Today’s entrepreneur can’t create just one amazing brand, they need to cultivate an empire. Doug Schwartz personifies this idea, and he has his hands in more projects than we thought possible for one man. From encapsulating treasured possessions in solid lucite to revolutionizing the world of scene branding to creating the next must have for hypebeast germaphobes—he’s juggling the Detroitwick machine on top of being a dad. We sat down with Schwartz to learn how he started his first business, how he balances each one of his endeavors and what he’s cooking up next.
What does it mean to you to be an entrepreneur?
To be an entrepreneur is a true blessing. Being able to wake up every day and map out your own destiny is an amazing privilege, but also comes with a set of challenges and responsibilities. I set a very high level for myself and for others. In today’s business and entrepreneurial climate, I believe there’s a lost art of one of the most basic concepts “your word.” It’s the thread that sews it all together. I take great pride as an entrepreneur in my word being gold.
Why is it that so many businesses failed but you’ve found success? That’s a great question. It took 1000+ ideas, countless hurdles, a whole lot of failures, to evolve and mold a viable/growing concept. I found success by learning from mistakes, being tenacious, consistent and leveraging the small wins into the long game. I’ve made great relationships over the years and I feel that in every business, you’re in the hospitality business, everyone should service their customers at the highest level. Sustaining and building on that over time equals success in many ways.
What was your first business?
My first business was seal coating (black topping) driveways. I started a company called Select Sealcoating and my partner and I walked door to door through neighborhoods, with a squeegee and pail of liquid black top. This was in ninth grade. We crushed it summer after summer during my high school years. My partner in that business still does it today, over 20 years later, which is the most incredible part. He has a very successful company here in Michigan.
When did you start encapsulating objects in resin and what’s your process? I started this five years ago when a customer asked me to recycle their wedding champagne bottle, cut it to make a candle, and they wanted to do something creative with the cork. That was the first encapsulate. People send me their keepsakes every single day to create sculpture. Encapsulating the SHREDS (gun parts) in solid lucite has been a huge activation. We’ve done the two largest gun buy backs in Detroit history over the past few years, taking an estimated 800+ illegal weapons off the streets and giving people a vehicle to turn in an unregistered weapon. It’s important to me to give back to the city I was born and raised in, now work and live in.
What is scent branding?
Humans can remember 5% of what they see, 2% of what they hear, 1% of what they touch and 35% of what they smell. Scent branding increases a customer’s remembrance of a brand and is a powerful, effective way to lift the experience. Scent branding for me is a way of storytelling through smell; creating elevated moments that will be ingrained in the memory banks forever.
How can a business benefit from scent branding? Scent branding is an incredible way to add value to one’s current marketing and advertising approach. It’s a genius way to level up what they’re currently doing through sensory experience. I always give this example. When I create mobile fragrance for a brand/company; everyone’s familiar with car hangers (most are crap), but when I make the hanger in the shape of the brand logo, create an amazing proprietary fragrance profile for it and it gets activated in cars all over. Let’s say I get in your car, on the way to lunch (don’t know about the brand) and I say “Wow, it smells great in here,” then all of a sudden we’re talking about the brand, and the customer acquisition becomes $1. Boom!
Tell us about how you got started with TripWipes?
I’m a semi-serious germaphobe by nature. I’ve always been frustrated with the anti-bacterial product applications on the market. Liquids are messy and alcohol heavy, with bulk packs youpull too many out and they dry out, and sprays dissipate before it hits the surface. No one prior has really created a thoughtfully branded, individually packaged, anti-bacterial wipe that smells incredible, softens your hands and is easy for everyone on-the go. So that’s what I did. I created an incredible fragrance profile embedded in the wipe, its addictive. Something that works, is easy and socially impactful—not to mention, Instagramable.
How do you balance all of these projects and is anything else in the works? I’m talented at reverse engineering tasks, so I think that keeps me pretty balanced. I’m always searching for new ways to creatively introduce an elevated experience through scent and sculpture. One of my favorite activations is The Scent Bubble and I’m working on a 3.0 version for next spring, which I will activate and pop up around Detroit.
How do you balance work and home life as a dad?
There’s nothing easy about that. I’m always on my phone, all hours of the day and night (which is a part of the entrepreneurial job description). All I will say is I try my best to stay present. Being a dad is the most awesome thing I’ve experienced to date. I think life is actually only two chapters; before child (chapter one) and after child (chapter two). This is definitely the coolest chapter.
What defines Doug Schwartz?
Keep God first, I’d love my legacy to be defined as the best husband and father I can possibly be. I always try and stay curious, create interesting projects and give back inspiration through my words and my ways. You only get one crack at life, you might as well make the most fun of it.