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Pucker up: Student designs protective SPF 50 lip balm

By Andrew Yde
On February 25, 2013

Miami University junior finance and entrepreneurship major Samuel Frith and the sun usually get along, that is until the summers roll around. Last year, he submitted his innovative "Ultimate Lip Balm" to the Innov8 for Health Idea Expo held in Cincinnati.

Frith, whose SPF 50 creation is now being endorsed and distributed by a marketing organization in Chicago and manufactured by a lip balm contract manufacturer, Raining Rose in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, won fourth place in the Expo for his ultra-protective lip balm.

His invention specifically targets people with extra sensitive lips, often caused by acne treatment or chemotherapy.

"My idea came from the fact that I get very burnt lips during the summer and no products have been able to cure that," Frith said. "I entered the competition to hopefully gain funding for the product so that I could pass the UVA/UVB testing and stability test for FDA regulations."

According to Sunnie Southern, administrator of the Innov8 for Health Idea Expos of Greater Cincinnati, a winning product pursues better health, lower costs and creativity.

The product should exemplify scalability of a concept to meet the needs of a large population by showing strong usability and design and striving for a good relationship with the Greater Cincinnati community.

Though he came away from Innov8 with $1,000, Frith said the cash winnings were never his incentive.

"The cash prize is minimal and just a reassurance that your idea is something worth pursuing," Frith said.

One could say that the 'minimal' cash prize was just the push he needed.

Frith already has big plans for his cosmetic creation with the supposed potential to protect just about any pucker.   

"I would like to launch the product in stores this fall, starting with Kroger," Frith said.

Harnessing ambition curbed only by lack of significant experience, Frith said he found both an independent healthcare marketing organization and a contract manufacturer with whom he can work-GA Communications Group in Chicago and Raining Rose respectively.

Still, intangible obstacles have fought to obscure his path to success.

"Challenges have been just getting people to believe in the idea," Frith said. "There are no kids my age wanting to produce their own cosmetic over-the-counter product."

Frith said he has managed to turn the accepted abnormality of his endeavor into a motivator.

"Breaking that stigma is very hard but rewarding," Frith said.

From his experiences with Innov8, GA Communications and Raining Rose, Frith said he has learned invaluable lessons; lessons that he knows will shape his future as a businessman.

"I have learned so much about producing a consumer-packaged good and growing as an entrepreneur," Frith said. "Whether or not this product will be a success, it is so rewarding learning about a new industry or business category and challenging yourself to accomplish what most college kids do not."

Furthermore, Frith has delved deeply into a realm foreign to most other college students.

"Ten months ago I didn't know anything about the cosmetics industry or the precision that goes into the production and sale of a cosmetic good," Frith said. "Now I know far more than most 20-year-olds, and I'm learning more everyday."

Frith was inspired to create his high SPF lip balm by his own lack of agreement with the summer sun, however, this does not mean his motivation is solely personal.

In fact, his impetus for marketing and distributing his creation is quite selfless in nature.

"I'm hoping that [my lip balm] will allow people with very sensitive lips to continue to love the outdoors and participate in their favorite outdoor activities without worrying about getting sunburn on their lips," Frith said.

Southern has high hopes for Frith and the future of his lip balm.

"Samuel is a very determined, creative, intelligent and hardworking young man," Southern said. "I am sure that he will have success with whatever he puts his mind to."

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