Learn how PiperWai brought the first activated charcoal cream deodorant to market and navigated unprecedented growth and scale with ShipBob as their fulfillment partner.
PiperWai focuses on providing an all-natural alternative to the essentials people use every day. Made from natural ingredients like organic coconut oil, shea butter, and pure vitamin E, PiperWai’s deodorant is both gentle and effective.
Sarah Ribner and Jess Edelstein created PiperWai for anyone who believes natural is better, doesn’t accept the status quo, and chases their dreams. PiperWai is for everyone with a passion for healthy living, from athletes to 9-to-5’ers and everyone in between.
We sat down with PiperWai co-founder Sarah Ribner to hear how PiperWai has grown and scaled alongside ShipBob.
Discovering the missing piece in natural products
As told to ShipBob by Sarah Ribner, Co-Founder of PiperWai.
In 2013, I started to feel the stress of working around-the-clock in New York City. To learn more about healthy living, I started browsing online communities and blogs.
Searching for healthier products, I noticed that natural deodorant was one of the hardest to find. It felt like one of the missing pieces. I ended up trying a couple of brands that were terrible, and gave up on that search.
My childhood friend, Jess Edelstein, was going through a similar lifestyle change at that time. She’d also had enough of the chemical ingredients in typical deodorants, so she set out to invent her own natural deodorant formula. Using her own kitchen mixer, she found the answer in activated charcoal, essential oils, and natural moisturizers, a formula that worked both as antiperspirant and for sensitive skin.
I took her deodorant concoction with me on a volunteer trip to South America, in a really hot, sticky climate, and it worked flawlessly. In fact, other volunteers wanted it — there was obviously demand for it.
We wanted to move quickly to become the first activated charcoal cream deodorant, so we launched PiperWai in March 2014. We did everything in-house — all of our marketing, partnerships, wholesale, and branding. In 2015, we moved to a manufacturing facility, launched a crowdfunding campaign, and applied for Shark Tank.
Navigating 6,000% growth
Our Shark Tank episode aired in December 2015, and we saw a 6,000% rise in revenue that year. Before Shark Tank, we were shipping mainly to coastal cities; the visibility from the show suddenly meant we were not only shipping more volume, but also shipping to additional locations, including rural and middle America. We continued to bootstrap, but encountered a ton of growing pains from scaling so quickly.
We went from working in a community commercial kitchen to outsourcing to a manufacturer, and faced constant challenges with scaling, production, manufacturing timelines, and inventory projection.
We also found a fulfillment center within a 5-mile radius of our manufacturing center, which seemed convenient at the time. Turns out they couldn’t meet our needs, especially as we were growing both our online and wholesale channels.
Our former 3PL was a very basic warehousing and shipping operation, where inventory tracking is all done manually. Our VP of Operations and Wholesale, Jiyuh Kim, actually had to go help out on the pick and pack line and realized they couldn’t handle our order volume whatsoever.
“We needed a much more advanced 3PL team with direct-to-consumer experience who could also handle wholesale orders as we grew that part of our business, which is why we’re now with ShipBob.”
Sarah Ribner, Co-Founder, PiperWai
At the end of the day, we needed a more efficient, accurate, and technologically advanced 3PL partner with better customer service than our previous fulfillment center. In late 2016, we interviewed eight 3PLs before choosing ShipBob.
We really appreciated the partnership aspect that ShipBob’s customers all seemed to talk about. Those recommendations are really what sealed the deal for us, and we started working with ShipBob in December 2016.
Growing and scaling through fulfilling partnerships
Working with partners like ShipBob has made scaling our business at such a rapid rate feasible and sustainable. We’ve since had some really cool opportunities, from donating our deodorant to charity benefits and events to having PiperWai products in the attendee bags at the Golden Globes.
Our brand is incredibly important to our customer experience, so we’ve formed partnerships that can help us highlight it online and off.
For Facebook advertising, we work with an agency that specializes in one platform and does it really well. Noissue allows us to use custom packaging that keeps orders both on-brand and securely packed, and fortunately for us, they partner with ShipBob.
ShipBob allows us to focus on growing our core business, making it easy to get product out to our major distributors, boutique retailers, and ecommerce customers.
ShipBob’s technology is far superior to what other 3PLs have. As soon as an order is placed on our Shopify Plus site, it’s pushed to ShipBob’s fulfillment software. Their team makes sure our products are packed properly in our custom packaging to create a curated brand experience.
Our dedicated account manager at ShipBob oversees the entire process. Other fulfillment providers had a “This is how it’s done, so take it or leave it!” attitude. ShipBob’s dedication to continuously enhancing their offering by getting feedback from the customer community, as well as their customer service, is unparalleled to other 3PLs.
“ShipBob really listens to clients and participates in growing side by side with them. They involve their customers in anything they’re changing or creating. They’re constantly growing and evolving, which I really appreciate.”
Sarah Ribner, Co-Founder, PiperWai
This holiday season and beyond, we’re excited to build more retailer partnerships and continue growing while keeping our customers top of mind. We’ve also just started distributing our product in Australia, and are forecasting rapid growth in the Canadian market.
We look forward to keep scaling alongside ShipBob and watching their growth, fundraising, new fulfillment centers, and more.
Need to partner with a 3PL for ecommerce fulfillment? Get in touch with ShipBob and learn how you can scale your business while creating a top-notch brand experience.