PiperWai entered the Shark Tank on December 11th debuting their all natural deodorant. Childhood friends Jess Edelstein and Sarah Ribner started the company after realizing the lack of non-toxic deodorants on the market. We spoke to Edelstein, who serves as the CEO, before the show airs and here’s what she told us.
1. Charcoal Made From Hardwood Is an Ingredient
The product includes medicinal-grade activated charcoal made from hardwood. When asked what the benefit of charcoal is to combat perspiration, Edelstein said that it can absorb at least a thousand times its own weight in moisture because of its large surface area.
Through her research, she decided on adding charcoal to the deodorant recipe since she learned that it can aid gastrointestinal issues when ingested. And she is not the only one to see the benefits of it. “Activated charcoal is definitely a trendy cosmetic ingredient now – you can see it used in tons of mainstream brands these days,” she explained. “But back when we were talking about starting this company we made sure to research the ingredient thoroughly to make sure it was safe for use in cosmetics.
2. The Idea Was Solidified in South America
Edelstein knew she needed a better deodorant, but got frustrated when she couldn’t find one that lasted all day and didn’t irritate her sensitive skin. After some research, she made her own and asked Ribner to try it while she was away volunteering in South America. “She was amazed at how effective it was in the hot, tropical climate and suggested I sell it since a good natural deodorant is so hard for people to find,” Edelstein explained.
And as a homage to South America, the ‘Wai’ component of the company name is inspired by the Wai Wai tribe of Guyana. (‘Piper’ is Edelstein’s family dog.)
3. Two Weeks Ago, They Were Shipping From a Dining Room Table
Up until two weeks ago, Edelstein used her home as an office, with the dining room table as a desk and a coat closet to store shipping supplies and boxes of inventory. At that time, she would ship all the orders, which on a given day could be as much as 100 units, out herself, sometimes enlisting the aid of her boyfriend.
Now, right in time for their Tank debut, they hired a fulfillment center to ship orders and are considering transitioning to a co-working space.
4. The Founders Had a Lemonade Stand Together As Kids
And after Ribner realized the fine quality of her friend’s product, she urged her to start the company and Edelstein envisioned no one else but her friend to take on the project with her. “I told her I’d only sell it if she were my business partner, because this is the kind of venture we’ve been dreaming about launching since our lemonade stand 18 years ago,” she said.
When asked what the pros and cons are to working with a lifelong friend, Edelstein said:
We’re basically sisters, but we’re very different people in terms of personalities, skills, and strengths. so starting a company together was a no brainer since we each bring something special to the table. We’ve shared holidays, vacations, and major life events together for so many years, so there is no one else I’d rather start my first company with. We’ve always been entrepreneurial spirits together, often brainstorming our ‘million dollar idea’ when we were younger.
5. They Surpassed Their $20,000 Indiegogo Goal
To say their crowdsourcing campaign was successful is an understatement. In June, the girls actually surpassed their goal by raising $27,818. Besides the monetary support, the women were excited to see the unwavering support they received from their loyal customers. “Turns out an effective natural deodorant is so hard to find that a lot of people are so passionate about PiperWai they want to shout it from the rooftops to everyone they know,” she said.
You can see their Indiegogo page here.
As far as their future plans go, although they both have other professions, they do plan on working on this new venture full-time one day soon. Edelstein is a real estate agent in Philadelphia, while Ribner is in her second year of Columbia Business School.