Kasia Rothe + Monica Stakvel, Co-Founders + Sisters, Rustic MAKA deoderant
When Founder Kasia Rothe noticed how badly her underarms smelled during pregnancy, she went on an exhaustive search to get rid of the embarrasing stench. She tried every brand of deoderant available, clinical strength, handcrafted ones, and all of them failed to deliver. At that point she truly gave up thinking she will never “not” smell again.
Over 7 years later, she created and perfected her deoderant. She enlisted graphic designer sister Monica Stakvel to help her and voilá, their business Rustic MAKA was born.
Pachy (it actually means underarms in Polish) deodorants were the first item we launched in May 2014. We wanted to incorporate our heritage along with something different and catchy for a name. Pachy are made with only plant-based oils like organic unrefined coconut oil and Shea butter along with organic arrowroot powder, candelilla wax and a bit of baking soda. For scenting we only use pure, high-grade essential oils, which makes them, perfume and synthetic fragrance free. We now also have Skora (it means skin) Body Care line containing many good for you ingredients as well.
At Rustic MAKA to put it simply, we truly care what ingredients we use. We search and search, and then search some more to find the best quality components and ways to make our products as straightforward and effective as possible. We want to set a new standard for this industry and be transparent about it. There has been a lot of talk about natural and organic and there are so many misconceptions about these words and their meaning. We also want to educate consumers to become more curious about what’s in their products but also give them the opportunity to try the old fashioned remedies, solutions that worked a long time ago and see the value in simpler way of life.
Most of the time, moms are the ones not only choosing their own personal care products, but also what the entire family uses. They go to the stores searching for the best for our kids, husbands, boyfriends, and significant others. They are, as we call them, the first line of defense against toxic chemicals that lurk in those products. Moms are often the decision makers and Rustic MAKA wants to help them healthier choices. We want them to know they have options and we are a company on a mission to develop truly healthy products for their entire family.
But, our customers don’t only include moms. We have dads too and everybody in between who values wellness through organic goods, prevention, and use of natural resources provided by our mother nature. We want to reach out to those who are as passionate about healthy lifestyle as we are, and to those who are seeking simple yet effective products.
Since starting last year we not only successfully launched our online store but were able to have our products carried by 25 retailers across Michigan, Florida, and Georgia. In addition, we recently secured a contract with a health and wellness distributor, Super Natural Distributors.
In February 2015 we were also featured by our local ABC channel WXYZ on their “Mom’s a Genius” series and also appeared on a TV 20’s morning show. This was very exciting to us because we were able to reach out to consumers who are not yet aware of our brand but also promote the healthy lifestyle. We want people talking about what’s inside their personal care products and spreading this type of awareness is very important to us.
Getting into retailers. It requires a lot of “leg work”, constantly emailing or being in contact with them. Sometimes going into the stores for meetings or to present our products takes a lot of time. Having only two of us and having small children still at home means lots of planning goes into how we reach out to retailers.
Overcoming the Challenge:
We work together, we are a team and we just take one day at a time. Sometimes meeting with new retailers means that we have to take the kiddos on the road with us, and that’s fine. We are mompreneurs afterall.
When you imagine success, what does it look like?
Success means a lot of different things to us. Hitting a certain revenue per year is one of them but we also want to make a difference at how people look at personal care items. We want them to start questioning what and why, and it’s a hard task to do.
Also, getting into more retailers through distribution and obtaining larger manufacturing facility is on this list as well.
What steps are you taking to achieve your goals?
Sell and educate the public.
What PR + Marketing activities have you done and what were the results?
Being in front of our customers at shows, fairs, expos worked great for us. If people don’t know your company exists how can they purchase your products? Getting out there and talking to people, showing them who you are and what you have to offer is key.
As an entrepreneur, how do you decide what to do yourself and what to hire someone to do?
Having a very small start up budget you try to do everything yourself…and that can be exhausting. We were lucky enough that Monica is a graphic designer so she did our labels, website and marketing materials. However, our advice is if you are not creative, hire someone to do it for you. It’s money well spend on the branding and the professional look of your products.
How do you manage family and business?
Life as a mom never feels balanced, so don’t beat yourself up if you are in the same boat. We don’t really remember last time we could say “Everything is done, and I can sit for the next six hours and watch a marathon of Friends.” As one thing goes smoothly and gets finished, there are five others that need my attention. Just the other day Monica was giving herself a pat on the back for finally seeing the bottom of the laundry basket and sending the final of Rustic MAKA brochure to the printer, when her son got sick and she ended up in the ER with him.
What advice do you have to fellow mom entrepreneurs?
Get a good accounting software! Tax season is a nightmare and it helps a whole lot when you have everything in one place, organized!
Also, take a break once in a while. If the issue is not time sensitive, it can wait till next morning. Sometimes working till 2-3 am is not worth it because when you wake up, you will be that much more tired and not as productive.
If you could wave a magic wand and be given anything to help your business right now, what would it be?
What is your favorite indulgence?
Sushi and Chocolates