Andrew: Hey, everyone, it’s Andrew Warner. I’m the founder of Mixergy, where I interview entrepreneurs about how they built their businesses. And I can’t even believe today’s guest even showed up. She’s had some big news since we booked this interview. She sold her company and I invited her here to talk about how she did it. And I’ve got to to tell you that this is the founder of a company whose product I actually use. I don’t really care, I’ll be honest with you guys, I’ll be honest with you too, Jaime. I don’t care about natural stuff.
Two nights ago, seriously, honestly, my wife and I got into an argument because I told her I don’t care about getting organic eggs, just get me whatever’s available. I don’t want to wait an extra day for the organic stuff to show up. The one thing that I got it in my head that I really care about is deodorant. I think a long time ago, I heard that deodorants lead to Alzheimer’s and this and that. I read on a New York Times in preparation for this interview that it was debunked, but in my head I basically said, “Why do I even need deodorant?”
My wife doesn’t care, she doesn’t smell me bad . . . she’s got a bad sense of smell, I’ll be honest with you. But also, for the most part, nobody cares if I’m going to a meeting, if I’ve got an event, I’ll wear deodorant. But, otherwise, who cares? For the most part, it hasn’t been an issue for me. And then we booked this interview with Jaime Schmidt, she is the founder of Schmidt’s naturals, she was good enough to send me a box of this. So I got a box of this deodorant stuff in my office and a few things happened.
Number one, I finally started wearing deodorant again, on a regular basis. Number two, my assistant saw it and she said, “Maybe I’ll get it for my kids.” And I love that she didn’t hit you guys up and say, “Hey, send some for me.” I love that she’s the kind of person that’d say, “I’ll get it.” She’s got a bunch of kids so she’s got a . . . and number three, it’s been sitting on my desk, we’ve just put it away recently and so many other people who were in my office, maybe it’s a San Francisco thing, tell me that they love Schmidt’s. I never even heard of this.
But now, I wear it on a regular basis. I have one at the office, one here at the office in my drawer as back up in case I forget to put it on in the morning and one at home. I wear deodorant and people didn’t know it. I had no idea how this company took over and I didn’t see a single commercial for it.
Jaime: So do you think you’re wearing deodorant more now that you’ve discovered Schmidt’s? Because most people do.
Andrew: I used to wear it on special occasions. If I were going out, I would wear deodorant, if people were coming to the office I would wear deodorant. Generally, during the day I would smell myself in the winter, I’m not smelling, I’m fine, I don’t need deodorant. I wouldn’t wear it. So yes, I definitely wear deodorant more. I went from wearing it, I would say, a total of 10 times a year to daily almost, maybe I miss one or two.
Jaime: And you’re wearing the charcoal magnesium?
Andrew: Frankly, only because that’s what you sent me. And you sent me so much. I went on Amazon, I was looking for people to like knock you so that I could have sharp questions for you. There are some other smells that I think I would prefer over charcoal and I’m waiting to buy them, but you’ve sent me so many that I don’t know when . . .
Jaime: Interesting. I’ll have to send a variety pack. I didn’t personally ship those. We’ll find out what we should send.
Andrew: You did. Thank you. Don’t send me anymore, I have guilt. Sorry?
Jaime: I said not me personally.
Andrew: Okay. Don’t send me more. I have guilt over receiving presents even, but I appreciate this. This was helpful. All right. I invited Jaime Schmidt here to talk about how she built Schmidt’s Naturals from this thing she did as a hobby on the side when she was selling this deodorants out of jars. I saw pictures of the jars. Who buys deodorant out of jars? But still, she built it up and she sold it to Unilever and I’m really proud that she’s here to tell the story of how she did it. And I should say that it’s more than deodorants. It’s a full line of personal care products.
I’m assuming you guys are going to grow it even further because the brand is so loved. And this whole thing is going to be sponsored by two great companies. The first will help you host your website right, it’s called HostGator. The second will help you send out smart email marketing, it’s called Active Campaign. I’ll tell everyone about those later. But first, Jaime, welcome.
Jaime: Thank you. Great to be here.
Andrew: Congratulations. What did you sell the company for? How much?
Jaime: That’s a great way to start it. That is not public information, but it just happened, actually, first weekend of the year. So a great way to start up 2018, but we were super busy leading up to the acquisition and a lot of work put into it.
Andrew: Because of all the due diligence, that kind of thing.
Jaime: Tons of due diligence. Questions that I never would have anticipated, but it all made sense. But we had to dig deep for some of those answers.
Andrew: Like what? What are the kinds of things that you have to dig deep in?
Jaime: There were just spreadsheets after spreadsheets from different departments, financial stuff, historical data that we had but it wasn’t maybe readily accessible. So one word of wisdom to companies that may potentially end up where Schmidt’s is, is stay organized like, keep all your documents in place. And, you know, we had everything but, again, it just wasn’t like right there to grab.
Andrew: Yeah. Because if you are running a company on your own, you’re not looking to raise money, you’re not looking to sell, why would you distract yourself from that?
Jaime: Right. Because it’s me and I’m the . . . you know. I felt like everything was tip-top shape.
Andrew: You won’t tell me what you sold for. I can see by your smile that it was a good sale. It was not like one of these nice exits. It’s not one of these ways of saying a business didn’t work, “I’m going to sell just to get out.”
Jaime: Schmidt is a very healthy company. I guess there are two situations where somebody sells. One may be where the company is struggling and they need somebody to take it over and make it a success. And the other is the company is really excelling and they want to find a partner who can help take it to the next level. So Schmidt was very healthy.
Andrew: You know what? I can’t believe that there is room in the deodorant space for another entrant. I remember learning in school that if you are in a mature market, you’re basically going to have to battle it out with established companies for market share and that’s a tough place to be versus being in a new market where there is constantly new customers out there exploring new stuff. I wonder . . .
Jaime: So true. Real quick on that, the coolest thing about it is that, you know, when I started this brand, there was no pressure, like I didn’t . . . there wasn’t a lot of risk. I wasn’t even thinking about the competition, I was just thinking about me and my path. It’s pretty awesome that we were able to compete on that level.
Andrew: You were working with troubled kids just before that. Doing what?
Jaime: Yeah. So I was working with kids that had mental health issues, behavioral health issues and it was a residential facility where the kids actually lived there and they needed support of different types. And so I worked, you know, with these kids, helping them just make sense of their, you know, day-to-day lives. It was a pretty stressful job. It was really rewarding in a lot of ways, but also pretty intimidating. I mean, some of the kids were aggressive because that’s how they knew how to express themselves and so definitely a tricky job. But I had explored a lot of different career paths, you know, up until now and was really trying to fine myself.
Andrew: I saw that. What’s the one about hotdog sales?
