LOCAL NEWS

University of Utah student’s personal care brand launches in Target stores

Feb 27, 2024, 8:29 AM | Updated: 8:30 am

Sadie Bowler, co-founder and CEO of SadieB Personal Care is pictured with products from her company...

Sadie Bowler, co-founder and CEO of SadieB Personal Care is pictured with products from her company's line. SadieB Personal Care on Tuesday launched eight shampoos and conditioners from its product line in 507 Target stores. (Lassonde Entrepreneur Institute)

(Lassonde Entrepreneur Institute)

SALT LAKE CITY — Long before Sadie Bowler grew so sick and tired of the messaging she was seeing from personal care brands — and she decided to take matters into her own hands — she just had a passion for hair.

“I started styling hair when I was about 11 years old,” said Bowler, co-founder and CEO of SadieB Personal Care. “I would style hair for school dances, and then eventually for entire wedding parties.”

While this early foray into the beauty industry opened up a passion inside Bowler, it also exposed her to brand messaging that she felt was telling her — and girls like her — that they needed to look a certain way.

SadieB Personal Care on Tuesday launched eight shampoos and conditioners from its product line in 507 Target stores across the nation, as well as the Target website. (Photo: Lassonde Entrepreneur Institute)

Eventually, it started to take a toll on her mental health.

Bowler recalls preparing for a camping trip with her father and older sister, Abby Bowler. Sadie and Abby began searching for a shampoo that was sustainable and made from camping-safe ingredients. What they found was discouraging — think all-in-one soaps that doubled and even tripled as laundry detergent and dish soap.

They also loathed messaging from brands saying their products would make their hair “touchable” or “shiny” — attributes they weren’t particularly interested in as high school students.

“My focus wasn’t on what I looked like. We recognized this disconnect between all of these beauty brands and what really mattered to girls at our age,” Bowler said.

On the trip, Sadie and Abby Bowler imagined a brand that was made to meet the needs of girls and support their lifestyles and interests rather than focusing on the way they look.

A few months after this trip, SadieB Personal Care was officially born. On Tuesday, after years of hard work, Sadie and Abby Bowler celebrated eight shampoos and conditioners from their product line launching in 507 Target stores across the nation, as well as on the Target website.

Building SadieB

After graduating from high school, Bowler enrolled at the University of Utah to pursue a marketing degree, with SadieB in mind, of course.

During her freshman year of college, with support from the Lassonde Entrepreneur Institute, she launched the company with 16 products including shampoos, conditioners, body washes and body sprays.

Bowler received office space at Lassonde Studios — a living and learning community where students can live while creating and launching their business ideas — through the Company Launch program, coaching and a peer network in the Lassonde Founders residential scholarship program.

At a 2022 event celebrating the institute’s 20th anniversary, Bowler told KSL.com that she had a goal to take SadieB into retailers in the coming years.

“Think, places like Target and Ulta, just very accessible,” Bowler said at the time.

The rest of her journey to retailer shelves is one of her favorite stories to tell, she said.

Bowler and her sister went to a Lassonde-hosted event to listen to Cherie Hoeger, founder and CEO of the feminine hygiene company Saalt. They connected with Hoeger after the event and offered to send her and her five daughters SadieB products to test.

Sadie Bowler, co-founder and CEO of SadieB Personal Care, is pictured with her sister and SadieB co-founder Abby Bowler. SadieB Personal Care on Tuesday launched eight shampoos and conditioners from its product line in 507 Target stores across the nation, as well as the Target website. (Photo: Lassonde Entrepreneur Institute)

A week later, the sisters heard back via an email containing a picture of Hoeger’s daughters holding the product with big grins, as well as an invitation to connect with Hoeger’s Target broker.

They jumped on the chance, connecting with the broker and eventually pitching SadieB to a Target buyer on a five-day notice. After the pitch call in April, they didn’t hear anything for three or four months. Bowler described it as “radio silence.”

Then, out of nowhere, the sisters got an invitation for a 15-minute call with the Target buyer.

“We were like, ‘Oh, great. Just enough time for him tell us no,'” Bowler said. “We joined the call and without any introductions or anything, he just goes, ‘You’re getting into Target. Five-hundred stores in February — get ready.'”

The dream had become a reality.

Mental hygiene

Despite Sadie B. Personal Care’s meteoric rise from a small-scale online seller to nationwide availability with space on Target’s shelves, Bowler is determined not to stray from her company’s guiding vision.

Along with physical hygiene, SadieB also prioritizes something Bowler calls “mental hygiene.”

“Abby and I reimagined a personal care brand that didn’t bombard us with unfair and unrealistic beauty standards, but a brand that supported our body and mind,” Bowler said.

But what is mental hygiene and how is it offered through a personal care brand?

“Mental hygiene — just like personal care hygiene or physical hygiene — you have to practice every day. Mental hygiene is the daily practice of taking care of your mental health, and it’s this idea of preventative mental health care. When you do these small steps and build these small habits every day, just like your physical hygiene, it benefits you so much over time and keeps you from getting to a point of crisis that so many girls our age are facing right now,” Bowler said.

Sadie Bowler, co-founder and CEO of SadieB Personal Care, is pictured. SadieB Personal Care on Tuesday launched eight shampoos and conditioners from its product line in 507 Target stores across the nation, as well as the Target website. (Photo: Lassonde Entrepreneur Institute)

SadieB has also partnered with Girl Up — a movement to advance girls’ skills, rights and opportunities to be leaders — to further the company’s commitment to mental hygiene.

And for Bowler, mental hygiene is far from brand jargon.

“Every day I have to consciously decide to be kind to myself and let myself make mistakes and learn quickly. I need the SadieB message just as much as any other girl,” Bowler said.

She credits SadieB’s success to the fact that it’s different from others in the beauty and personal care industries in the sense that it’s relatable to its customer base.

“The space is so saturated. There’s so many voices, and that is what helps SadieB stand out: It’s girls talking to girls,” Bowler said, adding that she and her sister understand what girls are going through because “we’re also going through it.”

Next steps

Bowler said that the ultimate vision for SadieB is to become the No. 1 personal care brand for girls and continue to advocate for mental health care.

She added that SadieB is also a public benefit corporation and is in the process of getting B Corp certification for its social and environmental impact. Their products are salon quality with environmentally friendly, safe and all-natural ingredients.

“We really hope to expand even further into retail. There’s about 2,000 Target stores so expand into the rest of Target and then Ulta and Walmart and Kroeger and then globally into Canada and just making this message accessible to as many girls as possible to uplift them and let them know what they’re capable of,” Bowler said.

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University of Utah student’s personal care brand launches in Target stores