Jaime Schmidt, Founder of Schmidt’s Naturals
Jaime Schmidt is the Founder of industry-disrupting brand Schmidt’s Naturals. With Schmidt’s, she brought natural personal care products into the mainstream and scaled the company from kitchen to acquisition.
Jaime is dedicated to building better businesses and recently launched two new ventures: Supermaker, a media platform that celebrates emerging entrepreneurs, and Color, an inclusive investment fund. You can learn more about Jaime at jaimeschmidt.info
Highlight from our conversation include:
- Retracing Jaime’s entrepreneurial path (1:58)
- How she knew it was time to scale Schmidt’s (5:27)
- Key hires that helped her grow her company (8:15)
- The unique challenges of recruiting for a startup (11:05)
- How she evaluated candidates beyond their resumes (11:40)
- The process of defining and assessing for Schmidt’s culture (18:44)
- The management and hiring structure behind Schmidt’s (20:27)
- Partnering with Unilever (24:50)
- Her new projects aimed at supporting entrepreneurs (26:13)
Show Transcript – How I Hire Podcast with Jaime Schmidt
Roy Notowitz: Hello and welcome to How I Hire, the podcast that taps directly into the best executive hiring advice and insights. I’m your host, Roy Notowitz, founder and president of Noto Group Executive Search.
Jaime Schmidt is an entrepreneur and founder of Schmidt’s Naturals. She started the brand in her kitchen in Portland, Oregon in 2010 and she’s known for disrupting and modernizing natural personal care products and bringing them into the mainstream market.
Under Jaime’s leadership, Schmidt’s grew into a household name that now lines the shelves of retailers like Target, Costco, and Whole Foods.
In 2017, Schmidt’s partnered with CPG giant Unilever with Jaime continuing on as the brand’s founder and spokesperson. Today, Jaime focuses her efforts on helping emerging entrepreneurs pursue their dreams.
And recently she launched Supermaker, an editorial-driven platform that celebrates diverse, independent brands and creators and works to empower progressive values in the workplace. Jaime’s also the cofounder of Color, an investment portfolio that supports diverse and underrepresented founders. She also co-owns a local entrepreneurial collective called Portland Made.
Jaime has been recognized as one of Goldman Sachs’ 100 Most Intriguing Entrepreneurs, the Pacific Northwest Entrepreneur of the Year by Ernst & Young, and Woman of Influence and Executive of the Year by Portland Business Journal.
We’re fortunate to have Jaime Schmidt joining us to share her entrepreneurial, creative, and smart approach to building teams from the ground up.
Jaime, thank you so much for being here today. Appreciate you being on our podcast.
Jaime Schmidt: Yeah, I’m happy to be here.
Roy Notowitz: So I think it’d be great to just start with a little bit of context. If you could tell us about your career journey and your entrepreneurial path. I think that’d be a good starting point.
Jaime Schmidt: Sure. Well, I’m most known for starting the business Schmidt’s Naturals here in Portland in my kitchen in 2010, but before that I was definitely on a, on a journey. Gosh, I can, I can go back to my childhood where I… Makin’ cash…
Roy Notowitz: As far you want, yeah.
Jaime Schmidt: …at the lemonade stand.
Roy Notowitz: Yeah, I mean that’s relevant, right?
Jaime Schmidt: Yeah. You know, it was great. My parents always instilled the importance of work in my childhood, and so, you know, back then it was annoying, but now I’m, I’m really grateful for it.
And so I have, I’ve been working for a long time and, you know, once really choosing my career path became important in my early adulthood, that’s when things got a little stressful. I didn’t always know what I wanted to do, you know, I hated that question, “What do you want to be when you grow up?”
And then in college, I remember being at, you know, the frat parties and people would ask, what’s your major? And it was a question I hated, because I didn’t know. And I felt, I felt kind of stupid. I was like, why am I here in college when I don’t know what I want to do?
