking for investors. Luckily, beauty and wellness enthusiasts James Brennan and Kiana Cabell became partners. Kopari Beauty launched a year later. “Our lead sku, the Organic Coconut Melt, is the product that really put us on the map,” said the 44-year-old Illinois native, who now lives in La Jolla, California with her family and is where the business is located. “It is simply 100% organic and unrefined coconut oil that is sustainably-sourced from the Philippines, and can be used as a body moisturizer, hair mask, shave oil, makeup remover and baby balm.” Eighteen skus and four collections later, the multi-category brand has had triple digit growth yearly. Lucky, indeed. Gigi found time to talk to with CEW’s Beauty Insider for the 5 Minutes With… feature.
Beauty Insider: What did your husband think of a coconut oil-inspired beauty brand when you first brought the idea to him?
Gigi Goldman: He was simultaneously doing research on new and exotic natural ingredients in beauty products when he saw me using coconut oil on everything in our household from cooking to our kids’ scrapes. We realized then that coconut oil was going to be our hero. We were also both very invested in the natural approach so our mission from the beginning was to create clean and effective products at an approachable price. The brand is also about so much more than products. It is about creating a playful, balanced, transportive lifestyle, inspired by Southern California vibes.
BI: What are three milestones Kopari has reached?
GG: We welcomed sizable investments from partner L Catterton. We expanded the brand into more than 2,000 retailers, including Sephora, Ulta Beauty and Nordstrom. And, we’ve taken our products global with Sephora Canada, Southeast Asia and Australia.
BI: What’s been one of the hardest decisions to make?
GG: We launched as a digitally-native brand in October 2015 and within six months every major retailer was knocking on our door. We debated if we should just stay with our DTC channel. In the end, we decided to take an omni-channel approach because we wanted to be everywhere our customer shops. Convenience is key. We wanted the consumer to be able to touch and feel our products. We hope to one day have our own retail stores or pop-up shops.
BI: What were some challenges?
GG: As a founder team we experienced so many firsts, which has been exhilarating, exhausting, intense and incredible, all at the same time. While my husband has a plethora of beauty industry experience, none of us have developed a beauty brand from start to finish before. I think that fresh perspective gave us the ability to create something really unique and authentic because we didn’t have boundaries, but there was a lot to learn in a very short amount of time, everything from shipping logistics, to raising money to managing the biggest retailers in the world.
BI: What new products can consumers expect to see?
GG: We will continue to build on our prestige personal care category because we have seen so much success in that area. We launched our first personal care sku, the Coconut Deodorant, in January of this year. In just nine months, this product has catapulted to number one within our portfolio. So we will expand the deodorant range with additional scents. We’ll also release a fluoride-free Coconut Toothpaste at the end of this year. And we have a big launch activation planned for Q1 2019.
BI: What’s the biggest lesson you’ve learned over the years?
GG: Do what you do best and trust others to do what they are good at. You can’t be good at everything. Have the confidence to stay in your lane.
BI: Greatest accomplishment thus far?
GG: My family! They inspire and support me in every way. And having the guts at 40 to start a company and risk it all.
BI: Biggest mistake you’ve made?
GG: Getting too emotional.
BI: What product (not your own) is your favorite and why?
GG: I think Milk Makeup’s Lip + Cheek Tint in Rally is my favorite product because it is so convenient to keep in my purse for when I need touch ups throughout the day.
BI: Best advice for newbies entering the business today?
GG: Just do it! Keep your day job, be a good student, surround yourself with people who know more than you do and make sure you are filling a white space.
BI: What’s something no one tells you when starting a business?
GG: It’s the hardest thing I have ever done. It’s a roller coaster ride. If you’ve never launched a business before, you will find that there is so much that you don’t know, but that’s okay! The key to success is to never stop learning throughout the process.
BI: What’s a mantra you live by?
GG: “Success is not final, failure is not fatal. It is the courage to continue that counts.”
BI: If you were to write the note found in a fortune cookie, what would it say?
GG: Just do it and figure it out later.