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Philly Startup PiperWai Solves Your Sweat Problems

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PiperWai

One of Philly’s top startups, PiperWai, was founded by Jess Edelstein and Sarah Ribner, two entrepreneurs with a knack for building a brand and staying authentic. They penetrated the highly competitive deodorant market by introducing a natural deodorant that actually works as advertised. Whether you are health conscious or just a regular user, PiperWai was introduced to solve your sweat and odor problems. The team has no plans on moving anytime soon. According to Jess, “Philly startups are extremely supportive.”

PiperWai

PiperWai is a natural charcoal based deodorant free of aluminum and other harsh chemicals that are usually found in conventional antiperspirants. Jess and Sarah started off with a creme deodorant and recently launched a stick applicator by popular demand. Activated charcoal is becoming an increasingly popular ingredient in cosmetics because of the health benefits and various uses. By using it in PiperWai’s deodorant mixture, it absorbs moisture and fights odor without staining your clothes. The essential oils give off a spa-like scent that appeals to both men and women. And, in case you’re wondering, it’s perfect for sensitive skin!

I had the opportunity to connect with Jess Edelstein, Co-Founder of PiperWai, and was heavily impressed by the perseverance that she and Sarah Ribner has shown for their brand’s success long before appearing on Shark Tank. From being 9 year old entrepreneurs in elementary school with their lemonade stand to self-made moguls, there’s no stopping Jess and Sarah. As any entrepreneur can tell you, the process is difficult and the hours are long, but the result is worth it’s weight in gold. This is the story of two best friends that embarked on an amazing journey together, and there seems to be no stopping them.

Before reaching their height of success with PiperWai, Jess’s day job was a real estate agent, selling houses to make ends meet. When PiperWai first launched, Jess and Sarah worked 80-100 hours per week pumping out the mixture into jars by hand. PiperWai has always been a business that has been bootstrapped, even after appearing on Shark Tank. Their first office was a closet, but expanded exponentially as demand began to rise. Real estate money became less significant and PiperWai became the core focus. Jess and Sarah moved production from making 300 jars at their home office to a copacker to keep up with demand. PiperWai is now the 3rd fastest company on Shark Tank to reach $1 million in revenue and the business has grown 6000% since.

You can now find PiperWai in every GNC in the country and every Whole Foods in the Mid-Atlantic region. You can also find them at over 200 independent retailers and online on websites like Lucky Vitamin. When they first appeared on HSN, they completely sold out. Not only is PiperWai good for your body, they do good for the community as well. They donate a portion of their sales to non-profits. Bloggers rave about PiperWai and express how much the natural charcoal based deodorant has changed their daily routine.

One of the best piece of advice Jess has is, “Bootstrap everything until you cannot anymore. Work out of your apartment. You do not need to appear fancy early on. Reinvest back into your product. It’s going to be hard. No matter how hard you work, it is going to be difficult. The short term discomfort is beneficial.” Entrepreneurship is not for everyone, but for those, like Jess and Sarah, who persevere and continue to invent in the business, the benefits are astronomical. They enjoy the flexibility of not being chained to a desk. Jess has not set an alarm in 2 years. Entrepreneurship feels more rewarding to these founders, especially after all the effort and looking back how far they’ve come.

Finding the right deodorant takes a large amount of commitment, something that these young founders understand. PiperWai went all natural with their product and is quickly cornering the market by outperforming their competitors. Jess and Sarah has come a long way since mixing the PiperWai formula in a closet to the sound of Taylor Swift.

PiperWai

Jess and Sarah in one of the first PiperWai kitchens

PiperWai

Jess and Sarah today

Jie writes about influencers and startups in various industries. She is a designer turned techie, and when she is not writing, you can find her in her workshop working on her next big project.

Business

Interview With The Tangent Agency CEO, Marc Becker

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Tangent Agency

Going by the motto “It’s not who you know, it’s who knows you,” The Tangent Agency has worked on many large projects, including Despicable Me, X-Men, Deadpool, Fifty Shades of Grey, and many more. Leading Tangent Agency is their CEO, Marc Becker. He comes with 7 years of experience as an Executive in the Global Brand Marketing team at Universal Pictures. Working closely with filmmakers, stakeholders, and brands, he helped develop campaigns for films across NBCU/Comcast platforms. Marc joined Tangent after using them as a trusted vendor while at Universal and now oversees business operations working for a creative powerhouse. The Tangent Agency brings big ideas to life by creating innovative content for their partners.

Marc granted us an interview to give us some insight on business and offered advice for those looking to advance their careers. He tells us about their new leadership team and how AR and VR is having a moment.

