16 Launching a Plastic Neutral, Luxury, Sustainable and Stylish Hand Sanitizer During the Pandemic with Paume’s Amy Welsman
In today’s episode, we chat with Amy Welsman from Paume. We learn how Amy’s antibacterial hand gel was already in development when COVID changed everything. Why she was inspired to create a luxury sustainable and stylish hand hygiene brand, how Paume is addressing waste with their unique and chic refillable pumps, previously recycled materials and plastic neutral certification. We discover the potential risks of white labelling, why Amy has chosen sustainably produced, bio-degradable and plant-based ingredients, what she’s avoiding in her formulations that you’ll want to avoid too. And the challenges of launching during a pandemic when everyone was rushing a hand sanitizer to market.
If you want to learn more about Amy and her nourishing hand sanitizer that’s better for you and mindful of the planet. Visit mypaume.com. Want to show your hands some love? Paume’s refill kits offer all you need to sanitize at home and on the go. You can follow along with Amy and learn more about her sustainable and plastic neutral hand care brand on Facebook or Instagram
About the Host
I'm Jennifer Myers Chua. The Host and Producer of the Cost Of Goods Sold podcast. I'm an entrepreneur, a creative, a cookbook fanatic, mother. I have always been interested in hearing people's stories and I've been determined to change the world for as long as I can remember.
You'll find me at home in Toronto deconstructing recipes, listening to podcasts, enjoying time with friends or wandering alone through a big city. I'm excited to have you here. Let's do better, together.
[00:02:29] Jennifer Myers Chua: If we’ve learned anything from our experience in COVID times, it’s the importance of hand hygiene. I for one never carried hand sanitizer with me before the pandemic. but now after nearly two years of being reminded to wash our hands and being prompted to sanitize, when going into a public space, it has really become a way of life.
There are arguments for sure, against the over use of products like hand sanitizer, and it’s worth being cautious as there have been multiple recalls in the United States and Canada. We’ll discuss that in a bit. Many hand sanitizer brands had rushed to market. Once we all began clearing store shelves. And some of those hand sanitizers contain some toxic ingredients and methanol. And we’ve all come across those that are sticky or slimy or that smell terrible, and that are packaged in really flimsy containers, guaranteed to leak in our bags.
Paume however, is something else entirely. It cleans and sanitizes. Yes, but it smells incredible. It’s hydrating and the packaging is luxurious. And while disaster capitalists were taking advantage and creating hand sanitizers at the onset of COVID. Amy had already been working on Paume for over a year. And Paume is a hand care brand. They’ve launched with a sanitizer. But more products are on their way soon. They incorporate quality formulations plant-based ingredients. And sustainable packaging. I was introduced to Paume’s founder, Amy Welsman by Megan Takeda-Tully from Suppli. We featured Megan in episode seven and her brand is remarkable. So go back and take a listen if you haven’t heard her story yet. And I was immediately intrigued. Because Amy’s mission is to create really good products to care for our hands, which is something that we often neglect. And our hands, Amy points out, allow us to connect with the people around us.
And Paume is coming up on the one-year anniversary of launch and launching during this time has definitely proven to be a challenge. Amy really has been the only person dedicated full-time to the brand. And she’s excited to start building a team now that she’s through with fundraising. And only a year into this, Paume is in retail. Amy has benefited from some influencer partnerships and impressive press. And she admits that it all has happened pretty quickly, leaving her to balance the little details in the day to day with the larger, more strategic and longterm all on her own. But Amy, isn’t exactly a stranger to building a successful brand from the ground up. In 2013, she left her corporate job in advertising to join a startup called Knix which is now a well-known women’s intimates brand.
[00:05:21] Amy Welsman: I jumped on board as the first hire to work for Joanna who had this incredible vision for an amazing product and an amazing brand. And I was so inspired and so excited to help grow that business with her. And I spent four years there doing precisely that and I learned so, so much through that experience. I think being in a startup environment from day one but not being at the helm was a really valuable experience because, I felt very invested in the success of the business, but I always knew that the end of the day, if things went sideways, I would be unscathed. Whereas now fast forward, I’m in the leadership position and it’s certainly a whole other level of pressure. But it was a wonderful experience on the last is to really learn how a product, how to take a product from an idea to market. And how to grow it and make it amazing. So that was that was incredible. And then I left actually, too, knowing that I wanted to start my own business at some point, I just didn’t have an idea.
