From Poland To Pachy: The Story Behind Rustic MAKA

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From Poland to Pachy: The Story Behind Rustic MAKA // Go behind the scenes of Rustic MAKA with co-founders and sisters, Kasia Rothe and Monica Stakvel! Learn about their backstory, including growing up in communist Poland, moving to the United States, and creating a thriving Michigan business! [via Wading in Big Shoes]
Above: Monica Stakvel and Kasia Rothe, sisters and co-founders of Rustic MAKA
Sisters Kasia Rothe and Monica Stakvel know a thing or two about the American Dream.

As co-founders of Michigan-based company, Rustic MAKA, Kasia and Monica are currently celebrating the widespread success of Pachy, their popular line of natural deodorants. Available online and in 100 retail locations across the country (including Whole Foods), Pachy is manufactured in Oakland County (production moved to a new facility over the summer) and plans are in the works to release several new scents, including one for men, over the next six months. It’s all part of an amazing feat that’s taken place in less than three years, but the road to success hasn’t been without its challenges.

A NO-FRILLS UPBRINGING

Growing up in Poland during the end of the country's communist era, Kasia and Monica experienced a childhood that was much different from the lives they live now. Under a strict government, basic resources were hard to come by, and commercial products were so limited that local stores often had nothing on the shelves but “vinegar and vodka.” Sharing a memory from when she was five or six years old, Kasia recalls a woman in her neighborhood that went from house to house, illegally peddling meat out of a briefcase. No one told on the woman, however, because everyone was buying the meat. According to Kasia, obtaining what you wanted during that time wasn’t a matter of how much money you had—so many things just weren't made available to the general public.

To make up for strict limitations, Kasia’s and Monica’s mother, Anna, taught her children how to make the most of what they had on hand. This included using natural ingredients—potato starch, sour milk, and chamomile water, to name a few—in place of commercial beauty, hygiene, and first aid products. As a result, Kasia and Monica learned how to be resourceful and grew to value simplicity in everyday life.

POST-COMMUNISM & THE MOVE TO AMERICA

After the fall of communism in Poland, life for Kasia, Monica, and their family changed in many ways. One difference included participating in year-round neighborhood markets, where products that were once sold in secret became openly available to the public. It was this experience in selling homemade and home-sourced goods that would help spark the girls’ interest in entrepreneurship several years down the road.

Following a new job in the United States, Kasia’s and Monica’s father moved the family to Hamtramck on New Year’s Eve in 1995. Awestruck by a heavily-commercialized culture (Kmart was basically the best place ever to the then-teen girls), Kasia and Monica openly embraced a country where basic products (and ingredients) were more readily available than they were previously used to.

THE BIRTH OF PACHY & RUSTIC MAKA

From Poland to Pachy: The Story Behind Rustic MAKA // Go behind the scenes of Rustic MAKA with co-founders and sisters, Kasia Rothe and Monica Stakvel! Learn about their backstory, including growing up in communist Poland, moving to the United States, and creating a thriving Michigan business! [via Wading in Big Shoes]
Photo courtesy of Rustic MAKA

Fast-forward several years later: married and pregnant with her first child, Kasia had a discussion with her husband one evening where he lovingly suggested she step up her deodorant game. Agreeing that she needed to find a new solution, Kasia tried a multitude of products only to find that everything in the store was a.) filled with nasty toxins, b.) ineffective, or c.) all of the above. Taking matters into her own hands, Kasia decided to research natural ingredients and formulate her own deodorant, free from parabens, aluminum, and other harmful ingredients. The result? A guilt-free product that worked great not only for her, but her sister, as well. Embracing the product and prospect of a new business, Kasia and Monica created Rustic MAKA and launched “Pachy” (Polish for “underarms”) deodorant to the public in 2014. Today, Kasia serves as CEO and continues to make the deodorants from scratch, while Monica is the company's CMO, spearheading marketing, branding, and graphic design.

QUICK FACTS: RUSTIC MAKA, PACHY, & MAINSTREAM DEODORANTS

- The name Rustic MAKA comes from a combination of aesthetic and familial inspiration. The first word, “rustic,” conjures up the picture of a simple lifestyle. As for “MAKA”:

“The MAKA name is a tribute to the females in our family - Monica, Alex (sister), Kasia, [and] Anna (mom). The reason we wanted to make sure to include all the names is that the inspiration for our company philosophy . . . comes from our upbringing, so it was important to include our mom . . . and Alex is often helping us behind the scenes as our marketing assistant/writer. We might be the faces behind the majority of the business but our core values are family-based and we could not have done this without their support and inspiration.” - Monica

- Pachy deodorant is made from natural ingredients like organic shea butter, organic coconut oil, organic arrowroot powder, baking soda, candelilla wax, and essential oils. You can learn more about these ingredients and why they’re used here.

- Many mainstream deodorants claim to be “natural,” but because there are no regulations for deodorants and antiperspirants in the U.S., that’s often not the case. Some red flag ingredients to watch out for: aluminum, parabens, propylene glycol, phthalates, triclosan, cornstarch, and artificial fragrances. Pachy contains none of these.

- Surprisingly, “no preservatives” might not be a good thing. All products need some type of (natural) preservative to reduce bacteria growth, so keep that in mind the next time you see a similar product.

Ever wonder what's lurking in your deodorant or anti-perspirant? Learn about the dangers of toxic chemicals you should avoid (parabens, aluminum, and phthalates, to name a few) and learn how to look for safe alternatives when choosing your own natural deodorant! // Wading in Big Shoes - From Poland to Pachy: The Story Behind Rustic MAKA (pamphlet courtesy of Rustic MAKA)

A HEALTHY BALANCE

From Poland to Pachy: The Story Behind Rustic MAKA // Go behind the scenes of Rustic MAKA with co-founders and sisters, Kasia Rothe and Monica Stakvel! Learn about their backstory, including growing up in communist Poland, moving to the United States, and creating a thriving Michigan business! [via Wading in Big Shoes]
While Kasia and Monica are dedicated to living healthy lifestyles, they know that “real life” is about balance and eating a frozen pizza every once in a while. They understand that there are people who are attached to their “chemical” deodorants and that as a natural lifestyle company, Rustic MAKA will always be labeled by some people as a “hippie organic” brand. Nevertheless, the sisters are dedicated to marketing their product in a way that meets a happy medium, where simple, healthy ingredients are also accepted by those who embrace mainstream culture. Their philosophy includes educating people who don’t realize what they’re putting on (or into) their bodies, and advocating safer ingredients for products most people use every day.

COUPON CODE: SAVE 25% ON RUSTIC MAKA PACHY DEODORANT! (EXPIRED)

As a special deal for my readers, the ladies over at Rustic MAKA are offering 25% OFF YOUR ENTIRE ORDER at RusticMaka.com! Just enter the coupon code DEO25 at checkout. Coupon expires November 30, 2016. CLICK HERE TO SHOP.

What do you think of Kasia’s and Monica’s story? Share your reactions and questions in the comments below!

From Poland to Pachy: The Story Behind Rustic MAKA // Go behind the scenes of Rustic MAKA with co-founders and sisters, Kasia Rothe and Monica Stakvel! Learn about their backstory, including growing up in communist Poland, moving to the United States, and creating a thriving Michigan business!

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