The Entrepreneur Podcast
The Entrepreneur Podcast

Episode · 5 months ago

When Sustainable Beats the Status Quo with Everist

ABOUT THIS EPISODE

The demand for sustainable products has never been greater – and perhaps, never been more necessary. From climate change to the creation of vast trash islands, more and more consumers are realizing that real change is needed to protect and preserve our environment.

For Jayme Jenkins, HBA ’07, and Jessica Stevenson, HBA ’07, real change wasn’t just about making a donation or changing their buying habits. Leaving their established careers, Jenkins and Stevenson are reimagining the beauty industry with Everist, which provides concentrated forms of traditional hair and body care products, reducing the industry’s typical reliance on plastic bottles and packaging.

Since its launch, Everist has been featured by Chatelaine, Cosmopolitan, Elle, and Men’s Health, and was voted by Vogue and Time magazine as one of the best innovative products of 2021.

Jenkins and Stevenson join Eric Janssen to discuss their passion for problem-solving, being the change they want to see, and how their careers in sales and marketing helped lay the runway to launch their own brand.

...we really believe that for Echo to become mainstream, which is our mission right? We want to make eco for everybody, it should be, it has to be at this point, Echo needs to be better than the status quo and that's really our goal of Everest is delivering products that are delightfully better than what you're currently used to using, which just happened to be, you know, as close to zero waste as possible. Yeah, yeah. You're listening to the entrepreneur podcast from the western Morrison Institute for entrepreneurship, powered by ivy in this series, every entrepreneur and every faculty member eric Jansen will anchor the session. This is the perfect Cinderella story of two entrepreneurs working in corporate jobs, identifying a massive problem to be solved in a huge market and leaving their stable, well paying jobs to solve it. Jamie Jenkins and Jessica Stevenson started Everest just a year ago and are poised to change the beauty industry entirely. A completely new blue sky innovation. Everest, waterless shampoo and body wash formulas aren't just better for the planet, they're actually a better product. The company has already been featured in Forbes and been called one of time's best inventions of 2021. They've been featured in Shadow Lane, cosmopolitan, Elle and Men's health In this episode, we talk about their journey and founding a direct consumer company, what to focus on in the early stages, the value of sales and the importance of starting with the problem and giving yourself time to come to the right solution. Finally, we talked about starting a business and raising a family at the same time what tradeoffs to expect and how to make it all work. I started using this product just a few weeks ago and I'm already hooked. This is the next big name in beauty and I'm excited to share a sneak peek into their growth story, enjoy my conversation with Jamie and Jessica from Everest. Alright I'm here with Jamie, Jenkins and Jessica Stevenson from Everest Ladies. Thanks for coming on the podcast. Nice to be here. Yeah good to have you. I'm excited to talk about your journey. It's uh actually fairly typical one for a lot of ivy entrepreneurs which is sort of the corporate wrote turn entrepreneur after accumulating a few a few good years or a decade potentially good work experience and I want to get to that story. I want to start though with your background in corporate. I know Jamie you specifically actually started and I think sales at P. And G. Can you talk about what is why did you choose sales as an early career option and why was that a good launching off point for you? That's a great question. Eric I think everybody should do sales at some point in their career and I feel like starting with sales is like an excellent place to begin. So I took the sales job because I wanted to work for Procter and gamble. I thought it was an incredible place to kind of learn the ropes of marketing and that's the role they were hiring for. So I did a summer internship with PNG between my 3rd and 4th year ivy and then they hired me on for full time after I graduated. And uh I did about a year and a half of pharmaceutical sales, so visiting doctors offices talking to their staff. Um It was a tough gig but I feel like you learn so much about you know, confidence and resilience and so many skills that are applicable later in your career that I think it was a great experience. So a lot of students maybe don't see the path, but you started and you started in a few different sales roles, built that thick skin, learned how to pitch a value prop and then where did you go from your first sales roles? So I was in the field for a while, I had some good kind of traction there. So they actually moved me into the office at PNG to be a trainer, a sales trainer and that was actually a really interesting world. I don't talk about it a lot because we tend to focus more on our beauty experience. Um But it's really interesting because we did a lot of kind of deep dives in how to persuade and influence people, how people think how people make decisions about what products to choose. Um And I...