[00:06:15] Jennifer Myers Chua: And when Amy decided to have a child, she decided to leave Knix because it felt like just a natural time for her to move on. And gain some experience in some other areas, while trying to figure out what was next for her. But Amy had this idea for Paume and set out to create a hand sanitizer. Having no idea what was about to happen to the category -or the world around us in only a few months time.
[00:06:41] Amy Welsman: It was actually through the experience of being a new mom that the idea for Paume came to me. It all started. As I became just so aware of hand hygiene having a baby, I think a lot of women and parents in general can relate to this suddenly, or you want to just bubble wrap your world to protect this thing. And I had sanitizer all over my house and I was changing dirty diapers and, not having anything to clean my hands in that precise moment, not necessarily having the time to go like wash my hands with soap and water. So I was using sanitizer a lot. And through that experience, I really saw that. There was a lot to be improved upon in that category. And that’s where the idea started and life before it was pretty quiet during that middle year, middle a couple years, and then sort of chaos ensued.
[00:07:25] Jennifer Myers Chua: Why are using natural products or environmental responsibility or all of these things that you’ve touched on a little bit with your brand. Why is this so personally important to you? Like, has there been an event in your life that has shaped how you see the world this way?
[00:07:39] Amy Welsman: I would say that I’ve always been a conscious consumer. Obviously, like we all go for convenience and I’m, nobody’s perfect by any means, but it’s always been a consideration for me as I choose a product like, and I’m really thoughtful about the amount of waste that we produce just as a household on a micro level. Like I’m just very conscious of how much waste we all produce. I knew that if I wanted to create a product based business, waste was going to be a by-product of that no matter what. So I think it was really important for me that I’d be really thoughtful in the materials that we choose and the sort of approach to our packaging. And of course, the ingredients that we choose. So trying to avoid. you know, Microplastics and all of the things that have really defined the beauty industry for so long. And now suddenly there’s been, thankfully, this huge shift within the industry towards more sustainable packaging, better quality ingredients that are more natural and more friendly in our water systems and is better for our skin in general.
So it was always a top consideration for me, I would say It’s not my number one. I think we have three buckets. The first being the quality and efficacy, I want to create products that work and that actually do what they’re supposed to do. So, I always knew though, there’d be ethyl alcohol in it, which is non-toxic and, obviously then the natural alternative to the chemical agent that is often using sanitizer But I also want it to be really thoughtful about like the moisturizers and like, are they going to be plant-based and how can we find efficacy there too? So that was also really important. I wanted a product that actually moisturized. So while aloe is a great agent for that, it’s very standard in the industry and not particularly efficacious, we’ve added in an extra element of hydration into our sanitizer product. Another plant-based ingredient And it just enhances that.
Number two materials that we’re using. So we’re trying to use previously recycled plastic as much as we can. And also, for us, I would say refilling is our primary sustainability mission. So as while our materials are thoughtful, we’re also really encouraging our customers to buy our dispensers just once, like by your travel. By your home pump and then continue to refill. Now there are limitations with hand sanitizer, unfortunately, there are no biodegradable packaging options. When I started this, I was like, I want it to be all biodegradable. And I had this like crazy vision. And then of course you learned very quickly well, with alcohol, you need a plastic, you need foil. you need things like this. We tried to be as thoughtful as we could and we don’t claim to be perfect. And, I, we just have a, sort of a mission that like every year we’re going to evolve as new packaging becomes available to us as well, because everything is evolving so quickly in the packaging industry. So that’s one of our key goals is to evolve as materials, improve.
And then I would say lastly, I think just to enhance that mission, we have partnered with an organization called repurpose global which has been an incredible partner in what they do really is they work with brands that produce products and they essentially calculate what their plastic footprint is by using weight metrics. Basically, they do a full audit of your business, how much plastic. The materials do we order and how, how much you selling and like, what’s your yearly sort of capacity and production. And they then create a system where they create an offset. So they look at how much you’re producing and then they say, okay, to offset.
That will require a donation of X and that those funds will go towards our various global projects that they have. They have about 20 or 30. They partner you with one in particular, you pick a partner where we’re partnered in a community in Indonesia. Plastic rolls up on the beach all the time. It’s a real problem because they’re in that thoroughfare from Asia to north America, where plastic just piles up and piles up. So they have built infrastructure in that local community. They’ve hired local people. There’s a real plastic cleanup effort and that waste is removed and then repurposed recycled and they help with infrastructure there. So it’s a real community initiative and your funds go directly to that. And through that, your impact is then offsetted. So it’s just an added layer to what we’re trying to do on a more granular level, which is like being thoughtful about materials and really encouraging refilling. Then we have this added layer, so I think we can always be improved and we’re always going to continue doing that.
but you know, a lot of it too is just the packaging industry. They’re just now starting to really make this a priority. Like a lot around single use. And there’s been a real ban on single use sampling, but now. there are these companies that are making biodegradable options. And it’s really exciting. So there’s lots. I’m really excited about to explore, but that’s where we are at the moment.
