What’s In A Brand Name? For Mineral Sunscreen Specialist Sconset, It Makes All The Difference

When Tera Washburn, her two sisters and mother (Tori, Jacqueline and Patricia, respectively) were developing their sunscreen brand three years ago, the name they selected, Clean, wasn’t a ubiquitous term.

“It was before ‘clean’ was trendy and the description of a beauty section,” says Washburn. “We realized clean could also refer to everything from household supplies to skincare. We knew ‘Clean’ was going to be challenging, so we went back to the drawing board after getting feedback at our first Indie Beauty Expo.”

Washburn and her family crowdsourced retailers for ideas to improve the brand. “We were afraid they’d see it as a rookie move, but they were so gracious and happily gave advice,” recounts Washburn. The retailers agreed a new name was needed, although they applauded the reef-safe mineral sunscreen concept and its coastally-inclined packaging. Suggested by Washburn for the brand name, Sconset is a nickname for Nantucket’s Siasconset beach, a family favorite. She says, “We went back to our roots and where we feel most connected.”

Sconset debuted Memorial Day weekend on Goop’s website and in its stores in Nantucket and Sag Harbor, N.Y. Goop is starting with two of the brand’s items priced at $24 each: On The Glow Sun Stick SPF 35 and On The Glow Tinted Sun Stick SPF 35. A month after Sconset’s Goop launch, Shen Beauty and Free People brought it into their assortments. It’s also entered select luxury spas, hotels and local retailers.

The mineral sunscreen brand Sconset originally came to fruition under the brand name Clean. The name Sconset is an ode to Nantucket’s Siasconset beach.

Because Washburn used IBE to field feedback before a full brand rollout, she was able to make tweaks before gearing up production, thus saving costly repackaging. IBE is owned by Beauty Independent’s parent company Indie Beauty Media Group. The original design for Clean featuring white packaging accented with Nantucket blue and yellow created by artist Kate Schelter aligned with the Sconset moniker. “It wasn’t too bad of a bump in the road,” says Washburn. “We missed the spring season but got everything out in time for summer.” Although she wouldn’t share sales results, Washburn says Sconset’s sales are ahead of plan across its distribution.

Goop’s team encountered Sconset at IBE. Sun care is a category Goop has been building out. It currently stocks sun-protection products from Beautycounter, Vive Sana, Naturpathica, Raw Elements, Suntegrity, Ursa Major, The Organic Pharmacy, Babo, True, All Good and Kupris in the Goop sun range.

“If you make a quality driven product, the retailer will work to make sure your packaging is presentable.”

Goop fits snugly within Sconset’s ethos of introducing products that safeguard consumers’ health and the health of the environment. The brand offers vegan, reef-safe, and gluten- and cruelty-free formulas. Being active in the sun and water is in Washburns’ DNA, but, for years, they were frustrated with mineral sunscreen products that yielded a white cast.

“We found products with the right ingredients, but the formula and quality were lacking,” says Washburn. “We were happy with our facial skincare and makeup, but not sunscreen. We talked to a lot of people and found how it rubbed in was important.”

Sconset co-founders Patricia, Jacqueline, Tera and Tori Washburn
Sconset co-founders Patricia, Jacqueline, Tera and Tori Washburn

In addition to the stick products available at Goop, Sconset sells Broad Spectrum Sunscreen SPF 30 ($24) and Broad Spectrum Tinted Sunscreen SPF 40 ($32). Hero ingredients include an orange extract from Provence generating the signature scent. “We went to Europe to source this because regulations surrounding pesticides are more stringent,” details Washburn, noting the orange extract delivers a “brightening” effect along with soothing seaweed sourced from Malibu.

Through exhaustive networking, Sconset identified a manufacturer that checked all of its boxes. “We bootstrapped and rolled up our sleeves. We shook as many hands as we could, sent emails and opened as many doors as possible,” says Washburn. “We got lucky and found a lab with more than 40 years of experience but was interested in working with an indie brand because they saw that is where growth is. They took a chance on us.”

“Why should consumers have to buy one brand of sunscreen for children and another for themselves? Our goal is to provide one universal sunscreen line that the entire family can enjoy.”

The founders are realistic about growth expectations and allocation of Sconset’s funds. “I would tell anyone to put all your money and efforts into making a great product,” counsels Washburn. “The rest will follow from there. If you make a quality driven product, the retailer will work to make sure your packaging is presentable.”

There are several products in the pipeline, including a spray and lip balm. Sconset is exploring expanding into a sun-focused lifestyle brand. “For now, we are zeroed in on suncare and offering something for everyone,” says Washburn. Sconset is aimed at entire families. She says, “Why should consumers have to buy one brand of sunscreen for children and another for themselves? Our goal is to provide one universal sunscreen line that the entire family can enjoy.”

Sconset is available at Goop, Free People and Shen Beauty.

Next year is expected to be a breakout year for the brand. Stretching to other physical stores is on Washburn’s radar. She envisions Sconset rolling out to luxury, big box and clean beauty retailers such as The Detox Market, Follain and Credo. At the moment, however, the Goop distribution enables the “right scale for growth,” according to Washburn. Social media is Sconset’s primary marketing vehicle, especially via non-paid influencers with a passion for the brand.

Sconset arrives on the sun-protection category as acquisitions are heating up within it. Beiersdorf purchased  Coppertone for $550 million and S.C. Johnson’s picked up Sun Bum. Would Washburn entertain a deal at some point? She demurs, “It is great to see the interest, but we’re focused on scaling our distribution so more families can enjoy clean, quality-driven, reef-safe sunscreen, and that’s our main priority right now.”