SWAIR Co-Founders Talk Entrepreneurship, the Beauty Industry, and Hair Care
Showerless Shampoo from Athletes
SWAIR is a tale of two runners who wanted more — more from their hair care products and more from the beauty industry. Co-founders Carrie Sporer and Meredith Krill met in 2007 while training for the New York City Marathon. Both were tired of the wear and tear on their hair from daily post-workout shampoos and harsh ingredients. They couldn't find what they were looking for in the market, so they set out to create the perfect product for themselves. The two founders slowed down long enough for us to pepper them with questions about their journey to date. Keep reading to get the inside scoop on SWAIR, how showerless shampoo works, and a few tips for new runners.
Carrie and Meredith, what inspired you to found your own company?
SWAIR’s Showerless Shampoo 100% came from personal need. My co-founder and I both workout regularly and had to plan our workouts around what days we had enough time to wash our hair afterwards. We tried dozens of products over the years, but never found anything that left our hair feeling shower-clean. We knew we couldn’t be the only people with this problem, so we decided to create the dream product that was missing from our routine.
What have been some of the challenges or learnings getting SWAIR off the ground?
We had an extensive “NO” list of ingredients we would not allow in our formula. Finding a lab that would work with our list proved more of a challenge than we anticipated. We called many labs explaining what we wanted to accomplish with Showerless Shampoo, but many insisted that alcohol or a harsher cleaning agent would be needed. We finally found a lab that was on board with our non-negotiable list, and they helped to create our “miracle in a bottle.” We have enjoyed a great partnership with them ever since and are excited to develop new and exciting projects in the future.
We also built our brand through a pandemic which caused many delays and changes in procedure, but we have adapted and were very fortunate to launch our business during this extremely challenging year.
What have you learned about ingredients and the cosmetics industry along this journey?
Since neither of us had a background in beauty, building SWAIR has been a crash course in haircare, and we’re still learning a lot every day. I think what has been most eye-opening to us is the lack of regulation in the clean beauty sector. There are no specific guidelines around what makes a product “clean” so companies are able to make claims without having to back them up. In addition, each retailer with a “clean” beauty section has their own rules, which is difficult for an indie brand to navigate.
In an industry bursting at the seams with products, what sets SWAIR haircare products apart?
This is a great question and one that we talk about a lot because consumers have tons of options when it comes to hair care products. What we are most excited about regarding SWAIR’s Showerless Shampoo is that we are introducing a new category of haircare product. We consider Showerless Shampoo a dry shampoo alternative. It actually cleans your hair, unlike dry shampoo which uses powder to absorb oil and often leaves you with pasty hair or an itchy scalp. Overall, we feel strongly about bringing customers new and innovative products, not just another version of something that’s already in their bathroom.
We have seen an explosion in indie and DTC brands over the years, with a focus on clean and sustainable beauty. How have these trends affected your brand and approach to launching a beauty company?
We created SWAIR’s Showerless Shampoo with the health of our customers and our planet in mind. When we were ideating a product that cleans your hair quickly outside of the shower, we both agreed that a non-negotiable for us was that Showerless Shampoo must be a clean beauty product. The brand is designed for people who work out, and we know that they don’t want to take the time and effort to exercise for their wellbeing and then turn around and put unhealthy products on or in their bodies. The great thing about Showerless Shampoo’s formula is that it is vegan, cruelty free (Leaping Bunny certified!) and made without sulfates, parabens, phthalates, formaldehyde, artificial dyes or short chain alcohols making it suitable for virtually every hair type. The dermatologist-tested formula is also safe for use on chemically treated hair and extensions.
Sustainability was an equally important sticking point in creating SWAIR. By using Showerless Shampoo, customers are saving a significant amount of water over time. By skipping traditional shampoos and cleaning your hair out of the shower just twice a week, you save over 300 gallons of water each year. Additionally, we chose packaging and materials that are made from recycled materials or can be recycled. We also do not include excess filler in our shipping boxes.
What is your advice for other young women and aspiring entrepreneurs?
Don’t be afraid to ask questions! It can be intimidating to ask questions that might seem “basic” to someone else in your industry, but we’ve been so pleased with everyone’s willingness to help us learn. For example, we had no idea what the “neck size” measurements of a bottle meant - we had to ask our bottle manufacturer to explain it to us. We felt like such novices, but they said, “This is what we’re here for!” In addition, we reached out to some beauty founders we admire, and we were so excited that they were willing to take some time out of their days to speak with us. We never would have had those opportunities if we did just go ahead and ask!
What is your personal hair care regimen?
Before Carrie and I founded SWAIR, I (Meredith) was washing my hair every day of the week due to intense sweat sessions at the gym. My hair care regimen consisted of a traditional shampoo and conditioner followed by a blow dry with a round brush – about 30 minutes every morning working on my hair. Now that we’ve founded our “miracle in a bottle” that is SWAIR’s Showerless Shampoo, I am doing two traditional washes a week and every other day of the week, I use our product. Showerless Shampoo is amazing and leaves your hair feeling just as clean as if you did a regular shampoo in the shower. It saves me so much time and I can’t imagine going back to washing my hair every.single.day.
Like Meredith said, Showerless Shampoo truly changed the way I (Carrie) care for my hair. As a mom, with two young boys that I am also getting ready in the morning, any minutes I can save are extremely valuable. Right now, I am loving Briogeo for my shampoo and conditioner when I do wash my hair in the shower. I also invested in the Dyson Supersonic hairdryer a few years ago, and it has been worth every penny!
How does SWAIR Showerless Shampoo work?
When you apply a few sprays of SWAIR’s Showerless Shampoo to your hair, the technology in the formula loosens the dirt/sweat/daily grime from your hair follicles and scalp. Then, you towel dry your hair to actually remove and lift away the dirt. You may have some excess moisture in your hair from the water component in your sweat or from the product itself, so you can air dry or blow dry as needed. After that, style as desired.
We like to say “spray sparingly, towel dry vigorously.” Also, after you use Showerless Shampoo, the coating remains active on your hair so you can towel dry again without adding more product if you’re in need of a midday touch up. It’s a total game-changer.
You both have trained for and run marathons. Any running advice for our members?
- First and foremost you NEED a good pair of running sneakers. (Meredith wears Brooks Glycerine and Carrie steps out in New Balance 880.) After almost 15+ years of running, we still go to specialty running stores to do a shoe test at least once a year to make sure that we are wearing the proper shoes that match our foot strike. Things like weight changes, recent injuries, and pregnancies can all affect your stride. It is so important to run in a good pair of sneakers that fit your foot! When I (Meredith) ran my first marathon, I chose a pair of sneakers based on looks – huge mistake! Go for comfort not colors.
- We also both run with the Garmin Forerunner 235 watch. It is not only perfect for tracking miles, but we wear it all day long to count our steps on non-run days. The fact that it looks good is an added bonus!
- Our last piece of advice is to figure out your nutrition plan (and practice it on all of your training runs). We like to use Hammer Gels every few miles - their Nocciola flavor is a dead ringer for Nutella. It tastes good and is easy on the stomach 😊.
How important are online reviews and customer feedback to the success of your business?
Online reviews and customer feedback is extremely important – both positive and negative. Positive reviews speak to the efficacy of our product and gives customers a sense of comfort that a “new to the market” product actually works and lives up to the brand’s claims. We’re also open-minded about any criticism since it helps us to continually improve and create better products. Since we are a start-up, we can react quickly to any concerns - its is definitely one of the benefits of being a small team.
Have you tried SWAIR yet? Do you have any tips for beauty-loving athletes? Let us know in the comments below!