For me, I felt like an outsider for a while there. But I chose the business, you know, it was a path that I felt was smart enough where there was possibility there. Right? So I got my degree. I had an undergrad from Michigan State in business with an emphasis on human resources. I chose the HR focus because I, I thought, well, there’s humans involved.
This is somewhat interesting. Yeah. There’s no spreadsheets. We deal with people here. You know, continued kind of pursuing my path and I ended up moving to Portland, I guess it was about 12 years ago now, as part of that move, I promised myself that once I was here, I would, you know, find the work that I was meant to find for myself.
And so I started in HR at Portland Public Schools because I needed money. And once I was there, I said, all right, you have one year. And then after that, if you haven’t figured it out, you’re quitting and you’re just gonna do your thing. You know, I worked my year. Yeah. And then I decided to quit and I just started pursuing all sorts of side hobbies and hustles and trying to find, like, my creative outlet and being in Portland, I wanted to fit in, right?
Because everybody here was creative, doing something cool. And I wanted to find my place. So I tried sewing, I took some interior design classes, I ended up doing all sorts of, of things and nothing was really… I think the biggest thing is that the passion wasn’t there.
But then one night I was actually, I was very pregnant at the time. I was about seven and a half, eight months pregnant. You know, being pregnant too, I felt like the pressure was really there to like figure this thing out, right?
Because once you have the kid and your life changes, and so I wanted to figure out who Jaime Schmidt was. So I found this class on how to make shampoo. And I’d always been really intrigued by natural products. It was a priority of mine, especially being pregnant. I was paying close attention to the products I was using.
So I went to this how to make shampoo class, and I immediately loved it. It was unlike anything I had experienced. I thought, “This is my thing.”
Roy Notowitz: Such a Portland thing, too.
Jaime Schmidt: Yeah, totally.
Yeah. It was in this lady’s house. I remember it was like a cold fall day. We were all standing over the stove and there’s, you know, herbs and essential oils wafting through the room.
But I loved it so much and I went home and I thought, I’m doing, I want to do more of this. I don’t know what that means, but I’m doing it. So I bought all these DIY books, started making things. I had lotion sunscreens, shampoos…
Roy Notowitz: That seems daunting, like there’s so many ingredients.
Jaime Schmidt: Yeah.
Roy Notowitz: Where do you start?
Jaime Schmidt: Right. I had a few books that helped as a guide.
Roy Notowitz: Yeah.
Jaime Schmidt: You know, back then, Googling a little bit, but books were more my thing, but the thing was a deodorant was one thing I was really excited to make, cause I had been on this quest to find a natural deodorant that worked. Nothing worked well.
And so that is what became my priority was like making a deodorant that smelled good, looked beautiful, and that worked.
Roy Notowitz: Right.
Jaime Schmidt: And it was great because I had no pressure. You know, it wasn’t a business at the time. It was a hobby. It was something I enjoyed doing. And so it was low stress, but I started, I jumped into it, and next thing you know, I’m at farmer’s markets around Portland selling and the rest is history.
Roy Notowitz: Wow. That’s amazing. So at what point did you realize that you needed to have somebody to help you?
Jaime Schmidt: Yeah, so I officially, you know, claimed Schmidt’s as a business about a year in, and I was doing it all myself. And there was one day though, I just understood like, that it was taking up more than what, like a full time job should take, you know, being a new mom too. I was working out of my house. So that made it a little tricky, hiring.
Roy Notowitz: Were you still making all the product yourself or were you starting to outsource that?
Jaime Schmidt: Yeah, no, I, we made it, made it up until, like, just a couple of years ago. Really. But yeah, so I understood that I needed help mostly with shipping, you know, that’s where I was, like, getting bogged down. I didn’t love it.
I wanted to be in the kitchen, you know? Touching the product. And so I had a friend that referred her friend to me for a shipping job one day a week, it started, actually, I think it started at like four hours a week or something. And then within like a week, he was there three days a week and then within a month he was there full time.
