Blake Mitchell, Ryan Lewendon, and Alex Sourry are all active entrepreneurs in the consumer brand space. From a branding agency that specializes in the food and beverage space, to a law firm offering legal services for disruptive CPG brands, they’re familiar with what it takes to build a winning brand.
When the pandemic hit in early spring of 2020, they seized an opportunity to create their own product that filled a unique need in the industry. Cleanli is not your average hand sanitizer. Designed to moisturize and cleanse with natural ingredients, this premium product offers a more luxe solution to other harsh alcohol-based sanitizers on the market.
We caught up with the team behind Cleanli to learn more.
ForceBrands: Tell us about Cleanli. What is it and what inspired you to launch it?
Cleanli: Cleanli is an all-natural cleansing brand. Our first product is a Rosemary Yuzu Moisturizing Hand Sanitizer, born from the radical notion that your hands have skin too.
As three friends catching up virtually across the U.S. early in the pandemic, we noticed a common problem. While revolutionary for keeping hands clean on the go, traditional hand sanitizers aren’t practical for daily use. They often leave skin feeling stripped and dehydrated, use harsh ingredients, and smell clinical. These pain points can get in the way of usage, which is problematic for a product that is so essential.
We co-founded Cleanli to create a hand sanitizer that people actually love using. Focusing on natural ingredients, cleansing efficacy, moisturizing properties, and a grounding fragrance, we bring self-care and skincare to the realm of hand hygiene.
FB: What sets the product apart from others? What makes it unlike anything else on the market?
C: When looking at the hand sanitizers on the market, we could not find any that were effective in use but also spoke to the modern consumer. That’s where we set ourselves apart.
We placed a large focus on product effectiveness. Cleanli’s Rosemary Yuzu Moisturizing Hand Sanitizer is manufactured in an FDA registered, OTC licensed facility in Colorado. Using 63 percent USDA-organic alcohol, Cleanli meets the CDC and FDA guidelines for hand sanitizer and is a certified over-the-counter drug.
As part of Cleanli’s sensory experience, we’ve created a calming and restorative fragrance that captures the essence of self-care. Grounding aromas with soothing powers is how we describe Cleanli’s Moisturizing Hand Sanitizer. The product is crafted with aromatic and functional essential oils, yuzu brings uplifting and energizing citrus notes that are then balanced with calming rosemary.
FB: You launched just before Thanksgiving 2020. What does your distribution strategy look like?
C: Cleanli’s Moisturizing Hand Sanitizer had a soft launch in November 2020, with an official debut in late January 2021. The product is available directly to consumers on our website and in all Alfred’s Los Angeles locations. We will continue to grow and strengthen our partnerships in 2021 with brick and mortar as well as online retailers and marketplaces, such as BUBBLE and The Goods Mart.
FB: Who, ideally, is your target customer and how are you marketing to them?
C: Our target customer is anyone who wants an effective hand sanitizer whilst looking for a more elevated experience that prioritizes skincare. At Cleanli we like to say, “Don’t piss off your skincare routine.” Our consumer is someone who is very thoughtful about the products they put on their face, and wants to do the same for their hands.
We are focusing on marketing to our consumers through social media discovery and community building, influencer marketing, PR, and promotional activities with our retail partners.
FB: What does the growth strategy look like for the next 6-12 months?
C: In 2021, we’ll continue to grow Cleanli through our website, marketing, and PR initiatives, strengthening our existing retail presence, and expanding to new select retail partners.
FB: Post-pandemic, how do you predict Cleanli will evolve to stay relevant and essential? Any fun product innovations or new SKUs you can share?
C: In the pandemic, hand sanitizer has become the product you can’t leave home without. Combined with this remarkable shift in behavior, the social experiences people are craving in a post-pandemic world are often ones where people will still want to clean hands on the go — like restaurants, live events, and travel. By designing Cleanli’s Moisturizing Hand Sanitizer to look, feel, and smell great, we have created a product that people will be happy to continue using in a post-pandemic world.
FB: What excites you most about the future of Cleanli?
C: To many consumers, hand sanitizer can seem like an essential hygiene product that cleans hands while simultaneously making your skin feel horrible and dry. Cleanli’s Rosemary Yuzu Moisturizing Hand Sanitizer challenges the status quo and causes the consumer to rethink how they keep their hands clean. We’re so thrilled by the awesome product feedback received so far.
In the future, we’re most excited about bringing more products to the market and into the hands of consumers. We think once they have the opportunity to try a Cleanli product, it’s something they’ll fall in love with.