“When I see people hurting, I see myself in them and I want to be able to deliver hope,” the former Pro Bowler tells Boardroom.
Justin Forsett is no stranger to the hustle. The former NFL running back averaged 4.7 yards per carry in his nine-year pro career, landing him on countless fantasy football rosters between 2009 and 2015. But for the Ravens Pro Bowler, there was always more to life than the game.
It was as a student at the University of California-Berkeley that his journey as an entrepreneur began.
While attempting to balance the demands of their scholastic and athletic lives on campus, Forsett and Cal teammates Wale Forrester and Wendell Hunter were in need of a solution to a very specific everyday care issue: hygiene.
“It was a pain point in the locker room,” Forsett told Boardroom. “There were just times where guys couldn’t get to a shower.”
The intense schedule of a college athlete can make it difficult to complete the daily to-do with the lengthy list of on- and off-field commitments.
And out of this necessity, ShowerPill was born.
After months of research, Forsett, Forrester, and Hunter found their way forward despite the constant time crunch. The three took a hands-on approach to developing a versatile ShowerPill sanitary wipe, involving themselves in every detail as they searched for the perfect blend of ingredients that would keep them clean and fresh without damaging skin or simply masking body odor.
“We worked with the lab to come up with a product to both cleanse and nourish the consumer. It’s for the person that sweats and is always on the go, [and] that wants to get fresh and be safe. It started in the locker room. From there, it just grew,” Forsett said.
But for the Golden Bear trio, ShowerPill was only the beginning.
Hustling for More
ShowerPill grew from a single offering to the brand now known as Hustle Clean, which has rebranded the inaugural product into their signature Body Wipe. And as the company expanded, Forsett and his team looked for a way not just to produce new products, but find new ways to harness the power of teamwork.
“Being an athlete, there are so many things that transfer over [to being an entrepreneur]: The mental toughness, the ability to persevere and be committed and dedicated to something. It takes work and studying. You have to become a student of the game and put the right people around you. Entrepreneurship is a team sport; no one does it by themselves.”
With that goal firmly in mind, Forsett and his partners channeled their hustle — and began to reimagine the term itself.
“You hear speakers talking about going as hard as you can. As athletes, that’s all we’re taught. No; you have to invest in your mental, physical, and spiritual wellbeing now or you will never see the future you’re working towards. You’ll never reach those goals if you don’t holistically invest in your total wellbeing,” the running back told Boardroom.
For Hustle Clean, that meant reinforcing the idea that the recovery — and not just the physical kind — matters just as much as the grind.
From Personal Wellness to Holistic Greatness
To get to the next level, Forsett sought to build a brand identity and articulate a purpose that was grounded in the products’ usefulness, but reflective of a broader mission.
“When you think about where ShowerPill was, we were just talking about the product itself,” Forsett added. “We have something that’s a really great product, but we don’t have an emotional connection to the consumers. But now, once people see what Hustle Clean has transitioned into, there’s a meaning and purpose behind this brand. If I see this product on the shelf, I know it’s investing in my wellbeing.”
Hustle Clean seeks an emotional connection with communities as well. The company offers scholarships to underserved youth, unlocking the opportunity to play sports. Forsett and his partners have distributed their products in communities where basic human rights like hygiene are not always within reach, including Flint, Michigan.
“When things affect our fellow Americans or our city or children, it’s up to us to step up to the call. We need to be socially conscious and engaged,” co-founder Wale Forrester said.
This commitment to giving back is a personal one. As Forsett told Boardroom, the challenges he faced in his youth are never far from his mind — and never cease to inspire his philanthropic drive.
“[At] our lowest point as a family, we were living in Oregon out of a motel, all five of us in this two-bedroom room. I still remember it like it was yesterday,” he said. “And I just remember praying to God for somebody to please help us. I remember pleading with my dad to park his car in the back so classmates wouldn’t see us.”
“Now that I own a company, I’m in a position where I can be that answer to a prayer for somebody else that’s in need and searching for help. That’s why this brand means so much to me and why I’m out there in the community in Flint. Because I see the people hurting. I see myself in them and I want to be able to deliver hope. I want to inspire the next Justin Forsett. I want to remove those barriers. Boxes are for things; not people.”
In 2020, the peak months of the COVID-19 pandemic left a serious impact. Hustle Clean grew essential as so many enhanced their cleaning habits and sought to stock up in hygiene products they knew they could trust. This led to a boom in Hustle Clean’s sales, but also the challenge of keeping up with demand.
The team committed to ensuring they could continue to keep up their manufacturing pace while maintaining a consistently high level of quality, emphasizing products that are individually packaged and sturdier than everyday baby wipes. They won’t drip or dry out like some packs of disinfectant wipes are prone to do, or contain unpredictable levels of sanitary solution. “It’s made for adults,” Forsett noted. “We want the product to be able to hang with the lifestyle of the people using it.”
And looking to the future, Hustle Clean has a number of new products on the horizon that will continue to hone in on the mission of rejuvenating those who work so hard.
Forsett captures this spirit best.
“I want to inspire the next wave of clean hustlers to get them to holistic greatness.”