 

What is your day like as a CEO?

When you’re running a company, you have to a wear a ton of hats. I always joke that I should change my business cards to read “Janitor to CEO” because that’s really what I have to be. On a typical day we’ll have a team check-in to talk about priorities followed by picking what music or movie we should put on in the background. My music is usually vetoed so our CSO, Daniel, has been on DJ duty for the last couple months. From there, I’m usually joining calls with partners ensuring we’re clear on all their objectives and deliverables. In addition to the account management side of things I’ll work with the team on brainstorms for ideation and reviewing material before it’s sent out to the partners. Another big part of my day is usually working on business development whether it’s chatting with partners/collaborators or potential clients who could use our services. I’m also a big proponent of mentorship and sharing my experiences whenever possible, so I NEVER turn down an informational interview – I tend to do them pretty often. It sounds very business school-y, but now that we’ve hired a couple more members of the team, I’m looking forward to working more ON the business instead of IN the business, which will enable us to scale a little faster.

What makes Tangent Agency different from other agencies?

At Universal, I used to hire nearly every agency under the sun. At Tangent, we are both a creative partner and thought partner, and all our strategy is insight-driven. We work with some of the biggest brands and on the biggest franchises, consistently delivering the quality and the marketing product you’d expect from a major creative agency, but also offer some unique capabilities like Strategic Sales Materials, Franchise Development, and Mythology. Our partners turn to our design team to develop a visual identity for their properties bringing their brands to life. Just as importantly, Tangent leads the way in deciphering data and creating a compelling story to pitch the property, often from scratch. Franchise development, while a critical storytelling and brand development device, is still a largely untapped part of entertainment marketing, and Tangent’s team is some of the best in this field. By breaking down the complex nuances of your favorite films and television shows, the process of mythology provides an avenue and a lens into the backstories of the characters and plot points to help our clients develop endlessly engaging story universes. The Tangent creative team has been both on the agency side and the client side and are truly some of the best in the business. I continue to be inspired by them on a daily basis.

What are some of the best projects you’ve worked on?

We’re proud of all our projects and they each present their own unique challenges and opportunities.  We like to say we’ve worked on everything from My Little Pony to Straight Outta Compton.  I find it exciting to work on independent films and Academy fare projects as well as the big global blockbuster franchises like the X-Men or Jurassic World.  Our resident super-geek and CSO, Daniel Barber, loves all things sci-fi and superheroes so I’m sure he’d say Deadpool 2, Logan, and Speilberg’s Ready Player One are a few he’d cite. On a personal level, it’s been special to be working on some of the Universal properties such as Despicable Me and Fast & Furious.  We’re under NDA so I can’t say exactly what we’re doing on the projects, but I spent so many years at Universal working internally with the brilliant filmmakers and collaborating with my old team and everyone around NBCU to help manage those brands, it’s fun to continue to work on them in this new capacity.

Who are some influencers that you admire?

I’ve always been a fan of the humble way of life Warren Buffet continues to maintain. Bill Gates has not only built an incredible empire and wealth, but continues to baffle me with his work through the foundation and his charitable contributions. Zuckerberg seems to be following in the footsteps of Gates, and I admire his commitment to making the world a better place. Sheryl Sandberg has become a voice of a generation of women and I appreciate the work she’s done to help break the glass ceiling. I know I’m leaving a bunch of people off, but I think you can gather the overall trend – successful people that seek to make a difference in the world.

What advice has helped you the most throughout your career?

I’ve been extremely fortunate to have mentors champion me throughout my career and sprinkle many insightful gems of advice throughout the years. One piece of advice that has always stuck with me is from my old boss, mentor and friend David O’Connor, who runs Brand Marketing at Universal. He always used to say “don’t be afraid to ask questions.” Too many people let their egos get in the way of being inquisitive for fear that they will be perceived as unintelligent or ignorant. It’s important to be strategic about asking questions and know when it’s appropriate and when questions should be taken off-line, but I’ve found it incredibly valuable to “be real” and honest with the people around me in both my personal and professional life. If I don’t know something, I ask and I remember, and then I have the knowledge going forward. If there’s something that isn’t my strength, for example graphic design, I can leave the work to the experts and allow people around me to shine.

What are some business tips you can give to startups?

Don’t be a jack of all trades and a master of none. Know what you’re good at and be the best at it. Or don’t be the best at it, just make sure you know what your value proposition is. In regards to people looking to launch a startup, I can’t tell you how many times entrepreneurs, friends, peers, etc. come to me with a business idea they “can’t tell me about.” Odds are, the idea isn’t an original idea and someone else has thought of it – it’s all about execution. You absolutely want to do your homework and discovery, but too many people suffer from analysis paralysis and never pull the trigger. The only way to make things happen is to actually execute. If something isn’t working, don’t let ego get in the way of being flexible, and don’t be afraid to make a pivot.