Jaime: Yeah. There was a time when I . . . early on in Portland, I started working for a hotdog shack. Basically, it was a late-night place where people who were intoxicated would go and eat their hotdogs. The vegan hotdogs were one of their top sellers and it was fun. It definitely was an opportunity for me to kind of step back from the, you know, business scene I had worked in before and just should have a low-stress job.
Andrew: What was the business scene you worked in before?
Jaime: I got my degree in business from Michigan State. I grew up in Michigan, graduated degree in business with a kind of focus on human resources. So after I had gotten that degree, I started working in human resources pretty quickly and just kind of found myself on this path of, like, moving up, you know, the HR ladder. And it was great and pay was good, I had nice benefits and it was on, you know, this path towards what you’d consider a success in HR. And I just didn’t feel right. I just knew. I was like, “I can’t keep doing this.”
I learned a lot from it, but then I went on to get my master’s and thinking I could maybe shake things up a little bit. I got the masters in sociology. That was an opportunity to kind of put that, you know, people focus, you know, with the business. And I didn’t know what I wanted to do, but I thought this is something . . . this is more of a valuable, I guess, education that might support me. And so I moved to Portland. So I don’t know how deep you want me to get here, but I kind of left the scene . . .
Andrew: Yeah. Why did you move to . . . I think the reason you moved to Portland was important and then the reason why you stopped working with troubled kids was important. Let’s talk about Portland. Why did you end up in Portland. What were you looking to do?
Jaime: I visited Portland, I fell in love with Portland, saw it as an opportunity to kind of change my life and find a new career path.
Andrew:It was just like, you were on a path, career-minded and then you said, “I can’t continue to do this,” but all the small changes you were making weren’t having enough impact. So you said, “I’m going to go to Portland and figure it out from there”?
Jaime: Yeah. Portland’s a good place for that. Especially back then because . . .
Andrew: And you had no job opportunity or no job that you were going for. You just said, “I’m going to go shake things up.” And that’s when you end up selling hotdogs and working with troubled youths and trying to figure it out. The other thing was you said that it was difficult to work with troubled youths. Give me an example. What was one of the challenges there? What’s one day?
Jaime: I think the hardest part is just trying to get through to a kid who’s in a situation you can’t relate to. I mean, I had a nice upbringing, a supportive family and all that. But some of these kids have . . . you know, some are physically abused or maybe they had just the other, you know, diagnoses that were just hard, hard to manage.
Andrew: Were they rough with you?
Jaime: Yeah. I got bit, I got hit.
Andrew: I see. And then you got pregnant?
Jaime: I did. I was working there and so I couldn’t continue in that, you know, in that scene and so I moved into a job within that same company, but more in like program administration. That was nice, but I was pregnant so I was tired and so it was an opportunity to . . . I had an office so I was able to kind of sit back on my own. And there was not a lot of work for me, to be honest, so I’d take naps and shut the door and lay on the floor and sleep. So I think it worked. It was the right timing for me. But then I moved out and did something . . .
Andrew: Sorry. And then you moved out and did what?
Jaime: I did something more on a part-time basis, also in social work but it was in the housing industry. So working for a company that built houses for low-income people.
Andrew: This is painful to hear and at the same time kind of satisfying to hear that you hadn’t figured it out and most people would think that especially after going to school and having a career track that you would have it figured out that we’d have to have figured out. And you didn’t. And then on kind of what seems like this chance thing, because you were in Portland, there’s a big hobby, maker world in Portland. I saw “Portlandia,” I understand. They make fun of it a lot. But you got into it and what’s the first thing that you started making?
Jaime: So it all started as a hobby. And like you say, the makers movement was really, really strong back then. This is like 2010, everybody was, you know, making something, whether it be hot sauce or candles, chocolates, kombucha. And so I really found my place with personal care products. And so I just really started experimenting for fun. It was kind of a hobby. I was researching recipes on making lotions. That was probably the first product I had really made for myself and family. Deodorant came quickly after because of my own personal frustrations with the options around the market.
Andrew: What was your frustration with it?
Jaime: Natural deodorants, like many people can relate to, just don’t work. I mean, there are a lot of new innovative brands that are starting to meet those expectations, but back then, it was just the options were limited. And, you know, I didn’t consider myself a particularly stinky person, but the deodorants just didn’t work well for me. You’d have to reapply every couple hours or they felt really sticky and wet.
Andrew: Or they felt like they weren’t doing anything. I tried a bunch of them also. The men’s magazines were really good about selling alternatives and it was like this crystal that you would put in your armpit and it didn’t really do anything. It looked really good in the magazine, but in reality, it just was nothing.
Jaime: The fragrances too. A lot of them just didn’t have . . . they didn’t smell good. Or they’d have to have . . .
Andrew: How did you know how to make deodorant? Where would you even go to figure that out?
Jaime: I had time on my hands. So I was working part-time, I was pregnant, but just like kind of, trying to find myself, you know . . . stepping into motherhood, I was like, “Oh, shit. What does this mean for me and my self-identity?” And so I kind of just saw it as an opportunity to explore and find, you know, some things I was passionate about. And so I just bought books. I mean, back then, like, I was still buying a lot of books. And I just found some recipes and would kind of tweak them and throw ingredients together.
It was mostly just finding the key ingredients that work. So something that would help neutralize odor, something that would help, you know, nourish underarm skin and just throwing them together in the right combo.
Andrew: So I just did a Google search right now to see how crazy hard it would be to find it. There are people out there who have recipes for deodorant. And now that I think about it, when I was researching you on Amazon to see what people who use your product said about it, some of them had been making deodorant at home and switched to your product. So I get it. It’s not as out there as I thought to make it and at the same time, you tested a lot of stuff on your husband. There was this one thing with rosemary. What did you test with him with rosemary?
Jaime: Where did you read that? That is true, though. So I was making a lot of shampoos and kind of vinegar rinses and I had this great shampoo recipe that had fresh herbs in it. And I would always run to him, “Try my new product.” So there was one day he had tried it in the shower. And he was very sweet, you know. “Yeah, it smells good, seem to work.” But he was picking the rosemary sprigs out of his hair.
Andrew: Throughout the day, he was doing this?
Jaime: Yeah. So there are a lot of, you know, moments he’d be my little guinea pig, but it was fun.
Andrew: All right. And you went to where to sell this? Farmers markets?
Jaime: Yes. So Portland has tons of opportunity to get out there and sell. There are farmers markets every weekend, there are a lot of street festivals around town. And back then, I took the opportunity to do everything. Some of them were just huge failures. I mean, nobody showed up. But I did it all and it was fun. I would go there every weekend and even when my son was born, I brought, you know, a little playpen and he’d hang out in there and be at the booth there and that brought attention into the booth.
But it was great because it was an opportunity to really refine my recipes too. Because these customers, the people coming to the booth were saying, you know, “Hey, I bought this deodorant two weeks ago. It’s great, but can you make it a little softer or maybe we can make one that smells like this.” And I listened and then I adjusted accordingly and it paid off. They’re my little . . .
