Diary / Wellness / Sep 26, 2022
How Ritual's Katerina Schneider Reimagined Women's Vitamins
Written by: Allie Rose
Do you take a daily vitamin? And do you know what’s actually in it? These were some of the questions Katerina Schneider was asking when she was pregnant with her first child and started thinking more about what she was putting in her body. As a vitamin skeptic, she started doing her research and created Ritual, the buzzy women’s vitamin brand changing the way we think about vitamins. Prior to creating Ritual, Katerina Schneider was a venture partner managing a portfolio of over 70 tech investments which included Spotify, Uber, Dropbox, and Warby Parker. With Ritual, she combines her rich background in business, technology, and innovation with her lifelong passion for health and wellness. Here she talks, motherhood, staying power and simplifying wellness one pill at a time.
How did you get started in the wellness industry?
The idea for Ritual came from a personal need. I was an investor in LA running a venture capital fund, and I got pregnant for the first time. I started caring a lot more about what I was putting in, and on, my body because the stakes were higher. I was shocked to find out that the prenatal vitamins I was taking for my pregnancy contained the same potentially harmful ingredients I was trying hard to avoid throughout my house. I did more research and called up a bunch of friends to ask what vitamins they were taking. I got things like “nature something,” or “yellow bottle with a brown cap.” There was zero brand affinity. It seemed crazy that no one was building a brand for our generation that was clean, effective, and transparent. That’s where my journey began, as a skeptic of vitamins building a brand for other skeptics.
What makes Ritual unique? What sets Ritual apart from all the other vitamin brands on the market?
I set out to reimagine the vitamin from the ground up. The first part was identifying what diets were today, not what they used to be 50 plus years ago. The second part was finding nutrients that actually worked and performed optimally in the body. For instance, I was shocked to find out that over a third of women couldn’t even properly utilize synthetic folate (folic acid) because of a gene variation. Therefore, we searched the world for highly absorbable forms like methylated folate. The third part was identifying the best encapsulation for those nutrients. We came up with a beadlet-in-oil encapsulation that keeps nutrients in their original forms in a capsule that doesn’t dissolve until it hits the small intestine, bypassing the stomach, so you can take them on an empty stomach without worrying about nausea.
Walk us through what it’s like being a mom and running a business...
I’m not going to sugarcoat it; being a CEO and a mother isn’t easy but I want to spread the message that it is possible. I heard time and time again that I’d have to choose but here I am doing both. There is a tremendous amount of guilt but the most pressure comes from yourself- you’re not working enough or you’re not spending enough time with the kids. Ultimately it comes down to figuring out a way to prioritize and balance multiple things. I do my best to follow Randi Zuckerberg’s method of picking three things to focus on at once.
How did becoming a mom change your health choices?
Simplicity became essential. Before having kids, I was wellness trend-obsessed and now I’m focused on the basics. Simple meals, grains, and balance via macrobiotics are key for me. I also choose ingredients and products that I can use on myself and my daughters. I learned how important self-care is. For me, that means being active, drinking more water, and taking care of my body.
I follow a health-first, wellness-second mentality. Once you have created a healthy baseline in your life, you can build on it with wellness. Cover the gaps in your nutrients first and then add on your beauty powders and collagen boosters. Think of your health as the ice cream and wellness supplements as your sprinkles.
Business Mantra /Personal Mantra:
Less is more. We even trademarked it (for the vitamin category).
What’s the best advice you’ve ever received?
The best piece of advice I ever received was from my husband. When I first set out to start Ritual, I was told time and time again that I needed a co-founder. My husband told me that instead of bringing on a co-founder I could hire people to fill the gaps in my experience. He was right. We formed an incredible team of scientists, e-commerce experts, technologists, and creatives who all feel like partners to me.
What advice would you offer someone looking to turn their passion into a business?
I would tell them to make sure they are so committed to an idea that they couldn't see their life without it. 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.
What’s next for Ritual?
We are going to stay laser-focused on constantly improving and evolving the single vitamin women need for every stage in their lives.