- How their love of fitness inspired their post workout product
- Why the pandemic catapulted the launch of SWAIR
- How to due manage to juggle family life, business and taking time for themselves
Carrie Sporer and Meredith Krill are the Co-Founders of SWAIR, a hair product created that acts as an ingenious alternative to dry shampoo. Created for ‘ew gross post workout hair’ you can spritz SWAIR on and towel dry off before blow-drying or leaving to dry. Carrie and Meredith talk to 35 Thousand about the challenges of running a business, creating life balance and keeping energised.
Tell us about your work:
“In September of 2020, we launched our brand SWAIR, which is a hair care line dedicated to people who work out. Our first product, Showerless Shampoo, is a game-changing product that cleans your hair without suds, rinsing or residue. Since launching, we have been busy growing our brand and finding different ways to get our product out into the market.”
Do you work in the spare room, a skyscraper or other?
“We are currently working in a small office space which resides in a larger residential building. We have been in a few different (very small) spaces throughout Covid, but we finally found a perfect space that allows us to collaborate without being on top of each other. We were very excited to finally have separate desks, a printer! and space to keep our product.”
What parts of your work give you energy?
Meredith – “Working alongside Carrie. We have a lot of fun through the ups and the downs of the business. I am so happy to have a business partner who is not only a good friend but an awesome person to be around.”
What parts of your work drain you?
Meredith – “No surprise, but Zoom calls have been a little draining lately. After a year working from home and having tons of meetings where I have to be on camera, I am definitely getting Zoom fatigue.”
Most pivotal point of your career so far?
Carrie – “So far, the most pivotal point in my career was leaving a traditional wholesale job in fashion and starting my own consultancy in August 2017. While consulting, I learned a tremendous amount from working with multiple brands at the same time, and the flexibility was instrumental in beginning SWAIR. Most importantly, I was inspired by the female founders around me – they gave me the courage to pursue my own passion.”
Best piece of advice your received that you now pass on to others?
Carrie – “The best piece of business advice I ever received was “Don’t do business with a**holes.” A mentor said this to me when I needed to reschedule a business trip because of a funeral. The client criticized my decision, making me feel horrible at an already difficult time. Even if a person, service provider or retailer is the “best” at what they do, relationships are everything. There are so many talented, hardworking and kind people out there. There is no reason to take on a client, or be a client of someone that creates a culture of fear or intimidation.”
What’s your context outside of work?
Carrie – “I’m married with two young sons, ages 3 and 5, and while they truly are my everything outside of work, I do make sure to take time for myself. Otherwise, I would be a terrible wife and mother. I am committed to working out every day, often rising before the sun to meet my early morning running crew or being one of the first people at my local gym. I also love to bake for my family and am the designated “bring the dessert” person for all of the holidays.”
Describe your pre-pandemic day-to-day
Meredith – “I am very much a routine person, so my pre-pandemic day-to-day always started with a workout (and it still does). I need to get those endorphins running to start my day off on a positive note and I am one of the few people who don’t drink coffee so my workout is my morning caffeine. After my workout, I would get ready for my 9-5 job (I still have a full-time job and SWAIR is my after hours job) and then commute about 30 minutes to work. After work, I would either meet up with a friend for dinner or cook something at home. Then it was back to the computer to work on SWAIR. I always end the day reading. I love to get lost in a good book and there are many nights I stay up too late reading just one more chapter. Before bed, I always do my skincare routine which is such an important ritual to me. That pretty much sums it up!”
How has your daily life changed, what’s your new normal?
Meredith – “Well for one, I have been working at home since March of 2020 and am not sure when I will be back in my office, so there are a lot of daily Zoom calls (”You’re on mute!”) I am still in my routine of waking up early to get in my workout. The only change is that I have a little more time between my workout and sitting down to my computer for work. I love getting those extra hours back in my day! Otherwise, I am still working my 9-5 along with SWAIR, but I make sure to get out for sanity walks and enjoy the weather on nice days. I have been trying to be more adventurous about cooking and have been trying a lot of new recipes, which has given me much more confidence in the kitchen.”
Has the Coronavirus crisis impacted you personally and professionally? How?
Carrie – “Like everyone else, Covid turned my life upside down. My children had full days of school and afterschool activities, and my husband and I had robust professional and social lives….and then it all came to a grinding halt. Personally, it was a very difficult adjustment from a mental health standpoint and it took a while to get our footing in the new normal while in lockdown. I have been very lucky, though in that everyone in my immediate circle has remained healthy or recovered fully. While it might sound cliche, I have a renewed sense of appreciation for all of the little things in life, such as being able to sit in a coffee shop or give someone a hug.
Professionally, many of my fashion consulting clients terminated or reduced our contracts as soon as the shutdown began because of how Covid was affecting their businesses. It was a difficult time, but I knew that many professionals were experiencing the same situation or worse. To be completely transparent, had I not been in a dual income family, I would have gone into complete panic mode but I knew that there would still be food on the table and the mortgage would get paid. The silver lining, however, was being able to put more time and attention into SWAIR and work more closely (though remotely) with Meredith. I am not sure if/when we would have launched had not been given this extra time together.”
What, if anything, keeps you up at night?
Meredith – “This is a great question because there are so many mornings that I talk to Carrie and will tell her how I was up from 1-3AM in the middle of the night and she will let me know she was also up. I often say we should conduct SWAIR business during those hours in the night when our brains won’t shut off. What keeps me up at night is that I always think I am letting someone down in one of my jobs. Even though I know how to get my work done efficiently, I am always questioning if I am doing enough. Otherwise, it is really just my daily list of tasks that await me the next day that I run through to figure out how to get it all done.”
