Silver lining of pandemic: Globe-hopping consultant starts product line for teens at home in Aspen
When local mom Dara Erck was hunting for products for a teenage son to take to sleepaway camp, she was shocked at the lack of natural products for teens.
This was back before the pandemic when she was traveling the world working in global health and vaccine development for the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.
“I sat on the idea for a while,” she said. “Then COVID happened and I had some extra time.”
The pandemic gave Erck time to work with formulators to develop a deodorant and gummy vitamins for teens of all genders, and her wellness line, Sam and Leo, was born. Where did the company name come from? Her sons, of course.
Sam and Leo is the first non-gendered body care line for teens. While there are plenty of vitamins marketed toward adults and young kids, Erck said she noticed nothing for teenagers. Though her line is marketed toward teenagers, the products are for anyone ages 4 and up.
“The products are ungendered, so they are for everyone,” she said. “When I did my market research for developing (the products), it was looking at what teens, specifically Gen Z, care about, and it’s authenticity, inclusivity and environmentally friendly. Gender didn’t come up, so why does it matter if it’s female or male? It can just be for everybody.”
The line currently has a natural deodorant and five kinds of gummies. The deodorant was formulated by Erck and has no baking soda or essential oils, which she said are irritants for many people.
“It has charcoal and antifungal and antimicrobial ingredients that actually work,” Erck said, adding that the packaging is eco-friendly.
The handful of gummy types all target different things. There’s a cherry-flavored calm gummy for stress and body regulation, a passion fruit-flavored sleep gummy with melatonin, an orange-flavored immunity gummy for immune system support, a strawberry-flavored energy gummy with B vitamins, and an orange and apple-flavored eye healthy gummy.
All of the gummies are vegan and the Eyes+ and Immunity gummies are sugar-free.
Erck said the Eyes+ vitamins were designed to address teens’ screen time and protect eyes from blue light damage with ingredients like Vitamin A, Vitamin C, Vitamen E, Zinc, Lutein and Zeaxanthin.
Currently, Erck’s products are sold at three stores in Aspen: Harper and Hudson, Local and Aspen Emporium. She also has launched Sam and Leo at Pop Up Grocer in New York City.
Erck has plans to keep expanding the products offered by Sam and Leo. In the future, she hopes to launch a probiotic, a multivitamin and a body odor wipe.
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Hiking season is far from over, and I actually believe the best is yet to come. With cooler temps, amazing colors, and fewer crowds, this is my favorite time of the year for day hiking. Whether you’re headed up a 14er, walking over to Crested Butte or just enjoying the classic Cathedral Lake hike, below are some day hiking essentials I recommend for the journey. Keep in mind, that this is by no means a comprehensive list. Always remember to pack the standard 10 essentials: Navigation, headlamp, sun protection, first aid, knife, fire, shelter, extra food, extra water, extra clothes.