It's saved me on more occasions than I'd like to admit, so it's time I shared my secret weapon: the S•PACK, your on–the–go arsenal of basic cleanup supplies (mini toothbrush and toothpaste, deodorant wipe, two facial cleansing wipes and a hair tie) that will have you looking fresh even on your Friday morning walk of shame. I sat down to talk to Juliette Reiss (C'16), one half of the twin powerhouse behind the company, about starting a business even if you're not in Wharton (Ed. Note: she's a Classical Studies major).
Street: Let's start with the basics. For our readers that don't know, what exactly is a S•PACK?
Juliette Reiss: So basically a S•PACK s a mini cleanup pack for women on the go. The idea came about my freshman year, when my twin sister and I realized that our friends were constantly on the go. The S•PACK is tiny enough to fit in your smallest evening bag, and it's totally disposable, so we think that our product is not only pragmatic but it's also sexy and edgy and aimed at empowering women to have good hygiene wherever they might be.
Street: What does S•PACK actually stand for?
JR: S•PACK was initially created under the idea of a sleepover pack, and then once we started formulating our marketing plan we decided that the "S" really stands for smart, sexy, spontaneous. My sister and I built our company on the fact that cleanliness is a part of being beautiful, so we wanted to redefine the idea of toiletries so that women actually have them when they need them. We're really trying to promote the idea that S•PACK is for every woman.
Street: What has the journey been like?
JR: We really started taking action on the idea when my sister entered it into a competition at the University of Michigan called M–Tank in 2014. It's like their form of Shark Tank, and she presented it in front of this 250–person audience. The idea won the competition, and the prize for that was a presentation to Google. At the time we had just created a prototype, which we took to Google and presented the idea to a bunch of Google employees. They gave us their feedback and were actually a great resource, and it pushed us to go along with the product and actually create it. So we launched the product in 2015, the spring of our junior year.
Street: What's your favorite thing about your product?
JR: One of the great things about S•PACK is that it has many uses. S•PACK can be for women that travel, women that go to the gym, women that crash at a friend's place or a guy's place after a fun night out and women that go on business trips or long days of interviews. We also really pride ourselves on the quality of our products and the fact that the majority of them–like the facial cleansing wipes, deodorant wipes and toothpaste–are all made in the USA.
Street: What do you think has been your biggest challenge in getting S•PACK off the ground?
JR: One of the challenges we've faced, which I think a lot of young brands have faced, is to create a consumer base that really knows and loves your product. So I think our biggest challenge and something we’ve been working on this whole time is really getting our name out there. Once people use this product they generally have good reviews, so we’re really focused on reaching a larger consumer base.
Street: Who do you envision as your typical S•PACK customer?
JR: Initially we were marketing a lot to college students; we have reps at different universities across the country to promote our product. We continue to sell it on Amazon and Amazon Prime, but we just started offering S•PACKs through Ricky’s NYC which is our first major retailer, and that’s great for our target audience because there are so many women that are constantly on the go in New York City who this product would be great for. They'll be available in all Ricky's locations, which is really exciting.
Street: So exciting. How has Penn influenced S•PACK?
JR: One group at Penn that has been particularly supportive is the girls in my sorority, Kappa Alpha Theta. It's been great to see how excited they've been about the product and supportive of everything we've been accomplished. In terms of Penn as an institution, I think the school does value entrepreneurship. One great thing I've been exposed to at Penn is a wide variety of women speaker events that has been really influential as a woman entrepreneur.
Street: What advice do you have for any Penn students who are looking to explore their entrepreneurial side?
JR: I think the best advice is to actually act on your idea. I think a lot of people have great ideas and for some reason or another don’t act on them. I think actually taking action has allowed me to meet a lot of interesting people and have a lot of interesting experiences. Making that transition from the idea of the product or idea of the app and taking that step to actually making it a reality is definitely the most important step.