So it you know, quickly like became a full time job.
Roy Notowitz: Wow. Was that because sales were ramping that quickly?
Jaime Schmidt: Yeah. So back then, you know, it was still the farmer’s market sales. I had started to get some local retail accounts too. This was probably 2012.
Roy Notowitz: So one person working out of your garage, right?
Jaime Schmidt: It was my garage, yeah. So it wasn’t beautiful. You know, it was kind of an older garage. It smelled a little musty, and I remember he was using my son’s old diaper changing table, so he’s out there wrapping up the deodorant boxes.
Roy Notowitz: That’s a great boxing area.
Jaime Schmidt: Yeah. He loved it though, because he would turn on sports radio. He had the whole place to himself.
He could work at his own pace. He was great. But then shortly after that, about a week after, I hired somebody for production too. That was the hardest for me to give up is because I had my hands on the product for so long. And I really was convinced that nobody could make the deordorant as well as I could.
So that person worked in the mother-in-law house, which is behind our house. So he had his own space. He was rocking out to his punk music and like setting his own schedule and it was just, it worked like what we had going and worked really well.
Roy Notowitz: That’s amazing. Did they come in for lunch?
Jaime Schmidt: Right? Yeah. So one of my friends, his name was Alex, he was a friend of a friend. That was the one with production, uh, my husband was good friends with him as well. And so he would join us for lunch, sometimes and sit in the kitchen with us.
Roy Notowitz: Yeah. So when did you outgrow your house and your ADU?
Jaime Schmidt: Well, it happened pretty fast.
It worked out nicely though, because there was a space around the corner from us that was for rent. It was an interesting building. It was in a residential area. So the fact that there was even like a possible, you know, production space was, was odd, but I saw this space. It was right around the corner and it said, “For rent,” and so I was curious, and I called the guy and told him what I was doing.
Told him I had a deodorant business and needed a little more room and he was perfect for me because we were able to build out a lease that worked for us was month-to-month, there were very minimal upfront costs. And then we sort of developed the space together.
We put up walls and shelves and did things at a very reasonable rate. I think he felt bad for me or understood, you know, the importance of supporting this local business.
Roy Notowitz: You know, what were some of the first positions or things that you started to need, you know, like more than three people.
Jaime Schmidt: So my, my person who I hired for shipping, his name is Ben. It didn’t take long before he started taking on other responsibilities too, like procurement, ordering raw materials, and even taking on some of the customer support. He was willing to do anything. It was, it was great. And then Alex continued with the production and eventually became the lead in that area.
But within, you know, a few months of moving into that production space, we, we recognized we needed more people. So Ben started building out a little team there. We had a couple of people come in and help with, mostly with shipping. We outgrew that space within about a year, even after expanding that space.
So then we moved out towards the airport. We got a nice, legit production space out there, and that’s when we really started building out the team.
Roy Notowitz: What kind of people did you have to hire first?
Jaime Schmidt: Yeah, mostly manufacturing. So the top level sort of management roles were very lean. We didn’t, I didn’t hire many people, partly because budget and also because I was sort of… Liked to be in control of all of that, but a key hire, it really was my husband who came on in 2014, Chris, he became our executive in marketing.
So really led that whole department. And so it was great bringing him out because then he was able to take on the digital marketing strategy and that really boosted our online sales.
Roy Notowitz: Did your recruiting and HR background, did that sort of help you early on?
Jaime Schmidt: Yeah, I think it did. I think some of the little annoying details of hiring, like you know what to do with the I-9 forms and record keeping, that sort of thing. A lot of new business owners don’t think about, and so I had that knowledge. At least I was…
Roy Notowitz: It wasn’t overwhelming or daunting…
Jaime Schmidt: Yeah. And that stuff is really important, but that’s one of those things that gets overlooked as a new business owner.
