Frida is all about creating simple, efficient solutions-based products that make it easier for parents to navigate the raw realities of parenthood. We speak to Frida's CEO Chelsea Rosen Hirschhorn to find out more...
1. Could you start by telling us a little about your background and the company?
“I am Chelsea Rosen Hirschhorn, the CEO and founder of leading parenting brand Frida. I am a Mum of three boys, 8, 5 and 3 – the fourth is on the way! The business was started 9 years ago; the beginning was inspired by myself navigating parenthood for the first time and solving for personal pain points that I was experiencing as a Mum. In a world of outdated parenting products, Frida’s purpose and mission has been to prepare parents for the ‘unfiltered’ realities of parenthood. With no book to prepare parents for what’s to come, Frida is all about creating simple, efficient solutions-based products that make it easier for parents to navigate these raw realities. We wanted to take the guesswork out of the preparation process for women!”
2. I would love to hear a little more about what inspired you to start the company, I understand it was following your own postpartum experiences? Was this how the idea of the company arose?
“We started with Frida Baby, when my oldest was 3 months old after the ‘dark’ stages of the postpartum recovery. Following the problems I experienced, antiquated solutions existed like toothbrushes; products lacked meaningful innovation and relevance for our generation of parenthood. We launched Frida Mum in July 2019 after 18 months of research and development. I realised nothing had changed in the 3 years from when I gave birth to my first son and when I gave birth to my second. I was patching together DIY solutions to solve these physical problems during the transformation into motherhood. Even though I felt as a Mum I should be better equipped the second time round, I felt ill equipped to do so – there were no tools or resources to navigate the experience. We created a range of tools which should help prepare a first time Mums, to feel just as prepared as a third time Mum.”
3. Launching your business is one thing, and then achieving awareness is another - how did you go about scaling and marketing your business in the US? It looks like you’ve grown a strong community around the brand – would you say this is one of your key successors?
“We’ve built a cult-like, evangelical following amongst our consumers. We did it in a few ways, starting with ‘Word of Mum’ – the perpetuation of information in the grassroots capacity so that Mum’s are inclined to share with other Mums”. The second component of the awareness initiative, after realising early on who they call the ‘original influencers/ambassadors’ who were 9 years before Instagram or social media, they realised that the paediatric, obstetric and gynaecological community was on the frontline for parents and women in particular. “Reaching out and developing a relationship with this community was integral to our success in the early days – and still is. The community is a source of authority and trust – they advise their patients to go and get a Nose Frida, which I credit with a tremendous amount of momentum from an awareness perspective. Partnering with Amy Schumer and Chrissy Teigen has also helped to propel the conversation of the importance around women’s wellness first. Using their platforms, they were able to shift the conversation culturally.”
4. As the winner 2020’s most innovative wellness companies in the world, what would you say is the key to Frida’s innovation?
“There are two pillars to Frida’s innovation philosophy. The first is simple, efficient upgrades to antiquated, outdated solutions. I really rest on the simplicity and efficiency of the products because in an over saturated category like baby care, innovating is easy – but innovating simply and not overcomplicating and making it easy to navigate, is hard. When you reach the size and scale you have, it’s tempting to launch new products continuously, but it’s integral to us that we find that anchor of innovation. Simplicity and efficiency is key. On the other side, on the feminine line, we really value curation as a form of innovation. When I was preparing for childbirth the second time, there were seven different areas in five different stores I had to go to. By simplifying the selection and putting them together we eliminate the guesswork and fragmented experience of that process.”
5. What were/are the challenges you face and how have you overcome these?
“The biggest challenge of all is to innovate in a way that premiumises the experience across the full portfolio of products at a price point that is universally accessible to almost every parent. Most of Frida’s products are under 20 dollars and that is hard. A lot of businesses can innovate and create products, but if you don’t do it at a price point that is accessible to most parents it doesn’t create a real shift in culture and the experience for parents – you only get a culture of rich mum’s using the products and they deliberately departed from that in the business model. Launching in a mainstream retailer like Boots, helps to target this market of mums and establish an attainable price point. Maintaining the candour and authenticity of the brand was another challenge as we grew. When launching with Target in 2019, the launch was disrupted by challenges over their use of language and humour. It was integral to the brand to instil some levity and light heartedness into a conversation which is fraught with intimidation and fear. After 24 hours of awaiting a response, Target decided they would trial the product, and Frida sold out within two weeks. Another notable challenge for Frida was that a campaign creatively directed by me, was rejected for being too graphic”. Frida harnessed the rejection and leveraged the consumer set back to shift the policy, two years later they then launched their breast care line which was the first commercial ever aired on national TV to show a breastfeeding woman.
6. What are your plans now and for the future?
Frida is launching in the UK, with tremendous inbound interest, and it’s a pivotal moment for the brand. With a full and complete product line, they are launching with Boots and Amazon. “We are focusing on continuing the global expansion and allowing parents to have access to these fundamental solutions. Innovation is the bedrock for the brand, so in conjunction with raising awareness with distribution and strong creative campaigns, we are continuing to solve the pain points in becoming a parent.”
7. I understand you are already an incredibly popular parenting product in the US, could you tell me about the UK launch campaign?
“In the UK, more so than the US, there are certain topics of conversation that women are subtly discouraged from having. In a recent study we did, it shows that a shocking 70% of Mums in the UK felt unprepared for their post-childbirth experience and 74% of them admit that they have not really felt themselves since giving birth. We want to demystify the realities of becoming a mother and encourage more upfront conversations about what really goes down in the delivery room – and beyond. The more we talk more openly and honestly about the very real moments and challenges of parenting, the more we can help parents-to-be feel prepared.” Frida is championing people to share their #RealBirthAnnouncements, encouraging women to share the realities of birth, breaking taboos and helping women prepare for the fourth trimester and beyond.
8. Why do you think mums and parents are not discussing this?
“There are two realities at play, the first is that when you have a new baby, woman are expected to put their new Mum hat on, and their needs become secondary or tertiary. It becomes to fit it all in, the first question is always about the baby, not the Mum. It’s about flipping the conversation on its head – the baby will be fine if you’re fine. Woman don’t necessarily hide the reality; it just doesn’t get as much airtime as it should. The other reality is there is a little PTSD, being such a traumatic experience, you almost forget immediately. The 4-6 weeks after childbirth, Mums tend to shut themselves away, and when they see friends and family again it’s almost forgotten about.”
9. What do you think can be done to support and prepare new mums during the fourth trimester?
“In the recent study we did in the UK, it revealed that 36% of mums felt unprepared for the fourth trimester, which shows more needs to be done. The conversation around childbirth is one of many ingredients we need to address as a business to be successful in our goal of making Mums feel prepared. Working with the NHS and private care facilities and the medical professional community about raising awareness and recommending products is also so important. With a staggering eight in ten mothers admitting there is not enough postpartum products available specifically designed for new mums – it’s become our mission to change this. We need to make the products easier to purchase and at an accessible price point also. We understand that you must feel like a human to raise a human – and if you don’t care for yourself, you’ll never be able to successfully care another child.”