Ryu Yokoi is the CEO of Schmidt’s, a purpose-driven brand that aims to make self-care inclusive and accessible through plant-powered, cruelty-free personal and home care products. Prior to Schmidt’s, he worked with other Unilever brands including Hellmann’s, Dove Men+Care and the Growing Roots initiative, which supported Urban Farming in underserved communities. Ryu earned his MBA from the Wharton School and holds a BA from Williams College. This foodie, pop culture junkie and doting dad of two talked to Beauty News about navigating the new normal, and how Schmidt’s is supporting small businesses, making virtual meetings work and how the brand is supporting and informing those using this time to switch to a natural deodorant.
To every extent possible, we’ve tried to preserve those things that can be ‘business as usual’ during this crisis, while prioritizing the safety of our teams. We’re making every effort to give our customers the best experience with our brand by ensuring a positive experience on Schmidts.com, and doing our best to supply our latest product innovations. For example, we were still able to introduce our new spring collection of deodorants, including Earl Grey+Coconut Milk, Fig+Yuzu, and Violet+Powder in both Signature and Sensitive formulas.
As for day-to-day operations changing, we’re now in week 10 and we’re continuing to evolve as we go. We are taking precautions to ensure the security and safety of our fulfillment team with enhanced health and safety protocols. Our safety measures are best-in-class and are based on the guidance of the World Health Organization (WHO) and Center for Disease Control (CDC), among other organizations and regulatory bodies. All our office staff has been working from home remotely in accordance with social distancing and leveraging virtual communication tools to maintain connectivity.
We know every member of our team is faced with a different set of circumstances and responsibilities at home during this period, so the first thing we did was look across our plans to prioritize how we can best be of service to people and our customers at this time. For example, we’re placing extra emphasis on e-commerce since we’re seeing an uptick in online shopping at this time.
I’m so proud of how our organization has adjusted to working remotely — for example, a few of our teams have instituted daily ‘stand ups’ to maintain connectivity with one another and keep on pace with their agendas. We’ve found agile approaches like work sprints prove helpful because they give the groups involved concrete timetables you can work towards and emphasize tangible deliverables. We’ve also found that keeping cameras on helps to make virtual meetings more personal and connected (beards, accessories, hats and creative backgrounds keep these fun). Finally, as people familiar with Schmidt’s know, we’ve always formulated our deodorants in the kitchen with natural ingredients, so we’re fortunate that our product development team has been able to continue working through the crisis.
The safety of our people is our top priority when it comes to fulfilling online orders. With precautions being taken to ensure the security and safety of our fulfillment team, orders are still being fulfilled and shipped along normal timelines.
With regard to cutting costs, we have made changes based on maintaining safety protocols more than on cost savings. For example, we currently can’t stage full production shoots while social distancing, so we’ve made use of creative generated at home and/or generated by our fan and partner community to keep delivering fresh content every day.
Schmidt’s also recently kicked off a campaign to help small businesses. We worked with five friends of the brand to give back to the community and support selected DIY-inspired brands across the country. Via giveaways to each influencer’s favorite local DIY-inspired business and care packages of Schmidt’s products, we brought awareness to local businesses in hopes to ultimately stimulate their sales during the crisis. The campaign kicked off with a business selection from our founder, Jaime Schmidt. We’re also sending care packages with Schmidt’s products to each of the chosen businesses to support their employees.
In addition to community engagement work, like the campaign celebrating small businesses and featuring DIY makers, we’ve looked to offer our shoppers new products to make the online shop more fun. With shopping trips migrating online during the crisis, we’ve listed — and educated on — new products like our Multi-surface Cleaning Vinegars and our spring deodorant collection.
We see people sharing on social media that they are making the transition to Schmidt’s while they are home and we will be there for them every step of the way. We’re planning to work with our dermatologist partner to help support and answer any questions for those who are opting for the protection of a deodorant, and are using this time to make the switch to naturals.