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Profile: Fashion Meets Function

Joy Pfister
SunEssence Sunscreens
Kristy J, LLC

It was at her newborn’s baby shower five years ago that licensed physical therapist assistant Joy Kristy Pfister, now CEO of Kristy J, LLC, received her first glimpse of a sun-protective outfit. The gift awakened her to the possibilities of sun-protective clothing for adults, and eventually, daily sunscreen with a luxurious appeal for women.

For most women, wearing smelly, irritating sunscreen daily is less than optimal. But throw in aromatherapy and smart packaging, and you have SunEssence, a new sunscreen brand for daily wear created by the mastermind behind Kristy J, producer of 98% UV protective swim and active wear tested by the Australian Radiation Government to ensure its SPF ratings.

“Conceptually, I wanted SunEssence to be a very upscale, fashion-savvy sunscreen that would make a woman feel feminine while out in the sun. I wanted it to be soothing to the skin, smell great—unlike [most] sunscreen—but be strong enough to act like a serious sunscreen,” Pfister says.

Education and skin cancer prevention became the driving force behind Pfister’s products. She therefore co-founded, with her mother, The Shady Sun—a Web site where people could find imported UV protective active wear from Canada and Australia. But no original fashionable clothing brand existed for women with Lupus or skin cancer, or for those interested in preventing such diseases.

To fill the industry gap, Pfister founded Kristy J, a women’s sun-protective clothing company ( When she had a dermatologist remove several (benign) moles on her skin, Pfister realized the importance of added coverage against UV rays. Thus, in July 2007, she launched SunEssence Sunscreens with help from her parents and husband, expanding the family business. Since starting Kristy J and SunEssence, Pfister has donated a portion of the companies’ sales to the American Melanoma Foundation (AMF).

“One in five Americans will be diagnosed with skin cancer this year. Statistics show that 90% all of skin cancers are caused by the sun,” Pfister says. “I wanted our products to have integrity and value. I did not feel like they would have this unless I had an organization like the AMF to turn to, and I was able to donate a portion of the sales back to assist with programs and research.”
In February 2008, Pfister introduced SunEssence on The products, all tested by dermatologists, are SPF 30, UVA/UVB- and water-resistant. Their fragrance fusions combine green tea, aloe and vitamins with sunflower oil for gentle sun-protective properties. In addition, Pfister introduced the spearmint-flavored SPF 15 SunEssence Lip Topping.

Billing SunEssence as the “Hollywood” of sunscreens, Pfister’s aim is to introduce sunscreen as a luxury item for daily use by every woman—even designer swimwear and resort aficionados. “It [SunEssence] comes in a chic tube that exudes femininity and smells of a bath and body lotion that one covets daily,” says Pfister.

With Kristy J under her belt, Pfister is using her hold on the UV protective beach wear market as a portal for SunEssence’s exposure. The aromatherapeutic spin to her products distinguishes them from mass-produced sunscreens, with scent combinations of melon with cucumber (Summer Sherbet), strawberry with orange and cotton candy (Pink Parfait) and oats and honey (Tropical Honey).

However, SunEssence is just a piece of a bigger puzzle in Pfister’s mission to educate women about skin cancer prevention. The former Mrs. Virginia-America uses her experience in the beauty pageant industry to do just that. Next, Pfister hopes to create a new line of organic facial and scalp SPF sunscreens.

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