...got kind of all of the basics of the PNG kind of sales and marketing training, which you know, they're really exceptional at, so that was a really fun role training PNG Salesforce, um and then eventually I moved to more of a marketing role with Procter and Gamble and Jessica, you don't think you started in sales, you were more on the marketing side, but also in beauty correct? Actually, I started my career in food, so before making the switch over to beauty, So after I v I started at General Mills and I first started actually on snacks division, so I was launching new granola bars and my first launches was actually the original fiber one bars. Um and it's just a really great experience moving from innovation to working on a major valley and then later cheerios and Pillsbury doing traditional brand building, it was just a really great trading environment, I think in an environment like that to you really are the general manager of your brand, you own everything. And I think from a, from an entrepreneurship perspective, you really get to kind of oversee and manage that whole kind of hub and spoke model, So it's a really great experience to kind of lead into this world without. So typically a lot of students learning entrepreneurship will come to me and talk about wanting to identify the right opportunity or come up with the right idea and we push them to really to think about the problem like what's really the problem that you're solving and from my understanding of your story that is exactly how you came to the solution ultimately that you arrived at. So I'd love you to spend maybe just a few minutes talking about what is the problem that you recognized in your previous role and how how did you think about the solution? The most Jarring Stat? I think that kind of jumped out at us as the beauty industry produces 77 billion units of plastic packaging every year. And I think Jess and I really wanted to explore if there was a way to do beauty without single use plastic. That was kind of the starting point in terms of what the problem was. Um, and I think, you know, another that's kind of the world problem. One thing that we come back to sometimes is there is a world problem and there's also a personal problem as well. What's the problem for the customer? And I think the problem for the customer that we had identified in our own lives is, you know, there wasn't any echo options that we felt were high enough performance or convenient enough to help us make that switch to more sustainable products. Um, and we felt there was a need for something that would be, you know, close to what people were used to and their expectations for high performance beauty product, which is what led us to create Everest. You didn't jump immediately to waterless hair care products. It was like, okay, there's this, this problem of the way that the entire industry operates today, let's start with, how do we solve that? And your solution ultimately, from my understanding of the product is um, there's so much water built into the products today that they're requires bigger packaging and you're actually paying to ship around larger plastic packages. So if we could just concentrate it down, make a better product and concentrated down package it up in an eco friendly way, Ultimately the solution that you arrived on for the problem. Yes, exactly, but we did explore many different alternatives before we got the problem and I think because we expose different turn, it allowed us to be much more open minded, um, to then really narrow in on the idea we end up having, and I think if we didn't start with that problem, um, we may never have got the same solution because there really was a lot of trials, a lot of pivots along the way and I think just being open minded allowed us to keep pivoting until we found something that we thought met our criteria, which was that performance, convenience, environmental credentials and scalability. So, um, that was all important. This is the interesting transition from doing, having a full...

...time corporate job and jumping into entrepreneurship sort of over time, is that I think you actually get to spend more time sitting with the problem. There's not like, you know, um, if it's, for example, if someone just graduated and it's like there's no income, the runways running out, they don't have a support network or a partner or whomever that they can lean on a little bit, it's like I need to have an income, this is the solution, we're sprinting. Yeah, I think it's great for that reason of having, you know, some time to explore. I think there's other challenges in the sense of like you are used to having this team and you know, kind of what good looks like and then to start on your own, you know, trying to do it all and knowing, I think when we look at some of our earlier versions of the product and sharing them with our close network and knowing, you know, this isn't where we're going to end, but this is kind of our first starting point, I think that peace can be challenging, but it's all in evolution and I think just, you know, starting from the beginning can be tricky but knowing that I think you'll get there in time was helpful because I definitely, I think having that corporate crew first, it definitely gave us, you know, the frameworks and the experience, I think we're able to tackle the problem differently just with, you know, just very analytical mindset, just being able to really understand the beauty industry, knowing how it works was really helpful. Um and so I think having that experience first before jumping ship was just very useful, so you're a decade plus into your careers hitting your stride and then decided to jump off of that path and do something maybe crazy, may be crazy, but it seems to be working out so far. So can you talk about that decision point of like when did you decide that this was the right opportunity for you to jump into totally? Well after P and G. I did about a decade at Loreal, so I really learned kind of the ropes of the beauty industry um and just can speak to her experience at revlon and nude by nature as well. But we eventually made our way into beauty and I think we love that industry, you know, worked a lot on different global brands for them and you know, overall had such a great experience and learned so much about marketing and product development, but I think, you know, a couple of years ago jess and I, you know who are longtime friends, we're talking just about the changes that we were seeing in the industry and specifically a change and kind of the consumer awareness and demand for you know, more sustainable solutions, particularly in terms of an awareness of The plastic waste crisis. I think it all started around 2,018 China stopped taking a lot of North America's garbage. There was all of a sudden a lot of awareness around plastic waste and I think we really recognized that the beauty industry was a really big contributor to this, and there was a really big problem there that needed some creative solutions. Um and we really started with, you know, that question, which is, you know, how how could you even do a beauty company without single use plastic, what would that even look like? Because, you know, the whole model is built, you know, a certain way, and I think we did try to make some changes within the companies we were at, and you know, it's harder for these big companies to change quickly because they have kind of their established models, but we really did start to see this come back over and over again and realized it was not necessarily a trend, but I think the way that the beauty industry and the consumer product industry in general needed to go in the future, and we really wanted to be part of that solution. And so how you said you started sort of working on it internally, what sounded like maybe that they just weren't gonna, this change will potentially eventually happen, but just wasn't gonna happen in the short term. And that was your frustration with it. Like why did why did you leave ultimately, I guess is my question, the change, I think wasn't happening fast enough for us. So I think, you know, there's a lot of great initiatives that these companies are doing since we've left, I think they've rolled out some wonderful ones um and...

