Jaime Schmidt started her body care product business in 2010 primarily as a hobby. But it didn’t take long for this ‘maker’ to grow her business from hobby to enterprise. After catching on at local farmers’ markets and co-ops, her natural deodorants earned coveted shelf space at national retailers, and before long, Schmidt was being courted by global companies looking to capitalize on the trends in natural body care that she helped define. Today, Schmidt’s Naturals is a subsidiary of Unilever.
In PDX Executive Podcast #41, Schmidt shares her story from humble beginnings to becoming part of a global powerhouse. Here are some highlights of the podcast.
On why she chose to make her own natural body care products: “I was pregnant and really paying close attention to the types of things I was using on my body. Natural deodorants weren’t working well for me, and finding one that performed well was tricky. So there were all these factors playing into the creation of Schmidt’s.”
On feeling the entrepreneurial spirit: “It’s always been there. Throughout early adulthood, I was always exploring different ideas. I had taken a class on making my own shampoos, and I felt like my passion was more real than anybody else in that room. It was a personal hobby at that point and I didn’t recognize the business potential, but once I felt that fire from that class I decided to give it a go.”
On building a business in Portland: “It’s a great city for many reasons. Consumers in Portland are smart, and they wanted natural healthy products, so it’s a great place to tap into that customer base. Also, finding creative agencies, like artists who could design my labels for a fair price, is easy. And the co-ops and independent shops are plentiful. I don’t think it would have been as easy any other place.”
On being acquired by Unilever: “We were getting attention from many investors, and big CPG (consumer packaged goods) companies could see that we were stealing sales from some of their brands. We were on the shelves at Target and Walmart, and the sales numbers were real. So for these companies to keep up with us, they wanted to have us join their family, so it made sense for them. And it made sense for us. We were getting storewide orders from Walmart, so we needed more capital to keep up with demand. Unilever saw the potential with not only our products, but with our brand story, and our amazing customer engagement and our social media engagement, and they knew they were buying all of that.”
On the future of the company: “We have lots of exciting plans for new products in the works. There’s unlimited potential. Now that we’re with Unilever, we have greater access to distribution, supply chain and customer insights.”
On Jaime’s future: “My goal is to help motivate other brands with my story and show them what I did, and that it is possible. Portland is still the perfect place for that. The ‘maker movement’ was so strong when I started the company, and it’s still very alive today, and I personally want to tap into that and help boost these other brands and see how I can play a role in their success.”
Listen and subscribe to the PDX Executive Podcast series to hear the full podcast.