[00:12:22] Jennifer Myers Chua: Was there ever a time in your life where you thought like I’m going to create something and I’m going to use something to create change? I’m just wondering if you fell into this or if this was always a part of you, like little Amy did little Amy have a fire inside?
[00:12:35] Amy Welsman: It’s not something that, I woke up one day is like an eight-year-old and thought, though, it’s funny now that I look back, I’m like doing some reflecting in the moment, but I was very interested as a young child, always been very into nature and animals, certainly something my parents really fostered in me.
And my parents have always been, real. I would say like environmentally conscious people. So a lot of my like natural habits and thoughts around waste production and how I purchase and, packaging and all that stuff has stemmed from them. But I wouldn’t say at when I was a kid that I had lofty dreams of doing something like this, it was a real evolution. I went from being very interested in like, Actually like fashion and advertising and marketing. And then when I went to Knix that’s when I got exposed that startup world. And then through this, I never imagined myself starting like a beauty company. Like it was just something that sort of just evolved. And it’s funny how life does that. But I wish I could say it was like a born mission, but no more just sort of inspiration from my daily life and then life just throwing stuff at me. I guess.
[00:13:36] Jennifer Myers Chua: Can you tell me a little bit more about Paume and the system and what that would look like in your home?
[00:13:41] Amy Welsman: As of now we are a single SKU brand or up until this point, and I’ll talk about sort of what the future holds, but we launched with our hero product and that was an antibacterial hand gel. Or hand sanitizer, we just like to call it something a bit different. But it’s all the same thing.
As I said, the inspiration came to me as a new mom in 2019. So this was before the pandemic. And before this category completely changed and evolved and grew and became super crowded. It’s definitely been a challenge and a, a bit of a mental game to sort of overcome. What’s happening around me. I did not launch into the category that existed in 2019. But from day one, I always knew I wanted to create a product that really worked, but also smelled really good and felt really good on your hands. I was so sick and tired of what I was getting at the drug store and how unpleasant it was. And I think now everybody can relate to that experience.
So from the formula perspective, it is a truly different experience. It smells amazing. We use a blend of five essential oils, which create this like woodsy, herbacious, like citrusy scent. And it’s a very indulgent, a lot of our customers say like how much they love the scent. And we use plant-based emollients that really do hydrate your skin. So when you put it on, you don’t you actually feel this like smooth softness which is really different from what we’re all used to. So I think that’s really important to communicate. It’s hard, over the airwaves rather than in person, you have to try it, but that’s the best I can do.
From a packaging perspective. I wanted from day one to do something very design driven. I love design. I love interior design and art, and I’m just really into beautiful things. And I wanted this to be beautiful, which was so different from at the time what we were envisioned as sanitizer. It was basically a clear bottle that sits on your counter and it’s jelly and weird and sticky and gross. And. I want it to make something beautiful. We make this cool travel bottle, which is 90 milliliters. You can take it on an airplane, throw it in your purse and it has this twist nozzle on it, which is totally unique. Most people don’t know that it’s hand sanitizer when they see it, which was my goal at first was just to really like flip it on its head. And then we’ve designed from scratch this beautiful in-home pump because as I was speaking to earlier, I had it in my house to offer guests when they came to see the baby.
And then I also had it on my change table and I thought, oh, that’s cool. Like new moms, they’re changing diapers. They have like poop all over their hands for lack of a better word. And they, they need something immediate to sort at least feel clean. That was the inspiration for the home pump.
Little did I know that the pandemic was going to make us all have it all over house. It’s so funny when I think about it. But anyway, so we’ve designed this beautiful pump and the whole idea is that you refill them both, so you don’t need to throw them out. The travel bottle was made a previously recycled plastic. 65% and then, yeah, it’s always refillable and we have these refill bags, which use 60%, less plastic than a bottle. And they fill your travel bottle five times or your pump twice. So you get a ton of value out of that bag. I think people, it’s a bit of a sticker shock. I think we’re used to spending very little on this product. When you see $38 Canadian for a bag, you’re like, oh my gosh, It’s hand sanitizer, almost $40, but. It actually fills your dispensers, like multiple times, like that bag is going to last you a couple of months. So it’s actually a lot of value. But that’s a system.
