From starting Schmidt's Naturals from her kitchen, Jaime Schmidt built her company with the mission to set new standards for natural personal products - creating groundbreaking products that are fun and accessible to all without sacrificing on ingredients. Learn how Jaime started her company and the advice she shares for other female founders.
Q. You have an amazing story of starting Schmidt's Naturals from simple beginnings, developing a handmade, all-natural, plant based deodorant from your Portland home kitchen in 2010. What inspired you to start Schmidt's Naturals and how did you tackle some of the initial obstacles that you encountered at the beginning when the brand was so young and not well known?
A. Schmidt’s first started as a side hobby when I was DIY’ing my own personal care products. I was pregnant with my son, and I wanted to ensure I was using the cleanest formulas on my skin. For fun, I began selling my products at local farmers markets, and once I saw the enthusiasm from the community I immediately recognized the serious business potential. I was inspired to shake up the natural deodorant industry by creating a product that was not only more effective than what was currently on the market, but also while prioritizing beautiful packaging and scents. I quickly made it my mission to bring naturals mainstream, and I wanted to reach as many people as possible. Customer word of mouth was the most powerful tool in gaining exposure and traction with the business, along with innovative approaches to digital marketing. Some early blog posts and press features quickly turned into more. I had retailers approaching my booth at the markets asking to sell my brand. My distribution started with independent stores, expanded into co-ops, natural grocery chains, mass retail, then big box stores.
Q. One of our favorite quotes from your Instagram @jaimeschmidt22 is "Sometimes a detour is needed to move you forward on your path." What kinds of detours did you take before starting your company?
A. There were many! Before I started Schmidt’s, I had pursued a number of different professions and college degrees in attempt at finding the right fit. I was a Human Resources professional, a social worker for kids with mental and behavioral health issues, and I even worked a late-night shift at a local hot dog stand. At one point I took a solo road trip across the country in hopes I’d find inspiration or enlightenment. All of my experiences have been rewarding in different ways, and they all shaped who I am today as an entrepreneur and businesswoman. When Schmidt’s was born, I felt I had finally found my true calling.
Q. What advice would you give to other female founders that are just launching their own businesses? How about advice for those who have been in business for 3 to 5 years and may be starting to look for investment?
A. If you’re just starting out, don’t obsess about the competition or what’s happening around you. Of course, it is smart business practice to understand the industry you’re trying to move into, but focusing too much on other brands can stifle and distract you. And, it can be overwhelming! Instead, pay attention to your own intuition and go for it. I was confident in where I was heading with Schmidt’s, and I lived by a “no risk, no reward” mantra. My ability to handle risk tolerance dictated success, both in the big picture and day-to-day operations.
Before assuming you need investment money, I encourage founders to consider other ways you might be able to achieve your goals. Rather than giving up equity in your company, first consider that maybe a strategic hire, outside consultant, or reallocation of funds within your budget could be a better move.
Q. The world's largest CPG company bought Schmidt's Naturals in 2017, congratulations! Where are you focusing your energies now and what would you like to accomplish in the next five to ten years?
A. As the founder, I’ll always be involved with the Schmidt’s Naturals brand. I just recently returned from a press tour in Europe where I supported the launch of the Schmidt’s line, holding meetings with press, media, and key retailers. Being less involved operationally, I now have time for other undertakings. Through my entrepreneurial experience, I understand the numerous hurdles facing founders who want to grow their own businesses, and many of my efforts are now geared towards supporting that community. As part of that mission, I’ve established an investment portfolio called Color alongside my husband and business partner, Chris Cantino. Our focus is primarily on enabling women and other underrepresented entrepreneurs. Through Color and other projects we’re working on (to be announced soon!), we hope to help create a better, more equitable future for business leaders.
Q. As a mother, successful entrepreneur, speaker and now adviser / investor at Color, tell us, #whatsinyourbag?
A. Yin Chiao pills, a stash of business cards, screen cleaning wipes, mints, hand lotion, oil blotting papers, herbal immunity tincture, 3 lip balms, roller bottle with calming essential oil blend, and a small notebook & pens for in-the-moment inspiration.
For more details on Jaime's Transience bag, see our Camera Bag in Red Leather.
Photo Credit: Amanda Leigh Smith