Blood, sweat, and tears are essential to getting any business off the ground, but in the case of Rachel Winard, sweat was particularly essential. Her company was born of necessity—every deodorant she tried would aggravate the skin sensitivities caused by her systemic lupus—but it took a full seven years to land on a solution: a 100% vegan, aluminum-free recipe that combines clay and essential oils to absorb sweat and kill the bacteria that causes, well, stank.
After the impossibly sweet Rachel launched her armpit-saver from her NYC kitchen in 2009—her official title, Soapwalla Chef, is pretty fitting—it took a whole lot less time for the her creation to develop an international following (we hear chic Parisians practically buy the stuff in bulk). But Rachel’s five-member, all-women team still makes each product by hand in small batches to ensure tip-top quality. And though deodorant’s what the company’s best known for, Soapwalla is much more than a one-trick pony—Rachel’s passionate about developing customized skincare regimens for her customers. “I’m most at-home when I’m mixing and tweaking,” she says. So working to solve a centuries-old smelly pit problem? No sweat. —Lauren Elizabeth