Andrew: Wasn’t it a little awkward going from working in HR, going from a professional atmosphere to standing out there and hoping people will buy the stuff you made at home? Was that weird?
Jaime: I loved it.
Andrew: You did?
Jaime: I don’t know. Maybe it was humbling, I guess. But I mean, it was such relief because I wasn’t feeling it before in those careers, you know. And even saw my co-workers would say. “Hey, you’re great at your job, but, like, this isn’t you. Something’s not right.” And so being out there, it’s just like I could be myself, I could dress how I wanted, I could talk how I wanted, you know. It was really freeing.
Andrew: All right. So the reason that you ended up with deodorant as opposed to all the other things you experimented with was what?
Jaime: Well, number one, I was most passionate about it just for my own personal experiences and . . .
Andrew: Oops. I think we just lost you there for a sec.
Jaime: All the other products, we were sad to see them go but . . .
Andrew: Sorry, you’re saying you love the other products but?
Jaime: Number two . . . yeah, but the deodorant, I knew that to be competitive, I needed to choose one thing and do it really well. I didn’t want to go to market and just throw out a bunch of products and hope that it worked. I wanted to pick one thing and own it and take it all the way. So deodorant was a logical choice. And I just saw the opportunity in market and even . . .
Andrew: This is 2010 when the makers movement in Portland swept you up and got you into this. What was it about deodorant do you think at the time that got people so interested?
Jaime: I think it was those same frustrations that I had experienced and it’s something that people weren’t seeing back then. You can go to a farmers market and see candles and whatnot, but deodorant was not a common. People were interested in the smells, like that was a huge part of it.
Andrew: That the smells were different?
Jaime: Yeah. I like to say I have a knack for, you know, putting together fragrances. And they do smell amazing and so that got a lot of customers interested.
Andrew: Some of your fragrances, I don’t know how to pronounce. What is ylang ylang?
Jaime: Ylang ylang. It’s a flower.
Andrew: And calendula?
Jaime: That too, also a flower.
Andrew: The reason I know that is because you started out selling them in jars. I assumed that you moved on to just deodorant like this, bars, but no, you still sell them in jars. Was it weird when you sold it in a jar? I could understand you making it, putting it in a jar, taking it out there. How are people going to apply it, a little spoon?
Jaime: Yeah. So there were a few motivations behind the jar, but it was funny. I got a little tired of people coming to the booth and saying, “Deodorant in a jar?” So maybe, you know, that told me something. But for one, it was easier to make. You know, you throw something in a jar and people have to put out their hand. It’s easier than you trying to accomplish that glide that comes with a deodorant stick. I also really liked the sustainability of the glass jars, you know. Plastic sticks are everywhere and certain customers really appreciated that.
Even today, we have a recycling club at Schmidt’s where if you use five jars, send them in, get a free one. So there was that. And also, I just liked it because it looked different and I thought they were so beautiful in the bathroom instead of . . .
Andrew: It does look really nice, but then what would people do? Now, you sell it on Amazon with a spoon. Is that the way people would apply it? Put a spoon in the jar and then put in their armpit, wipe and then another spoon, again, put in the other armpit, that’s it?
Jaime: A little spatula is in there to help get the product out of the jar, especially for people that might have long nails, don’t want to dig in. So it’s there to help get it out and then you’re going to put a little on your skin and rub it to warm it up and then apply it with your hand like a lotion.
Andrew: Oh, with my hand?
Jaime: Yeah. I think if your trying is a little spatula it gets a little tricky.
Andrew: Got it. Okay. I have to say I don’t feel comfortable touching myself like that, I’m glad that you went for a bar for people like me.
Jaime: It’s funny, I’ve heard that before and I think . . . I saw that as a challenge to those people who did feel uncomfortable. It’s like, “Why can’t you touch your own armpit?” What’s your reason?
Andrew: Even though I do it in the shower with soap, you know what it is? Once I’m out of the shower, I think it’s dirty instantly. It’s a dirty part of my body once I come out of the shower and so no, I don’t do it anymore.
Jaime: Others enjoy and they see, you know it’s like, an intimate moment, I guess, the application of something under your arm. Especially women who need to pay attention in those areas, you know, anyway or should be doing the self breast exam etc. and it’s just you’re more in touch with your lymph nodes and all that.
Andrew: Also, it’s just different for me and different it doesn’t feel great in the shower. You know what? I just realized the other reason why I stopped using deodorant. It ruined all my shirts. I would get all this like white gunk on it after not even a lot of washes and then I would go on Amazon, I find this stuff that didn’t ruin my shirts and it’s hard to find because I guess there’s not a big enough market for it so they stopped making the ones that I like. So it was a big pain in the neck.
Meanwhile, though, let me come back and ask you about the science because I think it’s been debunked. But first, I want to tell people the thing that’s still in my head was debunked and still I feel okay. I still don’t want the other stuff in my armpit where they . . . all right. Let me come back in a moment. First, I’ve got to tell everyone about a company called Active Campaign.
If you’re listening to me, you probably are part of my mailing list. And what you’ve noticed if you’ve been on my mailing list for a while is that I no longer do the dopey thing, which I used to do, which is I would email people the same thing over and over. I mean like, whatever I emailed, whether you signed up yesterday or signed up five years ago, you would get because that’s all I was able to do. And the other thing is if somebody bought, I would still try to sell to them because there was no way for me to mark off somebody as having purchased.
An email software that I used was popular but not very good. Then I discovered marketing automation software where you can do things like exclude people for marketing if they bought, where you can actually onboard people by sending sets of messages to let them know who you are and what the company is about and where you could do things like understand what people’s interests are based on what they’re clicking, what videos they are watching etc. And I discovered this a while back and it is so tough to do.
Marketing automation is very powerful, it helps grow sales, but it’s really tough to do because software for it is overly complicated and then you need to hire consultants to manage it for you. Well, the people at Active Campaign said it doesn’t have to be that hard. They decided they were going to come up with a really simple way of doing it. In fact, they actually make it so easy that they even will get you started by creating your sequences and messages for you, by giving you templates, etc.
And so if you’re out there and you want this kind of marketing automation, you don’t want to hire someone for $5,000, $10,000, no exaggeration, $5,000, $10,000 a month is what many of these other competitive software needs. You need to pay consultants for $5,000, $10,000 a month to manage it for you. If you don’t want to do that, you want software that your team can manage, that you can go in and manage, I urge you to go check out Active Campaign. They are fantastic at marketing automation. Like I said, they will let you target messages based on what people clicked on, what people watched on your site. So good. You heard of these guys?
Jaime: No. But I’m interested now.
