Right before a camping trip, Sadie and Abby Bowler and their dad once stopped at an REI store. The sisters grabbed a bottle of Dr. Bronner’s shampoo, which the label says could also be used as dish soap and laundry detergent – which made them laugh.
Another time, Sadie Bowler was looking for shampoo in a grocery store. Her dad picked up two bottles and asked, “Do I want body all day?” Or palpable sweetness? A couple of women standing in the nearby aisle giggled.
The experiences got Bowler thinking.
“I felt like they were talking to me like I was a person desperately concerned about what people thought of me and what I looked like,” she said. “Or, I was a chemical engineer who formulated these products and knew these chemical names” written on the back of the bottles and what they did to his hair.
“I’m neither,” added Bowler. “I am a teenager.”
The post “sounded off-putting,” and she guessed it “didn’t fit” other Gen Z girls either. So, Bowler and her sister started their own brand.
With their shampoos, conditioners, body washes and body sprays, the sisters wanted to change the way these products are made and marketed to women and girls. As Bowler explains in his elevator pitch:
“We provide personal hygiene for the girls, as well as mental hygiene,” she said. “So we’re not focusing on looks anymore and on uplifting girls, their abilities and accomplishments.”
Bowler, 19, officially began selling SadieB personal care products online (www.sadieb.co) on Thursday – just after finishing his freshman year at the University of Utah. His sister and co-founder, Abby, is not there to celebrate in person, as she is still on a mission with The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. So the two chose their launch date to coincide with Abby’s 21st birthday.
SadieB products include four categories: The Go-Getter, for “successful girls” and for everyday use. The Athlete, for “girls who go the extra mile”, with a formula for those who move and sweat. The Adventurer, for “girls who climb mountains”, designed to keep their hair healthy in the sun and in dry climates. And the Creator, for the “daring girls”, who often color and change their hair.
“I feel like a little piece of me is in each one of them,” said Bowler, who has always had a passion for hairdressing, styling people for weddings, school dances and school events. .
And she said she hoped the girls would connect with all of the characters — not just one. “You can have your foot in any door,” Bowler said.
“We must change capitalism”
SadieB labels note that the company and its products are “powered by girls” — to let customers know that the company is “founded, led and operated by girls,” Bowler said.
There are 11 girls and young women on a panel who give Bowler feedback on SadieB’s website, product development, social media and other topics.
There are also five girls and young women who serve as advisory members, Bowler said, who “have taken on real roles for equity in the business.”
They serve on the board of directors, which also includes Davis Smith, founder and CEO of Cotopaxi, and Chris Bowler, founder of Creminelli Fine Meats, who is also Bowler’s father.
Smith got involved because he is friends with Chris Bowler, he said. And now her daughter, Savanna Smith, is helping out with SadieB’s social media content.
It’s impressive how Bowler and other young entrepreneurs are building values into their brand, Smith said.
“We have to change capitalism,” he said, and think about the impact on people and the planet. The work Bowler is doing “gives me a lot of hope,” he said.
Women have also historically been backed by venture capitalists at an “incredibly lower” amount than men, Smith said. The way that will change, Smith says, is to have “great examples” of brands, such as SadieB, being built by young women who “show they can do amazing things and build amazing businesses.”
It was “really fun to see the board of all these really strong girls who dream big and are ambitious and excited to build and create,” Smith said. Older adults are there to listen and step in when helpful, he said.
McKenzie Bauer, co-founder of Thread Wallets, is also a board member of SadieB, alongside Jared Allgood, co-founder of Healthy Together and Twenty; and Noelle Bates, Vivint’s vice president of public relations.
“Do what excites you”
Diarra Niang, 18, is the company’s head of partnerships, and she helped SadieB connect and work with the United Nations Foundation’s Girl Up and Girls on the Run.
Niang and Bowler went to Skyline High School in Millcreek together, and Bowler asked her if she wanted to help out with SadieB.
Niang said she likes the company’s mission. She joined Bowler earlier this month for the Lassonde Entrepreneur Institute Marketplace at the U., where people could learn about different startups and companies.
SadieB’s labeling is simple, with text telling shoppers that the products are “free of harsh parabens, dyes and sulfates,” use “100% natural fragrances,” and bottles are made from 85% recycled materials. .
“It smells so good,” said a woman who picked up and sniffed body spray off the SadieB table at the market.
People gave Bowler and Niang “Lassonde Dollars” green papers, which were given away at the event and were worth $5 each, to buy the body sprays. This paper money then turned into real money that SadieB was able to keep.
As more people approached the table, Bowler continued to replenish the products, laid out next to the SadieB stickers. Sometimes when people found out she was a freshman, Bowler said they were like, “That’s crazy. I can’t believe you do this.
Rounding out the SadieB team are Maggie Broadbent, Marketing Director; Kennedy Allgood, Director of Customer Experience; and Lydia Wells, who works on accounting and finance.
In addition to mentorship from her father and others, Bowler said she learned a lot while attending the Business Scholars program at the University. His sister Abby, meanwhile, is studying economics at Brigham Young University.
Over the past two years, the two have sampled products to create their own formulas, chosen color combinations and prepared their websites. Once they launch Thursday, Bowler will fulfill orders from their warehouse in Salt Lake City, package them, and “ship them out with love,” she said.
There’s a “strong” pressure in society that girls have to “look a certain way, to achieve that beauty ideal,” Bowler said. She hopes SadieB will send the girls a different message as they get ready each day.
“Go ahead,” she said, “and do what you’re passionate about.”
Becky Jacobs is a Report for America body member and writes about the status of women in Utah for the Salt Lake Tribune. Your donation to match our RFA grant helps him keep writing stories like this; please consider making a tax deductible donation of any amount today by clicking here.