MP recently spoke with Anne Ruozzi, co-founder of Therapy Clean. Ruozzi was born and raised in Caracas, Venezuela, during the 70s, and 80s. She graduated from Boston University in the late 90s. Her first job out of college was with a luxury consumer brand startup in Boston in the personal care space. This was her exposure to a startup environment, and according to her, she fell in love with the rush of bootstrapping the company's way up and the feeling of being part of something bigger than herself. Eventually, she transitioned into the corporate world and sold IT equipment for a Fortune 500 company. Since working in that industry, she believes that any successful person is a successful salesperson.
After a few years, she decided to take a leap into the unknown and work for herself. Not even a month later, she met her husband while skiing, and they partnered to start their own business: Eco Touch, Inc., the parent company of Therapy Clean.
Ruozzi has 25+ years of CPG, sales, and brand management experience, has achieved over $100M in lifetime sales, and likes to call herself a visionary for brand ethos and packaging.
When did you first want to follow an entrepreneurial path, and why?
I've always enjoyed the rush of having a small team of talented individuals come together to make something bigger than themselves. And to me, that is what entrepreneurship is all about. I never questioned being an entrepreneur. It may have something to do with the fact that I never saw anyone in my family growing up working a 9-5 job. My father was a small business owner who started from scratch and made a great life for himself, so he was my role model. However, I recognize that being an entrepreneur is challenging, and it's not for everyone. It would be a lot easier to have a 9-5 job and go home and not worry about anything work-related.
What is Therapy Clean, and how is it unique?
Therapy Clean makes wellness-inspired, mood-enhancing cleaning products.
With so much turmoil in the world today, consumers have had a rough couple of years. Elections. Covid. War. A never-ending slew of the terrible news on our feeds every day… Consumers are left feeling mentally exhausted. An astounding 30% of Americans now report feeling stressed or depressed. This forces people to look for rituals and products that make them feel better. We see it in the apps that are being downloaded for meditation or mindfulness. We see it in the supplements that are being sold everywhere now. It is not surprising that the wellness industry is growing at twice the speed of the world economy!
The act of cleaning has been scientifically proven to improve people's moods, yet there are no products in the market today that purposely target emotional health through cleaning. This is what Therapy Clean is all about—supporting customers' well-being through the act of cleaning.
How has Therapy Clean distanced itself from other plant-based cleaning products?
At Therapy Clean, we have what we call a Trifecta in our product's DNA.
The Product’s Efficacy Is Outstanding
But that is to be expected. We call it the one-pass test. They don't go to market if the formulas don't work on the first pass.
The Formulas Are Safe for You, Safe for Your Family, and Safe for the Environment
The days of spraying your refrigerator with chemicals that smell like gasoline are over! There is no need for that. Plant-based formulas are as powerful as traditional ones, which should be the standard everywhere now. Most of our formulas are USDA Biobased-certified. We removed any MIT, BIT, and OIT for preservatives and used a food-grade preservative approved by the EPA instead. All without sacrificing the integrity of the formulas.
Mood-Enhancing Fragrance Technology
The most distinct feature of our products is our Mood-Enhancing fragrance technology, clinically proven to uplift consumers' moods during cleaning. We know that the sense of smell is our strongest sense. It can trigger powerful emotions and memories. So, we've worked with our fragrance partner to develop proprietary blends that can evoke specific positive emotional states. We've selected Bliss, Energizing, and Calming as our initial three emotional states incorporated into our product line. When the consumers spray or use it in dish soaps, the scent blooms and they get that triggering effect. This has been documented with FMRI studies from the University of Geneva's Brain and Behavioral Laboratories, giving us real, solid science behind this technology.
I've always enjoyed the rush of having a small team of talented individuals come together to make something bigger than themselves. And to me, that is what entrepreneurship is all about. - Anne Ruozzi
Where did the idea for Therapy Clean come from, and why was it chosen?
Cleaning can be viewed as a mundane yet necessary chore. We wanted to offer people a better way to clean, making cleaning more enjoyable and therapeutic. Instead of wincing at the smell of chemicals sprayed on your surfaces, people can create a meditative experience out of cleaning, knowing that the products they use are better for their health and the environment.
How do you plan for Therapy Clean’s future?
We see a bright future for Therapy Clean. The brand can grow within the cleaning category and possibly expand into other avenues such as personal care or home care. Time will tell.
