Don’t you love how small the world is and how everyone is connected somehow and someway? Well, lo and behold, I recently was introduced to the CEO of my newest find and obsession, Smarty Pants Vitamins. I first came across them at the Chicago Marathon, where they placed a sample of their vitamins in the goody bag from the race expo. Upon trial (I love freebies with good marketing and packaging), I was hooked! These vitamins are delicious, smart, and healthy. Read more to find out about the company from the founder and CEO, Courtney! Thank you, Courtney!
How did you get in the business of making vitamins?
The idea came out of a conversation Gordon – my co-CEO/co-founder and husband – had with our two other cofounders, relating to kids’ health and the complexities parents face in trying to do the best thing for their families.
Our original idea was for a kids’ brain health company (with vitamins being just one element), but when we launched our first product, Kids Complete, many parents started asking for a simplified, but high quality, solution for themselves. At that point, in 2010, we looked at the supplement market as a whole and realized the industry was broken. We decided to focus there, and create a line of comprehensive, nutrient-dense, all-in-one gummy vitamins that addressed the major issue of compliance, or, getting people to actually take their vitamins.
How did you come up with the cocktail of the ingredients in the gummies? How many trials did you create before you found the right concoction?
We started with a basic formula that focused on the nutrients that are hardest to get safely and consistently through diet. We then shared that formula with lots of leaders in preventative health, to see if they agreed with our approach. They did, so there wasn’t much tweaking out of the gate, but we spent a full year, up front, coming up with that formula, before we went to manufacturers to see if it could be made.
The other key element was our focus not just on the nutrients we used, but also on the forms of those nutrients. We always use forms that are most easily absorbed by the body – it’s what we’re known for, along with our yummy taste.
The flavors are the fun, Willy Wonka part of the job. We are always testing different flavors. Finding ones that will please a huge range of palates is challenging, but it keeps things interesting.
What is your biggest seller? Kids complete with fiber? Adult complete?
It varies by channel and depending on the audience. Kids Complete has, so far, sold more units overall, but it was also our first product to launch. Prenatal, which just launched a few months ago, is growing very very quickly, and I predict our new Womens’ and Mens’ lines will be top sellers within their first year.
What is next for your business? Different types of vitamins?
Right now we’re working on two new lines that will launch this spring – one specifically formulated for men, and one for women. After that, we will be focusing on other custom segments.
I assume you lead a healthy lifestyle since you are in the vitamins business (vitamins = healthy), so what are some of your other habits? (ex: green juice, spin class, beets for dinner, ….)
I move my body every day, and usually in very different ways: yoga, tennis, Pilates, weight training, hiking, running, swimming, polo, and calisthenics. I have been a vegetarian for 20+ years, which helps, and I try to laugh a lot and hug the people and creatures I love. I also think remaining curious is key to long-term health. I try to make sure I seek out beauty – art, music, new ideas – on a weekly basis.
I am an avid runner, but I am undisciplined about taking vitamins (EEKS). How do you think your vitamins would help me?
Certain nutrients, including vitamins C, D, E, B6, B12, thiamin, and folate, are vital for your muscles to work efficiently, and regular exercise increases the need for these nutrients. While we all try our best to eat well, there are many days when our diets are less than perfect. Additionally, there are some foods that many people just don’t eat, either due to taste preference, dietary restrictions, or simply getting into an eating rut. These people could be missing out on key nutrients. When your vitamin stores get low, not only could your athletic performance suffer, you could begin to experience a range of other symptoms. This is why SmartyPants contains a full multivitamin, plus omega 3 fish oil – we want to help close the nutritional gaps.
If you started taking SmartyPants, I can’t promise you’ll jump out of bed tomorrow like Superman out of a telephone booth, but, over time, you could start to experience the many physical benefits that come from constantly nourishing your body with a full spectrum of vitamins and minerals. You’ll also get the peace of mind that comes from knowing you’re getting the nutrition you need – no matter what’s on your menu that day.
I am also scared of gelatin and will never eat Jello because of it (childhood fear after being told that jello is made from horse hooves). What makes the gelatin in your vitamins different than the gelatin in Jello from the 1980s?
All our gummies are definitely horse hoof-free! The gelatin in SmartyPants is 100% non-GMO and extracted from pork skin, exclusively. We use gelatin to encapsulate the fish oil and protect it from spoiling. The actual base of our gummies is pectin, which comes from recovered citrus peels.
But I wouldn’t be scared of gelatin. Gelatin is just cooked collagen – one of the most important proteins in connective tissue, skin, and bones (also the same stuff people get injected into their lips!) If you’re familiar with the recent bone broth craze, it’s the gelatin and collagen that people are after. Traditional cultures used to get plenty of gelatin and collagen in their diets because they ate animals “nose to tail,” using the bones and skin in their cooking processes. Most people today tend to just eat muscle meats (if they eat any meat at all). Eating foods and supplements that contain properly sourced gelatin and collagen can help provide these nutrients, which have been shown to help strengthen hair, skin elasticity, nails, bones, joint tissue, and the intestinal barrier.
Who needs vitamins more; kids or adults?
That depends on the kid and the adult! There are some kids who have amazing diets, and some adults who haven’t touched a vegetable in years. But nobody’s diet is perfect, so we think that everyone can benefit from a daily dose of vitamins and minerals. We like to think of SmartyPants as a little nutritional “insurance,” that you look forward to eating.
Which vitamin do you take? And do you feel a difference when taking them vs. not?
I take both SmartyPants adult products daily, along with CoQ10, supplemental omega 3s, resveratrol, curcumin, adrenal support, fiber, and vitamin D.
I have watched my blood panels change as I supplement. My vitamin D levels were restored, and CoQ10 is a key component for brain health that has pretty strong evidence in its favor.
I am hopeful that I will start taking vitamins….I love the idea of them, just have a hard time taking them. Any advice on how to commit to them?
Try SmartyPants! One of the main reasons we made SmartyPants a gummy, and we focus so hard on great taste, is specifically for people like you. Our goal was to make a vitamin people would not only remember, but actually enjoy taking.
Thank you so much, Courtney! Time for me to indulge in my vitamins NOW! And if you still have questions about the vitamins and the company itself, read more about them here.