...you know everybody's moving in the right direction. But I think you know just and I really recognize that as a, as a consumer population we need to be moving faster and we need to be making more dramatic changes. Yeah. And I think there's just the luxury of being able to start on your own. We actually could build it from the ground up and allowed us to make some choices that I think are a little more difficult to make once you're an established organization. So I said we commend people for obviously large organizations making small changes that can really add up. But I think we really just wanted to do something more transformational um and also hopefully inspire some bigger change that we love to see in the industry. So let's get into the details of how to quit because I've talked to some guests craig fuller who I think is a friend of yours about how he de risked, he was at a big consulting firm and how he de risked the decision to leave. Um I think the perception is that sometimes people, the idea strikes them in the middle of the night and they're at work the next morning and they quit and two weeks later you know there funding this company with millions of dollars and off to the races. The reality is usually much different. I'd love to know your process of like you know from the time that you recognized, oh this is seems to be an interesting opportunity or problem that we want to try to solve to actually leaving your full time job and getting the company going fill in the blanks there. For me that was a really long period of time. Like I would say probably like 18 months from the problem being maybe a year from the problem being recognized to feeling like we had something that you know, it was worth leaving our corporate jobs for executive rules for him walking away from salaries to build all of that stuff. So I think, you know, we started again with this question of how do you do beauty without single use plastic? But we spent a long time doing explorations of what that could look like. So we looked at a whole bunch of different business models and you know, crunched a lot of numbers on what they could look like. Um talk to, you know friends and family for their feedback. We looked at things like retail. Hillary stores, we looked at milkman type of models. Jamie, sorry, when did you do that? You had a full time job? So was this like evenings, weekends? Like you have to come together and brainstorm. When did when did it happen? It was, it was always on evenings and weekends. I think it was, it was more of like a passion project at that point. I think that's you know when you need to be, you know, doing this stuff in addition to your very demanding corporate career. And I think we really both really loved our jobs and respected them and we're fully committed to them as well. Um so I think it has to be something that is also an interest because you will be spending your free time exploring it and that's really, you know how it worked out for us and we, you know, we're just really curious and like how do we, you know, how do we solve this problem? We were hearing more and more information, not just about plastic waste but also, you know, the health impacts of microplastics in our water systems and you know, thinking more about, you know, the real change that needed to happen. So lots of exploration, lots of the ideas that we explored and dismissed actually have come to market now, which is really cool. I think it just shows like there's so much, there's so much interest in making change in these consumer industries, which is wonderful. But it took us a while before we felt like we had an idea that was really, really had legs, which is this concept of waterless, which we saw first in the home cleaning industry. You know, there's always cool brands that were popping up ones like Blue land and um supernatural that were built on the inside that cleaning products for your home are mostly water there in single use plastic bottles. So we're paying to ship plastic bottles of water around the world basically. And we thought, huh, that's really interesting. We're pretty much doing the same thing in beauty as well. There has to be an application here. So I think once we kind of drilled into that one, we really knew we had something different and you know, it hadn't been done before with this waterless Pace concept...

