How Our Founder Literally “Grew” A Business
Kristen Dunning founded Gently Soap to offer products to a demographic that often struggles to find solutions within the commercial skincare industry: those with sensitive skin.
Kristen was only four years old when her hair began to fall out in large clumps due to a battle with scalp eczema. As her hair recovered, the eczema on her arms, legs, and face grew worse.
Growing up, she would have an adverse reaction to anything with fragrance: soap, laundry detergent, cleaning products, and more. Even items labeled as natural and only used essential oils would break out her skin in hives and welts. Sure there were products out there labeled for sensitive skin, but they were boring and unscented. Kristen, like many others, wanted the same joyful bath experience people with "normal" skin types had access to.
Her skin dealt with it all: burning, peeling, itching, breakouts, flare-ups, you name it. It was painful, emotionally and physically, and this pain pushed her to create something better.
Following in her grandparents' agricultural footsteps, Kristen soon fell in love with the world of herbalism. As a freshman in college at The University of Georgia, Kristen pioneered a horticultural research project to develop a deeper understanding of medicinal plants and their healing properties. She fell in love with the ways she could mix and match their aromatic qualities to create something new. With the help of her faculty mentor, Dr. David Knauft, she identified calendula (Calendula officinalis L.) and chamomile (from genera Matricaria and Chamaemelum) as anti-inflammatory botanical alternatives for commercial skincare. However, this was only the beginning. Kristen took this research and expanded on it to create a new way of infusing the aromatic properties of plants and herbs into personal care products.
In early 2019, the first soap recipe was born (Gardener Knauft's). She then spent the rest of the year expanding her knowledge on sensitive skin, its profile, its causes, its aggressors, and irritants. Little by little Kristen filled a binder with herbal soap recipes, aromatic pairings, ideas, results, and observations. She perfected the soaps, tested batches, and discovered ways to increase the environmental integrity of her formulations: all from her dorm room. In October 2020, she mustered up the courage to release her formulations with the world and put her soaps on the market. Since then, she has spent all of her free-time entering (and winning) collegiate entrepreneurship accelerators.
Gently Soap is the product of Kristen’s research and personal struggle with her skin. We are challenging the notion that having sensitive skin means only using boring unscented bath products.
This line of fragrance-free, essential oil free, and herbal infused soap serves to provide a gentle, but joyful experience for sensitive skin.
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