FGCU student creates coral reef-safe sunscreen brand

One future Florida Gulf Coast University graduate who started a high-end sunscreen brand back in 2019 is now seeing her dream come to life two years later.

There are so many choices when it comes to sunscreen, but how many of them are natural and will not harm coral reefs?

Alexandria Quillen created one that is.

“We had to write about if we had a dream business, what would it be? I said you know, I would want to start a sunscreen business,” Quillen said.

Quillen’s professor changed her life.

“He told me about this program that not a lot of people know about and it’s up-and-coming. It’s called the runway program,” she said.

FGCU’s Runway program helps student entrepreneurs launch their own businesses.

Scott Kelly is the director who helped Quillen build a business plan.

“We built a pitch presentation that she ultimately was able to take to our independent committee of investors. That awarded her seed funding to get started,” Kelly said.

With cash in hand, Quillen took pre-orders and named her brand SunnyQ.

She made the coral reef-safe product herself in her kitchen until the FDA approved her sunscreen.

Now she has a private manufacturer helping her get her product out there.

“They can’t believe how good it smells and how nice it is. And they feel good wearing it because they know that it’s not harming the coral reefs,” Quillen said.

With all positive feedback and her initial sales, Quillen’s next step is to go national and then global.

“I think that Alexandria is one of the most capable students I’ve worked with. I don’t think there was a moment where I thought she wasn’t going to be able to do it,” Kelly said.

Quillen delayed her college career to start her own makeup business. She is now set to graduate in December.

Her advice to fellow students?

“Don’t be afraid of failure and you can’t win if you don’t gamble.”

Reporter:Emma Heaton
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