...and we thought we had an opportunity to be the first, How did you know the other ones were not, I mean, I guess they ultimately were successful for other companies, but how did you know, you work through a bunch of different potential solutions to the problem? What was your criteria or how did you know that that was not the right one for you? Yeah, I think that's a great question and I think for a few different reasons as Jamie was saying, I think we definitely crunched some numbers and I think on some of them, um, they were not profitable in the way that we had modeled it now. I think there are some interesting solutions one than being a milkman model. Um, however, you know, terrorist cycles loop is actually doing something super cool. Um, but they've also partnered up with some very big organizations, I think to make that, you know, model work and it's amazing. Um, there's been some other ones that we dismiss maybe in, you know, retail in terms of scalability. Um, it also turns out with the pandemic, that was probably a good decision and we're lucky that we're able to kind of continue on this on pregnant journey during a pandemic. And I think the other big one is just performance, I think, you know, coming from beauty, um I think we really know that as much as we want to see change when it comes from an environmental standpoint and a clean ingredients standpoint in the end, beauty is about performance, it needs to work. Um and so some of the things we tried in terms of, you know, mixing at home with water, just not having the consistency, not having the senatorial experience that maybe would come to expect from the product. We're also just asking people to do these extra steps that aren't as convenient. I think those are just really important factors to make sure that you can have that adoption. We're looking at. I think for us, we really were trying to find a product that yes, it was transformational and yes, there is some learning curve, but really how do we get it as close as possible to what people are already used to. So it's that minimal change almost like once you get used to you actually see what we call an echo upgrade and actually add value to your routine and something that's easier to adopt and become a habit. Um they're really trying to, you know, take them to this other place And, you know, we see often say that Everest is for people who want to love shampoo bars, but just can't just can't get on board. Um, and so this is sort of that intermediate space that can really, you know, you can love, you can have great hair. Um, but you also can be doing something great for the environment. Yeah, it's interesting you're starting to see that tipping point across a lot of these more sustainable businesses, right? Where like the early electric cars were like, well they're not, they're not actually that great looking, but I know that it's good for the environment. So there's these early adopters who are going to jump on board with them. And now as there's more and more companies that are companies that are becoming well known to consumers, it's like actually these cars both are good for the environment and our, I think better products, it has a similar thing is happening absolutely has to be better. That was our kind of benchmark. And I think it's helpful. It's helpful sometimes, you know, you can do it without this being the case. But for us, it's helpful when you are the customer and you're looking, you really understand the product that you're looking for and you know, we wanted the performance, we wanted the convenience like those were, you can compromise on those. And I think we really believe that for Echo to become mainstream, which is our mission, right? We want to make eco for everybody. It should be, it has to be at this point, Echo needs to be better than the status quo. And that's really our goal of Everest is delivering products that are delightfully better than what you're currently used to using, which just happened to be, you know, as close to zero waste as possible in what order did you get these things going? So there's obviously uh this is a direct to consumer brand. I think there's a few things that you probably needed to really nail to get this right? Well, we started with product and kind of back to that theme of it being an evolution and a journey. Um it took a long time before we got the product, right? So as just had mentioned once, we knew waterless is what we wanted to do. We had explored a whole bunch of different ways to do it. So things like Jamie, Sorry, let's explain like, well what is the product today? We we mentioned...

