On this episode of the Reboot Chronicles, Dean DeBiase spoke with Jamie Schmidt, the founder and former CEO of Schmidt’s Naturals, to learn more about how her products went from humble beginnings, to being sought after by all the major CPGs, to now being on the shelves of 30,000 retailers in over 30 countries.
Within a span of seven years, she went from selling her products at her local market to selling it to Unilever in a nine-figure deal. On this episode of the Reboot Chronicles, I spoke with Jamie Schmidt, the founder and former CEO of Schmidt’s Naturals, to learn more about how her products went from humble beginnings, to being sought after by all the major CPGs, to now being on the shelves of 30,000 retailers in over 30 countries.
Making Natural Products Mainstream
When natural products first showed up on retailers’ shelves, there was much to be desired. For example, natural deodorants offered by conglomerates like P&G didn’t really work and their smell was a turnoff to consumers. Inspired by her fellow creators in Portland, Oregon, Jamie sought out to solve this problem herself. She started researching different ingredients and how they interact with the body’s chemistry, eventually cracking the code to create something that worked and that people were excited to use. In Jamie’s view, she was successful because she kept an open mind as to who her customer was. Instead of thinking of a specific type of customer, she envisioned reaching people in Middle America who did not have access or exposure to natural, healthy products. As she scaled up her business, she tapped into distribution channels, like Walmart or Costco, where other natural products weren’t going and cornered the market. In doing so, she made natural products more mainstream and started making inroads in an area that was largely untapped.
Selling to Unilever
Having drawn the attention of mass market brands through her distribution channels, Jamie was in talks with a number of CPG brands to purchase Schmidt’s, including Unilever. While she was initially shocked by the attention, it was an incredible experience for her to think that her brand could join a family and have the backing of a large conglomerate. However, she had to balance the risks of joining a larger company, such as having to compete against other brands in its portfolio or pulling back on innovation. Ultimately, she decided that Unilever was the right partner as they did not have intentions of shaking things up among the brand team or in product development. Instead, Schmidt’s could continue in the spirit that it had always grown in with the support of a larger parent company. For Jamie, this was important as she wanted to ensure that her company was taken care of while still able to remain itself.
Business on Your Own Terms
Jamie was able to be successful because she was able to craft her business in her own terms. She did not follow a playbook and instead took things at her own speed. For entrepreneurs, to be successful, Jamie says that they should not obsess over what other entrepreneurs are doing and instead build it their own way. They should take things at their own pace and stay focused on the vision that they have laid out for their business. Jamie says “there’s always something that’s going to drag [you] down, and it’s very easy to quit, but just always remind yourself why you started.”
To further help entrepreneurs paving their own paths, Jamie and her husband Chris created the media company, Supermaker, which contains a number of articles that support upcoming entrepreneurs. The website also does brand features, which spotlight entrepreneurs and help them amplify their stories and provide them with resources, which was especially helpful with many businesses shut down during the pandemic. Beyond that, she launched the entrepreneurial dream project, a grant program that was created as a direct response to the pandemic. The program paired 50 different mentors with 10 founders who were recipients of the award, providing them with guidance and a monetary reward to support them as they built their business and gave them the mentorship she needed when she was starting out.
Jamie also strongly believes in connecting directly with other entrepreneurs, brands and consumers to help build your brand. Today, that means utilizing audio platforms like Clubhouse. As an entrepreneur, she uses her channel “Club CPG” to connect with consumers and others in the industry, where they can discuss current events, educate others and build her own brand. This is especially useful in the beauty and personal care space, where people come together to collaborate and support each other as they navigate the industry. For entrepreneurs looking to become the next Schmidt’s, it is important that they tap into these opportunities as it gives them a leg up on their competitors and allows them to corner that untapped market, just like Jamie did.
To hear more about Jamie’s remarkable story and how she is helping entrepreneurs grow their brands, watch or listen here.
About The Reboot Chronicles Podcast
Hosted by Dean DeBiase. The Reboot Chronicles is a popular no-holds-barred podcast on iHeart Radio, iTunes, Spotify, Google Podcasts, and YouTube that has been bringing together CEOs, entrepreneurs, authors, and global leaders, for over a decade, to discuss how organizations are rebooting their leadership-competitiveness of everything from growth, innovation, and technology to talent, culture, and governance. Tune in wherever you listen to podcasts or at https://www.revieve.com/rebootchronicles.
About Dean DeBiase
Named a Growth Guru" by Inc. Magazine, Dean DeBiase is a Faculty Member at Kellogg School of Management and Silicon Valley serial CEO, where he has served in chief executive and chairman roles of more than a dozen emerging growth companies, CEO of Fortune 500 subsidiaries, and a director on public, private, family-enterprise, CVC, PE and VC boards. He is a Technology Fellow at Northwestern University, a Board Leadership Fellow at The National Association of Corporate Directors, and an Advisor to the National Science Foundation. A Forbes Contributor and co-author of the best-selling book The Big Moo, Dean, is working on his next book, Dancing with Startups. Connect with Dean here: www.linkedin.com/in/FollowDean.