Dalaise Hickey, inventor of BabyDonna, resorted to developing her own sunscreen for melanated newborns after trying to find the correct sunscreen for her dark-skinned children.
In Shelton, Connecticut, a mother of two launched BabyDonna, a sheer, reef-safe mineral sunscreen stick for Black and Brown newborns, toddlers, and children, in 2022.
Finding effective sunscreen products for children is challenging enough, she says, but finding products for children with dark skin is a different issue.
“We’re on a mission to simplify this process for parents of color by offering an option with broad spectrum sun protection, that’s both pediatrician and dermatologist approved, but that doesn’t leave a thick white residue,” Hickey said to the Shelton Herald.
When the COVID-19 epidemic led to lockdowns, she finally had time to devote to her passion project. “I began to see the value of my time…and I began questioning what I was doing,” Hickey said. “I realized I wanted to do something I’m passionate about…It’s exciting…a dream coming true.”
She indicated that the first stage in her journey was to find the right chemist. She found the right match after chatting with around 30 people, and she delivered her first boxes of sunscreen sticks about a year later.
Hickey also told The Story Exchange that marketing was difficult. She emphasized that as a startup, she lacks the funding required for extensive marketing initiatives. As a result, her business has relied on word-of-mouth promotion, purchases from family and friends, customer feedback, and assistance from nonprofit organizations that assist small business owners.
After nearly a year of research, development, and extensive testing to ensure her product exceeded the strictest safety standards, she is proud to have the sunscreen choice she has always desired and what parents of color require.
BabyDonna sunscreen comes in the form of a stick, making application easier for babies, toddlers, and children. Her remedy is vegan, non-toxic, and non-greasy, and it leaves no sticky white residue.
Sunscreen application gives 80 minutes of water resistance and UV protection. Hickey claims she spent years searching for the perfect sunscreen mixture. The chemicals in sprays and many lotions were concerning, yet protecting one’s skin from the sun’s harmful rays was vital.
Hickey told The Story Exchange that BabyDonna is the only Black-owned sunscreen firm that sells a mineral sunscreen stick intended specifically for babies with darker skin tones.
According to its website, BabyDonna Sunscreen is a mission-driven company that donates 5% of its profits to organizations that help disadvantaged children and adolescents.
Hickey hopes to work closely with other towns as her company grows in order to provide programs and activities that will benefit these children. Her goal, using her social work knowledge, is to provide internships to at-risk youth in order to provide them with employment opportunities.
“This is my passion. It’s a great way for me to not only create a product for Black children but also create a platform to help vulnerable children,” Hickey mentioned.