Jaime Schmidt started out making natural products in 2010 and in just seven years, scaled Schmidt Naturals from farmers markets into 30,000+ stores and sold it to consumer goods giant Unilever in a nine-figure acquisition. Now, she’s lifting up emerging entrepreneurs so they might do the same—with a business media company, an investment portfolio for women and people of color, and her new book.
Dreaming of turning your business idea or side hustle into a financial success story? In SUPERMAKER: Crafting Business on Your Own Terms, acclaimed entrepreneur and investor Jaime Schmidt will guide you on how to put your business on the map, turning your passion into profit.
We asked Schmidt about her story going from vision to making her business dreams a reality.
You’ve grown your company from your kitchen to scaling into over 30,000 stores and selling your business to Unilever, what do you think made your business so successful?
First and foremost, I created a product that filled a need in the market. Customers were ready for new innovations in natural products, and I was able to deliver that through effective formulas, interesting fragrances and an aesthetic that was new to the naturals category.
On the operational side, I didn’t have outside investors telling me how to run the business and muddying up my vision for it. I prioritized customer feedback in product development at every stage of the business. I also grew with a lean team and was always cautious of excessive spending while allowing for generous spend in the areas of the business that directly resulted in acquiring new customers. With approachable price points and expansive distribution channels, Schmidt’s stepped up as a leader in bringing naturals to the mainstream.
What do you wish you knew before you started your business? Is there anything you’d change about it?
So many things! Schmidt’s started as a hobby which turned into a business without a whole lot of forethought or planning. I think this happens often with the “creator” or “maker” types. And this is what compelled me to write my book Supermaker: Crafting Business on Your Own Terms. I know there is an audience who needs the kind of practical advice that’s offered through my story.
Was there a moment when you felt a major shift between being a small, making-products-at-home maker into a supermaker? What was that like?
This came quickly in seeing enthusiasm from my earliest customers. The moment I recognized there was serious business potential in what I was doing, I knew I wanted to go all in and turn my hobby into a full-time business.
At Schmidt Naturals, you were dealing with issues coming up every day, and to me and I’m sure others out there, that size of company and level of issues you must have dealt with can feel very intimidating. What did you do for your mindset during that time?
I recently tweeted:
Founders, when things start to feel heavy:
-focus on what’s right in front of you and avoid looking too far ahead
-remind yourself why you started
-acknowledge how cool it is that people want your product and embrace gratitude
— Jaime Schmidt (@jaimeschmidt) August 6, 2020
What does a day in life typically look like for you?
I’ve been balancing a mix of calls with founders I’m mentoring and companies I’m invested in or considering for investment. My calendar is also busy with public speaking opportunities, which these days take the shape of Zoom calls. I do some writing for media outlets, and I’m regularly jumping on Twitter, Clubhouse, and TikTok to make sure I’m up to date with the latest news and trends. Every day I get some form of exercise or time in the pool with my family.
What are some key things you do for your wellness?
I try to keep at least one day a week open on my calendar with no calls or meetings, which usually end up with an impromptu hike. Spending time outdoors is my best medicine, and Portland offers miles of beautiful wooded trails. Also, I have no tolerance for less than eight hours of sleep!
Your branding is one of the best I’ve ever seen. What tips do you have for personal branding and standing out?
Thank you! This excerpt from my book summarizes it well: “When it comes to your look, be willing to do the opposite of what everyone else is doing. Go into your dream retailer, scope out the competition, and do whatever you can to avoid looking like them. If they go bland, you go full of life. If they go dark, you go light. If they make certain claims on their packaging, you focus on differentiating yours. I have seen brands succeed through imitation, but to me this approach can only take you so far.”
Your career has had some major pivots from natural beauty to investing to your platform and book, Supermaker. What are some of your greatest lessons from pivoting careers?
By continuously expanding our networks and making new connections, there’s no limit to the new opportunities we can unlock. Also, there’s so much that can be learned through helping others.
What’s one thing that still challenges you in life and business, and how are you navigating it?
I always feel like I could be doing more, which adds a lot of pressure. I put myself in check by recognizing the most gratifying aspects of life aren’t the measurable accomplishments, but rather the experience of everyday living.
SUPERMAKER: Crafting Business on Your Own Terms is out now. Get it wherever books are sold.