Op-Ed: Treat Your Customers Like Family
Entrepreneur Kara Goldin is the founder and CEO of Hint Inc., the San Francisco-based company that produces the leading award-winning, sweetener-free flavored water, as well as a newly launched oxybenzone- and paraben-free, naturally scented sunscreen.
Goldin has won multiple awards and accolades for her creativity and innovation including being named among Fortune’s Most Powerful Women Entrepreneurs and EY Entrepreneur of the Year 2017 in Northern California. In 2016, Kara launched The Kara Network, a digital resource and mentoring platform for aspiring and established entrepreneurs. She also has a podcast, Unstoppable with Kara Goldin, which focuses on telling the story of other entrepreneurs in all industries.
Previously, Goldin was vice president of shopping and e-commerce partnerships at AOL, where she helped lead the growth of its start-up shopping business to a $1 billion enterprise. In her spare time, she and her Hint cofounder and COO husband, Theo, are raising their four children who inspire them every day. She wrote an op-ed for SheReports on how the most important thing you can do for your family is be vigilant about what they are putting on and in their bodies.
I always tell people that I never intended to start a beverage company. I started Hint to get myself and my family healthy by eliminating unnecessary and unhealthy ingredients from our lives.
Thirteen years ago, I was overweight and suffering from a bad case of adult acne, coupled with overall low energy. I wanted to get healthy again, but despite my best efforts to eat better and exercise more, I wasn’t quite reaching my health goals. So, I started to take a close look at what I was putting into my body. Soon enough, I pinpointed my diet soda addiction as a major roadblock. I was drinking 8–10 cans a day. I began to Google all the ingredients in diet soda, but I couldn’t get a definitive answer on what I was consuming, so I quit the soda cold turkey and turned to water. Regular water was a quick fix, but I hated the plain taste and knew it wasn’t a long-term solution. So, I went to my kitchen and started slicing up fruit and putting it in water. This simple solution was an instant hit with my family and friends, and so, Hint water was born!
I started Hint to get myself and my family healthy by eliminating unnecessary and unhealthy ingredients from our lives.
As I began to build up my business and better understand the world of consumer-packaged goods, I soon realized that the beverage world wasn’t the only place that could use more transparency and clarity. Major players across all categories were using misleading advertising, puzzling labels and “health” buzzwords. These were games that were ultimately playing on my health, my family’s health, my friends’ health and above all, consumer health. I asked myself, How can I help consumers really understand the truth about what’s going into their bodies and what’s inside these products? Many companies still don’t think it’s their responsibility to help educate consumers on health and what these different labels actually mean. I wanted to change that. Because of this, I’ve made it my mission to create better products that cut out the bad ingredients.
I went to my kitchen and started slicing up fruit and putting it in water. This simple solution was an instant hit with my family and friends, and so, Hint water was born!
I didn’t want to limit myself to beverages. Thanks to a scary dermatologist visit, I saw another problem that needed solving on the horizon.
A few years ago, I learned I had precancerous skin cells on my nose. I had it treated right away, and thank goodness it was caught in time, but I continue to watch it. I decided to look at my cosmetics and cut out as many substances that made me feel uncomfortable.
I started with my sunscreen, doing my research and taking a hard look at the ingredients in most sunscreens on the shelves. My research kept leading me back to this chemical called oxybenzone. Although it is FDA- and American Academy of Dermatology-approved for use in sunscreen, there is talk around oxybenzone. Hawaii state lawmakers recently passed legislation banning the sale and distribution of sunscreens that use it and octinoxate, another sunscreen chemical, because of the harm they do to coral reefs.
Parabens, a category of preservatives commonly used in sunscreen, has also been the subject of discussion relating to its potential to act like estrogen. Although it is FDA-approved for use in cosmetics, including sunscreen, I asked myself, If these ingredients are questioned, wouldn’t I have more peace of mind using a product with different ingredients?
Many companies still don’t think it’s their responsibility to help educate consumers on health and what these different labels actually mean. I wanted to change that.
Just as I did with Hint water, I went back to my kitchen to solve my own problem. I wanted a sunscreen that was not only free of these ingredients but also smelled amazing and felt good on my skin. The result of my experimentation was Hint sunscreen, an SPF 30 sunscreen spray that uses the same natural fruit essences that we use in Hint water to give it a delicious and subtle fragrance. Not only does it smell amazing but it’s also oxybenzone- and paraben-free. I want everyone to feel at ease as I do about what they’re putting on their skin.
Day in and day out, I make it my mission to work with consumers to help educate them about what they’re putting into and on their bodies. I treat my customers like family. I look out for their health and well-being just as I did 13 years ago when cutting out unnecessary and unhealthy ingredients from my family’s lives. Our customers help to keep our business afloat, so I believe I have a responsibility to educate them on how to live the healthiest life that they can.
Fruit-infused water and sunscreen are just the beginning for us. At Hint, we’re working hard to roll out disruptive approaches in other health and lifestyle categories, so stay tuned to see what else we whip up in the name of health!