And now it’s really exciting. We’re moving into hand care is a broader category. I think it’s really inspired me to look beyond just sanitizer. I think this will always be our hero product and like our core. SKU I should say, but we’re really, we’re looking to expand. So we’re going to be coming out with a probiotic, hand cream again, the whole concept being that we’re sanitizing alot we’re cleaning our hands a lot. So to have something that’s going to naturally restore your skin’s natural microbiome while also being hydrating and smelling really good and looking really nice, essentially.
And then we have an Exfoliating hand wash as well or hand cleanser that we’re coming out with as well later this year. Again, the same concept, refillable bottles, you can use your Paume pump if you wish in your bathroom or in your kitchen. The pump is like our core symbol and then, lots of products will stem from there, but I’m excited to get into hand care. I think there aren’t a lot of brands that are really trying to own that. We have the Aesop and we have various body care brands that happen to have a hand cream or happened to have a soap. But we’re really gonna lean into just hand care and it’s synonymous with our name.
[00:18:01] Jennifer Myers Chua: So when you did decide to go down the route and create a hand sanitizer, and you began to look at how that’s made and conventional hand sanitizing products, did you find anything surprising?
[00:18:13] Amy Welsman: Yes. First of all, just to put it into context, I, when this idea came to me, I knew nothing about any, I knew nothing about how to get a product made for a beauty product or, personal care product, literally nothing. I was like Googling manufacturers like I was so green. So I learned a lot very quickly. And the most surprising thing I think at first was I talked to a lot of manufacturers who right away were like, oh, great. You want to make a hand sanitizer? We’ve got, we got lots of formulas in house. You can white-label them, we can be in market in three months. It was like very much like à la carte. Here’s a menu. And that was really tempting because by the time I had moved into the production phase, The beginnings of this phase the pandemic was happening and I felt this real pressure that like we needed to get going and get to market quickly because there was this like arms race happening, but that was balanced with my, staying true to that initial idea, which is, I don’t want to create a generic product. That’s not the purpose here. Like I do want to create something really unique in the formula. Probably the most important thing next to packaging. So I really was adamant. I said, no, we were like, we got to make a formula from scratch. Here’s my vision. This is what I want. And they’re like, oh, okay.
But you realize it’s going to be like four months. And then it’s going to be two months of, health, Canada, and FDA approvals. It’s like, it’s gonna be a long road. I’m like it is what it is. And I’m so glad because it was so tempting. And there were days where I was like, oh, what am I doing with this will be cheaper.
This will be faster. Like. Maybe I’m making a mistake here, but when I tried that product for the first time that we made I was like, oh, this was so worth the wait and so worth the pain. And now that we’re in market even more because I do think this last year there’ve been a lot of brands. That have come to market that made beautiful packaging and they’re marketed beautifully. But the product really is just, if you look at the ingredients, it really is like some version of Purell in a bottle packaged beautifully. And I do think that like, where we really stand out is not only in our packaging, but also in our formula. Like that’s what people really love. I’m really glad that we took that time, but it was a bit painful. Not going to lie. It wasn’t easy.
[00:20:23] Jennifer Myers Chua: So you’ve made the choice to involve yourself with a number of organizations that give back, including repurpose global. Can you speak a little bit more to what repurpose global is and what that partnership means?
[00:20:36] Amy Welsman: Repurpose global is a, a relatively new organization. I think that they’ve been around for four or five years and their purpose really is to help brands like us to minimize their plastic footprint and find other ways beyond, you know, the choices they make in their own supply chains to give back help global communities, but also really look and focus on plastic waste. Their whole philosophy is plastic is actually a very efficient, low carbon material to use. And if it’s managed properly in the whole waste chain and it doesn’t end up in a landfill and it’s repurposed and recycled. It actually is probably one of the best more eco-friendly materials. It’s light. It doesn’t weigh a lot. It’s funny, we explored a lot of different materials there’s a real trend now towards aluminum. A lot of brands, want to be plastic free. That’s their mission that they’ve chosen. That I totally respect, but with aluminum comes, other things that You don’t always think of as a consumer because you’re not like living and breathing like I am, but if you do a little bit more research, aluminum tends to be a heavier carbon emitter. When you make aluminum. Also it’s much heavier. So it’s heavier to ship, which then creates, more waste when you’re shipping. Like all of these things, it’s not necessarily about the actual physical product. You have to look at the whole chain of how it gets made. What’s great about aluminum is it’s very recyclable. It’s easy. We can throw it in our bin. Plastic is complicated, one thing I’ve learned a lot about is just the recycling system. I’ve become a little bit jaded to be honest about what is really recyclable and what makes something not recyclable, like a sticker, for example, or various, mixing of materials. And I’ve learned so much, which has been a great thing, but also a disappointing thing, because I believe. I was very naive before basically, but my original point is repurpose really takes a close look at plastic and doesn’t necessarily want to discourage brands from using it. They just want to help brands use it in a more responsible and eco-friendly way.
