Working in the tech world, Kara Goldin never expected that she would one day venture into the beverage or wellness industries, but her life just seemed to lead her that way. After giving birth to her third child, she took a cold, hard look at her personal habits and how they were affecting her health. Feeling the motivation to make positive changes, starting with a pesky soda addiction, Kara realized there was a gap in the marketplace for the one thing she desired most — healthy, flavored water. From there came hint®, which provides a huge variety of flavored water options all made from natural ingredients with no added sugar, preservatives, or artificial sweeteners. And now, hint® has expanded to include sunscreen too, made with the same clean philosophy.
We find Kara inspiring because rather than simply sitting back and waiting, she used her innovator mindset to bring her vision to life. Never taking no for an answer, she stayed committed to changing the way we approach flavored drinks and our overall discussion of health. Keep reading to learn more about Kara's story as a female entrepreneur, the mission behind hint®, and how she's now taking on Big Soda.
Livingly: What's the story behind how you started hint®?
Kara Goldin: After having my third child, I was addicted to diet soda, tired all the time, dealing with adult acne, and struggling with losing the baby weight. My doctor suggested I try taking pills to combat what I was experiencing, but I didn’t want to just be on various pills all the time. I began researching the ingredients in the soda I was drinking and realized that I needed to kick the habit. To me, drinking plain water was boring, so I started looking for flavored water without any sweeteners (natural, diet, or artificial). I couldn’t find any. Being a scrappy tech exec, I started making something at home. I tried flavoring water with strawberries, orange peels and you-name-it cut-up fruits. When I realized easy fruit got soggy, I found a creative way to just extract essences, removing any and all sugars. All of a sudden, my health problems got better and I lost 50 pounds in a matter of weeks. When the parents of my kids’ friends started asking where I got the delicious water in my house, I knew I was onto something. I decided to start hint®.
What made you want to formulate a sunscreen?
KG: Once again, a personal experience. This time a brush with skin cancer inspired me to provide a healthy solution for another issue. I had pre-cancer cells on my face, and after many visits to the dermatologist, I discovered that when I used suncare products or cosmetics containing oxybenzone, these pre-cancer cells would grow. Studies have shown that oxybenzone may enhance pre-cancer cells. I decided to throw my sunscreen away and started devising a new formula without harmful ingredients.
How is your sunscreen different?
KG: hint® sunscreen is free of harmful ingredients like oxybenzone and parabens, which are preservatives linked to hormone disruption, at a more affordable price-point than comparable sunscreens on the market. Most importantly, it’s a more enjoyable experience. Like drinking plain water, a lot of people avoid sunscreen because putting it on is a hassle and a mess. In the case of sunscreen, it doesn’t always smell great, either. Our hint® sunscreen spray is super easy to apply and lightly scented with 3 different scents — grapefruit, pineapple, and pear.
Beyond providing healthy flavored water, and now sunscreen, what are you aiming to accomplish with hint®?
KG: My vision for hint® is to provide wellness solutions for problems that everyone struggles with in different areas of their life. We want to empower people to make healthier choices by providing them with high quality products and the transparency to make those healthy choices a better experience. That’s our philosophy as we continue to grow hint®.
What has your experience been like as a female entrepreneur?
KG: When I was starting out, it was difficult to get respect from legacy players in the beverage industry. In fact, one executive went so far as to call me “sweetie.” Joke's on him because he said that in the same breath as “Americans like sweet,” and would never want a healthier option. I took that as a slight, but then as a sign. He didn’t understand what people wanted and we could win by cornering the market. His underestimation of the American psyche is also an example of what gives me an edge. I bring my personal experiences as a woman and a mother into the boardroom and the product development lab. Now, I’m able to give back by being a mentor for other entrepreneurs like myself.
I know you're taking on Big Soda. Tell me more about that and why do you think it’s important.
KG: It became clear to me early on that the beverage industry is very set in its “ways.” From the way they handle production, to how they think about what they produce, they’re not going to embrace change. They didn’t believe what I wanted to do could be done, or that people would want it, and we proved them wrong. hint® is now the largest, independent, non-alcoholic beverage producer in the US. We’re providing people with the transparency they want into what they are putting into their bodies. Healthy living matters to people and we understand that and show them respect.
What’s your inspiration for what you do?
KG: Getting my family and myself healthier—and making it fun! This was definitely my initial inspiration, and it’s so easy to stay inspired every day when I can see that we’re helping other families do the same thing.
What advice do you have for other women who see a need for something in the marketplace?
KG: Don’t believe anyone who tells you your vision is impossible. I can’t tell you how many times I was discouraged every step of the journey. I always trusted my instinct, pushed for a solution and a new way of doing things that would make a difference towards a healthier lifestyle. Prove the doubters wrong.
With water and now sunscreen, can you give us any info on what’s next for Hint?
KG: I can’t share details at the moment. We’re always working on expanding offerings within water and beyond. We never stop looking at ways where we can empower people with healthier choices for what they put in or on their bodies.