Name: Katerina Schneider
Job Title and Description: Founder and CEO
College Name/Major: Applied-Math Economics from Brown University
Twitter Handle: https://twitter.com/ritual
Instagram Handle: https://www.instagram.com/ritual/
As young collegiettes, we usually feel like mental and physical health takes a backseat to passing our midterms or scoring that new internship. Prioritizing our health often comes second to success. However, supplements and vitamins have quickly become a popular way to maintain our happiness and healthiness without exerting a lot of effort. But do you check the ingredients when you’re popping a vitamin claiming to help your energy levels? Ritual, a vitamin-based subscription service, is hoping to change how we look at supplements.
Katerina Schneider created Ritual after she became pregnant and felt that there were no vitamins she could take that didn’t lack questionable ingredients. In response, she’s decided to create a company that will help women feel better and is transparent about where their resources come from. Today, Katerina talks to us about building relationships, living in the moment, and her exciting new launch: Essential Prenatal!
Her Campus: What does your current job entail? Is there such a thing as a typical day?
Katerina Schneider: There is no such thing as a typical day at Ritual. As the CEO, my job entails setting the vision for the company and making sure that we are executing towards that vision each and every day. A typical day involves anything from working with our scientific team to develop new product formulations to working with our creative team on new packaging.
HC: What is the best part of your job?
KS: The best part of my job is hiring and expanding the team with people who embody our culture. Some of our cultural values include getting gritty, embracing the no’s, and being obsessed. The most exciting part is meeting people who embody those values and inviting them to join the team. The coolest part about the company is having people from different fields including scientists, engineers, and designers all working towards one goal.
HC: What was your first entry-level job in your field?
KS: My first entry-level position was at Lehman Brothers where I worked as an investment banker. It was not in my field, but it gave me a good start at figuring out how companies work and an understanding of financials and how companies are structured. With Lehman, I was part of the biggest bank failure in history, which helped me understand living in the moment, the importance of not overleveraging yourself, and that everything can be taken away from you in an instant.
HC: What words of wisdom (well-known quotes, an anecdote from your boss) do you find most valuable?
KS: Less is more! We even trademarked it. Paring things down is important and it is also the hardest thing to do creatively in business. John Maeda’s book Simplicity explains how difficult it is to narrow it down to one key insight that your company is working towards but once you do, it helps you find your hook. That key insight helps your company run and taking that extra time to find out what that is, is extremely valuable. Simplify down to fewer and better things.
HC: What is one mistake you made along the way and what did you learn from it?
KS: Hiring for experience over culture. In the past, I have hired people with crazy pedigrees and years of experience and overlooked cultural values. Nothing can replace culture and giving those that are younger a shot has become vital to Ritual. Those individuals can become some of the greatest leaders in your organization. Age is nothing but a number.
HC: What has been the most surreal moment of your career thus far?
KS: The most surreal moment was a few weeks ago when we officially launched our prenatal [vitamin]! It was something that inspired me to start the company from the beginning because I was looking for a prenatal [vitamin] myself. It’s an incredible experience to want something so bad that you go out and make it yourself. It’s also very humbling because it takes a long time and a lot of risks. The products we launched can have a great impact because it isn’t something people just want but what they need. I can’t wait to see it fully come to life.
The prenatal, reborn. A truly next-generation vitamin for thinking, trying, and when it’s time. Meet Essential Prenatal: ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ ✔️Its nested capsule means fewer, smaller prenatal vitamins. It’s two capsules in one ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ ✔️One of the first of its kind to combine Omega-3 DHA with Choline ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ ✔️Vegan-friendly formula, including Vitamin D3 from wild-harvested lichen and Omega-3 from algal oil ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ ✔️Designed with the common MTHFR gene variation in mind, using Methylated Folate instead of Folic Acid ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ ✔️No-nausea design capsule, which bypasses your stomach and releases in the small intestine, the most absorptive part of your gut ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ ✔️With a lemon-essenced tab for a fresh experience ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ Nice to meet you!🍋
HC: What do you look for when considering hiring someone?
KS: I look for candidates who embody our cultural values. Someone who isn’t afraid to get gritty. It’s extremely important in startup environments to find people who can think at a really high level but also roll up their sleeves. Being able to not only do the work but also think strategically is the most valuable skill there is.
HC: What advice would you give to a 20-something with similar aspirations?
KS: I would tell them to make sure they are committed to and passionate about an idea that they couldn’t see their life without. Creating and running a company is something you are committing to for the long haul in order to do it well. There are a lot of ups and downs and you are going to be there, because at the end of the day, you’re doing something you’re incredibly passionate about. Make sure it is your life’s work. People will start a company for market size alone and that’s not enough to build a business. You need a deeper passion for it and for the vision of the business. If you want to hire people and get them behind you, you need a deeper purpose.
HC: What is the one thing that has stood out to you the most in a resume?
KS: In full transparency, I barely spend time looking at resumes. Some of the best people don’t come from the most prestigious universities or from the most polished career paths. There is no linear way to predict success. The resume is one way to get your foot in the door, but less than 5% of getting a job is your resume alone.
HC: What plans do you have in store for Ritual?
KS: We are building a habit company. It was cool to learn that over 70% of our customers take their Ritual vitamins more routinely than any other vitamin they’ve tried. Developing habits is difficult. We want to help consumers create positive habits they can commit to for the long haul by forming genuine relationships and providing thoroughly tested scientifically-backed products. Making an impact is core to our DNA and we work towards it every day.