Roy Notowitz: You know, thinking about not everyone has the opportunity to hire their partner who they know a lot about. As you know, new entrepreneurs starting a company, when they’re thinking about bringing people on board, a lot of times they bring friends or family or, and that can be challenging, especially when it comes to ownership and things like that.
Jaime Schmidt: It can be. I actually, I hired my mother in law too. Yeah. Her name was Pam. She was great, but I can see where it could be problematic. For us, we didn’t run into issues, you know. There were times when I felt I could see the potential for challenges, but we were able to really make it work. But speaking of families, as I was building out the production team, we had a lot of people who would refer their family members.
And so there was one point where we had about 10 people from literally the same family working together, which I started to get uneasy about because, one, what if there’s something tragic that happens and you know, everybody takes off, the time off or what if there’s one person who is upset and then it just causes this bigger problem and so, but this team or this family worked really well together and we were fortunate that we didn’t have issues there, but it is something I would probably caution against as you get bigger.
Roy Notowitz: So thinking about the early days, were there any recruiting challenges or things that you had that made it difficult to hire people being an emerging smaller company?
Jaime Schmidt: You know, there are times when I probably rushed into hires a little too quickly because I would wait so long until like the very last minute where we were desperate for help and then just maybe not take the right time to do the the best diligence.
Recruiting for a startup is interesting. I think there’s some people who can do it. And there’s others who just can’t work in that environment. And you think about, like, somebody taking a job at a fast-growing company like Schmidt’s, and it’s a risk for them, right? They’re really putting a lot of trust in you with this new company to help enable their success too. And so I think there’s a lot of give and take on both ends.
Roy Notowitz: Yeah. When it comes to that, you know, was there a way that you able to assess for that, whether somebody had the appetite or ability to work in that environment versus not?
Jaime Schmidt: Yeah. It’s not easy. I don’t think there’s a magic recipe, but one thing that was really important to me, or that I noticed was working well was when you’re interviewing somebody and when they’re in the door, it’s who cares about those traditional questions when you’re interviewing, right?
Like I feel like for us, what worked really well was just hearing somebody say what impact they could make on your business as it stands today. And I think, even the resume, like I overlooked the education and some past experiences. It didn’t matter.
It was more like, get in the door. Let’s talk about, like, why you’re passionate about working for Schmidt’s and what can you do to show real value.
Roy Notowitz: That’s really interesting. One of the things that we had talked about earlier was the idea of, you know, hiring people who maybe haven’t done that exact job before.
Maybe they just had great competencies, and then you gave them responsibility to do things…
…that maybe they didn’t have necessarily the resume for.
Jaime Schmidt: That’s true. I think our most successful hires are the people who would grow within the organization. I mean, they would start in X role and then, you know, a year or two later, they’re working in a completely different capacity.
Roy Notowitz: So how did you come to understand, you know, someone’s capabilities before they came in, but then also as they were developing?
Jaime Schmidt: Yeah. You know, you don’t always know. Sometimes it takes getting them in the door and then sort of learning where they excel. And sometimes that means shifting their position a little.
But I think if you see real passion and dedication and a hard worker, you know, you’re willing to work with this person. And so I think there’s some flexibility required on the founder or the entrepreneur’s part, you know, and bringing in their staff and really growing together.
Roy Notowitz: What didn’t work? Like if somebody came in and they weren’t able to adapt or, you know, evolve as the company was or you know, what were some of the things that you picked up on or were themes as it relates to what worked and didn’t work?
Jaime Schmidt: Yeah. I saw the biggest struggle with people who had worked in environments where they really thrived on structure. People coming maybe from a more corporate scene or coming from a business that had like all their policies and procedures laid out and not just that but more like the way they work, like in a startup every day is so unpredictable, right?
And you need to be able to, like, shift gears and understand that, like, it’s not always going to go as you think it is, and you have to wear different hats and you have to, you know, move around in different positions and work as a team. And I think that works for some people.
