Here's What To Know About Gently Soap From Shark Tank

ABC's "Shark Tank" kicked off its 15th season on Friday, with Gently Soap's Kristen Dunning appearing among the handful of entrepreneurs selected to make their case in front of the sharks during the episode premiere. Dunning pitched her line of award-winning herbal bath soaps specifically designed for those with sensitive skin (via Gently Soap). With many commercial soaps containing harsh detergents and artificial fragrances, the University of Georgia student spent her undergraduate years majoring in Horticultural Science and Agricultural Communications and leading an innovative research project with the goal of redefining our relationship to personal care products.

Now pursuing an MBA at the university, Dunning has big plans for the brand as she continues to focus on the healing power of natural plant ingredients for those diagnosed with various skin conditions, such as psoriasis and eczema (via OnlineAthens). While the entrepreneurs may only have a few minutes on the show to make their pitch, there are a lot more exciting things to know about Gently Soap.

Dunning has experience with eczema herself

Dunning has spoken openly about her own experience living with eczema, a health condition characterized by skin inflammation (via National Eczema Association). She describes growing up with itchy patches of skin that resulted in hair loss from continuously scratching at her scalp (via Gently Soap). Oatmeal baths, lotions, and more traditional eczema treatment methods failed to provide any relief. Dunning eventually tried using topical steroid creams, which resulted in hypersensitivity, burning, peeling, and skin lesions once she stopped treatment.

With over 31 million people across the U.S. affected by eczema ranging from adults to infants alike, Dunning knew she wasn't alone in her journey. Inspired by lessons learned about nature from routinely visiting her grandparents' farm in Alabama as a child, Dunning wanted to create natural bath products that would not exacerbate symptoms for those with skin conditions, as well as make personal care a joyous experience for all.

Gently Soap doesn't use essential oils

While many people might think that essential oils are about as natural an ingredient as one can get, the company points out that those with sensitive skin are more susceptible to allergic reactions (via Gently Soap). As a highly-concentrated substance, essential oils can prompt skin irritation. The same is true for chemical fragrance, which is why Gently Soap is free of artificially scented ingredients.

To eliminate the chances of a negative skin reaction, Gently Soap instead uses vegan ingredients such as turmeric, chamomile, rose petals, and more, with all of their herbs grown locally. "Allergies make it hard to find soap that won't irritate my skin," one customer wrote in a review. "Gently Soap is [a] great option for soap that is not boring but safe for sensitive skin!" For 60% of people diagnosed with eczema, the condition often emerges before a person turns 1 year of age (via American Academy of Dermatology Association). For this reason, Gently Soap is also safe for babies. With four different soaps to choose from, customers have the option of purchasing them all in one convenient package known as Gently Soap's Shark Tank Bundle Box for $40.

Gently Soap is environmentally-friendly and committed to giving back

In addition to supporting the health and wellness of their customers, Gently Soap is also dedicated to supporting the health of our planet. To help reduce plastic waste, the company only offers bar soap products rather than bottled body wash. In doing so, Gently Soap is reducing their environmental impact by ten times that of their plastic bottle peers (via Gently Soap). Instead, their packaging is manufactured with environment-friendly ink, and their boxes are made up of 50% recycled material, a portion of which comes from post-consumer household garbage.

In developing the LOVE GENTLY program, Gently Soap also works with local Athens, Georgia-based organizations including Project Safe, The Sparrow's Nest, and The Cottage to provide herbal soap products each year to under-resourced communities, including individuals experiencing homelessness and survivors of sexual or domestic violence. In maintaining these values, Gently Soap is actively working towards making a long-lasting impact for years to come.

Kristen Dunning has been winning over judges long before Shark Tank

In 2022, Dunning was one of 15 female entrepreneurs selected for the Women's Business Enterprise National Council (WBENC) Collegiate Accelerator program, where those who are accepted receive personal mentorship from female owners of some of the country's largest and most successful companies (via WBENC). That same year, Dunning wowed judges with her pitch at the University of Georgia Venture Prize competition, with Gently Soap taking home first place (via Gently Soap).

2023 has brought Gently Soap more accolades, with Dunning going on to win the nationwide Collegiate Great Brands Competition, the Startup Runway showcase, and the University of Georgia's Next Top Entrepreneur title. More recently, Gently Soap was one of eleven companies picked out of thousands of startup businesses for inclusion in Techstars New Orleans, powered by J.P. Morgan's 2023 debut accelerator program. This week, Gently Soap announced on social media that they had been selected as finalists for singer Pharrell Williams' Black Ambition Prize Competition, where the company will compete alongside 49 other finalists for the $1 million grand prize.