Fulfillment by Amazon helps sunscreen business expand beyond island shores

Partnering with Amazon to sell their reef-safe sun care products enables these entrepreneurs to make a positive impact.

2 min
March 29, 2024
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When Hawaii became the first state to ban sunscreens made with oxybenzone and octinoxate to protect coral reefs in 2018, it was good timing for husband and wife team Robin Van Niekerk and Tatyana Cerullo. The small business owners had just launched Kōkua Sun Care, selling marine-safe sun care products.

As longtime water sports enthusiasts, Van Niekerk and Cerullo understood the need for healthy, reef-safe sunscreens that could support an active lifestyle. The entrepreneurs believed the sunscreen market was missing a viable alternative. “We tried other natural sunscreens, but they were hard to apply and they left the skin feeling greasy and sticky,” said Cerullo.

After several years of development, Cerullo and Van Niekerk, with the help of professional formulators, created their unique zinc-based sunscreen that provides high water resistance, doesn’t sting the eyes and protects from the harshest UVA and UVB rays. Their products use Hawaiian-grown, antioxidant-rich ingredients that nourish and protect the skin while supporting the local economy and agriculture.

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Kōkua Sun Care products use Hawaiian-grown, antioxidant-rich ingredients that are also reef-safe.

Kōkua Sun Care quickly became popular across the Hawaiian Islands and favored by the swim, triathlon and surfing communities there. The couple wanted to expand beyond the island shorelines and chose Fulfillment by Amazon (FBA) for its ease and scalability. However, they worried it would be difficult because their new sunscreen formulation would require additional documentation.

“The Amazon support folks were so helpful,” said Van Niekerk. “They researched our situation and then walked me through completing the specific certificates I needed.” Kōkua Sun Care’s products were approved for Fulfillment by Amazon the next day and the company went from selling locally to selling nationally overnight.

“There’s a difference between just selling on Amazon and being able to offer customers fast, free shipping with Fulfillment by Amazon. For a small island-based business like ours, it’s make or break,” shared Cerullo.

Originally, it took five to seven days for mainland customers to receive Kōkua’s products, but according to Cerullo, “with FBA, our products are shipped from state-side warehouses and can be received by some customers same-day.” Van Niekerk explained that, “this game-changing capability is why Amazon sales represent over 70% of our revenue.”

In Hawaiian, “kōkua” means giving with aloha. The entrepreneurs behind Kōkua Sun Care take the company name seriously and are true advocates for the marine environment they love so much.

“Choosing a reef-safe sunscreen,” shared Cerullo, “is actually the easiest way people can positively impact our beautiful oceans.”

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