Sweat Equity

An All-Natural Portland Deodorant Brand Goes Big

Schmidt's started in a Foster-Powell home. Now it's got a massive factory and a Florida-based investor.

By Rachel Wilson September 13, 2017 Published in the October 2017 issue of Portland Monthly

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“Keeping deodorant interesting and fun is not always easy, but it’s a fun challenge for us.”

Image: Michael Novak

In 2010, Jaime Schmidt started tinkering with essential oils, baking soda, arrowroot, and shea butter on her kitchen stovetop. She roped her family into testing her creations, and a recipe for a deodorant soon followed. Before the year was out, Schmidt had converted her 1,200-square-foot Foster-Powell home into a makeshift factory, selling her deodorant by the jar to a loyal farmers market fan base.

It might have begun as a hobby, but an offer of shelf space from Whole Foods—and, in 2014, an ambitious investor—changed everything. Now, Schmidt has left the home factory for a 16,000-square-foot manufacturing space, with 100 employees and two new offices in downtown Portland and Orlando. The company ships more than 250,000 deodorants per week.

Michael Cammarata, 32, the Florida-based entrepreneur who invested in Schmidt, says the effusive online customer reviews made his involvement a no-brainer. “Consumers loved the product,” explains Cammarata, who calls Portland the “Silicon Valley of natural products.” “They would rave about it and were so active on social media about deodorant.”

Schmidt’s deodorant uses plant-based powders to help absorb wetness without aluminum, propylene glycol, parabens, or artificial fragrances; coconut oil and candelilla wax make the product glide over the skin. The company still sells deodorant in jars in six scents, but now offers more in stick form, too. But the plans are bigger than deodorant. Their most requested product—a bar soap—launched this summer, with other (undisclosed) body and household products in the works.

Schmidt says her sense of branding is “intuitive” rather than scientific. The packaging is designed to be contemporary, minimal, and attention grabbing—featuring  dominant colors (characteristic: gray, green, or yellow) with clean lettering proclaiming scents like “Geranium Flower” that were unknown in the days when RightGuard represented the vanguard of personal hygiene. “Keeping deodorant interesting and fun is not always easy,” she notes, “but it’s a fun challenge for us.”

Interesting or not, the market is real, says Schmidt: “There is a major shift right now. People are demanding natural, and a lot of the conventional companies are having trouble keeping up.”

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