...waterless a few times. Like what is Everest. Everest is a brand new beauty company for eco optimists. And we've just launched with our very first patent pending products, We've launched the first waterless concentrated shampoo conditioner and body wash. So, traditional shampoos, body washes, Um, conditioners are like 70, 80, 90% water. So we've taken out the water, concentrated them down into 100 mil aluminum tubes. So you pretty much take a tiny strip of this paste on your hand in the shower, you activate it with the water in your shower that you're already used to using and you get a beautiful sense Auriol, clean shampoo conditioner or body wash experience. This is going to be different for me when I try it for the first time, I just placed my order because I'm probably like most people used to like filling my whole palm with shampoo. So if this is a concentrate you're saying, I actually use far less of the product. Yes, exactly. Use about a third of what you would normally use for shampoo, but you get the performance in terms of lather in terms of scent as far exceeds, we would say the traditional shampoo experience. And that was actually very difficult to achieve. To just to kind of go with a little more in the senatorial experience. So the product is called. It's hard to clean beauty. So um it's sulfate free. So usually it's very hard to get that ladder experience. Um you know, with a cell free food products are also plant based vegan etcetera. Very very clean formulas and of course, uh synthetic fragrance free. So to get that scent, we use a blend of essential oils. So again, just really trying to be clean when we think of, you know, environmental impact, we really have three pillars that we look at. So one, you know, sometimes people think about is packaging and we can go through that but packaging definitely is a part in making sure we think of circularity and et cetera and having single use plastic free. But we also think about ingredients and what goes down the drain and into our water systems. Um so we said making sure those are plant based very clean and then we also think about our business practices overall. So in terms of being a 1% for the planet member, being climate neutral, not just in shipping but our whole supply chain. Um so really trying to think about it from a 3 60 perspective and then the end really try and do the heavy lifting on RN um so that the customer can just enjoy, you know having great hair and just feeling good about that purchase. We just want to make eco easier. Yeah, that's great. So let's, I want to come back to how did you like early testing, is this like in your home, in your bath? Like where are you putting together these early concoctions? So we knew we needed a chemist. So that was kind of the first partner that we needed to bring on board. So we did a lot of meetings and eventually landed on the right fit in terms of a contract manufacturer, which is how pretty much all beauty products are made more or less um with the chemistry team in house. So we worked with them for months on different formulas and it evolved from, you know mix at home to exploring powders, to exploring a bunch of different options to the paste concept. Um And then when we got the pace concept we spent many more months refining it to get the right texture to be soft enough to work with the aluminum tubes that we're using because we're single use plastic free to get the performance, the stability, they do all of that work in house. So um yeah that was kind of the journey. The product piece came first to answer your question before you know, the branding came second. Um But I think really getting the product to a place that we felt we would be happy with, which took hundreds of versions. It was very very complicated and you know first time it's been done so there's lots of research involved. Um And then once we had that then we kind of set up the rest of the business and for those early tests um you were self funding it or did you raise any money? Like how did you get this initial thing off the ground? Yeah, so at that point in time we were self funded. Um So that was, we're...

...really just more on the R. And D. Side and the development side. Um We were lucky um in terms of, you know, we want to talk a little bit about funding. Um We did network actually in the fall of 2019. Um and this is kind of early on in our discoveries that we're working on product development, um did not have a formal business plan at this point in time, but definitely had lots of ideas. And we actually found um some great early investors through york Angels group that we sort of fell into really clicked at sort of a christmas party and we actually pulled together our business plan to talk to them in january of 2020 and they just really loved where we were headed and really just believe we were onto something and helped us raise a small seed round that you can think about the timing here. It's quite interesting because we're talking january february away March pandemic. So obviously that was pretty surprising. So, you know, we were lucky that we're able to keep those initial investors, we did kind of extend the round into august of 2020 just to close, but we actually oversubscribed around. So again, small round but definitely gave us some funds to be able to kind of continue on our development journey, but also to your other question around brand building, really, to start developing out that brand. And that really was important to us. I mean, back to the thing about making Echo for the mainstream, having a brand that's cool and inviting and just really an upgrade that was super important. So we went on a whole brand journey for both our backgrounds are in brand building. So uh we yeah, we went through and had a great agency partner that helped us build that out. And uh yeah and for us to think the other part of the Brandon what's important as actually being gender neutral. So we really spent a lot of time trying to make sure that it was, you know, bright and cheerful. We called the brand for equal optimist. We didn't want to have the traditional kind of granola and you know the greens and the beiges and whites medicinal bloom. We really wanted to have that optimism comes through in the brand but do it in this gender neutral way that really brought everyone, you know into the fold. Um, and so that was, it was a fun journey to get there. But we think we've we're proactive for now obviously think there's more work we can continue to do and I think now just talking to our community and learning from them is very helpful. Yeah. Such a critical piece in these dtC brands, right? Like the, you can't, we talk about minimum viable product which of course is important. But I think when you're launching, do you see The brand needs to be good? Like you need to have thought through that brand and probably made that investment in the brand from day one. Um, so just order of operations here, recognize the problem through your corporate jobs, realized that the solution wasn't pending at least not in the short term from these big companies have decided to go off and do it on your own, experimented on your free time with different potential solutions. Love that you actually talked about or thought through the maybe not the business plan, but business model early on, just like let me run some numbers do this solution won't work even if it's the right solution and it doesn't make sense commercially. So that helped you cut out some of the options, um, funded it yourself for the product development and then once you had a product that you were comfortable with, that's when you raise the money actually, we had some early samples, but it wasn't our final product. So I think, you know, having the idea of having something to show for it even if it's not the actual final one. Um, in our case, you know, finding those that right fit of investor who really saw, you know, just behind the current of like this is, this is something big here. They really believed, I think in us to and in the long term, so we actually, with that very minimal viable product because it wasn't even the final format. Um, they invested, Help us bring that to life because as you said, there was quite a bit of steps that need to be done after that to get...

