Laurie O’Hara started OLITA with an innovative new product idea and it evolved into a mission-driven brand with product integrity and a devotion to sustainability. She launched OLITA in 2015 to make the hassle of beach sand easily solved with our magical Beach Be Gone body powder product. She would take my little children to the beaches in California and they would get sand everywhere! Adapting the surfer secret of using baby powder to remove sand and salt water, she created her own proprietary blend of absorbent body powders and moved away from talc. Consumers love it! She then became aware of the lack of clean sunscreen choices and expanded into reef-safe, mineral and certified organic sunscreens. They also developed hydrating body serum and lip balms with SPF protection. They are now on a mission to be the cleanest sun care brand on Earth through every step of our business practices and product development. With global climate change and rising ocean temperatures, they want to be part of the solution and also make skin happy.
What were your initial years of growing up like? Tell us about your life before the venture/ corporate journey?
Life before OLITA was the corporate grind and not very fulfilling. I wanted to make a difference in some capacity to make an impact for my children and future generations. I started by solving a common problem and we evolved into a mission-driven brand of clean sun care products to protect skin and planet.
Every industry that is now a large-scale, top-notch business once started as a small idea in the minds of entrepreneurs. What was that idea or motivation that made you start your business/initiative? What motivated you within to say “YES, go for it!”
I had an earlier career at JPMorgan Chase, Citibank and microlending. Initially, OLITA was my side hustle, as I worked another full-time job to support my family as a single mom. I took the leap in 2019, going full-time with OLITA and saw the business grow 8x in sales the next year. I have built OLITA to 25 SKUs in four product categories within sun care. We have grown our DTC sales on our website, QVC, Amazon, and a dozen other online marketplaces and retailers nation-wide.
Tell us something about your initiative or current role. What is it about, and what impact are you trying to make?
We are on a mission to become the cleanest sun care brand on Earth. We are doing this with safe and organic ingredients, recycled primary and secondary packaging, carbon-neutral shipping, and donations to ocean conservation from all sales on our website. OLITA is protection with a purpose!
Your journey and your vision are very inspiring, but are there any achievements or accomplishments you would like to mention?
I took a cool idea and introduced a new product category into the market. While there is innovation and product improvement all the time, it is not so common or easy to create a new product category. What also makes me proud is the OLITA dedication to clean ingredients and educating consumers about why clean is better for you and the environment. This is not the cheapest or easiest path to consumer acquisition, but I know it is the right thing to do and we are leading the way to clean sun care. Being early in the clean beauty movement will ultimately benefit the OLITA brand and distinguish OLITA with a loyal consumer following. Consumers are demanding cleaner products across all categories. I am proud of the brand mission and all of the steps we are taking across all business practices to become the cleanest sun care brand on Earth. From safe and organic ingredients to sustainable packaging in PCR recycled bottles to carbon-neutral shipping to ocean conservation, we are walking the talk.
Would you like to share with our young budding women entrepreneurs the change you would like to see in the world if given an opportunity?
I would like to see clean beauty become the standard and not the exception. We are a leader in clean sunscreen and it distinguishes our brand, but the goal is to move the industry toward universally clean standards.
Women are a growing force in the workplaces worldwide, standing shoulder to shoulder with their male counterparts. There are cracks in glass ceilings everywhere, with many women breaking through to carve out a space right at the top of the pyramid. What are your thoughts about women’s leadership today?
Our values and business practices are shaped by my experiences as a woman in the workplace and a mother wanting to create a better world for my children and future generations. Raising capital and getting fully funding to scale is much more difficult for women founders compared to our male counterparts. Women leaders need to invest in women businesses and mentor other women to profitability and success.
What would you want to say to our young women leaders/audience reading this?
Start early with your passion and always ask questions to learn as you go. Get experience before you make the leap to go out on your own. Mistakes for small business owners are very expensive so learn on the job first and apply your experience in your own venture. When you launch your own business, keep going and don’t give up. It’s a long journey, so pace yourself and be tenacious!