Friday, December 8, 2023

How Jaime Schmidt Turned a Kitchen Experiment into a Mega Successful Global Brand

Capsule x Schmidt’s

Ten years ago, Jaime Schmidt started making natural products in her home kitchen, over in Portland, USA. Back then, “natural products” were quite a niche, so when Jaime looked at what was available, she felt pretty frustrated at the lack of choice – and the sheer lack of effective products, particularly when it came to deodorants. Jaime was pregnant at the time, and, unable to find something that would be healthy, smelled great and actually worked she decided just to make her own!

After thousands of hours of research and hundreds of recipes later, Jaime had her own ideal deodorant formula, and thankfully she decided to share it with the world.

Now, 10 years later, natural products are no longer something niche, tucked into the corner of health stores – they’ve gone mainstream, with so many of us wanting to choose products that are safe for us and our families to use. It’s not surprising that Schmidt’s is now one of the leading brands, across the world.

At Capsule, we’ve really admired the way Jaime has built her business – plus, we’re fans of her product, so we asked her a few questions about how she has grown her empire, the challenges she’s faced, and how she’s got through the rollercoaster that has been 2020…

Do you think there has been a ‘secret’ to your success with Schmidt’s?
First and foremost, I created a product that filled a need in the market. Customers were ready for new innovations in natural products, and I was able to deliver that through effective formulas, interesting fragrances and an aesthetic that was new to the naturals category. Also, I prioritised customer feedback in product development at every stage of the business, always maintaining a healthy balance of my own intuition and preferences with insights from my community. With expansive distribution (and a product that actually worked!) – Schmidt’s stepped up as the leader in bringing naturals to the mainstream.

What was your biggest challenge in launching Schmidt’s, and how did you overcome it? 
I had no prior experience building a business and had to learn everything along the way. But I was committed to my dream of growing the brand, and enthusiasm from my customers kept me going. I never looked too far ahead, but instead focused on short-term needs and immediate opportunities — this prevented me from getting overwhelmed or sidetracked and allowed the business to develop in an organic way.

We’ve just launched our publishing business ourselves, after we were all made redundant due to Covid-19. Do you have any advice for budding businesswomen and entrepreneurs? 
Have clarity around your goals for the business, but be flexible in how you get there. Be willing to shift gears to best respond to the needs of your customers and your team.

Did anything shock or surprise you in your business journey?
Every day was full of surprises. Running a business means being constantly outside your comfort zone.

Schmidt’s is widely popular in New Zealand – did you ever think when you were starting out that your products would be on the shelves halfway around the world?! 
Early in the business it became my mission to make healthy products as widely available as possible. This meant selling in distribution channels where competing brands were not, and reaching a growing community of customers worldwide. It’s so fun to see the brand being embraced by people everywhere. I look forward to the day I visit New Zealand and see Schmidt’s products on store shelves in person.

How has 2020 treated you, both personally and professionally? 
My new book, Supermaker: Crafting Business on Your Own Terms, was scheduled for release in April of this year. After a lot of anticipation and hard work, I couldn’t wait to get my story out into the world! But when the pandemic hit the United States and our country’s small businesses started to suffer, I knew that I needed to devote my time and resources where I could be most helpful. I chose to put the release of the book on hold and shifted my focus to building the Entrepreneurial Dream Project, a grant fund that provides financial support and mentorship to early-stage entrepreneurs who were defying the odds to make it through our recession.

My book did finally release in September! It’s so rewarding to hear how my story of building Schmidt’s has been a source of inspiration and support for others looking to start or grow a business.

How has the “natural” and “clean” space changed since you’ve been a part of it? What do you see as different now? Why is Schmidt’s still so successful? 
When I started Schmidt’s in 2010, “natural” was reserved for a niche customer. Today, it has become more mainstream with brands like Schmidt’s leading the charge. One thing that has set Schmidt’s apart from the beginning is that every ingredient in our products serves a purpose—we avoid the use of unnecessary fillers that are often used to bring production costs down. And, we continue to be innovative and adventurous in our scents which are always naturally derived, never synthetic.

What motivates you? 
Seeing how my experiences and insights can have a positive impact on other makers and entrepreneurs.

What gives you the greatest joy and why?
A happy Schmidt’s customer will always bring me the greatest joy. I love to hear how our products are changing lives and to know that my namesake brand will benefit hundreds of thousands of people for years to come.

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