What Brand Founders and Influencers Think About Schmidt’s Natural Deodorant Being Acquired by Unilever

5 min read
The big beauty news this week is that clean, indie deodorant brand Schmidt’s Naturals has been acquired by Unilever, making it not the first to be ushered into the Unilever family. The acquisition has sparked lots of online chatter, from brand founders and influencers alike. It’s big news—and not just because aluminum-free deo has been known to be a gateway product to cleaner, greener cosmetics. It strikes a chord because it taps into the age-old debate about the best way to change the industry as a whole. Does this represent a step forward into a world where safer cosmetics are available everywhere? Or does it mean that indie brands we love are going to be swallowed up by big beauty, forced to change formulas we rely on in the name of efficiency and cost reduction? We asked a few experts to weigh in.

Brand Founders and Influencers On Schmidt’s Natural Deodorant Being Acquired by Unilever

Kathryn Murray Dickinson, Owner AILLEA

“I am always excited to see clean beauty reaching more people! However I am cautious when larger brands, who have worked to hide ingredients and their harmful effects from their customers, purchase indie brands.  We all watched as Burt’s Bees was purchased and then had their ingredients cheapened and adulterated to the point that it is no longer considered clean. I get very nervous that history will repeat itself with the recent acquisitions.”

Sarah Villafranco, Founder Osmia Organics

“It’s a complicated business, this acquisition thing. I think people are really quick to pass judgment on the small brands, accusing them of selling their souls or choosing money over morals. But, it’s really not that simple, is it? We don’t know the terms of these agreements, or the conversations that have happened behind closed doors. If a big brand like Unilever and a small brand like Schmidt’s come to a decision that accomplishes both brands’ goals, maybe no souls have been sold. Assuming that the large brand upholds some commitment to ingredient standards and sourcing, then getting more quality, natural products into the hands of more consumers is achieving an admirable goal—to make people and the planet healthier. The onus is on the big brands to use their power for positive change, and I don’t think it’s safe to assume that all big brands are evil. In fact, there are a few small sparks of hope, such as the multiple brands who are taking a stand on GMOs. That said, there is certainly work to be done by many brands, big and small: We can all strive to be better, and should never stop looking for ways to do business thoughtfully, kindly and respectfully.”

Chelsea Williams, Plant-Based Wellness Blogger & Lifestyle Media Correspondent

“It’s disappointing when indie brands who have made a prior commitment to green and clean beauty, sell to companies whose mission and values do not align. For example, if a brand claims to be vegan and cruelty-free, why would they not expect backlash when they sell to a larger company that tests their products on animals? If a brand values transparency, why sell to a company with well-known, questionable business practices? From my perspective, it’s not necessarily about the size of the company that they are selling to. It’s about the decision to sell to a company with completely different standards and core beliefs. That’s when the indie brand gets the side-eye from me.”

Cynthia Besteman, Founder, Violets Are Blue

“I have mixed emotions about the acquisition. On the one hand, it shows that the industry is getting hip to the green/indie movement and that is a really positive step to all of us growing.  On the other hand, to see I brand I am so fond of and feel is a beacon to the indie industry sell to a corp that animal tests and doesn’t show full transparency, etc., is a little heartbreaking. I don’t judge another company’s choices, as there are always many mitigating factors and we don’t know the full scope of the deal and I can only hope they negotiated terms to keep in their philosophy. I also hope, that Unilever, in purchasing Schmidt’s, really understands who the Schmidt’s customer is and chooses stays true to what those customers look for in a product. The other good news is, there are so many other great green deodorant options out there that if you do not stand by Unilever’s values, you have other companies to choose from.”

Emily Kanter, Second Generation Owner, Cambridge Naturals

“We understand the challenges that manufacturers have in growing their brands, their supply chains and scaling up to meet demand without significant outside investment. And at the same time, we view these major buyouts of our partner brands with trepidation. Will the quality of the products change over time? Will the mission and vision of the company change? Will they continue to partner closely with the independent retailers who have worked hard to tell their brand’s story to customers every day? In some cases yes and in some cases no. When a brand no longer meets our standards, we don’t hesitate to shift our attention to those brands that do. We absolutely love Schmidt’s products and our customers do too, and only time will tell how the partnership will evolve.”

Want more wellness news? Read up on our Business of Wellness series.

About The Author

The WELL Team

The WELL Team

The WELL Team is dedicated to 360-degree view of wellness for the modern woman, with coverage of clean beauty, mindful living, fitness, recipes and more.



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