Antoine Wade has come up with a product idea whose time is well overdue. He’s created a refillable deodorant that is not only eco-friendly but fashionable. It’s called Switch Fresh, a brand of unisex deodorants that allows you to refill the deodorant container when you’re finished with the stick. And, by the way Antoine is a cousin of famous basketball star Dwyane Wade.
The scents are named after locations. There is the vanilla-based Chicago’s South Loop, an apple-based one named after New York’s TriBeCa neighborhood, and an unscented named after Aspen. To get the product up and running, Wade launched an IndieGoGo campaign to raise funds for the new venture.
Wade gave TNJ.com the details.
TNJ: How did you come up with this unique idea?
Antoine Wade (AW): I was discussing branding for a cologne project. I didn't love the idea of cologne because so many entertainers were doing it. I started to think about other personal care products and loved the upside of deodorant. Everyone uses it every day and will continue to for the rest of their lives. However, the design hadn't changed. It has always been the same system where you twist it, apply it and discard it in a repetitive cycle month after month. All products evolve and become better, so I decided to design a completely new deodorant system. Along the way, I realized there's nothing wrong with the bottles after the deodorant has run out and it was wasteful to just throw them in the trash. After sketching out several versions, I settled on one that eliminates the twist mechanism and added gliders to the side to lower and raise the product. This design gave me the ability to create a reusable bottle. I thought it would be awesome to have a reusable system that limits waste and allows the bottle to reflect your personal style since you keep it.
TNJ: What were your first steps after coming up with the idea to make it a business?
AW: First, I filed for a patent to protect my design. I wanted to make sure we were covered from an IP standpoint. At one point, I considered licensing it to existing personal care companies, but I really wanted to create a company that my children could watch me build and learn to run one day, so I shifted gears. I then began to research the market. Learning about the science behind how we sweat, different types of deodorants and how we would get the product to consumers was vital.
I recruited a team that consisted of a designer, engineer and creative director to help bring my vision to life. Our engineer started designing prototypes and we began working with several manufacturers to make the product.
TNJ: What business were you in prior to this?
AW: Prior to launching Switch Fresh, I worked in marketing and event operations. At Wade Enterprise, I organized some of the largest youth camps in the country as well as launched the Dwayne Wade Fantasy Camp, an event for adults aged 35-plus. Entry to the event was north of $10K, so we hosted a large number of executives and entrepreneurs. Organizing the event and spending time with some of the participants allowed me to gain valuable knowledge on how to run a company like this.
TNJ: Why did you want to do the crowdsourcing?
AW: Crowdfunding is the perfect place to test an idea. No one has done deodorant like this before, so I wanted to use this platform to gauge consumer demand. We are very customer centric, so crowdfunding put us in a position to receive feedback and make alterations before we deliver the final product. You don't get a second chance so we really want to make the first one count.
TNJ: How is the crowdsourcing campaign going?
AW: The feedback we’re receiving from our early adopters is really positive. We have another month left in our Indiegogo campaign and we’re eager to meet our funding goal. Crowdfunding is a non-traditional platform so we're still working on converting campaign inquiries into bona fide sales. Again, it's a new unique concept and we're attempting to sway customers from a system they've used their entire lives. We've had pre orders from London, Germany, Canada, and all over the United States. Active support from readers who believe in what we’re doing is what we need to make this campaign a success.
TNJ: What are the pluses and minuses of having a famous relative?
AW: The plus is that fame garners attention. Dwyane has a huge audience and is well respected when it comes to business; so people are naturally interested in things that are in any way connected to him. And of course, when you’re launching a startup, any attention you can get for your brand is welcomed.
On the other hand, it can be a bit of a deterrent getting people to support because everyone assumes that everyone else is doing it. It’s assumed that the company will be a success simply because of the relationship. I've heard people mention, “Your cousin is so famous, this is going to be big." I don't want potential customers to get too hung up on that element. Like any other startup, we still need sales to thrive and grow.
TNJ: When can people buy the product and where?
AW: Switch Fresh is available for preorder exclusively on Indiegogo at igg.me/at/switchfresh from now through March 19th. With successful funding, we'll then go into production on the first run. We intend to have the product in the hands of backers this summer, just in time for peak "deodorant season.” At that point, our full line of bottle designs and deodorant formulas will be sold on our website, switchfresh .com.
TNJ: Goals for 2017?
AW: We’re in the process of sourcing new materials for limited edition bottles as well as sustainable materials to further reduce waste. Right now, our bottles reduce plastic waste by 96 percent. Our goal is to be 100 percent waste free, where the cartridges that our deodorant sits in are completely biodegradable. We also intend to expand options for personalization, including licensed bottles, custom uploadable designs and introduction of our subscription service.
My vision is to grow Switch Fresh into a business that redefines the way we use and purchase deodorant.