Andrew: They were around forever and I think that actually hurt them because I was so used to thinking of them as the old-school marketers that you’d have to download the software, put on your computer and send it out, but they’ve evolved a lot. Now, they’ve become one of the top marketing automation companies out there and probably the easiest. Anyone out there who wants to try them should go to activecampaign.com/mixergy. Why “/mixergy” at the end? Because first of all, it’s going to help your old pal, Andrew, because they’re going to know that you came for me and they’re going to want to keep buying ads for me and I want them to because I love them as a sponsor.
Number two, if you do that, you’re going to get a free trial. So you can actually try this, go spend a weekend, play with this and you’ll see how easy it is. You’re going to get your second month free if you decide to sign up, they’re going to do two free one-on-one sessions for you with consultants who will show you how putting smart marketing automation in your business is not as hard as you think and actually could increase your sales. And finally, if you use this special URL, you’re also going to get free migration. So if you’re using one of the old-school email software that doesn’t do marketing automation or one of their competitors, you can easily have them do migration for you. Here’s a URL: activecampaign.com/mixergy. activecampaign.com/mixergy. I’m really proud to have them as a sponsor.
Is it all in our heads, Jaime, like me where I did some research? It turns out all this stuff with Alzheimer’s is not really there. Is there really a benefit to doing natural?
Jaime: So my first goal here is to define the difference between deodorant and antiperspirant. Many people use them interchangeably, but they are different. So an antiperspirant will have aluminum and that’s the biggest ingredient that people get so worked up about. A deodorant, on the other hand, does not. And the way aluminum works is that it blocks your pores to stop you from sweating. So it literally will . . . it kind of acts as a plug that just prevents, you know . . . Schmidt’s, we use some powders in there that’ll help absorb the moisture once you do sweat so that’s how ours does help keep dry.
On this aluminum thing, so there are a couple concerns. One is that it, like you say, Alzheimer’s. There’s been some connection that aluminum has a link to, you know . . . continued use of something that might contain aluminum. Cancer to women, that’s another one that people are considering to be linked to aluminum. With Schmidt’s, we don’t like to use these scare tactics, but our whole philosophy is if it’s questionable and if there’s a possibility that it is doing some damage, then why you use it when you can use something that we know is safe and effective?
Andrew: I have to say, it seemed questionable, but I’m looking at this New York Times article from 2005, it’s called “The claim aluminum in antiperspirant causes Alzheimer’s disease.” Their bottom line and they really actually label it bottom line, studies suggest that aluminum in antiperspirants is safe. Still, having said that, I always think, “Who knows? What am I putting on my body and what’s the benefit, what’s the upside of doing it?” Maybe it’s because I don’t stink that much or maybe because there aren’t enough people around me to smell me then I don’t want to bother with it.
But there seems like there are people who feel the same way I do. Something feels a little bit off, we’re not really bringing science to it, we’re just bringing this feeling that I’d rather eat things that are more natural, I’d rather put things on my body that are more natural and that’s the feeling that they come to it with.
Jaime: You know we’re going to cut corners sometimes, no one’s going to have like this 100% natural lifestyle. But if there’s an easy choice with deodorant, then, hey, why not? Especially if it smells good and it looks cool.
Andrew: I will say this, I do use antiperspirant still today when there are important meetings. So if I’m going out for a conference and I’m going to go in a few weeks, two conferences in San Diego, will probably be hot, I’ll take antiperspirant with me. And I think in those situations I need it. I’ll be damned.
Jaime: The key is learning right where you need personally. Everybody’s body is different and if that’s working for you, then great.
Andrew: All right. So you were selling it out of jars, that was eye-catching, that’s very much what Seth Godin would call a purple cow jar. A jar of deodorant, excuse me, it is deodorant. I keep making sure that I’m not mixing my terms. People were starting to get excited about it and then Whole Foods, you don’t contact them. They do what?
Jaime: Yeah. They came to me. It was pretty awesome. So a lot of customers around Portland started asking, “And where can I find your product?” And back then, I had no motivations of selling beyond the booth. Every weekend, I’d be out there but I didn’t think, “Hey, I could get this in stores to start selling.” But once customers were asking for it, then the light bulb went on, like obviously, like, I should get this out there in stores. It took a bit, you know, but I didn’t like to try.
I mean, most stores started coming to me in the early days, which was crazy. I mean, we had Whole Foods, as you mentioned, came out to my booth at the market and said, “You know, have you thought about selling this? We’ve got customers asking for it. Do you have a wholesale sheet?” They were asking for things that I had never even known.
Andrew: What’s a wholesale sheet?
Jaime: Basically, a little list of your pricing and all the products and their, you know, UPC codes. And so wholesale pricing, obviously, is different from the direct consumer price and so I was forced to start thinking about those things and, you know, what that meant and got really excited. And I’m pretty competitive. So once I decided to go all in, I was like, “All right. Let’s do this.”
Andrew: So Whole Foods I don’t know how they are now with Amazon as the buyer, but I know for having done interviews with people who sold food to them, they were eager to find local businesses to support, to bring in new local products. And so I could see how that would help. I’m also imagining that in Portland, there was this need for stores to sell local, to sell new things. Is that right that it helped?
Jaime: Yes, definitely. But they want to, you know, trust the brand and know that it’s going to carry on because there are a lot of brands that come and go and they may be local and awesome, but Whole Foods doesn’t want to take a risk, you know, on something that’s going to disappear in a few months. So I think they want to really see the traction and hear the customer demand before they, you know, take a chance on it. Also, the manufacturing, not everyone’s capable of producing to keep up with the demand.
Andrew: So how would you manufacture this?
Jaime: Say it again?
Andrew: How would you manufacture it? What was your manufacturing process back then?
Jaime: In the beginning, it was me and my kitchen and the stovetop. And a batch size was about 20 jars and that’s all I could do, you know, per batch. And maybe in a day, I might spit out a few depending on the demand. But once we started to, you know, get a lot more requests from stores and whatnot, I had to upgrade to a bigger pot, get an outside facility, start hiring and so we gradually scaled our manufacturing. And today, I mean, it’s way beyond the kitchen.
Andrew: When you found a facility, how’d you do it?
Jaime: Well, the first one was pretty easy. There was a space right on the corner from my home. It was a building that had a for lease sign on the outside, it was kind of questionable looking building. I didn’t know what it was all about it and shut down for a while. I called the number and asked him, “What are you going to use the space for?” And he said, “What do you want it for?” And so we worked out an agreement where I designed, you know, what I needed out of the space and he did it for cheap. So we had a pretty good relationship, that the owner of that building and myself, and were able to put something together that, you know, did what we needed to do. It was about 1200 square feet at the time.
Andrew: This is basically like a cooking facility. We’re not talking about a factory so much as these facilities that I’ve seen around town where independent chefs can go and cook their stuff.
Jaime: But also shipping too. So I used to load up my car and go to the post office every day. And it got a little cumbersome and the post office employees were kind of sick of me because I’d come in and load up the boxes every day. So moving to that facility enabled us to also schedule USPS pickups. So we had a mailman come in twice a week and pick up. That was pretty cool. That kind of legitimized the business a little. And then we moved on to daily pickups. And so, you know, not only the cooking and manufacturing but also the shipping.
