Deodorant, it seems, is being reinvented every day by startups and niche brands eager to find the formula, the packaging, the benefits, the story, the something…that consumers will prefer over the options coming from corporate-led brands. It’s in this crowded marketplace that SmartyPits is making a name for itself with both full-size and minis, regular and sensitive-skin formulas, an array of novel scents, and a promise to always be aluminum-free.
Here, one of the beauty entrepreneurs behind SmartyPits shares a profile of herself and the brand.
Name: Stacia Guzzo, co-founder and lead formulator
Indie Beauty Company: SmartyPits
Launched: April 2017
Headquarters: Tehachapi, California
Cash flow: We are currently self-funded; while we’ve utilized traditional financing (a CDFI loan), we do not yet have any investors, nor have we raised any money from crowdfunding. Apart from the loan, we’ve utilized the business’ profits to continue to self-invest in SmartyPits’ growth.
We surpassed the half million mark earlier this year, and it was a goal that we had set for the end of 2018. That definitely made me proud!
But to be honest, I actually am most proud of the amount of money we’ve been able to raise this year for breast cancer research and survivor support. When we began our partnership back in April of 2018 with City of Hope (a world leader in cancer research and the facility that saved my mom’s life), I had hoped to raise over $10,000 by the end of the year. It’s now November and we’ve raised over $18,000 so far—I know we’ll reach $20,000 by the end of the year. To be able to give back that amount of money to breast cancer research and survivor support is something that makes me prouder than any revenue goal we could have surpassed.
Indie how? I’ve always considered an indie brand to be one that starts with the sweat, tears, and money of its founders. It’s part of what makes growing an indie brand so rewarding!
Team work: SmartyPits employs 9 people, including myself and my husband: 5 full-time and 4-part-time.
Distribution: SmartyPits is available on our ecommerce website, www.smartypits.com.
Years in beauty: I’ve been making and formulating skin care for 7 years, and have been formulating deodorant for 5 years.
Years at SmartyPits: We started out selling our deodorant under another company we founded back in 2014 (called The Handcrafted HoneyBee Co) along with handmade soaps, bath bombs, lip balms, and DIY kits. The deodorant, however, was the product that gained the most traction (and quickly!), and we decided that it deserved its own branding, marketing, and attention. SmartyPits launched as an independent brand in April of 2017. We still manufacture and distribute all of our products in-house!
The business: SmartyPits Deodorant is on a mission to help the world go aluminum free, one stick at a time. SmartyPits is supercharged with food-grade prebiotics and formulated with natural oils, butters, and waxes for all-day odor control – and, of course, is free of aluminum, parabens, phthalates, and propylene glycol. It’s also cruelty free! Each scent is available in both their standard formula and sensitive skin (baking soda free) formula. In addition, SmartyPits donates 3% from the sale of every large stick to breast cancer research and survivor support.
The wow-factor: We use a proprietary blend of natural oils, waxes, powders and minerals, along with a food-grade prebiotic to help get to the root cause of underarm odor (the short explanation: bacteria!), and for many people, this is a magic combo.
Another great thing about SmartyPits is our variety of scents, formulas and sizes; we have some of the most abundant variety on the market due to in-house manufacturing. If we want to add a new scent for the holidays (like Pumpkin Spice or Almond Biscotti), no problem! We can add it in as soon as the labels can get to us.
Finally, I’m most proud of our giveback program. It makes giving back something people can incorporate into their daily skin care routines, and that’s something that makes me really excited.
The customer: Most of our customers are women, mostly ages 24-48, who buy for themselves as well as their families. These women are aware of the risks that have been linked to aluminum and breast cancer (or Alzheimer's) and are committed to finding an alternative to traditional aluminum-based antiperspirants. Many in our market have been distinctly touched by breast cancer, either directly or indirectly.
Milestone moment: I was thrilled when the Grove Collaborative started carrying SmartyPits earlier this year; it is such an incredible company, and to be available on their platform has been one of my biggest thrills as an entrepreneur.
On a smaller scale, I’ve had quite a few experiences at trade shows and expos where someone will walk up to our booth and say, “SmartyPits…I’ve heard of this brand!” Every single time it makes my heart flutter a little bit. Knowing that awareness of SmartyPits is reaching hundreds of thousands of people that I’ve never met is still amazing to me…some days I think back to that young mom making deodorant on her kitchen stovetop, and wish I could go back in time to just give her a little glimpse. She’d be floored!
Advice for fellow beauty entrepreneurs: Relationships can be one of the most important aspects of building the foundation for your business. Make sure you have a good mix within your network, including 1) people who are where you hope to be, 2) people who are sharing the experience of where you are at, and 3) people who are going through things you’ve already been through. The perspectives that can be offered from each of these three types of relationships are each very important in their own way—listen with an open mind and be generous within the relationship.
I’m also a big fan of masterminding, especially with people from outside your business’ industry. One of my most powerful masterminds was with a group of women which included a travel company, a clothing company, an eyewear company, and specialty notebook company, varying from just over $100K in annual revenue to over $3.5MM in annual revenue. Not one had experience in the skin care industry, but the perspectives we were able to offer one another were amazingly valuable!
Just one: Asked about her go-to product, Guzzo says, Besides a sweet-orange bergamot, sensitive skin SmartyPits, I do love a good lip balm—it’s worth its weight in gold. Some of my favorite brands include Rachel’s Plan Bee, Etta + Billie, and Waxing Kara.
Deanna Utroske, CosmeticsDesign.com Editor, covers beauty business news in the Americas region and publishes the weekly Indie Beauty Profile column, showcasing the inspiring work of entrepreneurs and innovative brands.