This Pumpkin Sugar Scrub Was Inspired by Olympian Shawn Johnson East’s Family Recipe

Tula's new product has already sold out at 200 Ulta locations

Former Olympic gymnast Shawn Johnson East has partnered with beauty brand Tula, helping it launch its latest product. Tula
Headshot of Richard Collings

Beauty brand Tula, whose business is booming as consumers gravitate toward skin care during the pandemic, booked another successful product launch this week with the introduction of the So Pumpkin sugar scrub, an exclusive collaboration with Olympic gold medal-winning gymnast Shawn Johnson East.

There is already a 16,000-person-long waiting list for the skin treatment, which was sold out as of Tuesday afternoon (hours after it hit shelves) at 200 Ulta Beauty locations, an exclusive retail partner of Tula, according to Savannah Sachs, the company’s CEO.

Tula.com is the company’s focus, but So Pumpkin is an omnichannel product, so it was important to have the product in stores as well, Sachs said.

Inspired by a pumpkin bread craving

Johnson East’s mother inspired the product’s creation. After craving her mom’s pumpkin bread during her pregnancy last year, she shared the recipe on social media, which subsequently “broke the internet,” she said. 

“I was the cliché woman who loves everything pumpkin spice,” Johnson East said. “And if you put pumpkin in it, I will buy it.”

Fortuitously, she was already looking to create a new product with Tula. The thought was to bring Johnson East’s pumpkin spice craving together with her favorite Tula item, the So Polished exfoliating sugar facial scrub.

It was a natural fit on the brand side, too, because, as Sachs said, “probiotics and superfoods are at the core of our products.”

Johnson East and Tula worked together for about a year to take the product from drawing board to store floor.Tula

“In these challenging times, more than ever, seasonal pumpkin spice moments are what [our customers] desire,” she said.

To bring the product to market after about a year of creation and manufacturing time, Johnson East wanted to give her community a sneak peak, hosting a pre-sale over the past weekend, which contributed to the success of the launch.

Johnson East said her followers were so receptive because of the platform she’s built with her husband and the trust she’s developed with her community. When it comes to product collaborations—which Johnson East said she rarely does—she wanted it to be something her followers would naturally gravitate toward. Her community’s love of skin care and popularity of the pumpkin bread recipe demonstrated the desire for such a product, Johnson East said.

“It has to be something my followers like, not just for me,” she said. “If I lose the trust of my followers, I lose that whole business.”

And the appeal of pumpkin spice, of course, goes far beyond Johnson East’s followers.

“Pumpkin spice has defined so many categories,” Sachs said, from food and beverage to candles and household goods. “The pumpkin spice industrial complex is a huge market.”

The recipe for a successful collaboration

Johnson East said she’s a longtime fan of Tula, and the products are “something that I really believed in.” To boot, as a part of the partnership, the champion athlete also received equity in the company.

“It was something I truly used in everyday life, and I started talking to our community about it,” she said. “It seemed like a perfect fit.”

Sachs said she found how Johnson East built her platform refreshing, particularly in sharing her personal life experiences and her journey as a mom.

“We see Shawn as a business partner,” Sachs said. “This is just a beginning.”

As for her former life as a world-class athlete, she said gymnastics taught her a number of lessons, preparing her for a life as a self-starter.


@RichCollings richard.collings@adweek.com Richard Collings is a retail reporter at Adweek.
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