Our hands are our most exposed body parts besides our faces, constantly subjected to UV, wind, chemicals, extreme temperatures, water, harsh cleaning agents, and germs and bacteria. Surprisingly, they are often neglected in our daily body care routine. Since launching in early 2021, PAUME’s mission has been to illuminate the importance of a daily skincare routine for your hands. The PAUME system includes the award-winning Moisturizing Antibacterial Hand Gel, Exfoliating Hand Cleanser, Probiotic Hand Balm, Renewing Hand Serum, and the All-in-One Cuticle and Nail Cream, alongside the Hand & Nail Brush and Overnight Gloves. Together, these specially targeted products and tools work to clean, exfoliate, nourish, and hydrate hands, as well as strengthen and repair nails.
Tell us about yourself?
I started my career in advertising at JWT Toronto fresh out of University. After three years, I was talking to a mutual friend about her business idea: functional underwear for women, and I was hooked. Her brand was called Knix, and she was looking for the first full-time employee who could tackle everything from graphic design to sales to website design to daily operations. I was ready for a new challenge and joined Knix in 2013, right before we launched on Kickstarter. I spent four years there learning the ins and outs of bringing a product and brand to life, scaling it and creating a household name (an incredible learning experience), and I eventually had the itch to launch a product of my own…I just needed an idea.
If you could go back in time a year or two, what piece of advice would you give yourself?
There are so many lessons learned in the first two years – arguably the hardest in a brand’s life – when you’re doing so much experimentation and facing a lot of growing pains. I would say the biggest piece of advice I would give myself now is to be patient, trust the process, and stay focused on the core mission. I was so focused on growing quickly and expanding our offering in the first two years. I wanted to be everything to everyone. Yes, it was necessary to show a depth of products to tell our skincare for hands story, but I also think we spread ourselves quite thin. As soon as we became more focused on our target audience, our hero product, and our core message, we became more efficient and grew much faster. I think if we had been a bit more focused in those first few years, we might have seen those results a bit sooner, but hindsight is 20/20!
What problem does your business solve?
I developed the idea for PAUME in 2019 after the birth of my daughter. It was inspired by my experience of early motherhood, when my awareness of hand hygiene was stronger than ever, and I was dissatisfied with the products available to me. At the time, the category was made up of mostly basic utilitarian products you would get at the drugstore. The pandemic fundamentally changed the category: numerous new brands popped up, and even existing beauty and personal care brands released sanitizers of their own. However, for the most part, these new entrants mostly stuck to the old formula (no pun intended) of using inexpensive and basic ingredients – the result being more sticky, coarse, foul-smelling sanitizers.
What is the inspiration behind your business?
I developed the idea for PAUME in 2019 after the birth of my first daughter. It was inspired by my experience of early motherhood, when my awareness of hand hygiene was stronger than ever, and I was dissatisfied with the products available to me. At the time, the category was made up of mostly basic utilitarian products you would get at the drugstore. The pandemic fundamentally changed the category: numerous new brands popped up, and even existing beauty and personal care brands released sanitizers of their own. However, for the most part, these new entrants mostly stuck to the old formula of using inexpensive and basic ingredients – the result being more sticky, coarse, foul-smelling sanitizers. PAUME launched as a single-product brand with our Moisturizing Antibacterial Hand Gel, but from the start, we had bigger ambitions to change how we care for our hands. I envisioned a luxurious, wonderful-smelling hand sanitizer that actually moisturized your skin and was packaged in elegant, sustainable packaging. We launched PAUME during the middle of the pandemic in a very crowded space, but our attention to detail, superior formula, and thoughtful design set us apart and contributed to our success.
In phase two, we expanded to hand care in general. Our mission is to create effective, innovative products for the caring of our hands – that sanitize, nourish, hydrate, cleanse, and protect. The new products, in part, were inspired by our customer feedback and a desire for more hand care products that offered the same solutions and quality formulas as our sanitizer. The hand care category seems to lack a true leader. Yes, there are lots of hand washes and creams out there, but they are often an afterthought for these larger body care brands, and no brand is staking a true claim as the expert in hands. That’s the gap we intend to fill.
