Faced with a series of unexplained health challenges, Ribner was at a loss – that is, until she committed to giving a more holistic approach a chance. “Nothing was really working for me until I kind of took control over my own health,” she says. She recalls switching up everything from her diet to personal care and cleaning products – anything that led with clean ingredients over chemically based solutions. As it turned out, Ribner discovered what worked best for her was a lifestyle involving more naturally made products.
“The one thing that I found was hardest to make the switch on was deodorant,” she remembers. “It was a small part of the daily routine that I never really thought much about. But the more I was doing research, the more I realized it was one of the most chemically based products that we put on our bodies.” From clogged pores to allergic reactions, a number of studies have suggested deodorant and antiperspirants can introduce an accumulation of materials from aluminum to parabens into users’ bodies.1 That’s where the innovation started.
The solution came in the form of PiperWai’s signature product, made right in the community kitchen: the first natural deodorant to use activated charcoal to help combat odour while also absorbing wetness. Some key values went into the creation of the product, long before the company even had a name. The deodorant had to be vegan and cruelty-free (no animal testing). And of course, as PiperWai’s site states, the product wouldn’t “contain common pollutants or toxic ingredients that harm the environment or our bodies.”
During the research and development phase, Ribner tested the product, first on herself and then other friends and family. She discovered that a lot of people beyond her personal circle were seeking out a deodorant that ditched chemicals and instead relied on natural ingredients. “The ability to take control over your own health really is a power move,” she says. “It’s for anyone.”
Ribner wanted to meet the demand, which is where the community kitchen came into play – while in the kitchen, Ribner produced about 500 units a month. Eventually, that wasn’t enough either. A year after kicking off the creative process, she officially launched the company, which appeared on ABC’s Shark Tank, and from there, the brand had a new problem: How do you scale this deeply personal product birthed out of a kitchen and turn it into a growing company?