A hand sanitizer company may seem like an obvious idea for 2020, the year of COVID-19, but Amy Welsman, founder of natural and sustainable hand sanitizer brand Paume, actually came up with the idea well before the start of the pandemic.
Welsman says it all started when she gave birth to her daughter in early 2019.
“When I brought my daughter home from the hospital, my husband and I immediately went out and bought all this hand sanitizer because you just become so aware of germs and people coming in to visit your baby and you just want to wrap them in bubble wrap,” she says.
She was using sanitizer so much at the time that she started noticing some things about the product itself.
“I found that the formulations I used were really harsh on my skin. It was a very utilitarian product, so it was packaged very plainly and not very sustainably, and it didn’t smell very good,” she recalls. “There wasn’t really a brand at the time that was trying to create a pleasant experience. If it’s something we’re going to use a lot of in our daily lives, why not make it nice and esthetically appealing and sustainable.”
At the time, Welsman had no idea just how much people would begin to use hand sanitizer, but a few months later when the pandemic arrived, she felt it was a sign that she should get started on turning that idea into a business.
Since Welsman wanted her product to be made of ingredients that would be good for skin, along with packaging that is multi-use, refillable and made of recycled materials, she says the process of creating the product took a bit of time and planning.
“I had to do a custom formula . . . and to source packaging from different suppliers because I had different needs than just a regular brand,” she says.
After months of back and forth with suppliers, Welsman had it: an effective but moisturizing hand sanitizer with a pleasant scent called Paume, available in reusable and recyclable options for home, office and travel use.
View this post on Instagram
This isn’t Welsman’s first attempt at entrepreneurial work. She was Canadian brand Knix’s first employee and worked on marketing and building Knix’s wholesale channel during her four years there. She says that, while she was in high school at Bishop Strachan School, she didn’t really know what she wanted to do with her life but says she always had a “subconsciously entrepreneurial spirit.”
“I started a little side business when I was working in my early 20s. I was reselling designer handbags on eBay for people,” she says. “It’s funny now that I look back on things like that. I think I’m just one of those people that, if I’ve wanted something in my life, I’ve been sort of resourceful to get it, and that’s part of being entrepreneurial.”
Welsman says that, although it may sound clichéd, you have to really believe in yourself to be able to start your own business.
“At the time, when I thought of this, I was thinking, ‘How can I actually do this when I know nothing?’ And it’s amazing how quickly you can learn and how possible things are,” she says.
Paume is available in Canada and the U.S. at mypaume.ca and will be fully in stock by late January.