Listen to NeatCheeks Founders, Danielle Stangler and Julia Rossi share their experience on launching an entirely new product within the baby wipe industry.
Several years ago, Danielle was out to dinner with her family and needed to wipe her 18- month-old daughter's face after being covered in macaroni. Not wanting to create a scene because her daughter particularly hated having her face wiped, she asked her husband to dip his napkin in his drink instead of using a baby wipe. Upon wiping her daugter's face, she joyously exclaimed "Nummy, Nummy!" This is not the reaction that Danielle had anticipated.
Come to find out, Danielle's husband had dipped his napkin in lemonade and suddenly an idea struck!! Danielle quickly recruited her friend, Julia Rossi, a former work colleague and new Mom to launch her new found idea. Danielle and Julia set out to create the industry's first ever, flavored face wipe with the tag line: "Wipe on a Smile."
Danielle and Julia went through multiple tests before finally settling on Stevia as the key ingredient to reproduce the sweet effect that finally made face wiping fun for kids. Most notably, NeatCheeks emerged onto the national scene in April 2015 after appearing on Shark Tank. NeatCheeks had two offers: one from Lori Greiner and a second from Barbara Corcoran and ultimately Danielle and Julia decided to work with Barbara.
Listen to their experience in launching their company as two full-time Mom's out of Danielle's garage as well as some behind-the-scene moments on Shark Tank. Both founders offer genuine and candid advice to aspiring entrepreneurs.
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How has it been launching a company as two full-time moms?
Julia: Yeah - it's not easy. It's very rewarding. Danielle and I have a lot of passion for this business and a lot of passion for this brand. I feel like there's a lot of support from other moms'. They may not say: "hey I've done it before or I can appreciate where you are..."; but it's more just support and "oh my gosh you guys are doing this and you're making a difference" and to hear, at least for me, the moms' saying: "you go, you do this! you guys are doing a great job" and they're telling us every day how happy NeatCheeks make their kids and how easy clean up is for them - it's that support that allows, at least me to fuel the fire as well...
In terms of family life and in terms of children I've had two kids during this process and when I started my son was very small, an infant actually. My youngest is now 10 months old. I was about 8 months pregnant on Shark Tank when that aired. So handling the marketing side of things and growing a company together all while trying to be supportive in your home life is very challenging. Our kids do feel it - they wish we were home more. Truly, its also due to the grace of our husbands and how much support that they provide us too. They really help pick up where we fall behind in terms of domestic duties and be with our children. So it's really just a full team effort so its not just Danielle and I - its also our families, our friends, people that support us that helps us drive this forward.
Danielle: In my world, I don't have any family here so its really just me and my husband trying to survive per se. My biggest thing is to just looking to have quality time with my kids and it doesn't have to be five hours. It could be 30 minutes or an hour that is totally undivided attention whether watching a movie, going to the movies or taking them one on one with ice cream... I think if I dedicate 120% at work and then I dedicate 120% at home when I'm there, that's kind of allowed me to remove a little bit of that mommy guilt. And then having no family here - neighbors. You know I have people on call that are willing to help me and my husband out that I don't know if I could have done it without them because there's been times that my husband and I have double-booked appointments and we actually don't have a nanny. So when I'm not with them, my husband is. So, it's just one of those things that the support system is key to growth and my husband is key to growth because if he wasn't there, I would not be able to do this.
IF YOU COULD GO BACK IN TIME AND VISIT YOURSELF PRIOR TO BECOMING AN ENTREPRENEUR, WHAT IS ONE PIECE OF ADVICE THAT YOU WOULD GIVE YOURSELF?
Danielle: That you are going to change so much and you're gonna grow and you know it's all worth it. I'm a completely different person than I was then than I am now because I take all of the insight from everybody and then I made changes along the way. Whether it would be from insight that Julia gave me that I wasn't doing right or it didn't make her feel good about something or I've always just moulded and changed and tweaked and changed and learned read and I think it's the fact that:" you got this, you can do it!" I'm a very faithful person and I believe that God has timing for us and some people say: "what took five years?" "Why did you only have inventory a little over a year ago?" It's all about timing and we are so excited that it is where it is and things are moving along and we went at the pace that we needed to go because our growth needed to happen at those particular times in life. So, I would probably just say: you got this! you can do it! You're gonna learn and you're gonna grow and you're going to be a completely different person and be smarter and know how to run a business....
WHAT PIECE OF ADVICE WOULD YOU GIVE TO ASPIRING ENTREPRENEURS TODAY?
Julia: My advice would be: do a gut check. Is this something that you want to do? I used the analogy the other day when I was talking to somebody where you know growing a company and building their brand is almost... it sounds sexier than maybe it is. It sounds really exciting and for an entrepreneur like me, like Danielle, people who have that fire in their belly for it, its addicting, but if you're just starting out just do a gut check. Is this really what you really want to be doing? There going to be a lot of sacrifice that comes but there's so much upside. So, just keep moving forward with what you can do on a daily basis. Don't be too hard on yourself because it's going to be challenging. You're going to learn a lot. You're not perfect and there's going to be a lot of growth, but just keep moving forward as much as you can every single day. Try to have a success every single day, whether that's two phone calls whether that's one contact - whatever that is.
It looks like if you have a ballerina and she's got her feet in the slippers and one side is still perfectly tucked in and its all laced up and it looks so beautiful but then if you take that slipper off on the other side of your other foot - your toes are mangled and there's scabs and it's hard so appearances are one thing but there is a lot that goes into it - a lot of grunt work, a lot of effort, a lot of energy. So, just gut check yourself... and if you have that fuel, if you have that fire in your belly for it - then just do it! Just do it keep moving it forward at the pace that you can every single day. Because it's incredibly rewarding and its worth all of the sacrifice.
Danielle & Julia on Shark Tank - April 17, 2015
Watch their original introduction to the Sharks on Season 6, Episode 25:
If you'd like to view the full episode, watch here
View a full demonstration on how NeatCheeks "Wipe on a Smile" below:
View NeatCheeks on Shark Tank Blog
View Danielle and Julia appear on Denver's ABC 7 News on April 19th, 2015