Sarah Ribner, Co-Founder, PiperWai

My journey into entrepreneurship was inspired by my personal health experience. I decided to explore natural and alternative healing methods to address symptoms triggered by environmental factors. It was during this exploration that I became captivated by the connection between our daily products and their potential long-term impact on our health.Personal care, especially deodorant, became a significant focus of my attention.

Going down the natural products rabbit hole, I came across the deodorant category, and I couldn’t help but notice the controversies surrounding conventional deodorants and antiperspirants. What struck me even more was the absence of effective, non-irritating, natural alternatives in the market. This is where the idea for PiperWai was born. I envisioned creating a line of safe, effective hygiene products, beginning with the natural deodorant cream, the hero product of our brand.

Q: Tell us a little about your approach to marketing.

My marketing approach revolves around community building. As an indie brand, we don’t have the budget for massive marketing campaigns. Instead, we focus on nurturing a robust community of customers who become advocates for our products. They spread the word through recommendations, reviews, online conversations, and our incredible network of brand ambassadors, influencers, and editors from major publications who organically discover and promote our products. These loyal, long-term customers are the foundation of our brand’s identity.

Q: We’ve heard a lot about the rising role of A.I. in marketing in the past year. How much or how little are you using A.I. or automation in your marketing efforts?

I believe that AI will reshape the future of marketing by reducing the operational costs for smaller businesses. AI will play a pivotal role in cutting the expenses associated with creative services like photography, copywriting, models, editing, and video production. While the human touch will always have its place in creative marketing, especially for larger productions and campaigns, AI will democratize and make marketing more accessible for smaller brands.

Q: In 2023, marketers have more channels to utilize than ever, from shoppable social to CTV to the traditional. Which channels are you using? Where are you seeing the most success?

At our core, we’re a direct to consumer brand using Shopify as our main platform. However, Amazon has become a vital channel. Given that our products are daily consumables, we cater to customers who prefer two-day Prime shipping by maintaining active listings on Amazon. Recently, with the launch of Buy With Prime, we’ve enabled Prime customers to use their benefits directly on our website. We also leverage select media partnerships for live TV sales, such as our appearance on Good Morning America, and over the years, we’ve partnered with HSN.

Q: What challenges do you anticipate facing in 2024? How do you plan on meeting those challenges?

One phrase sums up our most significant current challenge: supply chain. Operating as an indie brand in this environment means constant pressures from rising input costs, supply chain disruptions, and inflation. These challenges affect small businesses and their customers alike. Larger corporations may withstand these shocks for longer, but smaller businesses, the cornerstone of our economy, must adapt with creativity and resourcefulness. Going forward, we anticipate meeting these challenges by innovating our product offerings, such as our new refillable bulk sizes and offering alternative shipping methods, while maintaining the high-quality formulas our customers cherish.

Q: What is something you’ve learned in your career that you would like to share with young SMB marketers entering the industry?

If there’s one piece of wisdom I’d like to share with young SMB marketers entering the industry, it’s this: You are unique, and your essence is an integral part of your brand. Leverage your individuality to create a genuine connection with your customers and listen deeply to their feedback in ways that larger corporations cannot. SMB’s are more agile to make quicker decisions from the insights in your customer conversations.

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