...us to market, which we actually launched in February of 20, So this year. Yeah, awesome. So then then you can, with the money that you raised in those early days then you can think about scaling out the product and building out investing in building up the brand properly, Is that right? Yeah, it helps fund like our brand development, our initial inventory. Um there's a lot of, you know, doing things um I don't think ethically unsustainably cost a lot of money. So you know, everything is produced locally in Canada. Our tubes are sourced from Ontario and they're aluminum tubes, so the minimum and their direct printed, so like minimums for those are really high and so lots of things. Lots of reasons that we needed a little bit of initial capital to you get started there. Yeah, makes sense. Let's talk about launch for a second. Um you've got a ton of press from most recently uh time, one of time's best innovations or inventions in 2021 you've been covered in vogue shadowing, Cosmo, L Men's health. How how did you get that coverage? A pr agency pr partner people always ask how are you doing it? And I think you know, it's a matter of knowing where you want to focus in the beginning. So we are, you know, I think there's ways to do it on your own and just and I have that background and I think because the product is so innovative we could have made some good waves ourselves. However it was really important for us when we launched um to make sure that, you know, we got the word out of the product as being kind of our innovation first to market, we wanted to make a big splash. So Pr was really our big marketing investment for launch and we still are kind of in scrappy entrepreneurial mode. We have partners that we work with that are, you know, ex colleagues from Loreal that are kind of freelance and had then started their own agency. They're wonderful partners. And um there's a U. S. Partner as well. So there's actually two freelancers that we worked with that have really kind of lead the charge on that one, but it was a big, you know, it was still an investment for us and it was a big focus for us with our launch to make sure we, you know, created the news that Everest was here and it was the first to market concept. Yeah. And it's not there's actually substance, it is a differentiated and better products. So the story, it's not a story of a Me Too product or a different same product, different packaging. I think it's a story that has legs because it actually you put the time into developing something that truly is different than what else is out there. You can hire the best pr agency, but if your product is boring, it won't matter. I think you really need to have a story to tell and that was really important to us when creating the product. Yeah. So can you talk through the some of the things that, again, that's your experience here and direct to consumer companies? What are the things that you did in house? Uh and thought, you know, we we want to own this, we want control over it. This is what we're going to spend most of our time on versus things that you lean on partners for not gonna say outsource because you're still involved. But things that you lean on partners for more than doing yourself. Mm hmm. Yeah, I think, you know, I would say our our model has been sort of like start small with some like freelance partners and scale. I would say that we've been pretty heavily involved in each of those pieces. So like say we brought on agency to help with the brand building. We were very much involved the whole way and made sure we found partners that we're good with that and let us, you know, be part of it. Um you know, staying with, you know, there's pr friends is developing our website. Of course, we needed a developer to help us with the website. But myself, you know, I dug in and learned a lot of things of how to set up a Shopify site and j needed a lot of the branding and make sure all it. So, I think every word of copy on every word of copy. So I would say, like definitely, I would say is that blended between being scrappy and being in everything. I also really think there's something to understanding everything yourself from at least a baseline perspective before you kind of...

