When Mike Zimmer launched his line of natural body care products in 2010, he had already spent several years researching, testing, and fine tuning his salves, soaps, and deodorants. His goal was to create quality products that actually worked, and did not contain harmful chemicals that might jeopardize people’s health or wreak havoc with the environment.
Zimmer had tried a number of “natural” deodorants but found they simply didn’t do the job. “Many were still using synthetic fragrances to cover up the smell of body odour. I did research into essential oils with antibacterial properties, (it’s bacteria that causes body odour), and was able to make an antibacterial deodorant that’s not just covering up the smell, but combating the bacteria that causes the smell,” he says from his home in Saskatoon.
Zimmer began experimenting with making an all-natural salve when, as a rock climber, he needed something to repair his hands. After checking the ingredients in the product he was using, he decided to try making his own. “I made a very basic salve using olive oil, coconut oil, beeswax and tea tree oil. By trial and error I worked on getting the consistency and the proportions right. Once I had a salve that I felt was better than what I was buying, I decided to make soap, lip balm, and deodorant using ingredients as natural as you can get. My goal was to replace everything in my medicine cabinet.”
To get feedback he gave away a lot of his products to family and friends, and soon got to the point where people were requesting them to replace what they were currently using.
Meanwhile, Zimmer was still working full time as an engineering consultant, which didn’t leave much spare time. A position as an educational assistant for special needs children meant a pay cut, but gave him weekends off and time in the evenings to work at expanding his line of products.
At this point Zimmer decided to attend his first Fringe Festival in Saskatoon. “I had about four or five different products, set up a small table on the street for the week, and ended up selling about $1,000 worth of products. I thought, maybe I’m on to something here,” he says.
People began contacting him wanting to learn more, so he set up an information blog, and things began to snowball. “Customers were coming back and telling me that they had replaced their lotions, deodorant, and soap. That gave me that extra push to keep going. These weren’t my friends who just wanted to pat me on the back, these were people off the street who paid money, were happy with the product and were coming back for more.”
Zimmer says it was never his goal to make millions of dollars. “I initially started it as a hobby to provide consumers with a better option and am now excited to see it flourish as a business.”
Uncle Mike’s All Natural Products are registered with, and meet all the necessary Health Canada requirements. He currently sells between 25 to 30 items, and uses only natural ingredients including cold-pressed fruit, nut and vegetable oils and steam-distilled therapeutic-grade essential oils.
Zimmer and his wife Amanda, and their two children, Silas, age five, and Laurel, age two hope to move to his parents’ acreage in the near future where he plans on building a shop for more production space. The acreage will allow the family to grow more of their own food, something they’re also passionate about.
Uncle Mike’s All Natural Products are currently for sale at the Saskatoon Farmers’ Market. He also wholesales to a dozen stores in Saskatoon, and another dozen across Canada. His online store has allowed him to reach out to customers around the world.
“Having the freedom to spend time together as a family, as well as manage my own business are some of the best perks.”
For more information, visit Uncle Mike’s All Natural Products website.