Jaime Schmidt is the quintessen- tial maker-made-good. In 2010, she started manufacturing deodorant in her Portland,
Oregon, kitchen as a hobby. From farmers’ market tables,
her products—which came to include soaps and toothpaste—stormed the shelves of CVS, Walmart, Costco, and
Whole Foods. By 2017, when Schmidt sold her company to
Unilever for an undisclosed amount, Schmidt’s Naturals
was in more than 14,000 stores in over 30 countries, with
year-over-year growth of 300 percent.
Schmidt, who remains active in her business and has
launched an investment fund with her husband, wants to
support the next generation of makers: people like Ju Rhyu,
co-founder and CEO of Hero Cosmetics. (Hero is based in
New York City. Rhyu, whose husband is French, lives in
Paris.) Rhyu emigrated with her family to the United States
from Korea when she was 3. Back in Korea in 2014, while
working for Samsung, she observed that country’s obsession
with innovative beauty products, some with ingredients like
snail mucin and donkey milk. Specifically, Rhyu—who was
struggling with acne—noticed people wearing discreet,
skin-toned patches to drain pimples. Something similar
existed in the States, but it was marketed as a bandage.
Rhyu hoped to instead sell the patches as beauty prod-
ucts. She lined up a Korean manufacturer and hired a
designer for the packaging. But daunted by mounting costs,
she initially chose di;erent means to ride the Korean beauty
trend: doing marketing for a K-beauty e-commerce business,
then founding Inside the Raum, a consultancy specializing
in K-beauty. It was during this time that she met her
co-founders, brothers Dwight and Andy Lee, who
persuaded her to give the patch a second shot.
Hero Cosmetics launched on Amazon in September 2017
and sold more than $10,000 worth of Mighty Patch acne
treatments in 40 days, with volume growing daily. Anthro-pologie picked it up, followed by others, including American
Eagle, Free People, Urban Outfitters, Neiman Marcus, and
Goop. The following June—Acne Awareness Month—Hero
celebrated by launching its direct-to-consumer site and
giving away almost 4,000 patches.
Hero was profitable its first full year, with seven-figure
revenue, says Rhyu, and expectations of three to five times
that in 2019. Next month, it faces its greatest retail challenge:
launching in more than 1,500 Target stores. Meanwhile, the
company wants to scale its direct-to-consumer channel.
Schmidt’s Naturals has ample experience in both areas; it
also grew rapidly for five years without taking investment—
something Rhyu admires. Recently, the seasoned and
neophyte founders discussed Hero’s challenges.