Andrew: Here’s a name that I didn’t see until I read about the sale, Michael Cammarata. How did he come in the picture and who is he? I know who he is because I did research. I don’t want you to think I’m walking out here saying, “Tell me who he is,” but tell me how he came in the picture and give us a sense of his background.
Jaime: Michael had one of his . . . I guess reps or someone from his office reach out to Schmidt’s and expressed interest in a potential partnership. And at that time, I was not looking for any, you know, type of partner, any investment. I felt like we were doing what we needed to do at a pretty healthy pace. But I was intrigued, you know, that somebody had noticed the business and took interest in it and kind of sat on that email for a bit, wrote back and said, “Yeah, I’m open to a meeting.”
So Michael flew to Portland, and then I think I flew to LA, came back to Portland and we had a few meetings just getting to know each other. And I definitely saw Michael’s potential to, you know, help take the business to the next level. And he had a lot of experience and connections that I didn’t and we complemented each other really well. You know, I knew the product, the ingredients and, you know, those customer interactions and he had the business side and some great experience to help elevate.
Andrew: His background, from what I could tell, is . . . and there’s not that much written about him, but his background is in online marketing. He was in the online ad space before most people recognized the power of it.
Jaime: Mike has a really interesting way of thinking about things and has been incredibly successful with his, you know, unique, I guess, approach to business. So he has a very pretty interesting background that goes behind, you know, what you’re explaining and yeah.
Andrew: Do you have an example of something that he brought to your marketing or to your way of thinking about business?
Jaime: Yeah. I think it’s just kind of an . . . not to be cliché but like an outside-the-box style of thinking.
Andrew: Is there something outside the box that he did that you’re especially proud of?
Jaime: Let me think about a good example. Off the top of my head, I can’t think of, like, a particular thing but I might come to mind with a thing in my mind that was a problem, was like with no solution, but then he’d hear me out and then he would think about for a second and come out with some just, like, awesome idea. Like, “Why didn’t I think of that?” And so we worked well together.
Andrew: Was the website up before . . . basically, he became an investor in the business, ended up owning a piece of the business, but also taking an active, not daily but active role in business? Am I right?
Jaime: Yes. So Schmidt’s was established. I mean, we had, you know, the local businesses we were even . . . we were national at that point, but we were still, you know, very much new. So he came at a really opportune time and, yeah, that’s one thing that I did appreciate that he was an active partner/investor, not just somebody throwing a little money at the company. He was available all the time for conversations and advice and, you know, as the company started to grow, his involvement grew too. And I think once he recognized the true potential of it, he was like, “This could be something huge,” and yeah.
So in the beginning, it was the customer interest that caught his attention. You know, he wanted to get into natural and had heard, you know, that was the way to go and he just read the customer reviews and saw the, you know, the major potential for Schmidt’s just based on what people were saying.
Andrew: You went national because you would go out store-to-store, phone call the phone call, selling sometimes with your baby in your arm. Tell me about how’d you get anyone to pay attention to you? How did you get these sales?
Jaime: It’s crazy how powerful consumer word of mouth is. I mean, once people started using the product and talking, it spread. I mean, people were hearing about the brand just through their own networks. Then we had a couple bloggers reach out to us directly and say, “Hey, I caught wind of this product. Let’s talk.” I have to say that in the beginning, I didn’t do a ton of outreach. A lot of it was inbound, which I’m incredibly grateful for and I realize it’s not always the case.
But I think with Schmidt’s, one thing that really helped us stand out was, like, our packaging is just beautiful. And especially in deodorant, I just felt like we had sort of a disrupted look and that was one of my goals was like to make something that looked pretty. You know, a lot of deodorant, especially like a natural brands, are kind of lackluster and that, you know, not necessary eye-catching. And that’s one area I saw opportunity too, was something colorful. And I always had an eye for fashion and I felt like that was a good outlet for me to, you know, sort of express myself.
Andrew: I saw that. I actually don’t think that this stick does a good job of showing your design sensibility. This is like the most Andrew one, it’s gray and very functional, but the jars especially have this look to them that it looks artisan even though, at this point, you’re beyond artisan. So when I take a look at articles like myecoevolution.co.nz talking about you, thegreenproductjunkie.blogspot.com again, from 2013 talking about you and Vegan Cuts. This is not you going after them, it’s them saying, “I need something new to write about,” and finding you.
Jaime: To the most part, yeah.
Andrew: And did you have a process for maybe sending them stuff and getting them on board?
Jaime: Yeah. So I did have, you know, a small independent broker come on a few years in,. She did a bit of the marketing outreach for me and then my husband, Chris, started on a few years in as well. And he did a lot of grassroots outreach from home and just sort of secured some features that way too.
Andrew: It occurs to me the name Schmidt’s, that’s a kind of a bold name to put on a product.
Jaime: It is. But it’s a relatable name. Everybody knows a Schmidt, you know.
Andrew: I guess so. I never thought of that.
Jaime: A Schmidt they admire. But it’s funny. When the company first started, we were sitting around my living room. It was me, my husband and one of our friends, Rick . . .
Andrew: Sorry. The connection just broke up again, but it’s going to come back in a moment. It was you and who is Rick?
Jaime: So Rick sat right in the room and brainstormed with us. He had done my original labels. He was a friend. And so we were sitting there thinking, “What do we call this company? What do you call a natural products brand?” There’s a lot of, like, cliché, obvious ideas and none of them were sticking. And my friends call me Schmidt and so it just felt right. Schmidt, but you’re right, it’s bold and it’s strong, but it’s confident too.
Andrew: Yeah. I would have thought, like, Vegan Mama or something, but no.
Jaime: That’s what we wanted to stay away from. We wanted something you could remember and it’s pretty great. Now, I’m so grateful that we named it that because it’ll always live with me.
Andrew: Isn’t that weird, though? Because at some point, I think it was a New York Times that did a piece recently about the opportunity and the danger of naming the company after yourself, because the danger is that these guys just acquired your company and they say, “Goodbye. We’re going to go take it on,” and then they take it on to some direction and you’re not happy with. Like, suddenly all the jars are taken away and all the sticks look ugly.
Jaime: Yeah. It’s a valid point. You know, fortunately, with Unilever, I still have a strong involvement, you know, in where the company’s going and kind of playing a really prominent role in marketing the brand and stuff. So I trust that it won’t get away from us and I think, you know, they understand our core values and what’s important to us and what makes the brand successful. So I’m not worried about it.
Andrew: They bought Ben & Jerry’s and Ben & Jerry’s is still not in favor of chemicals and nuclear weapons, so they didn’t take it in the opposite direction. They seem to be good stewards of brands.
