New Natural Deodorant Brand Curie Holds Up During Founder Sarah Moret’s Marathons And Rigorous Hikes
Sarah Moret has joined Volition Beauty’s Patricia Santos, Wander Beauty’s Divya Gugnani and Madison Reed’s Amy Errett in stepping out of the investor ranks to step onto the riskier road of launching a beauty brand. The lure of entrepreneurship proved too great for her to ignore.
“As I was sitting down with inspiring entrepreneurs every day, I knew one day I would start something, I just didn’t have an idea what it would be. I was keeping my eye open for opportunities and spaces I could start something in,” says Moret, a former investment associate at Crosscut Ventures, and finance and operations manager at Formation 8. “I’ve always been passionate about health and wellness, and been an active person. I run marathons and go backpacking. I wanted to use a natural deodorant, but couldn’t find one that could keep up with my active lifestyle. Like a lot of good ideas, it was born out of my personal need.”
She set out to perfect an aluminum-free deodorant apt for her armpits, but the perfect formula didn’t manifest itself overnight. It took about 10 months and 26 tries to settle on the right mix of baking soda, beeswax, coconut oil, cocoa butter, aloe vera, corn starch and glycerin, to list a few of the ingredients, for new brand Curie’s odor buster.
“The really important thing about my formula is the specific combination of ingredients. Throughout the process of creating the formula, I tested different suppliers, organic versus not organic, and tweaked the measurements of every single ingredient. To get the formula right, it turned into an art as much as a science,” says Moret. “When I finally got the formula right, I was literally skipping around my apartment. I wouldn’t have put out a product that didn’t work for me because I thought I was the best test subject.”
The feminine essential oils-driven fragrance and packaging pulled Curie together. Its fresh floral white tea scent is a departure from the sage and pine smells that Moret detected as dominating the natural deodorant segment. Curie’s deodorant stick container is pink and white with a marble pattern. It’s high-end, not hippie-dippie.
“I’ve always been passionate about health and wellness, and been an active person. I run marathons and go backpacking. I wanted to use a natural deodorant, but couldn’t find one that could keep up with my active lifestyle. Like a lot of good ideas, it was born out of my personal need.”
“As I was coming up with the concept for the packaging, branding and design, I opened up my medicine cabinet and went over to my friends’ houses and opened up their medicine cabinets to look at the products they had. A lot of them had pink and white tones. I know it may be because of the millennial pink craze, but these colors are soothing and look beautiful on a countertop,” says Moret. “A lot of the natural deodorants I had tested that were not working for me were, quite frankly, kind of ugly, and I wanted a product that would look just as beautiful on my countertop as expensive face creams and serums.”
Rather than rely on her capital connections and amass investment to pay for Curie’s packaging, branding, design and products, Moret bootstrapped the brand, which is named for the French physicist and chemist Marie Curie, with $12,000 of her own money. She’d seen many entrepreneurs misguidedly relinquish large chunks of their businesses and cede control to investors early on rather than proving their concepts without outside money and realizing the full upsides of their successes. Moret sought not to repeat their mistakes.
“In a lot of meetings, I would tell them, ‘Why are you raising venture capital funding? Why are you raising $1 or $2 million and giving up 30% to 50% of your company to do it? Get scrappy, build something on your own, and you won’t have investors to answer to,’” she recounts. “As much as my partners would say, ‘Sarah, don’t say that,’ I was encouraging them to not give up huge pieces of their companies. It was only natural for me to practice what I was preaching. Bootstrapping has given me the opportunity to focus all of my attention on doing right by my customers. I answer to myself and nobody else.”
To further focus on Curie’s customers, Moret decided to forgo retail distribution and stick to a direct-to-consumer model at least for six months. The direct-to-consumer model allows the brand to manage customer relationships and learn about customer intricacies. Moret has learned, for instance, that the majority of Curie’s initial customers are switching to the brand from conventional deodorants. She’s also learned that Curie’s deodorant price – $12 for a 2.65-oz. size – seems fair to customers for its natural ingredients. The brand’s deodorants are available in regular and sensitive skin varieties.
“Bootstrapping has given me the opportunity to focus all of my attention on doing right by my customers. I answer to myself and nobody else.”
Eventually, Moret plans to raise a friends and family round of funding to support merchandise expansion. She foresees Curie stretching into body-care essentials fit for active women, and dry shampoo could be a logical extension. “I use dry shampoo all the time, and I’ve used one from CVS that is loaded with chemicals. I think there’s a genuine need for a really great, delicious-smelling dry shampoo that can help power a busy woman’s days,” says Moret. Retail is in Curie’s future as well, and she points to exercise studios as possible venues for the brand.
Moret isn’t in a rush to balloon Curie’s business. Steering clear of venture capital takes the pressure off of having to accelerate sales quickly. Instead of a revenue goal for Curie’s first year on the market, Moret emphasizes her goal is to accumulate 1,000 raving fans who frequently reorder and recommend Curie to their peers.
“They will be my advocates telling the world about the brand and screaming from the rooftops about the product. That’s how I believe the business will grow,” she says. “If I continue to grow organically, the revenue will come.”