Rhino Skin Solutions was created in 2015 in Central Oregon for Smith Rock climbers. Developed to help combat the brutal effects of sharp crimps and rough rock, Rhino has evolved into a suite of skincare products for athletes. We sat down with founders Justin and Andi Brown to discuss the company’s niche, challenges and future.
What niche do your products fill?
Rhino makes products that dial in skin needs to maximize friction as well as creating products to help recover after a long day of climbing. We worked with alpine, sport and traditional climbers of all skill levels, skiers, yoga instructors and doctors. We are the only company with a full line of products to tailor your skin to your needs, as well as any rock type, based on our skin humidity testers that key you in to how your skin is reacting. We set out to make a product that prevents splits and cracks, and keeps skin durable. Helping to renew sore and worn skin, muscles and joints is our priority.
What has growth looked like for Rhino?
We started six years ago and invested $5,000. We are self-funded and growing steadily every year, picking up more outlets to carry our products in addition to our business-to-consumer web sales. We are now in about 200 climbing gyms and stores nationwide as well as sold in more than ten countries.
Why Central Oregon for your headquarters?
EDCO and REDI have been extremely valuable resources and the small business community is incredibly supportive. The recreational opportunities are abundant and the lifestyle is second to none. A walk on the river, dinner at a pub and a fun successful peer group make Bend a great location to live. We will be adding a third person to our family in April and can’t think of a better place in the world to raise a kid. Every kid I have met from Bend is compassionate and intelligent. We have to give the community and educational system credit for that.
We wanted a name that was not specific to climbing and conveyed strength and durability. We had some very generous friends help us with a logo and it just came together perfectly.
What are your best-selling products?
Our flagship product is our 100 percent natural Repair cream, which uses mostly plants with the exception of honey to soothe and heal skin. It contains essential oils as well as magnesium, willow bark and salicylic acid. It’s non-greasy, cooling and anti-inflammatory; It is the best lotion you can buy.
Tell us a story about a challenge that arose for your company and how you responded.
We make everything right here in Redmond, Oregon. We had some sourcing and manufacturing issues which produced less than ideal end products. It’s scary sending out a letter telling people of your failures. However, people appreciated us standing behind our products and it made them love Rhino. Self-investing to grow a business is difficult. Cash flow becomes king and incremental improvements are all you do. It could be less expensive in the long run if we brought on investors, but the process of growth feels good and proving the company at each step is so valuable.
What are your goals for the future?
We plan to be completely solar powered by the end of the year. Our goal is to be in 600 climbing gyms this year and pick up more retailers in other outdoor categories. We also give back to the community, like donating over $20,000 worth of product to nonprofits and community events. This helps customers feel like buying Rhino is helping their community…which it is.