Christine Burger was vice president of operations at a software company before she launched Noodle & Boo in 2005. Four years later, the company has expanded to South Korea and added Glowology, a women’s line, to the original array of products designed especially for babies and children with sensitive skin. Since 2007, the company has donated 20 percent of its proceeds to children in need. Burger lives in northern California with her sons Andrew,10, and Matthew, 6, and is in the process of adopting a 5-year-old girl from Ethiopia.
LN: How did you start Noodle & Boo?
CB: When I got pregnant with my second son I stopped working, and I wanted the next chapter in my life to be helping children. I had this moment when I thought of all the children who had parents who couldn’t be their advocates. I thought about being a social worker or going back to school. But my core competency is business, and my interest in skin care grew because Andrew, my oldest, had really sensitive skin, eczema. And then I thought, how cool would it be to start a company that made really great products for sensitive skin, where we could target a large part of our profit to people who help kids?
LN: What were your biggest surprises?
CB: Starting a business sounds really easy, but it’s a lot of hard work. At the beginning, we were packing boxes in the warehouse, doing all the physical stuff, and my husband would say, ‘What do you want for dinner?’ and I would say, ‘Anything that doesn’t require me to lift my arms.’
LN: What was most challenging at the beginning?
CB: The outreach to the retailers was the hardest part, because everybody wanted to know who sold your products and who used your products, and I was like, ‘Nobody sells them, and nobody uses them.’ They wanted famous people, and name-dropper type retailers. Our first celebrity was Gwyneth Paltrow. Right after her son Moses was born, she wrote a letter saying that she used our products every night, and they were wonderful.
LN: How did you expand into Glowology?
CB: We heard over and over from our retail base that more than 50 percent of their sales were going to women using the products for themselves. If it’s good enough to put on a newborn with sensitive skin, its good enough for women. We took our base formulas for babies and made them more sophisticated.
LN: Where do you see Noodle & Boo in the future?
CB: We are going to be a worldwide company, so we are going to take our sweet spot and blow it up. Right now, we are launching in Hong Kong, and then we are talking to Taiwan, Singapore and Japan.
LN: How has the beauty industry changed since you’ve entered the field?
CB: In the marketing focus and on the push for natural ingredients. Then there’s the visibility of parabens and all the different buzzwords for potentially dangerous ingredients. It evolves and changes, and what is totally acceptable one year is not the next.
LN: What are most women looking for in beauty products?
CB: I think they want to feel safe, and they want good results, and they want a product that makes them feel good.
LN: Which product is your personal favorite?
CB: The Balm for my dry feet. I think I’ve seen a transformation since I’ve used it. The Ultimate Ointment in the baby line is also really good for my lips. My husband’s favorite is the conditioning hair polish.
LN: What are common misconceptions women have about beauty?
CB: That more is always better. We scrub and peel and exfoliate and do a lot of different things, but there’s something to be said for soap and water and a good moisturizer.
LN: What is your most important beauty advice?
CB: A lot of how beautiful you are comes from your attitude. We are all getting older every minute of every day, and the most beautiful women, it has to do with who they are. S