Some people thrive in that, and then there’s others that just can’t handle it. And they see it as a failure on the part of the, of the boss. Right?
Roy Notowitz: I think people fall into two categories. There’s the people who, you know, they thrive on that change and they’re like, it’s always different. Every day is a new challenge or a new fire.
And they’re like, I love it. And then other people are like, every day is different. And it’s really hard because I like to have… know what’s going to happen.
Jaime Schmidt: Especially at the, I’d say the higher level, more management type roles, and then you get into manufacturing. And that’s a little more predictable generally.
So with Schmidt’s, we were really building out our manufacturing teams. We had two shifts going at one point, so we had the morning and the evening shifts. And so, that meant a lot of employees that needed to be hired. And in those roles it’s generally a little more black and white or clear cut.
But still there were things that would come up and you’d have to shift gears and you know, maybe like the shipment of raw materials didn’t show up. And then you have a team of, you know, 60 people standing there with nothing to make. And so then what does that mean? It means, okay, let’s shut down manufacturing, we’re all gonna clean today, or whatever it might be.
Roy Notowitz: Wow. What are the things that, you know, you looked for when you’re evaluating candidates, or is there, you know, one thing we had talked about was like this passion you had mentioned, like what can you do for the company, but what kinds of things were you… did you try to see if they smelled good, like if… if they’re wearing your product, or?
Jaime Schmidt: That always helped if they knew about Schmidt’s.
Roy Notowitz: Let me sniff your armpits…
Jaime Schmidt: And if they’re wearing it that’s even better. Yeah like that personal touch was really important.
I think specifically about some of the back of the house manufacturing and shipping jobs, you know, we saw so many resumes for these jobs. It was one after another and it was tiring to go through them. And so what really stood out to me was if, even if it was one very short sentence, just something to show like, “Hey, I’m taking the time to like really reach out to you on a personal level and you know, I know a little bit about your company and here’s what I want to work for you.”
And, and this sounds really old school. But a cover letter, like you wouldn’t believe how many people just don’t do it, and it doesn’t even need to be like, you know, really official like formal thing, but just a few words or sentences about like, who they are and what makes them interesting.
Roy Notowitz: Right.
Jaime Schmidt: That’s important.
Roy Notowitz: I’ve gotten so many cover letters where they put the wrong company name. Like they forgot to…
Jaime Schmidt: The copy paste. Yeah. I know. I think back to when I was young and I was looking for a job and I was that person. Right? Just like popping in the name. But I just think like times have changed and people have to be a little more strategic and innovative with how they apply to jobs.
Roy Notowitz: So when you talk about somebody coming in and sharing with you how they might contribute, how do they have context for the organization in order to be able to even answer that question?
Jaime Schmidt: Yeah. I can think of one example, specifically, when we were making a hire in our creative department, we had a gentleman interview and he brought in this whole presentation of like this campaign for Schmidt’s that was completely unlike anything we had done before.
So he had like photos with models styled a certain way and the messaging and the, like, key takeaway sort of points for this campaign. And it was really compelling and it was a way that we hadn’t looked at marketing before and we ended up hiring him and then we implemented the campaign for I think it was Valentine’s Day.
Roy Notowitz: Wow, so he had done some thought in advance.
Jaime Schmidt: Like very specific, yeah, presentation.
Roy Notowitz: And you felt it was relevant and you ended up actually implementing it, so it worked.
Jaime Schmidt: Yeah, it was cool cause we just weren’t, you know, we can’t think of everything, right?
Roy Notowitz: Yeah.
Jaime Schmidt: As smart as we all are, you know, there, those are the hires that were so great were the people that would come to an interview with an idea and you’re like, that’s a genius. Like why didn’t I think of that it’s like, I need this person on my team.
Roy Notowitz: So your philosophy was basically just to hire smart people who didn’t necessarily look at a job description and say, this is my job. But they might actually have a broader, like, I just want to help the company succeed mindset.