Another tip is to always consider the end user. These fans are real people who are passionate about whatever brand/product you’re selling. In today’s world with social media being what it is, everyone can vocalize their opinion and has a pulpit by which to express it. Whether you’re marketing a multi-billion dollar blockbuster franchise or selling from a lemonade stand, it’s important to consider your customers.

What are some recent company milestones for The Tangent Agency?

We rebranded and restructured the company 18 months ago with a new leadership team: Ben Taylor (CCO), Daniel Barber (CSO), Mat Guillen (Art Director), and myself as CEO. We just completed our first year with the refreshed company and have seen incredible results and continued growth. Another recent milestone is we’ve expanded our Experiential, AV, and Digital capabilities.

What will make this year better than last year?

We’ve carved out a great niche for ourselves as one of the industry’s best kept secrets, working a lot behind the scenes. This year, we’re excited about becoming a bigger player in the experiential world and working on more consumer facing materials. It’s only January and we’re already having productive conversations with some of the leading content creators and key players in new technologies such as VR and AR. TV and Interactive Gaming are both having big moments, and we are excited about the opportunities for Tangent to collaborate in both areas. We’re looking forward to expanding our relationships with existing partners and working with new ones.  

 

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Events

Stan Lee Of Marvel Comics: His Legacy

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Best known as the creator of the popular franchises Spider-Man, Daredevil, Doctor Strange, and more, Stan Lee headlines at Awesome Con at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center in Washington D.C. There are rumors that this will be one of the last cons that he will be attending, making it one of most exciting moments for attendees. At 94 years old, Stan Lee is an icon for comic book fans, uniting everyone with the power of his imagination.

The crowd eagerly waits for Stan Lee to make his way to the convention center. On Sunday June 18th, Father’s Day, Stan Lee graced the stage to a packed room filled with hundreds of fans wearing Marvel t-shirts and dressed in their favorite characters from comics, movies, and video games. As he walks onto the stage, the crowd erupts in applause and cheers. To some, he played a role as a father figure, guiding children and young adults to do good and essentially make the world a better place. During the panel, Stan Lee answers questions from fans about his career and Marvel. Attendees lined up to the mic to ask a few questions that we might have all been wondering.

If you’ve seen any Marvel movie, you may notice Stan Lee making an appearance from being a hot dog vendor in “X-Men” in 2000, to a wedding crasher in “Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer” in 2007, and even an animated cameo in 2014’s “Big Hero 6.” When asked what his favorite cameo was, he responded, “My favorite was the one…um…Thor.” He chuckles, “And my favorite, I don’t know if you’ve figured it out yet, was TWO SCENES!” The audience was loving it.

Stan Lee mentions how comics use to receive very little respect and now are some the most sought out books. The public’s perception has changed a great deal over the years. At the panel, he spoke highly of his late partner Jack Kirby, who he calls “King Kirby.” Together they created the Fantastic Four, a team of characters including Mr. Fantastic, the Invisible Woman, the Thing, and the Human Torch. Stan Lee comments on the creation of each character, “What it is when you write something is you make the characters as interesting as you can.” He has a great appreciation for The Incredible Hulk and describes him as a lovable monster, but was not sure if Marvel fans and readers would like him as much as he does. Judging by the success of the franchise, he did not have to worry as much as he did. He also spoke highly of the teen geek superhero, “The one character I was very, very sure about was Spider-Man.” Over the years, Stan Lee was able to create an entire universe filled with powerful characters and superheroes that impacted the lives of several generations.

The ultimate goal for Stan Lee was to create a world where everyone feels included and having fun. You can tell that is an important aspect in his work when he says, “I want to teach people that we’re all the same.” It is no surprise that Stan Lee will be receiving this year’s Disney Legends Award on Friday July 14th alongside Oprah Winfrey, Jack Kirby, and Mark Hamill. The award goes out to those who have contributed to Disney’s legacy. He will also be the Grand Marshal with Mark Hamill the first day alongside Disney characters and a live band.

Stan Lee has taught us many lessons, including, “With great power comes great responsibility.” We have the power to promote change and do our best to make society a better place. His characters always appeared flawed in their everyday life but still tried to make the world better for those around them. Especially when it comes to X-Men, Stan Lee has taught us that we are not all that different. Though they had superpowers, they used it for others and not for personal gain. He imagined the Marvel Universe for us, but the stories will influence more generations to come.

