Jaime Schmidt: From Maker to Magnate

Jaime Schmidt: From Maker to Magnate

(movement on film set) (clapperboard sound) I look back on my life and think “where did this desire
to be a businesswoman come from?” and it’s funny to think back to
you know just these memories as a kid I was a raised in a small town
in Michigan called Frankenmuth you can call 1-800-FUNTOWN to reach the city one thing my family did every year
was hold a garage sale I would negotiate prices
with the kids in the neighborhood and I had a lemonade stand we would laminate the invites and say
“save the date” “lemonade stand coming to the Schmidt house” I ended up getting a masters degree
in sociology you know I still didn’t know what it was I wanted
to be doing with my life so I chose to jump in my Saab
and drive across country I saw it as an opportunity to just really
soul search and look inside myself and have time to think I ended up taking a job at a residential facility
that works with children that have mental and behavioral health issues and that’s where I met
my husband today Chris we were working together there while I was there I got pregnant
with my son Oliver and that’s when life changed pause (laughs) I was in a fairly new relationship
I was pregnant I was working in a job making twelve dollars an hour but very happy and feeling fulfilled but I also knew it wasn’t quite sustainable and also being pregnant meant
a new identity as a mom I was excited and in love with the idea
but I also knew that I wanted to be you know Jaime Schmidt whatever that might look like I took a class on how to make shampoo I immediately knew this was something I was really feeling and in love with I really felt the fire and wanted to pursue this newfound interest I bought a bunch of DIY books on how to make natural body care products we lived in a humble 800 square foot house in Southeast Portland my husband Chris was great because
he was my guinea pig for everything there were days when he would try my new shampoo rinse and walk out of the kitchen pulling
rosemary springs from his hair (laughs) he’d say “that’s great honey” having this passion alongside this desire
to use natural products while pregnant you know really just it all just
came together beautifully you know this was a time in Portland where everybody in the community
was making something there were farmers markets every weekend
and street festivals around town and I thought it would be really fun
to just take my products and set up a table and see what happened (cat meows) the cat is she OK?>no, it’s perfect>OK (laughs) I didn’t have a whole lot of money
to put into my booth and so those early jars of deodorant
are in a mason jar with a photo of me
sketched in a bonnet on top at the farmers market I was being approached
by retailers asking if they could carry my product in their stores I would go around town with Oliver in tow and a box of deodorant in the other arm and we would go sell the product to the stores we started with the co-ops made our way into the natural grocery stores we hit Target Costco and Walmart next think you know we’re global within just two short years we had moved from my kitchen to a smaller manufacturing plant to two more warehouses and breaking leases just to keep up with the growth what started as batch sizes of 20 deodorants on my stovetop had grown to batches of 50,000 in a huge warehouse with 150 employees Schmidt’s had this momentum that was just really unstoppable I mean we were getting press our sales numbers were dominating and even the stores weren’t anticipating it you know they were running out of inventory and hustling to refill their shelves and it became really clear that we
were a serious player in the industry and we weren’t going away of course it wasn’t easy there were obstacles every single day I was juggling this new identity of business owner with mom with wife and everything else that comes along with you know running a business and living your life the orders that were coming in from stores
like Costco Target and Walmart were huge one thing that definitely set us back was the truck that had our shipment
had tipped over on the highway they had sent us photos of
our butters all over the road every day posed new problems
and new issues that I had to deal with we had some issues at one point where the dials on our deodorants were getting stuck and customers couldn’t advance them and which meant they couldn’t use the product and the way we got around that for a while was to literally take a hair dryer and soften the product with heat (laughs) until we found the right solution in manufacturing at one point I was looking at
a personal tax obligation of $300,000 which I didn’t have but I was banking on the business
and I knew that if we had successful launches in some of these bigger stores
like Target then we’d pull through if anything had gone wrong we would have been screwed one of the greatest goals for Schmidt’s
was to be the new face of natural I had always wanted my products
to be as widely available to as many people as possible when Unilever had approached us and expressed their interest in partnering we knew that we had access to capabilities
that otherwise we didn’t a greater supply chain
of course a strong financial backing consumer insights
research and a really strong sales team
that could help take the company global needless to say it was an emotional journey for me selling this company I had started in my kitchen there were a lot of emotions around it some of it was a relief some was confusion you know “what did it mean for me now?” and some sadness and loss and I had a moment during the negotiations where I let a few tears fall and it was hard as founder and CEO of a company that had grown so massively over seven years leading a team of 150+ employees I developed a wealth of knowledge and information that I can now share with others trying to do the same thing all of my projects today are in support of up and coming entrepreneurs and makers who are trying to make a name for themselves my advice to entrepreneurs is to “say yes now then figure out how” as long as you let your values lead
and your passion then you’re on the right track today my goal is to give back to the community who supported me in the growth of my business and to really help take entrepreneurs and makers to the next level

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