News & Press

Trailblazing Women: A Conversation with Touchland Founder Andrea Lisbona

As published in the 2024 Fashion Mannuscript Women’s History Month Issue

In the spirit of Women’s History Month, our friends at Anchin sat down with Andrea Lisbona, founder of Touchland hand sanitizer. These portable, moisturizing hand sanitizers come in a variety of delightful scents, and make cleansing germs convenient throughout the day. Anchin is a leading tax, accounting and advisory firm that serves privately-held businesses in beauty, fashion, consumer products, real estate and other industries, as well as investment funds and high-net-worth families.

Carolyn Cipolla from Anchin co-leads the firm’s Beauty, Health & Wellness group, and sat down with Lisbona for the interview.

C: Tell us a little bit about your company, and what inspired you to create Touchland?

A: Life is short, and I believe in leaving a lasting impact. Influenced by trailblazing entrepreneurs like Steve Jobs, Sir James Dyson and the transformative Nespresso story, I’m passionate about enhancing real-life experiences—making them better, easier and more enjoyable. Our mission was clear: to inspire self care and self-expression through innovative personal care products that people genuinely look forward to using.

C: How did you come up with the idea and approach for Touchland?

A: Creating Touchland was a big challenge that I was excited about: elevating personal care routines into rituals that spark joy. I knew that the personal care market, especially in the hand sanitizer category (although we have plans to diversify into other categories in the next 18 months), primarily relied on fear-driven marketing and also didn’t innovate or create products with people in mind. Many brands were instilling fear to drive sales—short-sighted, in my view. It’s unappealing to grow sales by scaring people about daily life items, like claiming, “Your phone has more germs than a public toilet seat.” Such approaches make people hesitant to interact with the world and yes, they may end up buying your product but you want to win people’s trust and heart, not scare them. Our strategy at Touchland was the complete opposite. We aimed to inspire excitement and joy in using personal care solutions through massive innovation, starting with hand sanitizer.

C: What is the hardest part of being an entrepreneur?

A: What is not hard about being an entrepreneur? The challenges of entrepreneurship are vast. Living outside the comfort zone is a constant, and for me, that’s the norm. Growing up in an entrepreneurial family, I witnessed the full picture, from success to failure and back to success. We went from building a significant business to losing everything in a crisis, then rebuilding from scratch. This cyclical nature of business, with its inherent risk and uncertainty, might seem daunting to those unfamiliar with it. Yet, it’s precisely within these pressures and cycles that the beauty of entrepreneurship emerges.

C: And being a woman, does that add on any extra layer of challenges?

A: Honestly, I firmly believe that being a woman shouldn’t entail extra challenges in the entrepreneurial landscape. Gender should never be a barrier to success. In today’s world, diversity is recognized as a strength, not a weakness. Female founders bring unique perspectives, innovative ideas and resilience to the table. Impartiality is fundamental to fostering a thriving business environment. If skepticism arises, I choose to dismiss it and focus on my capabilities. I enter any room with the understanding that I possess the same rights and opportunities. The value I provide should be the primary focus, not my gender. It’s not about demanding special treatment; it’s about advocating for equal opportunities and ensuring that merit, not gender, dictates success. By dismantling stereotypes and challenging biases, we pave the way for a more inclusive and equitable future.

C: With inflation on the rise, what advice would you give to the entrepreneurs who are struggling to manage their finances?

A: In leading the business, I follow a philosophy of “hope for the best, but prepare for the worst.” We’ve maintained a highly conservative approach, constantly questioning if we could weather prolonged challenges independently. It’s scary to rely solely on external funding to run your business when external factors impact the business. We’ve been keen on avoiding a situation where failure to secure funding immediately leads to a cash crunch. We have always looked for partners to grow better and smarter, not to simply grow. Personally, I prefer channeling my focus and energy into aspects that enhance the business, rather than living from funding round to round to avoid running out of cash. Being scrappy is crucial for self-sufficiency. Over-reliance on external funding, especially for younger startups, can be risky. Delays in expected rounds can erode founder leverage, leading to regrettable deals. In the volatile landscape of business, a strong financial foundation is key to weathering external uncertainties without feeling adrift.

C: What’s been the most rewarding aspect of your journey so far?

A: There are many aspects, but the most gratifying for me is developing products that put a smile on people’s faces. Despite my long workdays,
I always find time to check TikTok. I’ll be honest; it’s an emotional moment when I witness people unboxing Touchland, and their joy is palpable. They’ve eagerly awaited our product, and when they experience it, you can tell we’ve blown away all their expectations and over-delivered a product that they weren’t expecting to fall in love with. While there’s many rewards in my journey like building and growing an amazing brand and team, the ultimate reward is creating something that sparks joy, makes people happy and contributes a bit of brightness to their day.

C: How do you manage to balance work life and personal life?

A: I’m not the best one to give advice on this matter. I’m not going to lie. My hobby is Touchland. I genuinely enjoy exploring new packaging and ideas—it’s where I find fulfillment. While I wish I had a hobby outside of Touchland, it hasn’t happened yet. I was quite active in sports during my childhood, and I practiced Judo for twelve years. But for the past 13 years, my focus has been solely on Touchland, and because I find joy in it, it doesn’t feel like work. However, given that my co-founder is also my husband, I’ve made a conscious effort to separate personal and business matters. Growing up in a family of entrepreneurs, I remember every dinner conversation revolving around business. Being aware of that, I’m disciplined about it. If I want to discuss something at 10 p.m., I tell myself, “tomorrow.” I send an email to myself and bring it up the next day. This discipline is crucial, especially when both co founders are also family members.

C: What qualities do you value in your team?

A: During interviews, I prioritize attitude and principles over resumes. It’s about fostering an environment where individuals seek not just a job but a purpose, contributing to the broader vision. Bringing together people genuinely passionate about the product sparks innovative ideas—whether an intern or a C-suite executive, a great idea supported by reason is valued at Touchland. As one of the fastest-growing beauty brands, we maintain agility within our team, fostering a collaborative and forward- thinking atmosphere based on shared principles and overarching goals.

C: You hinted that there is some big news coming in the next 18 months; are you working on some new products?

A: We are growing fast, especially with great retailers like Sephora, Ulta and Target. We’re working to reinvent three new categories within personal care, aiming to revolutionize them through design, form factor, formulation, packaging, fragrances and more. Our mission is to elevate and infuse more enjoyment into personal care.