By Michael Hinkelman
Philadelphia Daily News.
Jess Edelstein and Sarah Ribner, both 26, are co-founders, and president and CEO, and vice president and CFO, respectively, of PiperWai, a natural charcoal deodorant. They launched the brand in March 2014. The two have been besties since they sold lemonade the summer after fourth grade at a park. I spoke to Edelstein.
Q: How’d you come up with the idea?
A: I wanted to stop using anti-perspirant, but couldn’t find a natural deodorant that lasted all day and didn’t irritate my skin. After months of experimenting in my kitchen, I devised a formula that worked for me and gave some to Sarah. She took it on a trip to South America, said it lasted all day and we should sell it because it would change people’s lives.
Q: The startup money?
A: My parents gave us $2,000 to make our first jars, and we paid that back and have since reinvested in the business. We won $7,000 in a pitch competition at Columbia University’s School of Business where Sarah is an MBA student. In June we had a crowdfunding campaign and raised $25,000.
Q: How’s the biz model work?
A: We sell direct to consumers via our website. We also wholesale to about 30 independent brick-and-mortar stores and large retailers. We have pending contracts with Whole Foods Market and a distribution contract with a third-party retailer in Canada. We also contract with online retailer the Grommet.
Q: The value prop?
A: We’re providing a healthy, natural alternative to conventional deodorants. Our customers say they’ve tried every natural deodorant brand and nothing has worked better than PiperWai. It’s also the only charcoal cream product, which is absorbent, neutralizes odor and keeps you dry. It lasts two to three months with daily use and you apply it once a day.