Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey in personal care but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Jacob Kirstein, CEO of Chapie, located in Boca Raton, FL, USA.
What's your business, and who are your customers?
Chapie produces vacuum-insulated containers in a variety of sizes to protect all your heat-sensitive belongings from melting! Chapie V3, our best-selling variation, is a keychain accessory that prevents chapstick from melting. Chapie Plus is a larger keychain accessory for lipstick and large chapstick. Chapie Pro is a lunch box-sized version designed to protect deodorant, gum, cosmetics, and medications from the heat! Our customers are primarily women aged 17-64 who live in warm climates and use lip balm or lipstick.
Tell us about yourself
I have wanted to be an inventor ever since I was little, where I often ditched the Lego kit instructions and built my own creations. I launched my first product during my freshman year of college and lost $2k of investor money, and was publicly shamed by JP Morgan from Morgan and Morgan for pitching him a useless idea. I invented over five new products and failed to bring them to market from 2014 – 2021 until finally, I invented Chapie. I have been developing products since 2014 to no avail. In January of 2021, my old roommate and I were spitballing ideas over the phone for new inventions when he mentioned that I should try to make a vacuum-insulated flask for lip balm. Since I didn't use lip balm at the time, I didn't understand the life-changing significance of the idea yet.
Later that evening, I went home and told my girlfriend the idea; she became elated. "YES YES YES DO IT DO IT DO IT" she exclaimed; her friend that was with her had matched enthusiasm. Against my own judgment, I 3D printed a mock-up of what is now known as Chapie. I spray-painted the 3d models and posted a TikTok about the idea and design process. The video went viral virtually overnight, and the rest was history. I didn't have enough money to front the first round of production, so I launched a presale campaign on Shopify to begin collecting preorders on my 25th birthday, March 29th, 2021. As preorders rolled in, I scrambled to find a manufacturer that could produce the world's smallest vacuum-insulated thermos. This involved creating new manufacturing methods unique to Chapies' design. My goal is to inspire others to chase their dreams, and life is so much more than just a 9-5. Chapie protects people's lip balms from melting, so due to this invention, fewer people have to deal with the discomfort of chapped lips; it also saves them money in the long run.
What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?
My biggest accomplishment as a business owner is building up my own team instead of outsourcing the work. For example, I never hired a marketing company, I never worked with a 3PL, and I never outsourced customer service. I have found talented individuals around my community to take on these roles, which results in a better customer experience and a better profit margin for the business.
What's one of the hardest things that comes with being a business owner?
The hardest thing that comes with being a business owner is learning how to delegate complex tasks. In the beginning, you are so used to doing everything yourself that you have a hard time trusting others to complete the work you would normally do. However, in order to grow, you must learn to put faith in others.
What are the top tips you'd give to anyone looking to start, run and grow a business today?
- Listen to your customers – customers will tell you what they love about your product and what they hate; listen to them; they are right.
- Don't spread yourself too thin – you only have a certain amount of hours to work in a day; if you have too many things going on, you end up doing a bad job on all of them instead of a good job on one or two things.
- Pay yourself first – you are not working for free, don't forget to pay yourself some of the profits before reinvesting. It will keep you motivated and remind you why you are working so hard.
Where can people find you and your business?
If you like what you've read here and have your own story as a solo or small business entrepreneur that you'd like to share, then please answer these interview questions. We'd love to feature your journey on these pages.
Turn your craft into recurring revenue with Subkit. Start your subscription offering in minutes and supercharge it with growth levers. Get early access here.