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Influencers

Best Podcasts For Designers

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In the past few years podcasts have increasingly become an outlet for entertainment, news, sports, politics, music, etc. It seems like everyone is hosting or co-hosting a podcast these days about any topic imaginable. Though most people do a podcast purely from the standpoint of conveying some sort of message, some have parlayed podcasting into a full career in media. A podcast is simply a long form conversation or interview which essentially informs or entertains the listener in some way. They’re uncensored so most prefer this format as opposed to radio, which seems to be a fading medium. If you consider yourself a creative thinker, a designer, or developer in some form here’s some of the best podcasts you should check out!

 

Adventures in Design

Adventures in Design is a daily podcast hosted by two graphic designers, Mark Brickey and Billy Baumann. “Adventures” is an entertaining, yet informative gossip show, which incorporates relatable “Shop Talk”. Brickey and Baumann focus on people who have successfully fused design and happiness into their professional lives.

 

The Deeply Graphic Design Cast

If you’re looking for a graphic design podcast targeted to freelancers or agency designers, The Deeply Graphic Design Cast by Wes McDowell may be one of the best podcasts for you. Wes is a graphic and web designer from Los Angeles who is characterized as both a serial freelancer and agency designer. He is joined by co-hosts Mikelle Morrison, Nick Longo, Brandon Voss, Kristi Duce, and Sam Cox. Their show is described as the web and graphic design podcast that offers both practical and creative design advice you can use. The creative hosts tackle relatable design topics and answer listener questions every episode!

 

Unmistakable Creative

An iTunes Subscriber once described Unmistakable Creative by saying, “If TED Talks met Oprah, you’d have the Unmistakable Creative”. The show has fielded over 600 interviews with guests ranging from best selling authors & entrepreneurs to ex-cons. The show interestingly characterizes itself as a place for “wide eyed wanderers and starry eyes dreamers”. This is one of the best podcasts if you’re searching for diversity of guests and topics. It allows for a wide range of listeners who consider themselves free spirited, rebellious, and passionate humans.

 

Design Details

Simply put, Design Details is “a show about the people who design our favorite products”. Hosted by Bryn Jackson and Brian Lovin each hour long episode while lacking structure provides a casual conversation atmosphere. Their guests have featured a wide variety of different designers who specialize in UX, visual design, product design, game design, etc.

 

Developer Tea

Developer Tea is a unique podcast because of the length of each episode. This is a podcast that you can literally listen to in about ten minutes. On your lunch break, on your commute in traffic, or while washing dishes you can be informed about development and manage time simultaneously. The show is hosted by Jonathan Cutrell, a developer who and director of Technology at a company called “Whiteboard”, in Chattanooga, TN. Jonathan says that he wants to help designers “level up” and achieve their goals.

 

Let’s Make Mistakes

If you scour the reviews online, you will see conflicting opinions from the listeners of “Let’s Make Mistakes”. Another podcast that frequently lacks structure and often goes off on tangents, the hosts still discuss design in an effective manner. Though there may have been a few changes in the co-hosts Mike Monteiro is a main stay and fan favorite. An opinionated voice on the show provides a great balance to his two counterparts in whatever creative topic they decide to discuss in each episode.

 

Design Matters with Debbie Millman

In 2005, Debbie Millman created a radio show called “Design Matters”. Though it started as a small idea surrounded by a great vision, the show has progressed to be a staple in one of the best podcasts for community. Millman saw the show as a great way to interview some of the designers that she admires most and ask them everything that she ever wanted to know. Millman is not just a podcaster she also made history by being the first design podcast to distribute episodes free on iTunes. 200 episodes later, the show has gained awards, recognition, and critical acclaim and has grown exponentially since 2005.

 

Design Guy

If you’re looking for structured, condensed design principles explained to you, Design Guy podcast is the place to look. Even though the show is focused primarily on graphic design, the listener can still gain useful general design information from these “timeless principles”.

 

Boagworld

This particular web design podcast, Boagworld, is hosted by British UX designer Paul Boag, along with Marcus Lillington. If you are looking for an informative show that tackles all things web design, this may be one of the best podcasts for you. They have been joined by a diverse cast of guests over the show history, and always provide a unique take on the design field. If you’re looking to shake things up a bit, while gaining valuable information this is the podcast to check out.

 

The Creative Agency Podcast

For entrepreneurs/designers who are interested in owning or working in the creative/digital agency space you may have some questions that cannot be answered from a mere Google search. “Creative Agency” focuses on growing and managing a creative agency. Chris Bolton hosts and interviews a myriad of entrepreneurs on the best practices to staying afloat in the agency space. Check it Out!

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