Jaime: Yeah. They have cherished the founders and their stories.
Andrew: I can see that. All right. So what was it that you’re saying to these stores that got them to say, “Sure, come on, Schmidt. Sell us your stuff.”
Jaime: I think by the time I’d started going in proactively, many of the stores had already heard of me. And I think, you know, those who hadn’t were just intrigued because here comes this woman, you know, from Portland with a baby, like these hand crafted products. And back then, it was easier, I think. I wouldn’t say it was easy, but I think in Portland specifically, you know, they were craving those types of products.
Andrew: Alicia Silverstone, how did you guys get hooked up with her?
Jaime: So there was some mutual connection down the line who had known her and somehow they had managed to get some product over to her. And, you know, they knew that she would be a good fit.
Andrew: So a friend of yours who knew her?
Jaime: It was a friend who had another friend, you know, kind of down the line who had asked me for some samples like, okay, can’t hurt. And so once she’d come on it though . . . she gets sent samples all the time. I mean, this is something that she’s getting stuff constantly and so I thought there’s no chance it would even come up again. But the great thing is when she tried it, she loved it and she immediately started talking about it. And I think the timing of that was really crucial for Schmidt’s to kind of, you know, get to the next level in terms of just impressions across the country. She featured us in US Weekly, which came out of nowhere and a lot of orders came in after that that I wasn’t expecting. That was kind of fun.
Andrew: And this was just her. You got a sample to her through a friend of a friend, what does it hurt, didn’t talk to her since then. She didn’t say, “Hey, I would talk about you and US Weekly if you do anything for me.” Or it just happened that she talked about you?
Jaime: Yeah. We didn’t pay her. She just genuinely loved the product.
Andrew: I see. And this gives her credibility because she’s turning on the readers of US Weekly to something brand new and okay.
Jaime: She’s so cool though. She came to Portland a couple years after that. Her agent reached out to me and said, “Hey, Alicia’s doing a meet up at the park, do you want to be a part of it?” And so I got to go there and meet her and her husband and her son.
Andrew: Wow. What’d she do? A meet-up for her fans?
Jaime: Yeah. It was pretty intimate and her son, Bear, adorable he’s running around. That was pretty cool.
Andrew: And then I see bloggers are writing about this. I was trying to find the original article. I couldn’t, instead I saw mia-belle.com writing about it. And then, you know what, I also saw allure.com talked about her liking Schmidt’s. So then I guess it just kind of took off and other people had something to write about. It wasn’t you promoting it? It’s not you calling Allure and saying, “Hey, guess what? Look, who likes our product?”
Jaime: So once Chris, my husband, came home we sort of this mailing season, this mass mailing to different press outlets and so we just basically went on their websites, trying to find a contact and an address and put together some packets and mailed them out.
Andrew: To media?
Jaime: Different magazine editors. We got a few hits from it. It was pretty cool. I mean, it was the most, you know, grassroots approach to PR. But at that time, we couldn’t hire an agency or anything and so we did it ourselves. But it was cool because we got some attention from it and then it was worth it.
Andrew: What about bloggers? I see that they are writing about you guys and something called opensky.com. I don’t know what it is, but a bunch of people are linking to Open Sky. What is Open Sky?
Jaime: Yeah. I don’t know if they’re still around, but they were an online retailer/blog kind of where a lot of celebrities were connected to that. So they would talk about their favorite products.
Andrew: So you could see what your favorite celebrities’ products are and then buy from there. And it wasn’t that the celebrity even had to be hooked up with Open Sky. It was if Open Sky read somewhere that some celebrity likes something, they would just add it to their list? It’s an interesting concept. I see it is still around at least, as far as I can see. I can buy from it. So basically, what happens is word starts to get around once a celebrity comes on board and you help fuel it, but you’re not experiencing it.
But I imagine you do pretty well. The reason I imagine that you did something to help out is you reached out to us or someone on your team reached out to us a long time ago to come on. So you had some understanding that online promotion is useful and a little bit of effort will go a long way towards getting that.
Jaime: Definitely. We put a lot of effort in. I mean, we still to this day . . .
Andrew: Give me a sense of the effort. Teach me a little bit about what you did. I think that’s going to be useful for us.
Jaime: I think at the beginning, our goals were just brand recognition. We just wanted people to know. I mean, maybe if they weren’t buying Schmidt’s, we just wanted them to know that Schmidt’s existed. So I think, you know, whatever we could do to make that happen was just continuing to connect with these bloggers And once we did, you know, maintaining those relationships And even to this day, we have an in-house team who, you know, nurtures those relationships and in times . . .
Andrew: Like how? What do you guys do to nurture relationship?
Jaime: You know, they’re the first to find out about a new product launch and we just, you know, follow them in Instagram or maybe talk about just, you know, what’s happening on their day-to-day lives and just maintaining communication. And I send a little gift.
Andrew: So I might go into some database that you guys have and then, from time to time, you check in. I’m not a beauty blogger, I’m not your ideal influencer, but I would be in the database and from time to time, someone would know to check in with me and see, hey, Andrew’s wife just tried one of our deodorant and you might say thank you.
Jaime: Yeah, exactly.
Andrew: Got it. Sorry.
Jaime: I said you’re in the database now.
Andrew: I get it. What database do you guys use? What software? Salesforce?
Jaime: No. I don’t know how they . . .
Andrew: You don’t even know what you guys are using?
Jaime: We do. I don’t know specifically what the marketing was using to track those names, but I think it’s, you know, a small group of people.
Andrew: How big is the company now that you don’t know the specifics of how they do things? I didn’t realize it was that big.
Jaime: We have about 140 employees now.
Andrew: Wow. All right. Let me take a moment talk about my second and final sponsor and then I want to come back and close out the story. There’s so much I want to ask you about and I hope we could squeeze it in. The second sponsor is a company called HostGator. You know what I’m just learning is if I weren’t listening right now and I wanted to come up with a business idea, what you guys do for staying in touch with influencers, it’s like a whole business on its own.
I feel like someone should go to HostGator right now and just get any domain, probably their last name or first name, last name agency.com . . . .com isn’t as cool as it used to be. It could be even be .co and do exactly this for people. Set them up with a database of online personalities that they should keep up with, then send a few of them promotional products, ask for links wherever it’s appropriate without being pushy about it. But be like this agency that goes between online celebrities and products and businesses. And that alone is a one, like, page website.
All you need is, “This is what we do. If you want, contact us.” And then start reaching out to potential customers. The reason I’m bringing that up is because I feel like it’s so easy to set up a site and set up an idea as a business and get feedback from the world, kind of like what you did. You tried a bunch of different products. Deodorant is the one that people loved, that you felt most excited about and then, boom, it took off.