So they really do calculate, like they do a serious audit. And you pay a membership fee, so you pay a yearly fee and they do an audit of your plastic production. And they look at everything, not just your immediate packaging, but your shipping materials. For example, like these are little things I . Always say can make such a difference. Like if, for brands out there who are already established and who want to become more sustainable in their supply chains. It’s sometimes it can be a little thing like tape, for example, rather than have your warehouse just use a miles of plastic tape, spend the money, order the gum tape, the biodegradable tape.
We work with an amazing partner called no issue and they make biodegradable tissue, paper, and tapes and stickers. So you can brand and have this beautiful unboxing experience but also not compromise. With the environmental impact. So anyway, tape huge, like they look at that, so repurpose will look, okay. What kind of tape are you using? Oh, cause that contributes to your plastic footprint. And they really do a deep audit and of course they do. Every quarter, actually, because obviously a brand will hopefully grow within a quarter and then that footprint will change. And they also look at PCR content, previously, recycled materials. Are there any in your product?
And they look at reusability. In this bottle, the single bottle is your customer buying that once and then throwing it away or are they reusing it? What’s the life cycle of that. So they look at all this stuff, they have all these metrics and they determine what your offset cost is to offset what you produce. And you have different levels too you can be a plastic neutral brand, which is what we are, because right now we’re new and we can’t really afford the next level, which the next level ultimately is to be plastic, negative, where you actually like donate more. So there’s actually more plastic in the environment being collected and repurposed than what we’re producing. That’s the goal. Right now we’re baby steps. They’re really incredible. And they have tons of resources and like every partner brand has a micro-site on their website. That really is transparent. Like, I think that’s the key too.
There’s been a lot of organizations, give back organizations, that partner with e-commerce brands carbon neutral, all of these things. And it’s amazing what’s out there now, but I think because of the volume. Of these organizations, there’s a lack of transparency out there. I think we’re just inundated with this hate to say greenwashing, it is a bit like, 1% and give back, and this is the standard cost of entry now. So everyone sees it with all the brands. But I think like if you can be really transparent in what those dollars are doing and what this partnership achieves it just adds more legitimacy.
They’re so great at applying, providing all those tools for you to really educate your customer of like, where is that percentage going? So they’ve been a really great partner and I’m excited to grow with them as we grow and it does make me feel a little bit better about our footprint, because to be honest, plastic really does make sense for us. And aluminum just, I really tried to figure out other materials. And because, also, sanitizers so limiting because of its alcohol content, we really had a very limited number of options of the types of materials we could use. So we settled on it. We committed, but now we’re trying to find ways, to, to offset.
[00:25:48] Jennifer Myers Chua: There’s been a lot of recalls I’m just wondering if you have anything to comment on the recalls of hand sanitizer.
[00:25:55] Amy Welsman: First of all, I have certainly kept a very close attention to them though. I will say that I think a lot of the brands that were having issues were there’s two things that were happening. Health Canada was constantly changing rules and regulations, I think prior to the pandemic this product category was fairly shallow and it’s regulatory.
Like, I’m not sure that they had really had an opportunity to see different circumstances and see different versions of formulas. Like it was a pretty standard, easy product that just existed. And the, I think the regulation around it was pretty light. I would say I’m not an expert. I just, this is my sort of thesis. Then what happened during the pandemic was suddenly the demand was so strong. That brands, we’re making products from everywhere and rushing to market and just needing to get people just needed sanitizer in their hand. So there was a lot of rushing happening, a lot of cutting corners, things being made abroad that, maybe under circumstances that weren’t compliant, like. So I think there were some brands that fell victim to to the rush and that’s unfortunate. I also think. As I said, health, Canada, I think just changed their rules are like, oh wait, no, that was made, oh, that actually can’t be made for whatever reason. This is like toxic levels. And then people had to go back to the drawing board and there were recalls.
