by William Beisley
Jess Edelstein, CEO and co-founder of PiperWai, has a rote but enthusiastic way of discussing her all-natural cream deodorant, which is understandable considering their recent bombardment of interviews. Edelstein, along with co-founder and CFO Sarah Ribner, had four interviews the day before their meetup with Grid, not to mention an appearance on ABC’s primetime entrepreneur-based reality game show, “Shark Tank.” So, why are so many people taking notice of PiperWai’s deodorant?
“There weren’t any options on the market for organic deodorant before PiperWai that lasted all day and didn’t irritate sensitive skin,” says Edelstein. “It impresses us every day, and we created it.”
PiperWai’s gender-neutral formula absorbs sweat instead of preventing it, replaces the magnesium lost when perspiring and restores the skin’s pH balance, preventing the buildup of bacteria that causes odor.
The ingredient list features tapioca starch, coconut oil, milk of magnesia, shea butter, various flower extracts and activated charcoal powder, which is the key to its effectiveness.
As to the recipe, Edelstein says they had to do research into body odor and why it occurs. “It took a lot of experimentation and trial and error. When I came up with a formula that worked really well, I gave some to Sarah. She was definitely a little skeptical at first.”
But that skepticism faded when Ribner used the product while volunteering in South America in November 2013. Upon her return to Philly, the pair discussed developing a brand, and by February of 2014 PiperWai was incorporated. PiperWai received a family loan of $2,000 to begin production. Soon after, they won $7,000 in a business pitch competition at the Columbia School of Business, and that was followed by an Indiegogo campaign that raised $27,818 in June of 2015.
Edelstein, 26, is a Center City real estate agent by day and hails from Merion Station, though she now resides in Queen Village. Ribner is from West Mount Airy and is pursuing her MBA at the Columbia Business School in New York City. Despite their busy schedules, they were able to handcraft batches of PiperWai after work at the Greensgrow Community Kitchen in Kensington.
After 16 months of handcrafting, using pastry bags to fill their jars, they knew they'd need manufacturing assistance. They delegated production to Power Line Packaging, a family-owned cosmetics facility in Conshohocken. The pair still handcraft emergency batches to ensure that they can fulfill the influx of new orders.
PiperWai is now carried by over 40 brick-and-mortar shops, and by online distributors. Their roll-on stick deodorant is in development, and they’re confident that it will expand the company even more, making converts out of aluminum-based antiperspirant users. Edelstein and Ribner imagine creating an entire line of natural cosmetic products, but for now they’re focused on refinement.
“We have this really awesome product that so many people love,” Edelstein says. “Let’s focus on getting this product out there and dominating our space in the natural deodorant market by trying to convince people who are wearing antiperspirant and won’t switch to natural deodorant because they think it won’t work. PiperWai works, and it’s not going to sacrifice the effectiveness of something that isn’t good for them. PiperWai is good for you.”
PiperWai can be purchased online at piperwai.com and purchased locally at Fair Food Farmstand, Weaver’s Way Co-Op, Bikram Philadelphia, Essene Market, Balance Health Center, Juju Salon & Organics and Pickwick Pharmacy.