Jaime Schmidt: Yeah, totally. And getting us thinking about things in ways that we hadn’t before.
Roy Notowitz: Right. That’s fascinating. Was there any notable people or hires that you, you know, that you can remember or recall without naming names?
Jaime Schmidt: We, we had one we took a risk on. He had an interesting energy about him, which was, there was a lot of energy there, which we thought was good and you know, we could see the potential value he would bring. Once he was in the door there were a few issues like, he just wanted to do his own thing.
So, for example, one day my husband walked out and said, “Hey dude, you’re, you’re watching cartoons on YouTube.” Like, you know, and he looks and him and he said, he’s like, “Yeah, is that cool?” Maybe. So, just a little, just really odd, yeah, behaviors there.
So we, you know, that didn’t last too long. But no, I mean, I think, you know, overall we made some pretty smart hires and the majority of the team is still there, with Schmidt’s. Especially our creative team and our brand team, like the real heartbeat of the company is still strong.
Roy Notowitz: How, how did you assess for culture fit? You know, how did the culture evolve?
Jaime Schmidt: I think in the earlier days it was easier, you know, having a smaller team, we had a certain kind of vibe in the office and it was generally pretty easy to tell if somebody would fit in. But then as you get bigger and you need different skillsets and just a bigger team, I think that becomes a little more challenging.
And so then you have to sort of reassess, you know, what does culture mean to me and what sort of environment am I trying to build here? The one thing that became challenging as we got bigger is that I didn’t know everybody, where in the early days, like I could walk back, I knew everybody’s name and I could chat with people on the spot.
But as we got bigger, and there were times when I would walk into the break room, for example, and people are like, who are you? You know? And something they’d be surprised to see like, “Oh, this is the person behind the business. Okay.” It’s harder as you get bigger. And that took a little bit of adjusting for me.
Roy Notowitz: Yeah. So how do you think people would describe your values of the, of the company, and then was that formalized or was that, you know, your purpose driven, right?
Jaime Schmidt: Yeah, for sure. As we got further along in the business, it became really important to us to articulate those values, not just to the internal teams, but to our customers too.
And I think it’s an evolving thing in the beginning. And then, you know, where Schmidt’s really saw our purpose was in changing an industry and really leading the way for, like, this movement towards natural products. Before Schmidt’s, there really weren’t many brands, you know, taking the lead on that. And so we really took pride in being that, that force in the industry.
Roy Notowitz: Speaking of that, sort of the connection to mission and purpose, you know, was that something that you assessed for or looked for in candidates and how did you do that?
Jaime Schmidt: Yeah, it depends on the position you’re hiring for. I think it’s not as critical maybe on the production line, but in some of these positions, like in marketing or product development, like, that’s key.
They have to understand our position in the market and really get behind it.
Roy Notowitz: So, were there any defining moments where you had to sort of formalize the hiring process, approach, or philosophy?
Jaime Schmidt: Later in the business, that became a little more important as our team got bigger. I brought on an HR manager in, gosh, early 2017, maybe late 2016.
That was because the hiring piece had become so substantial. It was taking up a lot of my time, and so I wanted somebody who could really focus on it and do it in a way that it felt more structured.
Roy Notowitz: Thinking and reflecting on that, what was more structured or what was different after you brought that person onboard?
Jaime Schmidt: Some of it was post-hire. Right? Like having the job description written up in a way that, you know, was complete.
Also, just having a plan for performance reviews and pay increases and things… That was just… Felt like a little more security for our employees and a little more organized.
Roy Notowitz: Did you have, like, a leadership team ultimately? Like, at what point did you have maybe three to five or eight people around you?
Jaime Schmidt: I, you know, I functioned always as a CEO throughout the growth of the business. My husband was our head of marketing and communications. So he handled all that. My husband built out several teams in marketing, so we had our brand team, we had our product development team. Actually, that was separate, I headed that up, but under marketing was brand.
