How Supergoop’s President Made the Leap From Wall Street to the Sunscreen Start-up

Amanda Baldwin is living proof that total major career pivots are possible… and rewarding. From her early days as a Wall Street investor, Amanda fell in love with the beauty industry—but more from an analytical sense. She quickly realized what could never be captured in a spreadsheet was her growing passion for brands and creativity. Amanda pivoted her focus and landed roles leading marketing and retail strategy for iconic beauty brands Clinique and Dior. It was there that she learned the art and science of building brand staying power and also harnessed her entrepreneurial side. In 2016, she met Supergoop! Founder Holly Thaggard and decided to join her beauty start-up to help turn her vision into reality.

How did you make the leap from investor to marketing director at Clinique?

I had a moment at Apax when I was sitting with a portfolio company where I thought to myself, “Wait—I think they are having all the fun!” That moment inspired me to apply to business school as a jumping-off point for a career pivot. I spent my time at school learning marketing and talking to anyone and everyone who would chat with me to figure out where in the consumer ecosystem I belonged. It was not an easy transition as it was super unusual at that time to go from PE into the beauty world, but when I look back, I am so glad I persevered and eventually landed my first marketing role at Clinique.

What did you bring from your experiences at Clinique and LVMH to your current role? Any aha moments along the way?

It was at Clinique and Dior that I learned the true staying power and scale of global brands and the impact that rich storytelling has on consumers. I experienced these brands (both at massive scales) firsthand, and that gave me a great guide of what we are trying to build for this next generation of beauty brands. I also got valuable insight into the operational backbone and financial responsibility that helps make it all happen.

I was always thinking about what’s next and new. I worked on Clinique’s first digital media buy, launched Dior’s Facebook page, and started working with influencers before that was even a word. This idea propelled me to join the Supergoop! team and leverage my past experiences, and that digital-first thinking is certainly paying off for us now. But I never forget the power of our retail partners and their footprint that will be back when the world is ready for it. It’s all about having the best of both worlds.

How do you position Supergoop! beyond just sunscreen products to a lifestyle brand?

Supergoop!’s product innovation is its heart and soul, but it’s always been about much more than that - our mission to make SPF an indispensable part of our customers’ routines and lives- a true part of their lifestyle. One of the things that attracted me to Supergoop! was that I saw nuggets of gold within the brand DNA that I knew could lead to what I call a Brand with a capital “B” - Holly’s founding stories, her original aesthetic...everywhere I looked there was another unique and purposeful story to tell. … So when it came to thinking big from a brand POV, I didn’t have to make anything up - it was all 100% authentic, which from my perspective is the only way to go.

While customer acquisition is a huge focus for direct-to-consumer brands, how are you approaching and thinking about customer retention efforts?

The most important retention strategy is a great product. We are change agents and we find a place in our customers’ lives—that’s the neat part about doing something new. … Building a brand that people love is also important - that deeper emotional connection to our mission and our ethos of “Live Bright” is incredibly central to how we think about the purpose behind the product.

How do you think about balance performance marketing with brand building?

"I don’t ever think of growth and brand building as opposing forces..."

I don’t ever think of growth and brand building as opposing forces, they are just two different tools in an infinitely complex marketing toolkit. You can’t build a long-lasting, world-changing brand any other way.

How has the pandemic impacted your business and how have you pivoted to address?

Our business is as strong as ever, and continues to grow. … Our mission is to ensure that everyone wears sunscreen every single day, and of course, what our days look like has changed a lot. How we communicate undoubtedly reflects that. For example, demonstrating that for those working remotely, there is still UV damage coming through a window and that all this screen time is making us more aware of the fact that we need blue light protection. And I think it’s safe to say that we all appreciate the sun and the outdoors in a new way. “Supergoop-ing up” before my morning run is my new favorite daily routine.

What’s the latest for the brand in product innovation?

Our newest SPF innovation is Glowscreen SPF 40, which launched at the end of February and quickly became one of our best-sellers. … With the increased demand for blue light protection in the past few months as many of us have relied on our screens more than ever, we’ve been focused on educating our customers around that benefit and highlighting Glowscreen as the ultimate work-from-home essential for broad spectrum, daily protection.

What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever received?

I’ve learned from every person I’ve ever worked with. One that I think about a lot is the head of HR at Dior always said, “Amanda, it’s all about the people.” I always took pride in hiring and working with the best in my prior lives, but I understand it in a whole new way now. When you are in charge of building a team from the ground up, this is truly the only thing that matters. Find great people, inspire and empower them, and be there when they need you.