How Bask Suncare dealt with a bottle delay for its sunscreen

The DTC brand has spent twice as much on pre-summer inventory as expected, founder and CEO Mike Huffstetler told Retail Brew.
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Bask Suncare

· 3 min read

Bask Suncare was looking to soak up the sun—and $$$—this summer, but supply-chain chaos has made things more than a bit challenging.

The DTC sunscreen company, founded in May 2021, ordered “tens of thousands” of bottles from its Chinese manufacturer last September to prep early for its peak selling season. Bask anticipated receiving its bottles in December or January at the latest. But Covid lockdowns kept delaying the order, CEO Mike Huffstetler told Retail Brew.

“After kind of hounding our suppliers and manufacturers,” he said, they kept saying: “‘Oh, we’re delayed another two weeks.’ Okay, we can deal with two weeks. ‘Oh, we're delayed another two weeks. Oh, we’re delayed another two weeks.’”

  • The upshot: Bask wouldn’t be in stock until late June, well past peak season for the company.

Looking for cover: The company quickly went into “scramble mode,” Huffstetler explained. To find an alternative, Huffstetler said Bask reached out to roughly 60 contacts within the DTC retail space—from manufacturers to fellow founders and more—to see if there was anyone who could supplement the delayed bottles.

The tricky part was finding something suitable by FDA standards, as well as Bask’s formula—which requires a specific type of plastic to ensure its stability, Huffstetler explained. “We can’t send this out in mayo jars.”

Luckily, the Miami-based facility that distributes Bask’s sunscreen is also a contract manufacturer for other companies. It happened to have a “few thousand” suitable extra bottles “laying around,” as Huffstetler put it.

  • Bask ended up spending twice as much on its pre-summer inventory than expected and predicts it will spend 3.5x more in 2022, though Huffstetler declined to share specific figures.

The DTC brand’s new bottles now have a push cap instead of a pop top—and are a limited edition. All proceeds will go to Bask’s nonprofit partner, Skin Protection Foundation (SPF), which Huffstetler also founded.

  • “Optically, and it’s important, it allows us to maintain that top-line revenue that we would otherwise be missing out on as well,” he said. “We’ll be able to kind of show continued growth and traction, month over month, quarter over quarter.”

Looking ahead…Bask now has three bottle manufacturers, and its order from its original supplier is still on its way. Huffstelter acknowledges that the company saw lower revenues in July and August combined than it saw in February.

  • The plan, however, is to choose one long-term provider.
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The fiasco has also changed Bask’s approach to sourcing and production as supply-chain issues persist, with the company now loading up on more inventory at its Miami facility. “We decided, ‘Hey, let’s get a year’s worth, instead of a quarter’s worth or a half a year’s worth,” Huffstetler said, so that it is “ready to go at a moment’s notice.’”

He admitted that it makes things pricier for Bask up front, but hopes that being fully covered should pay off in the long sun run.

“After we fight through this snag, if we ever [see] it again, it’s going to be because we just absolutely ripped it and demand was far exceeding anyone’s expectations.”

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