DENVER — Hand sanitizer has become part of everyday life for most people during the pandemic. To combat the frustrations with current products, the founder of Oskar Blues Brewery decided to take things into his own hands.
Dale Katechis, the founder of Oskar Blues, took a step back from the day-to-day beer business in the last year. His family felt the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, with his son, Pate, out of a job after recently graduating with a marketing degree, which helped get the entrepreneurial juices flowing.
Dale and Pate got into a conversation one night of how most hand sanitizers smelled bad and dried their hands out, which sparked the idea for Stuvz. The name was inspired by a Pate's high school t-shirt printing company. Dale enlisted the help of his brother, who works in the wellness business and has a lab in North Carolina.
“When times are tough, I rely on the principles my mom, Yaya, instilled in me: Keep my family safe. Be resourceful. Find a way to help your community,” Dale said.
With the family's help, they created a foaming hand sanitizer made with moisturizing ingredients, like hyaluronic acid and jojoba esters, and lavender oil to mask the alcohol odor.
“Our belief is that it's now going to be a part of daily life for some people. And I think even once we get back to normalcy, if we have a product that doesn't dry your hands out, that actually is good for you and moisturizes your hands and smells good, then, you know, maybe it works," Dale said.
On top of creating a product Stuvz hopes makes people feel good, it's also FDA registered with 62% ethyl alcohol, which meets the Center for Disease Control's recommended concentration. According to Stuvz, in 2020, more than 200 hand sanitizer brands were recalled for a litany of health and safety issues.
Another key component of the company is their StuvzLuvz philanthropic initiative, which they kicked off with a delivery of 400 bottles of hand sanitizer to Boulder Community Hospital in December.
"It makes you feel good. We learned that some of the best things that we did at Oskar Blues were through our foundation, because it wasn't about us; it was about other people, and that feels better than doing something for yourself," Dale said.
Stuvz just officially launched their hand sanitizer in January 2021 that can be purchased on their website. They're hopeful their hand sanitizer will be inside retail businesses some time in 2021.
As for what happens when the pandemic is over, Dale believes this is just the start for Stuvz.
"Our hope for Stuvz is it's not a hand sanitizer company, that it is a company that that we build a trusted, authentic brand behind it, starting with hand sanitizer, through a family effort and growing with that," Dale said. "I think it's going to be an exploratory project to understand the path that Stuvz can go down, but I feel like with the right people, my family, doing things for the right reasons and having a margin that works so we can support the business, and it's fun. I don't know,
sounds like a worthy adventure to me."