What I love about HostGator is, it gives anyone who’s listening to the sound of my voice right now the opportunity to do exactly that: not physical products but digital products. Set up a website and try something, then set up another and try something else and then see which one feels right. And if you’re interested in it, go to HostGator sign up for their baby plan as they call it. You’re going to get unlimited domains, which means every idea that you have, you could just set up a website for, just one click, install a WordPress, a little bit of adjustments in the WordPress theme and, boom, you’re ready to go. And see if you feel it, see if it feels good.
Be in the maker space online. All you have to do is go to hostgator.com/Mixergy. They’re going to give you 50 to 60% off their already super low prices. And frankly, at this point, hosting is a solved problem. You don’t need a fancy hosting company. We use HostGator for this new business that I started. I’ve had over 1,000 people hit my site at once and still the thing just works. All you have to do if you want this is go to hostgator.com/Mixergy. You’ll get that low price, you’ll get unmetered disc space, unlimited unmetered bandwidth, unlimited email addresses, 24 hours a day tech support.
And if you don’t like this and you want to back out, 45-day money-back guarantee. But you will see once you get started the ideas will flow out of you and then the hosting company that will allow you to just keep bringing them to life. One click, install a WordPress, one click install of other software, HostGator. Hostgator.com/ mixergy. All right. Back to this story.
Jaime: I’m impressed with your advertising skills.
Andrew: I’m sorry?
Jaime: I said I’m impressed with your advertising skills.
Andrew: Thank you. I’m just riffing on this, the one thing I always forget to do is to say, basically, if someone’s out there has a hosting company and doesn’t like them, they should bring their business to HostGator. I feel like that’s a better market for me.
Jaime: Well, you just said it.
Andrew: I’ll make a note there. I’ll make a note and talk about it more, but we just said it right now. You started bringing people in. How did you learn how to hire? Hiring is one of the toughest things for entrepreneurs.
Jaime: That is true. My very first hire was a referral through a friend. He started working maybe one day a week . . .
Andrew: Is it the guy in the garage who was helping you pack stuff?
Jaime: Yeah. His name is Ben and he is still with us today. He has grown with the company and has learned a lot himself and has really, you know, taken the initiative to lead on a lot of Schmidt’s expansion, you know, across our different warehouses. Pretty amazing. We have five warehouses now, over the short length of the company and, yeah, that’s a whole other story and then another . . .
Andrew: Beyond that, when you’re really ready to start to hire, I used to read about the Google founder spending hours reading books about how to hire that that when reporters would go to their office, they would see those books all over the place because they were trying to hire right. It’s a challenge. What did you learn that you could pass on to us about how to hire? What’s a mistake you made or successful process that works for you now?
Jaime: I think hiring friends can be a bit tricky. You know, I did a bit of that in the beginning and it was awesome and you don’t know my friends well enough to know that whether or not they’d be a good employee, but as the company grows I think there could be some challenges that, you know, can arise from that, friends, family.
Maybe when they came onboard, they liked that the company was smaller and aren’t interested in growing, but, you know, so there’s some emotion around that. Or maybe you’re less connected or there’s no time for them to come sit in your office and chat or whatnot. So I think you can be smart about it but just mindful of it too, I think.
Andrew: Was there . . . when you needed to go beyond, what did you do that’s worked for you beyond your friendship circle?
Jaime: I mean, we’ve done all the classic like posting on Craigslist. We’ve had some headhunters look for a really great manufacturing place, specifically, you know, staffing companies that do have employees at their fingertips that have done a lot of the screening for you, so that’s great. Reference checks, I mean, they only go so far. I mean, they’re helpful, but, you know, again, most people don’t give out reference they are not confident in.
And so it’s rough. Hiring is hard and I think we’ve learned some lessons. And when I say learn, I mean, I’m not saying it won’t happen again. I mean, you could hire somebody who feels great in the interview. But I think a couple interviews is good, you know, getting somebody in there maybe a second . . .
Andrew: Do you have a methodology for hiring, something that you’ve been going with? You do?
Andrew: You know, you’re an HR person so, of course, you get this stuff.
Jaime: Like having that background, but I think having multiple people talk to the candidate is good too because in your mind, you might think, “This person is exactly what we need.” But then you get somebody else from your department in there and they might have another or ask the right question to reveal something that you hadn’t. So I think it’s bringing more people into the process is good.
Andrew: All right. Let’s see, then. What else? Let’s talk about some of the challenges here because, so far, it feels like everything just works out easily for you and I can’t imagine that’s the way it was. In fact, you told our producer, “Look, there are days when I just questioned my ability as a CEO, am I fit to run this organization?” Can you talk about that? When you questioned it, what makes you question yourself?
Jaime: I think if you just step back and remove yourself from everything that’s happening, you can be overwhelmed. If you see it from outside perspective, you’re like, “Holy crap.” Like, I’m responsible for this massiveness and that’s overwhelming. And so for me, it’s helped to just sort of live in the moment and work in the moment and not get, you know, overwhelmed by the what-ifs and yeah. I look forward but not too far forward, you know, enough to make sure I’m not making any mistakes and then I’m, you know, planning in a smart way. But I think just finding people you can count on in your team too is huge.
You find them and you keep treating them right once you do find them. And I think giving people the autonomy and, you know, power within their own departments to really make change and have an impact is crucial. Then you get people who are really part of the company and, you know, growing with it.
Andrew: So what do you do to give them that sense of autonomy and connection to the growth?
Jaime: Just feedback, you know, from a distance or as needed, but for being as involved just needed too. It’s just maintaining that balance, I think, is key. If someone’s doing something right you know, telling them also like, “You’re on the right track. This is awesome.”
Andrew: I’m bad at that. I’ve got to get better at that, but . . .
Jaime: It’s hard, it’s so busy and you have huge expectations for people, but it does make a big difference to step back and tell them. Because think about it from their perspective, right? They think they’re doing okay.
Andrew: They don’t know what to keep like continuing to do, what to repeat. Like, I get notes on you before and every guest before an interview. The only time I tell my assistant to . . . she works with a producer, researchers, everything that we have, she puts together in one doc. I don’t even want to have to go and search for an old version of your website. I need one click that takes me directly to the archive and I could see your site, 2017, I think, is when you put it up. And I’ll ask you about that in a second.
But the only time she hears for me is if the one-sentence description of the company is off then I highlight in Google Docs I @ her and I say, “Andrea, this is not right.” And then I can see her, she’s so quick, she sees it’s for me, she pops in there and she fixes it. And this morning, I said, “You know what? I’ve got to stop that. I’ve got to be someone who tells her when things are working.” And something was working and I just sent her a note immediately. I’ve got to get better at that. Does that come naturally to you?
Jaime: No, I think it’s so important in our personal relationships too, not just at work.
Andrew: Yeah. The wife that I told you earlier about, what I did for a while was I never admitted it to her, but I value my interviews as much as I. . . and I want to be open. But here’s what I did. I saw that I wasn’t being complimentary enough to her. I set an alarm on my phone to go off a reminder at certain specific times of the day and then I’ll just send her a message.
