How This Oregon Brand Went From A Small Business To A Global Powerhouse In Wellness by Forbes – Entrepreneurs

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Schmidts Naturals is collaborating with activists and celebs to make wellness mainstream.

Schmidts Naturals

Michael Cammarata, CEO of Schmidt’s Naturals, a Portland-based brand, says that natural products have finally gone mainstream. “It’s not just for a small group of the population anymore.”

Unilever took over the brand in late 2017, making Cammarata’s vision for a global plant-based deodorant a reality. Two years later, the company is partnering with celebs and activists to take their message further: earlier this year, they collaborated with Jane Goodall and her Institute to raise funds and support her conservation work. This month, they announced a different kind of collaboration — a new deodorant scent developed with pop star Justin Beiber, which will debut later this fall.

Though it seems as if the company is jumping from high to high, Cammarata says that the path to making natural deodorants as viable as the conventional ones was not easy.

Cammarata, who had worked in online advertising, consumer electronics, and several other tech-related industries, came to Schmidt’s as a consumer. “I was looking for healthier products myself. So many of the diagnoses we see today for illnesses are connected to products we use around our bodies, or put in our bodies. So as I was learning more about wellness, I came across natural deodorants.”

That led him to a meeting with Jamie Schmidt who had been formulating these concoctions since 2010 and showcasing them at maker events, markets, and shops around the Portland area. Though the product worked, it was in a glass pot and priced higher than conventional counterparts. Cammarata wanted to change that.

“We reach masses by putting it in a stick, roll-ons, applicators that they were used to,” he says. “Plus I think charging a premium for natural products is problematic. They need to compete on price,” he argues.

Yet neither one of the duo had extensive manufacturing experience. So to scale and pack it differently required months of engagement with co-packers, before realizing that few of them had the know-how to do it. When Cammarata joined Schmidt in the venture, the company had a 1,200 square-foot facility where they were manufacturing all the deodorants. At that point, Schmidt’s had an annual revenue of $500,000.

Cammarata invested in Schmidt and the brand, through his venture capital firm, Random Occurrence. And then set out to build an infrastructure that would enable them to create more product faster. To do so they had to source enough high-quality essential oils, he explains. “Aside from Coca Cola, which was was the largest buyer of essentials oils at the time, there were few companies that had those supply chains in place,” he notes. “Schmidt’s was going to need a lot of high-quality oils, and there wasn’t a ready-to-go supply chain for that.”

It wasn’t just the oils. The machines used to manufacture and package the product had to be custom built as well, he says. “At that point, I have to admit that I started a sweating a bit,” he jokes.

But by 2017, he had helped the company scale to a 30,000 square-foot facility in Portland and a sales office in Florida; the headcount had skyrocketed to 120 employees.

That year, the company was acquired by Unilever, a move that Cammarata says has been mutually beneficial and enabled them to reach markets that would have been harder to get to. “It would have taken us a decade to do what we did in a year basically.”

Schmidt’s is housed in stores of all varieties — from Goop shops to CVS to Target. That was Cammarata’s goal: make wellness affordable and accessible.

“Wellness is changing every industry. People are asking more companies to think about wellness,” he iterates. “Businesses have to be the voice of the consumer, when politicians and other institutions fail. Businesses today can communicate easily with consumers. It’s not just about making money any more — you have to think about people and the planet.”

May 30, 2019 at 03:31PM
Forbes – Entrepreneurs