What is your magic sauce?
When I launched PAUME in 2021, one year into the pandemic, the sanitizer category was very crowded and oversaturated. I believe our “magic sauce” lies in our packaging, unique formula, and more human approach to our marketing and branding. The category was known for single-use plastics, unappealing and generic packaging, and harsh formulas that smelled awful and dried out our hands. My intention with PAUME was to elevate a utilitarian product and make it into a beauty product, essentially. Our dispensers are elegant, design-driven, refillable, and made with previously recycled materials. We put a lot of time and thought into our branding, aesthetics and design, and it helped us stand out against the competition. For our formula, while we could have purchased one off the shelf and repackaged it, we developed our own unique formula that used unique ingredients, like safflower oil, to boost efficacy. We took a lot of time to develop our signature scent, which combines five essential oils for a truly sensorial experience. We intentionally took a more human and emotional approach to our brand personality. Rather than focus on killing germs and sterile messaging (typical of the category), we focused on the benefits of clean hands and the power of human touch and physical connection. The reality is our competition was either the big drug store brands selling in bulk, brands born in the pandemic that rushed to get to market and didn’t focus on the details we were focused on (packaging, branding, formula, sustainability), and beauty brands that rushed to release sanitizers to meet the immediate demand. The idea for PAUME came to me before the pandemic, and I wanted to take the proper time needed to bring it to life. We had a unique approach despite the vast competition, and as a result, we have continued to thrive.
What is the plan for the next 5 years? What do you want to achieve?
The next five years will be critical to our long-term success. My plan is to continue to release new skincare products for hands, including an overnight hydration mask we are launching in October, and focus on solving more chronic skincare afflictions like eczema in our other new products. We are also developing an SPF product. We have learned that our core customer has remained the same since the beginning – a new mom navigating motherhood and looking for an elevated hand care and hygiene experience. We will also be focused on creating products for her. We have seen significant growth this year, and I hope to continue that momentum in the next five years, with a focus on sustainable growth, profitability, D2C marketing efficiency, and physical retail expansion. We are launching with two three mass retailers this fall – Holt Renfrew, Dillards and Bluemercury – which is very exciting!
What is the biggest challenge you’ve faced so far?
Our biggest challenge in the first two years was acquiring customers in a cost-efficient way. We launched right as Apple changed its data policy, so Facebook advertising became much more expensive. I worked with multiple agencies to help us crack it, and none were really successful. I felt really stuck and needed to do something bold to help us get on the right path to profitable growth. First, we brought our digital marketing efforts in-house. I enrolled in a course that taught Facebook advertising and audience targeting and how to build a proper sales pipeline with smart and targeted creative content. I quickly discovered that we had been far too broad in our approach, which diluted our messaging and our budgets.
Second, we focused on a single hero product, our Moisturizing Antibacterial Hand Gel, and targeted our efforts on a specific but very deep segment of the market—new moms. We refined our messaging to speak directly to this audience and built a sales pipeline suited to their needs with our hero product front and center. We also built a separate landing page that echoed the messaging of the ads we were running. The landing page only offered bundles and included cart upsells with our other products to help customers achieve free shipping. Apple’s iOS changes have made it more costly for everyone to acquire customers, so growing average order value (AOV) is essential to profitable growth. Bundling and upselling are key to increasing it. Within weeks, we were seeing results, so we leaned in hard to this new strategy.
The results speak for themselves: We have increased our AOV by 20 per cent, more than double our ROAs, and decreased our CPA by $25. And we think it’s scalable: so far, we have quadrupled our daily spend on Facebook these last three months without any decline in our ROAs. Now that we are acquiring customers at a more efficient rate, we have the time and resources to use other tools like email, SMS, and organic social to introduce our customers to our other products and build LTV and retention.
How can people get involved?
People can visit our website at www.mypaume.ca to see our entire line of products.