Whether Jess Edelstein and Sarah Ribner get a deal for their natural deodorant, Piper Wai, or not, they most certainly won't break a sweat when they pitch their product in Shark Tank episode 712. Piper Wai is a charcoal based, natural deodorant cream Edelstein created after experimenting with many different natural deodorant products and formulas of her own. Until she found the right formula, other concoctions either irritated her skin or didn't last long enough.
She stumbled on the formula right before her old friend and business partner Sarah Ribner shipped off to South America for a stint doing service in the jungle. When Piper Wai stood up to the tropical heat of the South American jungle, Ribner contacted Edelstein and said they ought to start a business upon her return. They've had experience working together before – they partnered on a lemonade stand at age 11!
Piper Wai -named after Edelstein’s dog, Piper, and a South American tribe known as the Wai Wai, is a coconut oil based cream that creates a bacteria free armpit. Armpit sweat doesn't smell, it's the bacteria that grows in the sweat that does. The charcoal in the cream absorbs excess sweat. Most commercially available deodorants and antiperspirants are aluminum based and block the sweat glands.
They started their business with a $2000 loan from their parents and made each jar by hand. It was a part-time venture at first: Edelstein was working as a Real Estate agent and Ribner was getting her MBA. In 2014, they went full-time. They had to produce over 5000 jars for their IndieGoGo campaign backers and they decided to start working with a co-packer.
They're selling Piper Wai for $11.99 for a 2 ounce jar and have sales of around $150,000 in 2015. They are projecting $500,000 in sales for next year as they've expanded their retail placement agreements. Piper Wai is also developing a stick applicator and travel-size version. They need a Shark to ramp up production and help with getting into national retailers.
My Take on Piper Wai
Like everyone who sweats, I too use deodorant. I've tried natural products and found they didn't work, so I share Jess's frustration and understand why she made Piper Wai. I'd probably try this product out, but if they want to get guys to use it, they'll need more “manly” packaging and marketing. The stick version would be a good way to target men – I can't see many guys smearing cream on their pits at the gym!
These two have done a good job solving a problem. Many people, including our household, are starting to shy away from too many chemicals in the things they put in – and on – their bodies. Reading the ingredients on a lot of mass produced consumer items make me cringe, that's why we get our soaps from a local source who uses organic ingredients. Why not organic deodorant? I'm IN!
Will the Sharks Sweat over a deal?
If the product works as advertised, the Sharks should be impressed. They'll also like the way Jess and Sarah bootstrapped the business. Turning a $2000 loan into over $150K in two years is no small feat. The only problem they may face is the Sharks will want to know what other products they have in mind. One product doesn't usually get the Sharks overly excited, but deodorant does have mass appeal.
I'm thinking the male Sharks bow out on this business – unless Mr. Wonderful makes a royalty type offer. Barbara and or Lori could make a play for it though, but it seems like it's more up Lori's alley: it's a low-priced, mass appeal product that everyone already uses. If Piper Wai does a deal, it'll be with a lady Shark.