One product that Sarah Ribner hesitated to experiment with was deodorant.
She was on a personal journey to live a more natural lifestyle when a good friend of hers, Jess Edelstein, gave her a natural deodorant that Edelstein herself had developed.
On a service trip to South America, Ribner found that the deodorant worked well and gave some to the other volunteers, who responded positively to the product. She realized that the deodorant had business potential.
In 2014, Ribner and Edelstein founded PiperWai to sell the natural deodorant, which contains activated charcoal.
They started by hand-crafting the deodorant in a community kitchen in Fishtown. After an appearance on Shark Tank, demand for PiperWai exploded. This year, the company’s revenues are estimated at $5.9 million, while the company’s founders have been named Forbes 30 Under 30.
Q: Can you tell me about your relationship with Jess Edelstein?
A: We met in elementary school, and our first business together was a lemonade stand. We ended up going to different schools … but we kept in touch, and we overlapped one year in New York. After Jess moved back to Philadelphia, I stayed in New York. We were still in touch, and that’s when we started talking about just brainstorming ideas of how we were reorganizing our lifestyles, and how we were living healthier and getting into this wellness mindset.
Q: Did you and Edelstein go on this journey to live healthier, more natural lifestyles together?
A: Sharing ideas, sharing knowledge that we were gathering. The more we were researching, the more we were discussing how we both wanted to reorganize our lifestyles to be healthier and not be exposed to potential toxins. I wouldn’t say we collaborated on it, but it was something we bonded over.
Q: Where do you see PiperWai headed in the future?
A: We definitely want to expand the team. We operate out of Philadelphia and New York, so I run the New York office. I just hired two positions and am now recruiting for a third. We definitely want to expand the team, get really talented people around us, so that we can start taking advantage of a lot of opportunities that are available to us to expand our regional presence, develop new products and get the word out about PiperWai.
Q: Are you involved in the Jewish community?
A: We got a $15,000 loan from [the Hebrew Free Loan Society] back in 2015. It’s just unheard of to find an interest-free loan. They were there for us when we really needed them, so we want to start giving back, so I’m looking into opportunities.