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Let It Block Rocks the Sunscreen Segment

The new brand founded by fashion industry veterans David Dorcich and Pauline Takahashi Saunders riffs on music bands and genres.

The cool kids have a sun-care brand to call their own: Let It Block.

Founded by fashion industry veterans David Dorcich and Pauline Takahashi Saunders, the new brand riffs on music bands and genres, beginning with Goth, punk rock and hip-hop, that have influenced the longtime friends, who came of age in the Eighties and hit the Los Angeles club scene together in the Nineties. It’s first three products — the signature Let It Block, Sun DMC and Goth Block — launched officially last week with an event at retailer Ron Robinson in Santa Monica, Calif.

“I started realizing there was a big difference between mineral and chemical sunscreens, and started to look into mineral sunscreens that are more environmentally friendly. I realized there wasn’t anything cool out there. I’m used to a younger, fun approach,” said Saunders, co-chief executive officer of Let It Block and former head women’s wear designer at Stüssy. “David said, ‘You should do an SPF and call it Goth Block.’ We really just loved that idea, and that’s how the brand was born. It was a music-based name, and we started coming up with other names.”

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Since the idea for Let It Block emerged, Saunders pilfered the mineral sun-care selection at Whole Foods to test available products. She found their formulas, often separated, were difficult to rub in and had unpleasant consistencies. Saunders and Dorcich worked hard to keep separation at bay and nail down sunscreens that would blend easily into the skin. SPF in the products ranges from 30 to 50, and they contain aloe vera, and cranberry, grape seed, kiwi, blueberry, strawberry, hemp and goji extracts and oils as well as the active ingredients zinc oxide and titanium oxide.

“I wear all black. I live in the city. I go to the beach once a year on holiday to Corsica. When I do go into the sun, I take it very seriously. I want to feel protected and, after I put sunscreen on, I want to forget about it. I don’t want it to be greasy or smell,” said Dorcich, Let It Block’s co-ceo and global sales consultant for fashion brands such as The Row, Rick Owens and Christophe Lemaire. “With our product, you put it on, and you forget it. It’s done, and you are protected.”

The three initial products are unisex, and Let It Block and Sun DMC are universal formulas for all skin tones. The product Let It Block is aimed at surfers and skateboarders exposed to the sun during their chosen activities. Sun DMC is directed at urban dwellers to sport as they explore their surroundings. Featuring the highest SPF level out of the three, Goth Block was developed for pale-skinned customers requiring formidable protection. A product oriented specifically toward women and girls is on its way next year.

Let It Block’s products are packaged in pouches topped with flip caps. “We looked for something unique, and we stumbled on pouches as an option. They really resonated with us because they use less plastic than traditional bottles and tubes. We are really interested in lowering environmental impacts,” Saunders said. Let It Block has partnered with the Surfrider Foundation, and is the official sunscreen of the beach and ocean preservation organization’s International Surfing Day on June 20.

Dorcich and Saunders noted the throwback nostalgia of Let It Block’s musical references appeals to customers in their Forties like them, while the hip, with-it factor of the brand positioning lures the Millennial and Generation Z crowds. “Most of what I’ve read says we get sun damage the most during our teen years, so that’s an important age to wear sunscreen. The younger you are wearing sunscreen, the better. We want to appeal to them with something they would have fun using, and it would be cool to pull out of their bags,” Dorcich said.

Dorcich detailed Let It Block’s early distribution strategy is to focus on prominent retailers. He said it’s headed to Ricky’s NYC, Nordstrom’s summer pop-up, and At $15 each, Dorcich and Saunders pointed out the products are accessible to a broad swath of consumers. “We don’t want to be just in boutiques. We want to be anywhere for anyone to purchase it. Even in a drugstore, our prices are competitive,” Saunders said. Added Dorcich, “We would like to get bigger and bigger. We would love to see Let It Block on every single beach in the U.S. and around the world. We have a lot of steps to climb to go global, but, so far, so good.”