We had digital marketing, and then we also had creative. So we had a lot of groups, as you can see, though, the management was lean, super lean. I mentioned Ben before who had grown from shipping into running the whole manufacturing, and he actually became like the head of the whole sort of warehouse scene.
So he was overseeing shipping and production, and then we brought on an operations manager in 2017, and she really took the lead on everything back of the house.
Roy Notowitz: Do you feel like you were able to scale so quickly because you kept things really focused in that way? You didn’t have, like, a lot of different people working on different products or different…
Jaime Schmidt: Yeah.
Roy Notowitz: …strategies.
Jaime Schmidt: I think that helped. Not getting bogged down. You know, and being flexible and able to shift gears really quickly. For sure. Yeah.
Roy Notowitz: Okay. So, Jaime, you had mentioned at one point you had tapped out every staffing firm in Portland, so can you tell us that story?
Jaime Schmidt: Yeah, it’s true. We were experiencing major, major growth.
We had PO’s coming in from Target and Walmart, like hitting us at the same time. So we were trying to ramp up for that and get all the inventory made. And that meant, you know, bringing on an extra shift and it had to happen quickly. And we had relationships with multiple staffing companies in the area, and we literally, were at a point where we had maxed out every single one
Roy Notowitz: And they were like, “Oh, it’s Jaime calling again.”
Jaime Schmidt: Yeah, it’s Jaime again. Which was cool. It was. But I, I recognize there was a need for… I don’t know if it means more staffing companies in Portland, or better planning maybe on our end, but that was fun. We held a job fair too. That was to recruit some people. We had some success with that. We had some really great hires through, through the job fair.
Roy Notowitz: So speaking about executive level hiring, so was there ever a time when you had to use an executive search firm, like Noto Group?
Jaime Schmidt: Yeah, we did. Sorry I didn’t know about you then. I used someone from out of town, but it was really like whoever emailed me and said, “Hey, I’m a staffing company.” We were like, “Yes, we need you. Thank you.”
My first product development hire was, was through a staffing company as well, an executive search firm. She had been working for a big CPG firm in Ohio. They, the search firm called her and said Schmidt’s was interested in hiring her and pulled her out of the job, and then she moved cross country to work for us.
Roy Notowitz: Yeah. Yeah. That’s like everyday here.
Jaime Schmidt: That’s cool. I thought that was the coolest thing ever. I’m like, “We stole her!”
Roy Notowitz: It’s definitely a different approach than waiting for people to apply to a job.
Jaime Schmidt: I think that was one of our very first hires from a real corporate scene, but at that point, our growth, it was great because she brought some knowledge and insights that we didn’t have.
She had been working for a company that had been around for ages. It was huge and could help us put some systems in place.
Roy Notowitz: Do you remember anything from that experience working with the search firm about the process or approach that, you know, was valuable?
Jaime Schmidt: Yeah, I think just knowing that they were taking care of it and I had minimal involvement because I was too busy, you know, I would tell them my kind of key targets for what companies to go searching within.
And so then they knew, okay, Jaime, what somebody from XYZ industry or this business. And so then they would, you know, I remember them telling me a story about one of the guys they were trying to recruit, you know, they called him while he was at work and he literally went into the closet at work to have to have the private conversation.
Roy Notowitz: Oh, yeah.
Jaime Schmidt: You’re probably very used to that.
Roy Notowitz: I’ve had that happen in cars, you know, or “Hey, can you hold on a second?”
Jaime Schmidt: Yeah.
Roy Notowitz: So aside from those initial hires, now that Unilever is involved, are you involved in hiring at this point?
Jaime Schmidt: Not in hiring. No. I, my, my role now is around supporting our global expansion. That’s been really exciting. You know, and the teams are continuing to, to grow, to support that, too.
