“It takes a village to raise a baby, but I also think it takes a village to raise a brand.”
Meet Carrie Spore, co-Founder of Swair, haircare for people who workout, formulated with clean ingredients. The hero product is Showerless Shampoo, a first-in-kind product that cleans sweaty hair without suds, rinsing or residue.
Carrie met her co-founder Meredith Krill while training for the NYC Marathon in 2007. They had signed up with the same charity program to secure our spots for the race and fundraise for a good cause. Running at the same pace, they ended up logging hundreds of miles together that summer and fall. After race day, they continued to meet up several times a week to work out and added yoga and bootcamp to the mix.
While Carrie and Meredith loved the benefits of working out regularly, they shared the frustrations of washing their hair during every post-workout routine. When they couldn’t find the proper solution to combat this need, they set out to create a product that could clean your hair without requiring a full blow dry afterwards. After searching the market and coming up empty, they decided to make it themselves, and SWAIR’s Showerless Shampoo was born.
Their goal has been to create revolutionary haircare made from safe, high quality ingredients for active people. They focus on products that multi-task and save time so you can be in the gym, on the mat, or wherever you break a sweat.
Since its founding in 2020, SWAIR has not only supported those living an active lifestyle, but also people navigating motherhood, medical situations, or other scenarios where taking a full shower isn’t always possible.
Carrie graduated from Penn with Bachelors’ Degrees in both Economics and Communications. Prior to launching SWAIR, she held positions as the Director of Sales at Judith Leiber, VP of Sales and Operations at Edie Parker, and launched her own sales and operations consultancy.
Tell us a bit about your company.
SWAIR creates time-saving haircare for people who workout, formulated with clean ingredients. Our hero product is Showerless Shampoo, a first-in-kind product that cleans sweaty hair without suds, rinsing or residue.
What is your funding stage?
Bootstrapped to date, but preparing for our seed round
What inspired you to start your business — what opportunity in the market are you seeking to address?
I started this business truly out of personal need. I met my co-founder while training for the NYC marathon back in the summer of 2007, and we were frustrated that we needed to wash our hair in the shower after every sweaty run. The only product on the market to address “dirty” hair was dry shampoo, but it wasn’t effective on any real amount of sweat, not to mention the residue and chemicals. After more than a decade of dreaming of a product that could clean sweaty hair quickly, I finally started calling chemists to help bring my dream product to life, and SWAIR was born.
There is a huge opportunity in the market for people who are looking to “go from sweaty to ready in five minutes or less.” We are creating a new category to serve the needs of active individuals that are looking for high-quality products that multi-task and save time. In addition to our Showerless Shampoo, there is a leave-in conditioner, SweatShield, that has been dubbed “a blowout in a bottle.” We have an extensive wishlist for R&D and our goal is to be the Lululemon of hair and body in the next seven to ten years.
What is it about your personal background, experience, or perspective that fuels your passion for this venture?
My passion for this venture came naturally since I created the brand to address my own needs as an active woman and runner. I feel strongly that no one should have to sacrifice working out because of their hair. (I mean, it sounds ridiculous to even say that out loud!) I am so proud that we’ve made planning your workouts around your hair a thing of the past, and I am really excited about the additional conveniences our product development pipeline will offer.
What are one or two of the biggest wins or most encouraging experiences you’ve had so far?
From a business perspective, we recently received a grant from IFundWomen x Botox Cosmetic. SWAIR was one of 20 winners out of 6500 applicants, so that was a huge confidence boost. As a bootstrapped founder, it can be hard to feel validated, but this recognition confirmed that we are moving on the right path.
On a more personal note, we have received emails and reviews from young women who have used our Showerless Shampoo when they were unable to wash their hair in the shower for medical reasons. It was incredible to learn that we were able to provide some normalcy and self-confidence at a difficult time for them. We had not considered this audience when we first started the brand, but we’ve been exploring more opportunities to serve these customers.
What has been one or two of your biggest learnings so far?
My biggest learning so far is that asking questions is a super-power. As a first time founder and industry outsider, I was initially very intimidated about asking questions and coming across as a novice. I quickly learned that most people are very generous with their knowledge and want to see you succeed (and if they’re not, then move on because someone else will). It took me a while to stop trying to “fake it ’til you make it” and be about my shortcomings, but since I have started to view asking questions as a strength, rather than a weakness, I have become a much better entrepreneur.
What is an obstacle that you are grappling with as you continue to build this venture?
Our current obstacle is fundraising. After three years of successfully bootstrapping the business, proving product market fit, and building confidence, we are ready to scale.
As CPG company, we’ve needed to reinvest every dollar back into inventory to meet our growing demand. If we’re able to have a proper marketing budget and begin working our way through the product development pipeline, the brand will quickly achieve new milestones.
Considering the current investor climate, we know that it will be difficult to secure funding, but we’re hopeful that our track record, metrics and potential will help us as we embark on our pre-seed round.
What surprises have you encountered as an entrepreneur? Something out of left field?
Since being an entrepreneur requires you to wear all of the hats, I have been surprised by how much I love working on the graphic design elements of the brand. I could truly be on Canva all day, if time permitted. I find myself getting into a flow state working on graphics and then noticing that two hours have gone by!
I have also been surprised by the amount of badass female founders I have met on this journey. Whether it is sliding into the DMs of a brand I admire, through a networking event or being introduced to someone through a mutual connection, I have met so many smart, kind, and generous women. They have made this journey feel less lonely, shared their expertise and commiserated on shared struggles. It takes a village to raise a baby, but I also think it takes a village to raise a brand.
How can the WAFFA community help you?
SWAIR is excited to be kicking off our pre-seed round, so I would welcome meeting anyone in the community that is an angel or institutional investor, or introductions to angels and investors that you may know. I also love connecting with other founders, so please reach out it you want to chat.
What has been the most rewarding thing about starting your own business?
The most rewarding part of starting my own business has been the pride that my two sons (ages 5 and 8) have in the brand. They love to use the products and show people, “My mom makes this.” or “This is from my mom’s company.” I am glad to be an example of a woman in a leadership role right in our home — I think it is important for all boys to see that in some capacity. They also make very adorable brand ambassadors.