She goes, “This is wonderful. This is great.” Then she finally said, “Hey, are you leaving yourself a note? I don’t know if you are, but I appreciate that you’re doing this. I actually do enjoy it.” So what you do in your relationships with your co-workers, with your husband to remember to do that?
Jaime: I think that’s an area I could improve on too. As much as I value some people, I don’t always express it, but they’ll hear from me maybe because, you know, something’s not perfect. But I think they know. I mean, I’m so real with my employees and, you know, my professional relationships. And I think they just trust that, you know, I’m going to tell them if something’s not right, I guess. But there’s certainly so much that we could be doing, I think, to let people know . . .
Andrew: You don’t have anything? I heard Slack go off in the background. Do you guys have like a Slack bot that makes sure that you reward people or thank people?
Jaime: Yes. Slack is cool. It just helps maintain like a comfortable culture and you know, just . . .
Andrew: What bots are you using to reward or thank or pat people on the back? Are you using anything?
Jaime: Any bots, you said?
Andrew: You’re not even using any of these bots? So some of my friends have bots installed on Slack that when someone says something nice, it gives a point to the person who they said something nice about. And if you get enough points then everyone in the company knows. And you don’t know this stuff?
Jaime: We have, like, emoji responses and whatnot. We’ll look into the bots.
Andrew: Let’s talk about the website. Is it true that the website only launched 2017?
Jaime: No, that would have been a revised version of it. We had a website from from day one. I mean, I was making it on my Apple computer. I can’t remember the name. iWeb, I think.
Andrew: I remember iWeb. I used it once for my wedding. I guess it works, but wow.
Jaime: It was easy to manage. Especially for me, I’m not the most techie person so having that was nice. My husband helped with it too, but . . .
Andrew: Did you change the domain name or something? Is that why I can’t find an earlier version?
Andrew: Schmidtsbeauty.com is what it was.
Jaime: The cat’s entering the room if you hear a meow. Try Schmidtsbeauty.com and see what happens. But it probably of redirects to Schmidtsdeodorant.com.
Andrew: What did you do about getting customers on the site? I imagine that’s what’s having somebody on the team, what having Michael who has an online ad background helped with.
Jaime: Yeah. For sure. And we have a whole team at not Schmidt’s devoted to that now so . . .
Andrew: In the early days, what worked for you with it?
Jaime: I wasn’t working that much in the very early days, you know. It was, again, that word of mouth thing. But now, I mean, we have a very sophisticated strategy behind, you know, ads and drawing visitors to our site and whatnot.
Andrew: All right. Let’s close it with a sale. Now I see, by the way, Schmidtsbeauty.com does bring up things. Now I get to see what your site used to look like. The iWeb version is loading up for me right now, very slowly. So how did you . . . did you reach out to acquirers or how did this whole sale come about?
Jaime: No. So we had a ton of interest, you know, coming to us for . . . you know, the whole 2017 was pretty packed, Michael managed a lot of . . . sorry about the cat. I’ll take her out. A lot of these meetings, you know, face to face and with interested parties, there were various levels of investors that were interested. You know, somebody like Unilever at the higher end and then we had some smaller parties too that we were talking to.
Andrew: Why did you decide that you wanted to sell?
Jaime: We knew that for us to take Schmidt’s to the next level, we needed more money and we also needed more access, you know, to greater supply chains or new ways of thinking about things. And not so much the thinking, but I think the access was just so key. And then a company like Unilever, it was clear that they have this access and that it’s so cool to see that they took an interest in, you know, a natural, disruptive brand like Schmidt’s and that they see the value. It’s so indicative, you know, of the time.
Andrew: You got into Wal-Mart, Urban Outfitters and Target on your own.
Jaime: Yeah. We did.
Andrew: But you still wanted more access to more product, to more stores.
Jaime: International reach is significant, I mean, as we expand our product lines, you know, just the access to the R&D, you know, will be key too.
Andrew: Fair to say you sold for more than $30 million?
Jaime: I can’t talk numbers.
Andrew: You can’t talk numbers at all. All right. I did see an early version of your site, by the way. There’s a drawing of someone, I can’t tell if it’s you or not, with a bonnet.
Jaime: That’s me.
Andrew: That’s you?
Jaime: That was our first label. So it was me wearing a bonnet and that was repackaged in mason jars I think. The deodorant I still do like literally in a mason jar as a sketch of me wearing a bonnet, So it’s kind of like a homestead, sort of old school.
Andrew: Yeah. That’s what it looks like and then it says “Made in Portland” on the bottom. The final question, do you remember the day when the sale went through? What happened?
Jaime: Oh, yeah. In New York City. This was not long ago. That was mid-December, we signed and then the deal officially closed early January.
Andrew: You remember being there in New York, deal signed, you took it . . . what did you do? Did you go buy ice cream or something to celebrate?
Jaime: It was crazy because Unilever had an event that day that they wanted Michael and I to attend. It was a combination of a like holiday celebration, a going-away party for somebody and a kind of founders event and so, you know, we had one hour sleep, we signed the deal like by the deadline because it had to hit, you know, hit the PR wire, you know, by a certain time. And we jumped in the car and called the offices in Portland and Florida and told them the news and then showed up at this event. We were in front of everybody and it was crazy. Tons of emotion and great things to celebrate.
Andrew: Well, congratulations on doing it. I would usually give the website at this point, but I don’t even know if we need to. They could just go to Amazon or anywhere else if they’re curious to see it. But if they want, what? Sorry.
Jaime: I was telling them the website, schmidtsnaturals.com.
Andrew: schmidtsnaturals, wait, naturals plural?
Andrew: .com or you could just still go to schmidtsbeauty.com and see that. All right. Thank you so much for doing this. And the two sponsors who helped make this interview happen are, first, the software that helps you send out email marketing. It’s called activecampaign.com /mixergy. And the second is HostGator. And in the interview, I said that anyone who has an idea to maybe, like, connect brands with influencers and others, I know this is kind of an idea that’s been done., but there’s still more room to do it right, especially if you could then do it with the company as opposed to just doing it for the company.
I said all you need is a simple website. I went to your PR company, therosegrp.com. They basically have that. It’s just a basic WordPress site, keep things simple, but focus on the customers. And, boy, they have great customers. Now, they actually get to brag about you. Your logo’s featured very prominently on their site. They’ve got to be proud that they have you as a customer.
All right. So if anyone else there wants a simple website to help promote whatever service they have, go to hostgator.com/Mixergy. And the final word is our team is trying to improve the audio quality and the interview in general here. If you have any feedback for us on the audio or the video or any of that, let us know at firstname.lastname@example.org. Schmidt, thanks so much for doing this interview.
Jaime: Thank you. That was awesome. I had fun.
Andrew: It was great. Thanks. Congrats. Bye.