Roy Notowitz: When you were looking for partners for acquisition or growth capital, was there a process that you went through in terms of evaluating those partners as, as a match for your company?
Jaime Schmidt: Yeah, we did. We had a broker who was helping with that process, but Unilever was a clear winner for us. We had been talking to other strategics, some really big names, and we had gotten along in the process, and once we really saw what Unilever stood for, and especially the minute they came to Portland and we’re all sitting in a room together, it was clear like this is the partner for us.
Our values were aligned. They didn’t want to shake up what we had already created at Schmidt’s. They understood, you know, the real value in what I had made with my business and, and didn’t want to change that.
And so they wanted to keep the key teams intact you know, they, they really understood that they couldn’t do it better. You know? That’s what made Schmidt’s so successful was that energy that we had, you know, independent of them as we were growing. And, yeah. It’s been great. we’ve been really happy with the partnership.
Roy Notowitz: I feel like the big CPG companies are getting a little bit wiser around that and they had, obviously with Ben and Jerry’s, proven that they’ve been able to sort of let a brand do what they do.
Jaime Schmidt: I think so too. And that, I mean, they just can never replicate it.
Roy Notowitz: Right.
Jaime Schmidt: It’s just not in their DNA.
Roy Notowitz: That’s amazing. Tell us about some of the projects that you’re working on currently and what types of things that you’re excited about.
Jaime Schmidt: Yeah, so I am, you know, excited to still be supporting Schmidt’s. I have some international travel coming up early next year as we continue to grow into new markets, but since the acquisition, I’ve started a couple other projects.
One is an investment company that I started alongside my husband, Chris, that’s called Color, and we invest in underrepresented entrepreneurs, primarily women and people of color. We’re real passionate about consumer packaged goods because that’s where our experience is, that’s what we were able to do with Schmidt’s is really, you know, take a company from the kitchen to an acquisition.
And so we’ve learned a lot and there’s a lot of value that we can add to these companies.
Roy Notowitz: Are you finding that there’s a lot of entrepreneurs out there who need assistance and resources?
Jaime Schmidt: Yes. Yeah, absolutely. I do want to point out too though, that I think getting funding has become a trend and it’s something that, that I am sensitive to and I, when I have conversations with founders, I sometimes will say like, “Hey, are you sure you need this money right now?”
Because I basically bootstrapped my business and you know, grew it with nothing. And so, I want people to consider that as a possibility before, you know, giving up a bunch of equity or taking on a big loan, I think that’s key.
Roy Notowitz: Or hiring people that they don’t need.
Jaime Schmidt: Yeah, exactly.
Roy Notowitz: So you have the investment…
Jaime Schmidt: Yeah, I do. That’s called Color. I also have a media platform called Supermaker. That one was also started with my partner Chris. The goal behind that was really to bring exposure to brands and founders and have their stories told in a way that hasn’t been done before.
So we’re sort of challenging traditional business media. We’re really excited about the opportunities there. We’re also having really great conversations around, like, workplace issues, topics of relevance that are maybe socially or politically heated. So I think we’re, we’re making big waves here in what we’re doing.
Roy Notowitz: That’s interesting… Sort of goes together.
Jaime Schmidt: Yeah, everything we do is aligned, right, like this greater purpose of supporting entrepreneurs. That is what I’m passionate about. That’s where I really see my value now and it’s fun and I like, there’s, we’re only just getting started.
Roy Notowitz: This has been really fantastic. Thank you so much for being on the podcast, and hopefully we can check in again at a future date and learn more about some of the things that you’re working on now that will certainly, obviously be successful in the future.
Jaime Schmidt: Yeah. Thank you.
Roy Notowitz: Thanks so much for being here.
Jaime Schmidt: Thank you.
Roy Notowitz: Thanks for tuning in to How I Hire. Visit HowIHire.com for more details on our show and sign up for our newsletter to get updates on the podcast as well as featured executive career opportunities.
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This podcast was produced by Anna McClain.
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