So I think there was a combination of just, it was a bit of wild west for awhile. And because the product was in such high demand. It, that was the casualty of it. I think now the regulations have been much more like clear and tighter, and I think now brands know how to follow, because I know for us, I engaged with the regulatory agency, like from day one, because I knew I wanted to sell this in Canada, in the U S and I wanted to do it by the book. Like, and if it took longer, it would take longer. You just don’t want to be in a situation where you’re being recalled. And they really held my hand throughout the whole process. And every time I got a recall alert, or saw an article on that, I trust me. I had friends emailing me every day, being like, have you seen this?
Or investors are like, you’re not using this. Are you, it was like it was a, there was a period of time where I was getting inundated and I’d constantly just feed it off to my agency. Are we okay here? Like, can you give me some peace of mind? We really did follow the rules, but I do think it’s, it was a bit crazy for a while and I think that’s calmed down a little bit. It just proves that if you’re going to make a product that goes on people’s bodies, like you really have to work with the right regulatory partners and sometimes it’s as simple as like a mislabel or something, and it’s like, it can be detrimental, hugely detrimental to your business.
[00:28:24] Jennifer Myers Chua: Now that we are sending all of our kids to school with hand sanitizers, like attached to their backpacks. It worries me that health Canada maybe is discovering toxins in our hand, sanitizing products.
[00:28:39] Amy Welsman: Yeah, I think I think what I would recommend people shy away from as any sanitizer that claims to be alcohol free. What that means is it’s using a chemical agent, which is health, Canada approved, but it’s still, if you’re really someone who doesn’t want to be putting chemicals on their children’s or on their own bodies.
It’s funny. It’s like the opposite of what you think is in so many other categories, people are like, Ooh, it’s alcohol free. That’s a really good thing. For some reason we’re conditioned to think like alcohol free is really good in cosmetics in general. And it’s funny in this, the alcohol version of sanitizer is actually the more natural version than the alternative. And it’s funny because it smells harsher and you definitely like. It doesn’t smell like it would be more natural cause it has that alcohol scent. But the alternative, scent free, alcohol free, means there’s a chemical agent in there. I’ve always been wary of that. Everyone has their own personal choice, but we chose to use alcohol because it actually is the more natural way to go.
[00:29:38] Jennifer Myers Chua: I think most people know that there’s alcohol in hand sanitizer, but I think as just a regular person who may be using it, after I go grocery shopping or whatnot nowadays, I don’t think we think about what else may be in hand sanitizer. You’re silicone free, paraben-free free of artificial fragrance, cruelty-free, I was wondering if you could speak to some of those choices that you made, that maybe we are completely unaware that we are putting these things on our bodies, because we have no idea what’s in hand sanitizer in the first place.
[00:30:13] Amy Welsman: There’s a real range, I would say. I think in your basic drug store, it’s mostly alcohol with some sort of blending agent, which is often a chemical with aloe and then artificial fragrance. And there’s nothing, wrong with these chemicals. They’re all, Approved and regulated and like, but I think for the conscious shopper, that’s really trying to minimize, it’s not about that one product that you’re using that has, parabens in it. It’s the culmination and the combination of like all the products you’re using in your medicine cabinet, it’s like, okay, what am I putting on my face? What am I using on my hands what am I using on my body? What am I using my hair? And I think it’s the combination of that. But I think.
As we get into more premium products in the beauty industry, silicone is like, and it’s definitely on its way out, thankfully, that was a real hot ingredient for awhile because basically you put it on your hand and it would have this feeling of just, it was so smooth and you’d be like, oh my gosh, like my skin feels amazing. And really it’s just a plastic that’s sitting on the surface. Again, giving you this like gummy feeling. And I just knew that if I was going to, make something that was really going to moisturize and really going to feel good we had to do it in such a way that used natural ingredients, but also had effectiveness, but also did avoid, those no-no ingredients.
And I was really also. Mindful of certain retailers. So like now, I there are a bunch of retailers out there that will not take products that have certain ingredients and they have very strict guidelines. And I remember as I was formulating our new products and this one, I was constantly checking their lists because I always knew I really want to partner with these guys. They match our philosophy. Like there are these incredible partners. And luckily we’re actually launching with credo in the U S and the detox market in Canada in the U S and next month. But again, like to get into these retailers, you really have to jump through hoops in a way to show that, your products, you meet their guidelines. And it’s something that’s a big advice for people who want to bring brands, bring products to market and are wanting to be really thoughtful about their ingredients. Like look on those lists. Educate yourself. Because when you’re working with a lab in a formulator, they’ll throw you stuff, oh, we love this we use it in this other product that we manufacture. We happen to have a ton of it here. Why don’t you use this? It’s great.
