5Q: Sarah Ribner | Co-Founder, PiperWai
I met Sarah Ribner years ago at an NYC event and we became bossbabe-allies. We exchanged ideas and event pitched or brands together in an editor beauty-box. We spent an afternoon at the Soho House we laughed, we lunched and talked all things green beauty, skincare and the business that binds us - entrepreneurship. I hope you enjoy our Q&A :
1. Looking back on your first job, what skill did you use that you still use today?
My first real job out of college was in commercial real estate investment banking, where I learned multitasking skills and I became an Excel wizard thanks to my colleagues. In PiperWai's early stage, my business partner and I were responsible for managing almost every side of our business from accounting, public relations, marketing, manufacturing, shipping fulfillment to consumer education and everything in between. My first job taught me to manage working long hours while juggling multiple projects at once.
2. Was there a defining moment that made you start your business?
My business partner, Jess, and I came up with the business idea when we realized we had a product that not only worked incredibly well for us, but it would also solve a need for countless people looking for a safe and effective alternative to conventional deodorant/antiperspirant. We knew there was demand for this product, and we were entering the market just when the wellness industry was taking off. We had the perfect storm of market conditions, consumer demand and a product that solved a need!
3. What was he first step you took to launch your brand?
The first step was deciding the values our brand would promote, and putting that into action. By identifying our brand's image early on, we were able to align ourselves with the appropriate sales channels, press opportunities and events that would target the type of consumer we knew would be interested in our product.
4. What is the greatest lesson learned in your first year in business?
Although bootstrapping is grueling and at times frustrating, it absolutely pays off! We bootstrapped the first year by handcrafting our product and never sitting on more inventory than we needed, managing our own social media accounts, designing all initial branding and packaging, and we designed our website using free templates. Shipping fulfillment was done from our kitchen tables, and we handcrafted the product in an FDA-regulated community kitchen after 8pm many night simply to pay $10 less per hour than using the kitchen during the day. While we've upgraded to a full-time social media team and creative agencies for packaging design, a co-packer and shipping fulfillment center, our artisan roots helped us feel more connected to the product, customers and brand vision than if we started on a larger scale.
5. What is your best piece of advice for your fellow Female Founder?
There will be failures, challenges, and downright terrifying situations, all with the pressure that you’re responsible for the outcome of your company. When things get tough, try to remember why you started and what you can learn from the challenges.