Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Justinia Gardiner, Founder and CEO of SunnyStik, located in Austin, TX, USA.

What's your business, and who are your customers?

SunnyStik is the first no-mess, no-fuss sunscreen applicator for kids. Parents have enough battles in their day, and applying sunscreen shouldn't be one of them. Simply squirt your preferred sunscreen onto the foam tip, swipe to apply, and go. Our patent-pending connector piece easily comes apart from the handle for cleaning and replacement. This allows you to get into those tiny nose creases, under little eyes, on ears, scalps, and tops of hands - and fast! SunnyStik makes it easy to apply sunscreen swiftly and effectively, even on the squirmiest of kids. It's easy, sanitary, simple, and swift, making sunscreen application mess-free and (dare we say it) fun for kids and stress-free for parents!

Tell us about yourself

I'm a mom of three young kids based in Austin, TX. When the pandemic hit, and we were stuck without travel and had to survive the Texas summers, I was left applying sunscreen multiple times a day to my kids. Tugging on their tender skin, always missing spots, and being left with sunscreen everywhere left me thinking there had to be a better way. I started making my own prototypes and realized that there was a better solution. The idea of SunnyStik was born, and after a few years of learning the ins and outs of manufacturing a product, I finally launched my product for sale this year. I'm a one-woman-wonder at the moment and manage all of the ins and outs of my brand. I love the idea that my product can help simplify sunscreen application for caretakers and makes it something fun for kids to look forward to.

What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?

Our biggest accomplishment has been helping to make parents' lives just a little bit easier while making sunscreen application more fun for kids. As we mentioned earlier, parents truly have enough battles during their days, and applying sunscreen shouldn't be one of them. SunnyStik is here to simplify sunscreen application for parents and make it fun for kids. We hope we can continue to build a brand with novel products in the sunscreen space for use on kids that simplifies the process for parents.

What's one of the hardest things that comes with being a business owner?

Juggling it all and learning as I go. I knew nothing about manufacturing a consumer packaged goods ("CPG") product prior to this and had to teach myself all the ins and outs of manufacturing a product. I'm still learning a lot as I continue to build out and develop my brand, and it's challenging having to figure it all out on my own.

As a busy mom of three, there is also never enough time to get it all done. I am a one-woman-wonder at the moment, and managing all aspects of the brand is time-consuming. I have to prioritize and be ok with letting some things slide at times, like daily content posts - they take a lot of time to develop, edit and post!

What are the top tips you'd give to anyone looking to start, run and grow a business today?

  1. Have confidence in yourself. I had many designers work with me in the early days who tried to convince me that their designs were best for my product for one reason or another, but I had a specific vision for my product, mascot, packaging, and logos. I wasn't willing to be swayed and knew what would appeal to my future customer base. Don't be afraid to be firm and confident. It's ok to say no if it doesn't meet your satisfaction.
  2. Ask questions. There are so many acronyms in the CPG space that I knew nothing about when I started, and sometimes people assume you know what they're talking about. There's no shame in asking what things mean so that you can fully understand the conversation.
  3. Don't be afraid to start somewhere, even if it's not perfect! You can always improve upon your business or products, but you have to start somewhere, and it's better to get to the market with an initial version of something rather than nothing at all. Collect feedback from your first launch and improve upon it later.

Where can people find you and your business?


If you like what you've read here and have your own story as a solo or small business entrepreneur that you'd like to share, then please answer these interview questions. We'd love to feature your journey on these pages.

Turn your craft into recurring revenue with Subkit. Start your subscription offering in minutes and supercharge it with growth levers. Get early access here.