Clare Maskall, co-founder of SunKiss tells us about sustainable mineral sunscreen.
First of all, how are you and your family doing in these COVID-19 times?
Clare Maskall: Thank you, it’s been a rollercoaster, with highs and lows. The highs were being able to spend unexpected months with my son, who came back to Dubai from London for lockdown. The lows were witnessing the world shut down within weeks, with millions of innocent lives lost and established businesses collapsing. We have all learned never to take anything for granted again.
Tell us about you, your career, and how you founded SunKiss.
Clare Maskall: I was in the distribution for over ten years here in Dubai. During that time, I worked with a popular sunscreen brand from the US. I was always conscious of the high costs of freight and the limitations of working with a brand on the other side of the globe. We decided to go our separate ways, and I put all my energies and knowledge of the market into building a locally produced, luxurious, sustainable, and ultimately refillable product line.
How does SunKiss innovate?
Clare Maskall: We are the first sunscreen to be produced in refillable aluminum bottles. We are constantly looking for innovative ways to package our products, therefore minimizing the chances of them ending up in a landfill.
How does the coronavirus pandemic affect your business finances?
Clare Maskall: We were ‘lucky’ to go into production after lockdown, so we had time to regroup and strategize our launch. We have had to be much more flexible due to budgets being slashed, so we are open to consignment and low MOQ’s with flexible payment terms. This gives SunKiss the exposure in the market that it needs as a young unknown brand and gets our foot in the door while we build strong partnerships.
Did you have to make difficult choices regarding human resources, and what are the lessons learned?
Clare Maskall: As we are such a young company, we thankfully didn’t have a large team to make the difficult decisions about.
How did your customer relationship management evolve? Do you use any specific tools to be efficient?
Clare Maskall: Funnily enough, we are just figuring it out now. I personally have an aversion to my inbox being full, and I find it’s a stress trigger. So rather than lots of internal emails, we are trying to find a way to work on projects within a shared document, therefore, minimizing internal emails as much as possible. Of course, it only works if it’s used and continuously updated in its early days!
Did you benefit from any government grants, and did that help keep your business afloat?
Clare Maskall: Although UAE does offer generous support programs and grants for female entrepreneurs and start-ups founded by women, we did not take advantage of that.
Your final thoughts?
Clare Maskall: It’s important to remember that COVID will pass, and life will be back to the new normal, hopefully with lessons learned. While waiting, make the most of your local business community, collaborate and be open to any new avenues this leads to. The world is changing fast, so it’s important to be brave and fluid in the market.