Perseverance– I have had to be relentless to overcome all the hurdles to launch this business from social media to manufacturing, to when our product got stuck in China during the outbreak of COVID-19. We are constantly hitting new roadblocks and how we overcome them or develop work around is the way we will grow.
As a part of our series about women who are shaking things up in their industry, I had the pleasure of interviewing Carrie Martz,CEO and Founder of Clean Light Laboratories.
Carrie Martz is a nationally recognized and award winning senior level executive and entrepreneur. She has over 35 years’ experience within the startup, consultancy, product marketing, PR, and manufacturing industries. During this time she has founded several companies and nonprofits while demonstrating a knack for product development, marketing communications, brand development, developing diverse distribution and marketing channels, business growth, preparing businesses for sale, advertising, and social media marketing.
Currently, Carrie is CEO and Founder of Clean Light Laboratories. She founded the company to develop unique sanitizing solutions for the growing hygiene conscious population. The company began by designing and manufacturing the world’s first sanitizing, charging and storage system for intimate products but after receiving their patent expanded the line in to all household products including baby and beauty.
Carrie also consults on marketing and branding issues through another company she founded called Carrie On Consulting.
Carrie began her career by building the Martz Agency from scratch and over three decades grew it into an award winning, highly profitable company. She went from a single client to a Top 10 advertising agency and one of the top women-owned businesses in the southwest. What made Martz Agency unique was its dedication to community causes in tandem with national product launches for its main clients. The primary focus was on real estate developments, home building, golf resorts, and master planned communities.
Carrie sold the agency to Bob Parsons, founder of Go Daddy in 2013. She remained on board of the newly re-named Martz Parsons Company, acting as CEO and President for an additional 18 months and helped to double the size of the staff during its transformation into a nationally recognized agency. During this time she retained 100% of the agency’s clients and was recognized as the Bronze Winner of Woman Marketer of the Year nationally by Stevie Awards.
Outside of work, Carrie has garnered a reputation for working on non-profit boards, advisory boards and helping with charities. She is currently on the Western Board of Cancer Treatment Centers of America and a non-profit focused on the safety of children called Maxie’s House. Previously, she has sat on the boards of numerous companies and nonprofits including being the founder and Chair of Celebrity Sock Hop and Bachelor Bid for Cystic Fibrosis, Marketing Co-Chair for Super Bowl XXX, and a Foundation Board Member of the Phoenix Children’s Hospital as well as Childhelp USA.
Carrie Martz graduated Arizona State University with a Bachelor of Science in Marketing and was honored with the Most Distinguished Alumni ASU Marketing Award in 1997. Throughout her career, Carrie has been honored and recognized for her business acumen and position as one of the leading women in business today. She is the recipient of the Athena Award for Business Woman of the Year (1998) and Phoenix Chamber’s Athena in (1996), Golden Heart of Business Award (1997), and the Women of Distinction Award (1998).
Carrie is a mother of two adult children and grandmother to two beautiful granddaughters.
Thank you so much for doing this with us! Before we dig in, our readers would like to get to know you a bit more. Can you tell us a bit about your “backstory”? What led you to this particular career path?
I started an advertising agency in my 20’s, funded by selling my mustang. I sold the agency thirty+ years later to Bob Parsons, Founder of Go Daddy. During my agency days, I helped bring several products to market that became nationally recognized brands. I was also very involved in non-profits especially focused on women’s causes. After selling my business, and not being ready to retire, I looked at a variety of industries focused on women’s health. Women were inventing all types of products to feel younger, healthier and more vibrant. I saw a need to provide a system that would safely sanitize intimate care products thus keeping women healthier. Knowing UV-C light had been used in hospitals for decades I understood that it killed germs, but had not seen any product available for home use. I invented, and brought to market, the worlds’ first locked sanitizing system that was scientifically tested and proven to kill 99.9% of bacteria and germs that may lead to disease. A year later we received our patent for Sanitization of Complex products, and quickly pivoted our efforts to develop more applications for all types of products that are difficult to sanitize yet harbor serious germs and bacteria. This all happened before the pandemic.
Can you tell our readers what it is about the work you’re doing that’s disruptive?
We took hospital grade technology and figured out how to make it affordable for everyday home use. We were also the first company to market a sanitizer in the intimate health category. Even though we were only selling the sanitizer, not the products, we were banned from advertising on Facebook and other social media platforms. And if truth be told, even manufacturers of intimate products were hoping we would go away. But we didn’t. We found alternative ways to tell our story and we sold thousands of our first products. To my surprise, we are facing the same problem now on various social media platforms, based on scientifically proven claims we’re making that relate to killing SARS-CoV-2, with our new product “Puritize”. Shortly after the pandemic outbreak, dozens of cheap untested UVC sanitizers came on the market. We had been manufacturing since 2017 and had scientifically proven results. To continue to highlight our differential and focus on consumer safety, we have proven that our system kills more than 99.9% of SARS-CoV2, the virus that causes COVID-19, through an independent lab study. Puritize kills COVID-19 on things you touch and we can’t promote this because social media channels are afraid it supports fear with consumers and may be political in nature. Again, we are working through these hurdles to get our message out so we can provide safe, proven solutions to the public. Additionally, we have created several adapters, using our patented advanced refraction technology, to penetrate and sanitize other daily use items that harbor bacteria.
Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?
Early on we were having trouble in China with our manufacturer. Of course, I thought I will go over there and straighten these people out. And while I was smart enough to hire a translator, even she didn’t understand what they were talking about. Two weeks in China, lesson learned. Hire someone with experience in manufacturing in China and stay in the US where I understand the language and know what I am good at.
We all need a little help along the journey. Who have been some of your mentors? Can you share a story about how they made an impact?
One of my first mentors was Cristina Carlino, the founder of philosophy. She built a company around an amazing brand and created a huge following that even 15 years after she sold the company, her fans are still trying to reach out to her and beg her to bring their favorite product “Grace” back. Cristina taught me about being authentic and true to your brand and to listen to and appreciate every customer. Recently, I have had the great fortune of working with another powerful, smart, and accomplished woman, Deb Henretta, a former president at P&G, one of only two female presidents in their history. Deb has not only helped me navigate the many challenges of a start-up but has reminded me to celebrate the little wins along the way.
In today’s parlance, being disruptive is usually a positive adjective. But is disrupting always good? When do we say the converse, that a system or structure has ‘withstood the test of time’? Can you articulate to our readers when disrupting an industry is positive, and when disrupting an industry is ‘not so positive’? Can you share some examples of what you mean?
I believe that disruption, just by its meaning, is uncomfortable. However, it is necessary to advance our economy. Disruption creates hard conversations about status quo. Telemedicine is a disrupter that benefits so many and ultimately should save Americans thousands of dollars but has changed the way people think about healthcare professionals. And without the one on one relationship with a doctor, how does trust develop? Crowdfunding is a great disrupter for bringing new ideas to market and forwarding entrepreneurship, yet it has a risk for purchasers. I would look at being disruptive as a good thing if it adds value to the industry and ultimately the consumer.
Can you share 3 of the best words of advice you’ve gotten along your journey? Please give a story or example for each.
Patience — something I lack. I expected that we could get a product designed, manufactured and on the shelves within a year or so. I have learned that my timeline is not anyone else’s.
Perseverance– I have had to be relentless to overcome all the hurdles to launch this business from social media to manufacturing, to when our product got stuck in China during the outbreak of COVID-19. We are constantly hitting new roadblocks and how we overcome them or develop work arounds is the way we will grow.
Shift — Be prepared to make important adjustments to your business strategy as conditions change. Prior to COVID-19 breaking out we were preparing to announce and bring to market the world’s first Menstrual Cup and Sanitizing Kit using our UV-C patented technology. When the pandemic hit, we quickly repositioned all our resources to produce PURITIZE Home to help families stay safe by offering a system that kills the coronavirus on things they touch everyday.
We are sure you aren’t done. How are you going to shake things up next?
I believe that if you do for others, good things will happen. I am committed to making a difference in the health and well being of women’s lives, in particular. I intend to create more ways to give back through unique cause related programs. I learned early on that people will give if they believe in the cause and are given the opportunity.
In your opinion, what are the biggest challenges faced by ‘women disruptors’ that aren’t typically faced by their male counterparts?
It is absolutely our lack of confidence. When a man goes to pitch an idea or company, he is confident. His ego drives the presentation and ultimately the confidence of investors that drives the market. Women pitch differently. As much as we believe in our product or solution, we do not sell hard enough. We have been taught to not show emotion and now to the point that we aren’t demonstrating to our potential supporters that we believe and we have what it takes to get the job done. We have to own the power of the words we choose while being true to ourselves.
Do you have a book/podcast/talk that’s had a deep impact on your thinking? Can you share a story with us?
There is no one who has made a bigger impact on my life than Gerda Weissman Klein, humanitarian and Holocaust survivor. Her book, All But My Life -One Survivors Story, in it’s 86 edition worldwide, changed my thinking. Out of all the motivational and inspirational podcasts and books I have read or listened to, Gerda’s messages gets to my core. When I am afraid I won’t be good enough or successful enough and I feel a bit sorry for myself, I ask “How bad can it be?” We have our freedom. I have my health and I own my outcome.
You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂
Firstly, more mentorship for young women, and more support by women for women’s advancement with more female representatives on national boards. Secondly, more support for manufacturing incentives in the US to reduce our reliance on China but still being able to bring affordable consumer solutions to market.
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?
You are tougher than you think! Over the years I have faced significant ups and downs in business and in my personal life. Right before the great recession, in 2007, I had 60 employees, two offices, owned a 15000 sq ft. building, and 90% of my client base was in real estate. Literally over a 30-day period my client base dropped to less than 10%. The next year was extremely difficult to manage through the building, layoffs and a divorce. My attorneys told me to declare bankruptcy, of which I did not take their advice. I powered through and rebuilt, started over financially, as well. Three years later I sold my agency for a nice multiple which gave me the opportunity to start another business, Clean Light Laboratories.
How can our readers follow you online?
For more information about Puritize please visit Puritize.com.
This was very inspiring. Thank you so much for joining us!