What three questions should would-be entrepreneurs ask themselves before starting a new venture, and why?
- Do you have the conviction that you can overcome whatever challenges life throws at you?
- Are you willing to take responsibility for any actions you or your organization take?
- Are you ready to continuously evolve, learn, and grow beyond your wildest expectations?
What are your three greatest fears as an entrepreneur, and how do you manage those fears?
1. Running Out of Money
Cash is your blood flow. Without it, you die. If you are too conservative with it, you risk stunting your company's growth, which is a loss of opportunity with a terrible cost to it. On the other hand, if you are too aggressive, you can put yourself in an undesirable situation. The key is to keep a close eye on your cash flow and plan accordingly. Look at your projections and make a plan B if things don't turn out as you expected. Have more than one person looking at it. Then, adjust the sails with enough time.
2. Burning Out
Losing my support network is a real fear of mine. It takes time and dedication to get people up and to run and integrated into your culture and your team to the point where you can detach yourself from the day-to-day and have the space to think. The answer to avoiding burnout lies in building good company culture with solid core values. Foster a good environment where people feel like they are part of something bigger than themselves and are motivated.
3. Missing Out on Opportunities
This is a tough one because a loss of opportunity is a loss of time that cannot always be recovered.
What are three obstacles you've faced while growing Therapy Clean, and how have you overcome them?
1. Not Being Mentally Prepared for the Ups and Downs
It is fun to think about the possibilities, but it takes courage and a positive mindset to overcome the inevitable bumps. It took me a few years to realize that mistakes and rejections were beautiful gifts we could learn from.
2. Believing That I Could Do It All by Myself
It became very isolating, and the process stifled the growth of our company for some time. I learned that it's important to surround yourself with people who are better than you, elevate you and challenge you to become a better person. Keep toxic people at bay by setting boundaries.
3. Learning To Listen to Your Gut
This takes self-work and constant practice. Your inner wisdom, your own higher self, your intuition, or whatever you want to call it, are the compass in your journey.
The answer to avoiding burnout lies in building good company culture with solid core values. - Anne Ruozzi
What are four things you wish you could have done differently while launching Therapy Clean, and why?
1. Think Big(ger) From the Start
It takes the same effort to think through a business, whether small or big, so why not go big? Especially when you have a product that can benefit society. It's easier to get people behind your idea when the solution that you're providing is bigger. When we launched, we didn't expect the products to resonate with consumers. Then we got caught up with the day-to-day operations and didn't take the time to envision a bigger picture until 2-3 years into the business.
2. Get Funding Sooner
This goes hand-in-hand with not thinking bigger. It takes money and the right strategy for a consumer brand like Therapy Clean to grow in the market. We made the mistake of funding it ourselves with our other companies, but the lack of proper funding stunted our growth. We could be in a much different position by now should we have gotten outside funding earlier.
3. Hire Key People Sooner
As the company's leader, getting stuck on the day-to-day grind prevents you from focusing on the bigger picture. It is so important that you have a supporting team to execute your vision. You need funding, and for that, you need a bigger vision. It's a cycle.
4. Went After Amazon More Aggressively in the Beginning
Amazon used to be the wild west in its early years. It is now very competitive and difficult to build a brand on Amazon. We got lucky with a few of our products, but it could have been better.
What three characteristics define an effective leader, and why?
Fostering an environment where people can be the best version of themselves so they can do their best work.
Take responsibility for your organization. No matter what goes on, it always comes down to you as a leader. Even when it isn't your fault, it is your responsibility.
Someone who transmits an inspiring message. People will work twice as hard when they are inspired and motivated.
What are three pieces of advice you can share with people looking to become influential leaders in their businesses, and why?
1. Become an Expert at What You Do
Anyone can become an expert! You can do this by sharing what you are passionate about and offering value to others who are listening to you.
2. Think Big
Getting people on board with your ideas is easier when they are big. If they're not big enough, people lose interest fast.
3. Have a Solid Board of Advisors
If you can't have them in person, make up an imaginary one. My imaginary board of advisors consists of many people, including Tony Robbins, Sarah Blakely, Richard Branson, Elon Musk, Jamie Kern, Vishen Lackiani, and Jeffrey Allen. Whenever I need to make a tough decision, I imagine asking each of them what they would do in my position, and the answers just appear. It's pretty cool!
Cover photo courtesy of Therapy Clean.