What have been your best coping strategies over the past year? Do you have any objects, routines or tools that you found particularly uplifting? Gin or Gym?
Meredith – “I’ve always said running is my therapy and throughout the pandemic running has been my one constant. I love to throw on some good tunes and see how far my legs can take me that day. I also enjoy a cocktail here and there. We all need a little balance in our lives.”
What has kept you sane? And kept your family sane?
Carrie – “I am grateful that the pandemic began in March, as just as we were beginning to lose our sanity, the weather began to get nicer. We were able to have a “normalish” spring and summer in NYC by spending a lot of time outdoors with friends and family. My children went from going on zero hikes to hiking at least once a weekend, and we explored every trail, park and playground within an hours drive. After Memorial Day, we went to the beach most weekends – we would leave our apartment in the late morning and spend the entire day in the sand. We’d come home after dinnertime with the kids having fallen asleep in their pajamas in the backseat – it was a really nice routine. Had we not had the good weather mid-pandemic, it would have been much harder on the whole family. Since school has been back in session, our amazing babysitter has been our sanity. She picks the kids up from school and gets them to their afternoon pod activities. The days that my older son has virtual school, or the few times when school has closed for Covid-related reasons, she is there so that my husband and I can work. We would honestly be lost without her.”
Did 2020 change your outlook on life in any way?
Meredith – “Absolutely! I have learned what truly matters is my life. So many people experienced such heartache throughout this pandemic – it’s been heartbreaking to see, but I’ve realized how precious life is and I want to focus on the things that matter most. I was very fortunate to spend a lot of time with my parents throughout the pandemic (following guidelines and quarantining solo for 14 days). If there has been one blessing through this pandemic, it was that I was able to spend so much time with them. Usually I see them for long weekends at most, but to be able to spend quality time for several weeks is something I am so grateful for. I know not everyone was able to see their family during the pandemic and it is not lost on me how fortunate I was to gain these memories.”
Are you travel ready? Where do you want to go, with who or would you rather stay home?
Meredith – “Can I pack my suitcase now?!?! I miss traveling terribly. I used to go on a few personal trips both internationally and domestically each year. I miss experiencing the excitement of getting on a flight to a new country to explore a new culture. I miss meeting people while traveling and eating new cuisines. I miss it all, but soon I will be back to traveling and it will definitely be worth the wait, but we need to make sure it’s safe first. I was supposed to be in Namibia in May of 2020, so I am definitely planning to rebook that trip with some of my friends. I am always happy to travel with friends or solo, I just know I am ready for some passport stamps.”
Finish this sentence: “If you look in my handbag at any time you will ALWAYS find…”
Carrie – “…earbuds! Even before Covid, I liked to walk everywhere whenever possible, and since the pandemic my life has been in a 20 block radius. I love to walk to my office or run errands listening to the Charting Now station on Apple Music to discover new songs and artists, and there are a few podcasts that I listen to religiously including How I Built This and The Rich Roll Podcast.”
What are your work-from-home saviors? (routines/products/coffee/music?)
Meredith – “I would say my two work from home saviours are Central Park and music. I live close to Central Park in New York City, and every day around 5pm despite whatever I am in the middle of, I stop and go for an hour walk to get fresh air. I look forward to this every day when the weather permits. The park is so therapeutic and always puts me in a good mood. My other work from home must-have is music. I love picking a playlist or artist a day to listen to. Recently, I have been really into the soothing tunes of the Bridgerton Soundtrack. I mean “thank u, next” and “Girls like you” played by a string quartet – so good!”
Describe your style?
Carrie – “I’m going to go with “Casual Chic” on this one. I am definitely embracing the “matching sets” trend, and while I love to wear a lot of thermal and tees, I am usually dressing them up a bit with flatform sneakers or a dressier cardigan.”
Name your 5 essential items of clothing:
Carrie – “T-shirts from The Great, jeans from AMO, high waisted bikinis from Solid & Striped, Athleta Elevation workout leggings, Nike training tank tops.”
How do you see your business or career two years from now?
Carrie – “Right now we are concentrating on organic growth and brand recognition, building our brand foundation one brick at a time. Within two years, we would love to have launched 4 or 5 more products (some or which are already in the works!) and have found a key retail partnership to increase our visibility and reach. It’s tempting to try to do it all straight out of the gate, but we are trying to be very strategic and methodical with each step.”
What’s something you haven’t conquered yet but really want to?
Meredith – “Well to be honest, starting a business was always something I really wanted to do but never thought it would become a reality. Carrie and I had talked about starting various businesses together since around 2009, but when we started talking about the need for Showerless Shampoo in the market, we knew this idea felt different. The day we launched SWAIR in September 2020 was a pretty proud moment in my life. Next to that the one thing I have not conquered and something I know I can do is run a marathon in under 4 hours. I came really close my last marathon but fell short of my goal. I am hoping to run another one in the next year or two and barring any injuries, I am definitely conquering the 4 hour mark.”
What could you say to your 20-year-old self that would help her the most?
Meredith – “I love this question. Something I would tell 20 year old Meredith is that you are never going to please everyone. Not everyone is going to like you, not everyone is going to agree with you, and that is okay. We are still learning to accept this fact today with our Showerless Shampoo. We love it and have many amazing loyal fans but a single product is never going to be everything to everyone.”
Do you have a life motto or mantra that really resonates with you?
Carrie – “This afternoon, I was listening to a podcast that featured one of my mentors (Jeffrey Hellman of PVH), and he quoted Bill and Ted’s advice, “Be excellent to each other.” After all that this year has taught me about the people I love and the people I need to do better for, that is going to be my new mantra.”