Founder Amy Welsman has a fresh new formula for the way we cleanse our hands.

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headshot of paume founder Amy Welsman leaning on table
Credit: Courtesy of Paume

Have you ever wondered how to turn your dreams of owning your own business into a reality? We can help. Each week, as part of our Self Made series, we showcase female entrepreneurs-as well as their quality, handmade goods-and share their best advice related to starting, maintaining, and growing your own business.

A good idea often comes when we're least expecting it. Take, for instance, Amy Welsman, founder of Paume, which is a hand sanitizer brand that launched just before the COVID-19 pandemic. "In 2019, I became a mother for the first time, and my awareness of hand hygiene and germs was at an all-time high," explains Welsman. "Soap and water were not always handy, so I turned to hand sanitizer to keep germs at bay."

After keeping bottles of hand sanitizer readily available throughout her home as well as offering guests a sanitizing spritz before holding her daughter, it dawned on her that sanitizer as we know it isn't exactly glamorous, eco-friendly, or soothing to the touch. Add to that, most hand sanitizers are packaged in a single-use plastic bottle. So, Welsman's big idea hit. "I saw an opportunity to create a product that nourished the skin with plant-based ingredients," she says, adding that she wanted hers to be, "wonderful smelling, elegant, and sustainably packaged. I witnessed so many other personal care categories undergo massive change, and hand sanitizer was next."

paume hand sanitizer pump
Credit: Courtesy of Paume

Her Inspiration

Welsman, born and raised in Toronto, Canada, was destined to be an entrepreneur. Welsman was a general arts undergrad at Queen's University, keeping her studies open to all possibilities. It wasn't until she began her advertising career at JWT Toronto that she found her passion for marketing; while working on the Johnson & Johnson account, she was able to witness how a major CPG company is run.

Welsman's work in marketing and later work at a startup called Knix laid the foundation for her to reimagine the way we sanitize our hands. In 2017, Welsman parted from the company to make her own way. "I left in 2017 knowing I wanted to launch a brand of my own," she says. "I just needed an idea!"

Enter Paume: These products are made from a wholesome formula (aloe vera, witch hazel, 69 percent ethyl alcohol, and hydresia G2) that's good for the body and for the ecosystem. Their signature scent is a fresh blend of essential oils that's a welcome change from the harsh alcohol-based fumes in traditional sanitizers. "From the outset, I was determined to make my product sustainable in both formula and packaging," explains Welsman. "The lab that created my formula brought my vision to life beautifully, creating a premium sanitizer that combined ethyl alcohol with plant-based emollients that truly hydrate your skin, and a blend of five essential oils that mask the alcohol scent beautifully with notes of cedar, rosemary, lavender, and citrus." They avoided all parabens and silicones, and all of the ingredients are biodegradable and are gentle on the skin.

paume products on side table
Credit: Courtesy of Paume

Building a Better Product

Being a new mother herself, Welsman considered Mother Earth with Paume's posh packaging, too. "My approach to packaging was twofold: I had a very clear design and aesthetic in mind which needed to be balanced with my sustainability mission," says Welsman. "Our travel bottle ($14, maisonette.com) is made with previously recycled plastic and it is meant to be reused and refilled, just like our in-home pump ($56, maisonette.com). Due to the alcohol content in our formula, we faced challenges with selecting our refill packaging, but landed on spout pouches, as they created 60 percent less plastic than a bottle." In using Paume's refillable and reusable pump for the first time, you'd think it's a product from a five-star spa. The modern design of Paume is meant to look chic in any space as its counterpart, The Refill Bag ($30, maisonette.com), is a 17-ounce pouch that refills twice.

Of course, all of the product's packaging presentation is eco-friendly, too. "Because we chose to use plastic in our packaging, we partnered with an organization called rePurpose Global, who has helped us to achieve our Plastic Neutral Certification." When you're purchasing a Paume product, you're not just pampering your hands, but doing good for our overrun landfills and over-plastic polluted waterways. "A percentage of each sale goes towards the recovery and cleanup of plastic in landfills or waterways that are then repurposed and recycled," says Welsman. "We are partnered specially with a community project in Bekasi, Indonesia, which is particularly impacted by the volume of ocean plastic on their beaches. This partnership has helped further our sustainability mission as a brand."

As we look forward to overcoming the pandemic, the future of hand care may be forever changed, in the best of ways. "I believe the pandemic has brought about a renewed focus on our hands, which let's be honest, have taken a beating the last year," says Welsman, continuing, "Our hands do so much-they express joy and offer comfort, and allow us to connect with our loved ones in the world around us. They deserve to be cared for!"

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