...outsources. So I think from us being in our corporate jobs and, you know, being marketing directors and general managers, I think, you know, we got at a higher level, we had teams that were doing thing, and the thing is taking a step back and actually rolling up your sleeves and doing things and getting in there, it was really, really helpful, especially getting and then of course, as we scale, you can't do everything, and so finding where, you know, our strengths are, um and then finding people who really compliment us and I think, you know, we really lean into, you know, the gig economy and amazing freelancers who support in different areas of the business, and then of course we're trying to grow the team as well, so we're currently a team of five, um and we would love to continue to be like that team. Mhm. So what would you say? Uh looking back now, how far in are you working on this full time? I guess there's working on it full time, and then actually product launch. So product launched in February of 20 one, so less than a year old, but there's a bunch of homework before that, so maybe you've been on this full time for how long now So far? 28 or 29, 2 years now, two years. So your tears in looking back on your journey now after a few years, what can you say are the things that maybe we're you were intimidated by or scared of that actually ended up being not so bad. And then the things that maybe you overlooked that are harder than you thought they were going to be. I would say the biggest like this is in your question. But the biggest surprise was Covid I think we we didn't see that coming and that delayed our like time to market um a lot. But I do think and it also has made everything much more complicated from a supply chain point of view. Um you know everything in terms of getting the product and lots of details there. But I do think there's always we try to always find silver linings and everything. One thing that has helped us um in launching during the pandemic is we've had a lot of access to through P. R. To a lot of editors and you know writers through zoom meetings that we wouldn't normally have been able to reach. Normally you'd have to go and do like a circuit and new york and L. A. And meet them all face to face that they had time to see you. But I think the fact that everybody could be reached on zoom actually worked out in our favor to get more face time with and tell our story to more of these beauty journalist. So it's been you know there's been lots of challenges because of Covid and the pandemic but there's also been you know things that have been helpful. Um but I definitely think we'll hopefully be in that class of like forged by fire entrepreneurs who launched mid Covid and brought a product to market. Yeah. Okay so Covid surprise made things harder on the supply chain side. Brand sounds like maybe reaching out or getting in touch with some of these big press outlets with the help of a. P. R. Firm is a little bit not easier because I'm sure there's still work involved but that's turned out well for you, what about you, Jessica, what's what's been easier than you thought or harder than you thought? I don't go easier. But I think, you know, maybe just really possibly surprising I think was you know, when we're going through the pandemic, you know, the question around sustainability being a focus focus versus you know, price sensitivities etcetera, you know, was not going to be here to stay and I think something that we saw throughout the pandemic and really strengthening after like as you're coming coming out, we're not done but we're coming out is that you know, people are even taking a step back and they really you know thought about, you know their lifestyle changes the impact they're having on the planet, um, the climate crisis and different things are happening around the world. And I think people are actually more aware. And I think two, because during the pandemic habits had to change. And so I think as people change those habits, they're a little more open minded to try something new. So, um, I think obviously there's lots of challenges during that time, but just again, seeing it as an opportunity and just seeing what people are. Yeah, they're awareness is very helpful. So you launched this Jamie in the middle of a pandemic with a few young Children...

...at home. Um, I've read recently and there's been some commentary on, uh, some fairly well known investors in the valley saying that they wouldn't invest in someone who was taking either paternity leave or maternity leave, which I think is a challenging message to send because that the signal is that you can't have a family and start a business, which, in my own experience is not true, doesn't mean that there aren't trade off so that it's not hard. But um, I think that it's, it's not true. I think that there is a way to make both happen. You made both happen and I just love maybe your perspective on what it was really like and maybe message to other people who might be in that same boat. Yeah, hearing, hearing that message that you're showing is so frustrating because I think it keeps a lot of people out of this space where I think there's a need for more, you know, female founders more parents, more people to take the leap into entrepreneurship. So I think it's really important to, you know, share studies and case studies of how, you know, it can be done, there's some great examples out there now, you know, Joanna Griffiths is one of our investors, whatever, she just did a big raise right before she had twins. And I think having these stories out there and sharing them really helps show that there is, you know, so much opportunity and I won't lie, it's been very challenging, but I think, you know, the reason that it's, it's been able to work is because of the people around us, I couldn't have done it without jeffs and I think having a wonderful team, whether you have a co founder or you have a strong support system around you is absolutely critical to being able to tackle both, because it's very challenging, but also, you know, it's incredibly rewarding to be able to have that fulfillment on both sides of your life. And I think people shouldn't be discouraged from being difficult. I think starting a business is hard, but being a parent is also very hard, I think they're equally hard in their own ways and I think just making sure that you have that right support system in place and the right people around you is is what makes all the difference. Yeah and to the extent that you're willing to share what's the what's the trade off between you and your you and your partner. I mean what's starting a business is pretty full on. Um it's hard to imagine that you know, both of you are at least in my own experience it was hard for us both to be going full on the same time and so when we were looking at each other with foot on the pedal, someone had to let up um I let up a bit uh and I'm now teaching but it's also the job that I truly feel like I wanted to do. So it wasn't really don't feel like I was sacrificing, I got to come teach and that gave me a bunch more flexibility so I wasn't traveling as much and trying to run a company if you're willing to share what's behind this. Well, you know it's funny neither of both of us a bit have our foot on the gas, but I have a wonderful husband, he's a partner at KPMG has a very demanding job as well. Also when you're doing when you're in the startup world, you're not really taking much of the salary. So we really do rely on his income so he can't really stop working or take a big step back. So that's been a hard challenge because we both have our foot on the gas, But I'm so fortunate that you know, we really truly have, even though he's making the money and I'm not making the money, you know, we have an equal partnership and he is you know incredibly involved in all of the parenting, you know, details and yeah, I'm really am really grateful for that. And I think you know, other things have had to, something always has to give the other things you have to slip. You know, our house is a mess and there's laundry everywhere and we've scaled back on, you know, a lot of free time stuff and we work on the weekends and we do shift work when the kids are at home. It's not easy. But I think we both love our jobs and are committed to our jobs. So you know, something always has to give somewhere. And I think just finding those places that you're willing to make a compromise for the short term in terms of doing something you love. Yeah, maybe we can, if we spend a second...

