Severe skin conditions hinder people from enjoying simple pleasures, like bathing. The founder of Gently Soap, Kristen Dunning, can attest to that because she was born with eczema. She built her brand to help people facing similar problems and got a deal with Candace Nelson on Shark Tank! As of 2023, Gently Soap is worth an estimated $1 million.
Kristen Dunning’s Background
Dunning entered the Tank and touched the hearts of many. Her product showed how much she cared about helping those with extra-sensitive skin. Not only that, the ingredients used in the product are eco-friendly.
That’s to be expected as Kristen was raised in an agricultural family. Her grandparents owned 84 acres of land and empowered a black farming community in Dixon Mills, Alabama. This motivated young Dunning to major in Agricultural Communication and Horticulture in college.
She studied at the University of Georgia and led a research project on medicinal plants for inflammatory skin diseases. The curious lady bought a greenhouse and spent three years growing herbs.
Instead of making essential oils like traditional soap makers, she created her own infusion method to form soap that wouldn’t irritate her skin. After seeing the effectiveness of the product, she made soap for her family.
Founding Gently Soap
Kristen Dunning participated in a number of research conferences and gave out samples. The feedback was overwhelmingly positive and was constantly asked for more. When the pandemic hit in 2020, Dunning created a Shopify store for Gently Soap and sold out in just two hours.
As campuses opened back up, the budding entrepreneur entered startup competitions. She won her university’s first Venture Prize Competition, winning $10,000. Months later, she won $25,000 from the Collegiate Great Brands Competition.
Currently, she is a finalist in Black Ambition, a contest with a million-dollar prize. Before being considered for the spot, Kristen got the chance to pitch her company to Shark Tank. The producers loved her story and knew it would sell well on TV.
After Shark Tank
Gently Soap already had a decent following before Shark Tank, but the next 48 hours in particular will be crazy. Kristen came across as a genuine person, not just looking to make profit or free publicity. Viewers on Twitter also praised her passion. The deal with Candace should close within the next three months.
If you’re interested in supporting her business, you can order them online at GentlySoap.com and partner websites, BLK + GRN and Mahogany. In July 2023, they started an Amazon store, where their top product has a 4.6-star rating from 30 reviews.
In 2023, Kristen and her team raised $10,000 from two investors, Startup Runway Foundation and Techstars New Orleans. Gently Soap’s recent appearance on Shark Tank would surely make it a frontrunner for the award.
Dunning plans to use her money to boost marketing efforts and find a co-manufacturer to scale operations. She’s already taking steps and has just started working with advisors to help her business.