And you have to be the one to say, and I was so naive in the beginning. Like, I didn’t know anything. I would have said yes to probably anything, but I was like, wait, no, I’ve got to make sure that I’m like taking these boxes. And I was empowered by that knowledge. And I was say, you know what? We actually can’t use that because this is against this and I want to be able to work with them. That’s big advice for people who were starting fresh and working with formulators, with no experience, like really educate yourself and understand what you’re putting in your products, because that’s not necessarily their job. They just want to create a good product that you can afford. You have to keep on them for, certain ingredients and all of that.
[00:33:09 Jennifer Myers Chua: I think that’s the reason that I’m really skeptical personally about private labeling is that people are happy to effectively purchase an already created something. It doesn’t have to be a personal care product. It can be anything. And they really have no idea what went into making that product. What’s really in it. Because it is advantageous for the person who’s manufacturing it to use what they already have. To use the knowledge they already have, regardless of if that aligns with the brand’s values.
[00:33:43] Amy Welsman: We’ve had some manufacturing challenges and we’ve had to move partners actually a couple of times, mainly around actually just the filling of our packaging. We have unique packaging. spout coaches are a relatively new thing out there and because we’re also sanitizer, which means we’re considered a hazmat like dangerous, good crazily enough cause we have alcohol in it. It’s very complicated. And anyway, we’ve had to move a few times and I’ve had to bring formulas to new fillers and you can tell right away their resistance, like, oh, it has that ingredient. Like, we don’t really carry that ingredient. We’re going to have to now buy it. And it’s like, you can see if you lift up the curtain, like, every manufacturer and filler has like their sort of standard list of ingredients they like to use. So you have to kinda like dig at them a little bit and push them to look beyond that, those limitations, if you really want to create something super unique. And they’ll, they come around and they’re like, okay. And they make it work. But it is it’s a good thing to know as you go into it that if you want to create something truly different, like you got to push for it and it’s not as easy as it may appear.
[00:34:47] Jennifer Myers Chua: Now that we are somewhat returning to normal, where are you at and how does this unique experience of the last 18 months influence how you’re shaping the next phase of growing Paume?
[00:34:59] Amy Welsman: I would say that the pandemic was. both a gift and also a curse. I think many people would agree with that. Overall, it was a terrible thing I should say, but from on a micro selfish level, it was the push I needed to take this business to the next level. This was really an idea in my head for a year and a business plan out of PowerPoint. And then when I saw what was happening to this category as the result of the pandemic, that really pushed me to move full steam ahead. I guess that’s a silver lining. But it also presented a lot of challenges with on many levels. We were, we didn’t have any childcare. I had a one-year-old when the pandemic started, she’s now two and a half. It’s crazy. And we didn’t have help. We were on lockdown with her and my husband and I both worked and I was building this business and he was working and it was really challenging. Luckily we’re out of that phase that was a six month, very intense period.
So that was, really a part of that journey. And I would say that another gift I suppose, of the pandemic was that it really put a spotlight on this category for better or for worse. I think, it for definitely for better, I would say, I mean it improved. I think there’s a lot of great new products in the market. It’s a category that. Is really important. I think we’ve all discovered that hand hygiene is not just a, a nice to have it as essential to making our society work. We all need to be clean and we have a responsibility to ourselves and to our families and our loved ones and our community to, be careful and be mindful of our hygiene habits.
So I think sanitizer plays a big role in that. So I think that’s a really positive thing to come out of all this. Hopefully they’ll just be less cold and less flus and hopefully COVID will go away eventually. And as far as the future I do feel like I’ve come out of this. I have, there’s been a turning point. For me personally, and for this business, for all of us. I think we’re all feeling this like renewed sense of hope that life is going to return to normal at some point. It’s now like within our grasp. And with that has come a real hope that I have in this business. And I think I spoke to this earlier. Moving away from a single SKU and moving into like a broader category and what the possibilities are for that. And I think also raising money really opened my eyes to that. Cause I had a lot of investors saying or potential investors saying, we love sanitizer. It’s great. But like, what are you going to do to make this business like blow it up, like in a good way. And I had to really be thoughtful about our product pipeline and what that looks like. And what does the next five years look like and where do we see this brand growing? And I think that was really exciting. And it ties nicely with this like societal renewal of hope in the future.