...there, let's talk about that for just a reality of what it's what it's really like. I think I appreciate hearing and I think people appreciate hearing that. Yeah, you might give up your house might not be spotless anymore. You know, you might Are from spot you might like for doing 14 loads of laundry and grocery shopping because we don't have time to do that during the week. So it's really, you know, it's chaotic and I think trying to carve out a little bit of time, for you know. wellness and self care to keep yourself saying is really important and so we both try to build, you know that in as our little bit of luxury, but um it's definitely full on right now, so having an awareness of kind of what you're signing up for is important. But if you're the kind of person who gets bored easily loves to be challenged, like lots of stimulation, then I would think it's a great option Jessica. What do you do to stay sane, What do I do? I mean, I think, you know, obviously during the pandemic it was a little bit different, but I think just trying to get outdoors was great, you know, making sure you fit in some fitness, whether myself is biking. I just actually got a pelton so I can do that through the winter, so I'm very excited. Um I'm also, you know, I have a great partner to my husband is extremely supportive. Um and so you know, trying to see friends do things like that and you know, find that balance. I think it's balance is a funny word, I think we're always trying to seek balance and careers and I think it's it's almost like you're striving for perfection and it's just not always possible. I think I think more about like work life integration and really trying to understand, you know, if you love it um and really just becomes part of your life and having a little bit of flexibility is amazing, and then if you work evening, so you work weekends, as Jamie was saying, that's totally fine, if you're passionate about it, but you have that flexibility, other parts of your life um and for me that's made a huge difference um and I'm very, it's fulfilling, so it's great, yeah, we don't talk enough of, I think about the behind the scenes support network that needs to be in place in order for businesses to happen, you know, I think having a good relationship with a partner who understands what you're signing up for and the trade offs and grandparents, I need to give a shout out to grandparents for, you know, we made the choice to live in the burbs close to our family and I think having grandparents close by, you know, we're so fortunate to have that when the kids were in and out of school the past year, like that's been incredible, I think will be forever grateful for that. So really that support network, you know, is what makes it possible to the supporting cast, Thanks to the supporting cast of all the people who don't get the shout outs behind the scenes, supporting cast. Um last thing um what can we do to help you, you're, you've launched just this year, you've got your first uh you know, maybe full year of operation coming up. We've got a group of passionate people who are either entrepreneurs or I want to be entrepreneurs one day. How can the community help you? Yeah, great question. Well obviously for us right now, you know, we're getting the word out about Everest, so anything like this is great and we just want to continue to spread that. I think we're also always looking for partnerships and and like minded, um you know, people, brands etcetera to collaborate with. Um we view everybody in this space is, you know, partners making a difference. So um we're very open um to that type of collaboration on Jamie, if you have anything else on that. No, if you are looking for a new shampoo or conditioner body wash to try the product, you think? I love it. It's really share your feedback. I think we we really are working on building out our eco optimist community as we call them, or a group of Everest. And you know, definitely try the product, give us feedback. It's really, really helpful because what other products you next, what other eco upgrades we call it, what else are you struggling to go echo? And we're looking to find...

...innovative solutions to be able to make those changes easier. So the feedback is extremely helpful. Awesome. Well, this is such a unique time to capture your journey. I have no doubt that you're on the right path and I think you're gonna have a great season here and I'm excited to see what's to come for the company. So thanks for coming in and allowing us to capture this short little snapshot of this point in your journey and we'll have you back on when you have your next major milestone, which I'm sure is just on the short term horizon. Awesome. Thank you so much. Eric it's been great, thank you. Thank you. Mhm The entrepreneur podcast is sponsored by quantum shift 2000 and eight alum, Connie clarity and closing the gap healthcare group to ensure you never miss an episode. Subscribe to the show on your favorite podcast player or visit entrepreneurship dot u w o dot c a slash podcast. Thank you so much for listening. Until next time. Yeah.

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