Antoine Wade, founder of Switch Fresh, has produced the world’s first replaceable deodorant. This patented product reduces plastic waste and is an eco-friendly alternative to the hundreds of deodorant bottles the average person will dispose of in their lifetime.
We caught up with him to find out more about his business:
SB: What inspired you to create Switch Fresh?
AW: Products evolve and deodorant has seen limited innovation. I wanted to break the cycle and change the way we use and purchase deodorant. After analyzing a bottle of deodorant I realized two things, most solid deodorants are only half full. Half is the stick you twist to raise it and the other half is the actual deodorant.
Also, I noticed that there’s nothing wrong with the packaging we discard, besides the fact that it’s empty. I wanted to create something that we could reuse, but also worked well and looked cool.
I thought, how awesome would it be to have a bottle with your favorite colors, designs or vacation spot? We love products that we have a connection to. We keep reminders of people we love and places we visited on our walls and screen savers. Why not have one in our bathroom to put a smile on our face?
With that in mind, I wanted to blend style and convenience. Everyone knows they’ll need to purchase deodorant again and again, so we created a platform to simplify the transaction. Order the bottle once and schedule how often you’ll need the refills to come. That way you can skip the store and spend time doing things that you value.
SB; Switch Fresh is patented product. How many patents do you have for it and for what specifically?
AW: I have two patents for the Switch Fresh deodorant bottle. One for utility and one for design. We wanted to protect the way it looks and functions. I also have three additional patents in the works.
SB: Dwyane Wade is your cousin. Have you discussed this project with him and what was his response? Is he involved in any way?
AW: Yes, he said it’s the best idea he’s ever heard(laughing) just kidding. Honestly, he was one of the first to know about it. He thought it was really unique and cool. He’s given great advice and encouraged me to pursue this dream. He’s not involved in any way besides being a supportive family member.
However, I can say that if I hadn’t worked with him for over a decade, learning the business of building a brand, I probably wouldn’t have set my sights on launching a company of my own.
SB: We’re always interested in businesses that manufacture. What was the process for finding the right manufacturer?
AW: Relentless searching. (laughing). The internet is an awesome tool to narrow down specifically what you’re looking for. A lot of companies told me to go international with both the injection mold (bottles) and deodorant to keep my costs down. But I wanted to keep the manufacturing of both our bottles and the deodorant in the US, and more specifically the Chicagoland area.
I think it’s important to be a short drive or plane trip away so I can easily meet face to face with our partners. From there, I had to find someone who was not only capable of producing our bottles, but willing to try something new since this is the first deodorant bottle of its kind. Some manufacturers weren’t interested in making anything other than standard deodorant bottles. Others required a huge minimum order that was much more than we could commit to, being that we’re a startup.
When it came to the product to fill the bottles, I needed a vendor who could produce a wide variety of deodorant and antiperspirant formulas, as well as other personal care products because we plan to grow the brand. The process took about a year and ultimately, I partnered with two great local companies that are experts at what they do. So, the time was well worth it.
SB: Your products have a cool design. Do you have a designer as part of your team are you outsourcing that task?
AW: I was an art major so I love being involved in the design phase. On the other hand, it’s time consuming so we do have designers. Marlon Muñoz, our Creative Director handles the designs. He and I collaborate on the overall look and feel, but what you see is the result of his technical expertise.
We also have Melanie Gales who works with the product design and our lead engineer, Matt Nottingham, who helped bring the vision to life. Collectively I feel we have a great team that recognizes new consumer trends but also creates timeless designs customers will love.
SB:What is the most rewarding thing about being an entrepreneur. What is the most challenging thing?
AW: The most rewarding part is having a vision and watching it unfold into an actual tangible product. It’s extremely gratifying to see what once was an idea become real. I liken it to having a child. You plan, then wait as your baby grows to the point where it’s ready to be introduced to the world, later there’s birth.
You have this exciting addition in your life and you can only imagine how their life will unfold. We’ve given birth to Switch Fresh, now we get to watch it grow up. The most challenging part of being an entrepreneur – patience! We all want our businesses to be a huge success instantly. However, it takes time for a tree to become a tree. I constantly have to remind myself that the best growth is organic and that doesn’t happen overnight.
SB: Where do you see your business in 5 years?
AW: I see us doing new exciting things in personal care. I don’t want to jump the gun and divulge what we have in store. We’ll save that for a follow up interview. But I think we’ll be an up and coming player in our industry.
We already have preorders from all around the world and we’re brand new. To continue to build on that and turn our brand into a household name is the goal. I know God has a plan for our business and I just have to have faith and continue build it.
SB: What advice do you have for other aspiring entrepreneurs?
AW: You can do it! You’re smart, you’re creative don’t ever tell yourself or let someone tell you otherwise. What’s cool or important to you may not be to someone else, and that’s ok. Because there are people like you who are interested in the things you like and value your voice or creativity.
You will hear no very often. Not because it’s a bad idea, but because it’s difficult to explain your vision to someone and have them interpret it exactly as you see it. Don’t lose faith because they see in black and white while you see in color. Keep working and find those who speak the same language that you do.
To learn more about Switch Fresh and to support their crowdfunding campaign, click here.