So it’s funny how it’s been. It’s like it originated in the pandemic. By pulling the trigger and then now as we’re coming toward the end, it’s like this, change in vision in this broadening of our vision. Yeah, that’s my, my, an analysis of the last year and what’s to come.
[00:37:52] Jennifer Myers Chua: I was going to ask you more about hope, but you just brought it up, So with all that you’ve learned now about our dependence on plastic and some of the items that we’re having in our personal care products, which are maybe not as good for us as we originally thought. I’m just wondering if you’ve seen enough of a positive shift in society? And I want to know how hopeful you are for the future.
[00:38:17] Amy Welsman: Oh, gosh. Okay. I’m definitely hopeful. I think when I look at the industry that I’m now finding myself in there’s a lot of hope there. I’m seeing a lot of brands, being forced really by consumer demand, to change their habits and to improve their environmental policies and their packaging.
And, even a brand like Caudalie that announced last year that it’s going to be doing this huge overhaul in its supply chain and packaging, and like that for a brand that established to really incorporate sustainability as like a primary mission is amazing because I know what it takes even just as a small brand to make a change is complicated enough. But to take an established brand with millions of customers to, to make that change. It’s a huge undertaking. And it’s the reason why they said it would take four years, which is fine. What take all the take the time you need. Obviously like don’t take too long, but you know, that gives me a lot of hope.
I think the beauty industry specifically, which is a huge waste producer is making these changes and that, that gives me a lot of hope. And I think also in like the food industry and there’s a lot, to me, the worst culprit is like the, is the grocery store. Not to get all preachy, but I just like all of these single use, especially having kids, I think a lot of mothers can relate to this and fathers who shop for convenient snacks for their kids. And it’s all like, the liquid yogurts in the plastic bottle and it’s thrown out. And from what I’ve learned about recycling, so few of these materials are actually recyclable. You throw them in your recycling bin, but they’re really not getting recycled, not to like shock anyone, but it’s really a depressing thing when you really learn about that industry.
So there’s areas where I don’t have hope because it’s going to take so long, but, and then I also see like the steps we’re taking. So it’s a balance of like hope and a tiny bit of despair. I think if everyone on an individual level, you don’t need to like, go become like a plastic free household or do something dramatic. You can liken this to so many other behavioral changes, it’s a slow evolution and a lifestyle change. That’s not too overwhelming to take on. Like, you don’t have to go change the world necessarily, but just look at your daily habits and make those little tweaks. And it’s amazing the impact you’ll have. I always talk about the tape thing. It’s like just don’t use plastic tape if you’re an e-com brand, like use another alternative. It’s those little things that can make a big difference. And I hate to get preachy. I do think that like, we’re, none of us are perfect. I certainly am not, I’m not claiming that, but what I do try to do is like, just make those little changes every day in my habits.
I think having been through the Knix experience in those early days, and now obviously it’s such a huge success story and so amazing. I think often in society, we tend to only see the success. We don’t often see the failures because by nature of social media, no one’s really putting out there when maybe they’re having a bad month, or sales are really bad or, challenges are happening. You don’t get to really see that behind the curtain. It’s all the public facing things that you see. And I know for me, I really struggle. I look at other brands on social media. I’m like, oh, they’re just killing it. I think it’s really important that you have to regulate that and understand that what is only the success and you don’t see the work and all the blood and the sweat and the tears that go into making that success. And I just know that it’s really, it’s a really hard thing to launch a business and I never liked to sugar coat it. I. I think that’s unfair to do to people. Because again, I do think there’s this idea out there, by what we see on social media that like being an entrepreneur and a founder is this like kick ass, like amazing thing. Founders have become, to a certain degree, like new celebrities in a way. They have amazing success and we all like admire them for it, but they don’t people don’t always talk about how hard it is in the beginning and just surviving is hard enough. And being able to just take day by day and not let the outside noise affect you. And know that, you have bad days, bad months. Bad years. And if you persevere and stick a stick around long enough, typically like good things do end up happening. I think a lot of it is about survival. Like, can you survive those first three years? And if you can then. I think the possibilities are there, you’ve got to really have this mental stamina and this determination and this resiliency that not everyone has, and that’s fine. I don’t know. I often say like, I feel like on some level I hate myself, it’s like, what am I, why am I doing this to myself? But then the winds are really high and it’s like a drug, but yeah, a lot of it is a mindset as well as as an entrepreneur in the hot seat.