Have you ever heard a friend say “natural deodorant just doesn’t work for me,” or maybe even said it yourself? If this story sounds like your own, the good news is: there’s still hope. Often, ﬁguring out why natural deodorant isn’t quite doing the job can be the key to unlocking how you can go aluminum-free for good. Stacia Guzzo, the Founder and CEO of SmartyPits has the solution for hundreds of thousands of customers: her company sells a natural deodorant that’s free of aluminum, parabens, phthalates, and propylene glycol…and most of all, it works. Her award-winning deodorant is mixed, poured, and labeled her team in Tehachapi, California—and it’s one of the top brands in one of the hottest trending markets in America.
The company’s origin is personal for Guzzo: she started the company as a result of her mother’s battle with breast cancer. The cancerous lump was discovered directly underneath her mother’s armpit, and her doctors had told Guzzo’s mother that the lump was most likely inﬂuenced by something in her environment; however, the couldn’t determine the exact cause. Stacia began to research breast cancer extensively, and she discovered that aluminum in antiperspirants was considered a possible risk factor in the development of breast cancer.
While researchers still debate the dangers of aluminum, she knew that she didn’t want to take any chances—she wanted to go aluminum-free in her deodorant choice. This proved to be a challenge, however; when she tried to ﬁnd an aluminum-free deodorant to replace her clinical strength antiperspirant, she couldn’t ﬁnd anything that smelled good, felt good, and actually worked with her body chemistry. As a result, SmartyPits was born on her kitchen stovetop as a way to initially solve the problem of an eﬀective aluminum-free deodorant for herself.
“Build and nourish relaonships— from your customers to your vendors to your team members to your buyers. The relationships you build will shape everything”
Today, the company is making seven ﬁgures of annual revenue, has 19 team members on staﬀ, and SmartyPits deodorants are sold in almost 4000 locations all over the United States (from independent retailers to nationwide chains) as well as 15 countries.
Highly Qualiﬁed Team Members
Stacia Guzzo doesn’t have any formal education in business, so one of the initial challenges was learning how to wear all of the hats required in the early years of a company. As the business grew, she learned how to slowly delegate each of those hats to highly qualiﬁed team members so she could do the deeper-dive work that a CEO needs to do. “There was deﬁnitely a learning curve to both processes,” says Stacia.
Her current team includes members of their California warehouse staﬀ as well as team members in Alaska and Oregon. No matter where they are located, each member of the team is committed to doing his/her best work daily—and above all, are committed to why they do it.
City of Hope
SmartyPits’ origin story has deeply inﬂuenced another part of their business model: giving back. Aligning deeply with their mission, SmartyPits is committed to donating $0.30 from every large stick sold directly to the breast cancer research program at City of Hope, a world leader in cancer research and the facility that saved the life of Guzzo’s mother. To date, SmartyPits has been able to raise over $53,000 through the sales of SmartyPits, and this number continues to grow every quarter.
In addition, it’s important to Guzzo that her team has a personal connection to the program; each year they attend City of Hope’s annual Walk for Hope as a team. This gives the SmartyPits team members a chance to walk alongside the warriors, survivors, and family members of the women (and men) that are battling cancer—and it makes its giveback program all the more connected to the hearts of every single team member.
Guzzo also wanted to extend their giveback program beyond a monetary donation. As a result, SmartyPits also is committed to donating free deodorants to cancer warriors and survivors in hospitals all over the country. To date, the company has donated over 10,000 free deodorants to women and men undergoing chemotherapy and radiation for breast cancer, as well as to various survivor groups.
Guzzo hopes SmartyPits will become a brand that helps as many people as possible make the transition to an aluminum-free deodorant option in their deodorant choice—and that means that she doesn’t anticipate growth stopping any time soon. The company is on a track to continue to build up market share as they enter 2020—from independent retailers to some more prominent retail experiences. The organization has recently hired on a new Director of Sales and Business Development who has helped them to land some key accounts—it is also currently in the middle of a round of fundraising to help to accomplish its aggressive goals for 2020. “I can’t wait to see what the next year holds for SmartyPits,” Stacia says.
“Connect with your ‘why’ from the beginning and don’t let it go,” she continues. “Let it light a ﬁre deep in your belly for the moments when it feels too tiring, too frustrating, too impossible. Let your ‘why’ keep you hungry when you need to dig deep and keep you fulﬁlled when you have to get down into the boring or mundane aspects that all businesses require. A deep-rooted connection with ones why can make the diﬀerence between a successful entrepreneur and one that gives up too soon.”
The Importance of Listening
One of the keys to success over the years, Guzzo says, is how the SmartyPits executive team sought to develop an authentic relationship with the customers. Listening proved to be one of the most important elements of those relationships. Through that listening, Guzzo learned that a group of her customers needed a sensitive skin formula because they couldn’t use a formula with baking soda—it was too irritating for some skin chemistry. As a result, they debuted a sensitive skin line that was baking soda free shortly after.
Another insight the company learned was about the desire for a mini version of their deodorant that customers could use while traveling, take to the gym, or just try out diﬀerent scents without investing in a larger stick. Today, SmartyPits’ mini line is one of the top customer acquisition products, leading to a high number of new and return customers.
Finally, listening closely to her customer base taught Guzzo that her customers were looking for a product that was tailored for their tweens and teens—and through this, the idea for SmartyPits’ teen line was born. This has been a fantastic way for the company to introduce an aluminumfree option for younger customers from the their very ﬁrst experiences with deodorant.
Decisions about diversifying the company’s product lines were easy when Guzzo made listening to them a priority.
Advice for Other Entrepreneurs
When asked for any advice she would give to new entrepreneurs, Stacia emphasizes the importance of relationships. “Build and nourish relationships—from your customers to your vendors to your team members to your buyers,” she says. “The relationships you build will shape everything.”
Stacia also notes that tenacity in the face of one’s challenges is important: “Entrepreneurship requires the relentless pursuit of a dream even when things feel exhausting, scary, or even impossible. But if you approach challenges with courage and an openness to ﬁgure it out, it can make the diﬀerence between whether or not you see it through to the end.”