By Steve Blanchard - February 24, 2021
When Sherrel Sampson launched her organic health and wellness brand in 2015, she didn’t necessarily think a cancer center was a place to showcase her products. But a chance meeting with a cancer doctor at a farmer’s market changed everything.
Sampson’s company, Canviiy (pronounced kan-vē ), produces all-natural solutions that help revitalize, repair and nourish scalp and skin irritations. Today it’s a staple at Moffitt Cancer Center’s Magnolia Hair Salon.
“We were showcasing our products at a local farmer’s market and Dr. Kaaron Benson was quite intrigued which led her to stop by our booth,” Sampson said. “She shared that she was a doctor and that many of her patients experience itchy skin because of blood cancers and other disorders.”
The two women exchanged information and eventually Canviiy samples wound their way through the process of partnerships, landed in front of Moffitt’s leadership and ultimately secured a partnership in March 2018
It’s one of the first partnerships acquired by Canviiy and helped set the company on a path for international success, Sampson said. Today, Canviiy products are sold in CVS and Meijer stores around the country and has a growing customer base that includes Australia, Germany, Denmark, France and the United Kingdom.
Desiree Hanson, manager of Moffitt’s Supplier Diversity program, said that opening up partnerships to minority owned businesses like Canviiy makes the cancer center stronger as well as provides opportunity for the local business community. Instrumental to Canviiy’s continued success at the cancer center is the guidance, mentoring and assistance provided by LaWanda Byrd, director of Moffitt’s volunteer services and Tasha Swafford who oversees the salon.
“Moffitt’s Supplier Diversity Office works with registered diverse businesses identified as minority, women, veteran or service-disabled veteran-owned businesses throughout the year,” Hanson said. “The goal of the office is to ensure that diverse businesses have an opportunity to do business with the cancer center.”
Hansen added that Canviiy is just one of many minority-owned businesses that has partnered with the cancer center that she and her department continue to mentor to ensure that they are on the right track to grow their business and build capacity. Each year Supplier Diversity holds a vendor fair, which opens more opportunities to local businesses looking to work with Moffitt and to make connections.
“In a normal year without a pandemic we invite Moffitt departments to meet with suppliers and others to see which businesses are out there that can meet their needs,” Hanson said. “That was the core purpose of that fair and we hope to bring it back in the future.”
In the meantime, Supplier Diversity continues to reach out to diverse businesses virtually via educational workshops and vendor matchmaker events to share information on doing business with the cancer center along with upcoming bid opportunities and hopes that those connections can benefit other businesses the same way it benefitted Canviiy.
“Our partnership with Moffitt has been able to validate insights such as the brand’s product effectiveness against scalp irritation and the longevity of which patient relief lasts, and has certainly open doors for the brand,” Sampson said. “We were able to form a partnership with the Tampa International Airport off the heels of our partnership with Moffitt. When we told TIA we were working with Moffitt, that level of credibility made them open to listen.”
Having the relationship with Moffitt was a positive, of course, but the product has also impressed. Sampson said it took more than a year to develop Canviiy’s calming serum, one of its most popular products.
Sampson said the idea for Canviiy’s scalp collection was linked directly to her own personal need.
“I love to get my hair done and styled,” Sampson said. “But I would come from my stylist and my scalp would be on fire! The only way to relieve that pain was to wash my hair and take out the style I had just spend hundreds of dollars on.”
Sprays and oils were available but left her hair too oily. So, Sampson decided to create her own solution.
“This is not a rare condition,” Sampson said. “Not only do women who have had extensions and styles and color have these scalp conditions, so do others who simply have sensitive skin. I knew we could make a niche for ourselves. So that was the spark. From there we started conducting research and partnered with an organic chemist.”
Sampson said it took more than a year to develop Canviiy’s calming serum, one of its most popular products.
“Everyone has a scalp,” Sampson said. “Ethnicity doesn’t really matter. It’s all about the condition of an individual’s scalp. We do have a strong following from African Americans and that’s likely because I’m the founder. But through the years we’ve shown that are solutions are just as effective among other ethnicities. Our partnership with Moffitt proves that.”