We discover how a fun, friendly, free-from kids toiletry company came to transform bathtimes up and down the nation…
If you’ve ever given even the smallest of thought into what goes on your kid’s skin, or your own for that matter, you’ll appreciate the drive that lead Childs Farm founder Joanna Jensen to set up shop. From rigid clinical and dermatological trials to natural ingredients and efficiency for all the family, Joanna felt that British bathtimes were distinctly lacking on the toiletry front, so she took matters into her own hands to create a baby and child range that appealed to all, whether your concern is soothing eczema (one in five children suffer from the condition) or finding a body wash that suits everyone from your newborn to your granny.
Joanna left banking for full-time bubble bathing, and turns out she couldn’t be happier. Here’s how she did it…
Get the Gloss: What inspired you to create Childs Farm?
Joanna Jensen: I’ve always been interested in natural therapies and used to experiment with creating my own potions at home. When I had my daughters I was left unimpressed by the hair and body products available for them. Everything looked like it had been made in a chemical factory, and it felt medicinal rather than fun, so I thought maybe I could do better for their delicate skin and flyaway hair. Thus Childs Farm was born!
GTG: Could you tell us a little about your background?
JJ: Having grown-up in the Hampshire, I’ve always loved being outdoors and have a strong link to the countryside. I wanted to make my own way in the world and worked from a young age, washing up in pubs and helping out in my grandparent’s antique shop when I was still at school. I moved to London at 18 and worked in property, before moving to Hong Kong to begin a career in investment banking, but I always knew that I’d end up back in the country and I now live with my daughters in Hampshire, running a rural business surrounded by too many animals!
GTG: How did you build up the confidence to start your own business?
JJ: I knew that there was a need for these products and I had a very clear point of view as to what the brand would stand for. This, combined with my big-business experience gained from banking, gave me the confidence to bring Childs Farm to market.
GTG: What was the toughest part when you started out?
JJ: My passion and business acumen alone would keep me going but I was starting from scratch, with no prior knowledge of how to run a health and beauty business. I’ve learned a lot along the way and it’s not been all plain sailing, but in three years we’ve gone from nothing to the second biggest player in the baby toiletries category. I’m so proud of this and aim to keep growing.
GTG: The best piece of career advice you’ve been given and from whom?
JJ: My grandfather was a great influence. He said ‘believe in yourself and others will believe in you too’. Never underestimate the importance of self-belief and self-confidence; they are infectious.
GTG: What are the most important lessons you’ve learned from your time so far in the beauty industry?
JJ: There’s no such thing as failure: every time something doesn’t quite work, we see it as a learning experience. It’s all new for us so it’s important to test and learn. I also think our consumers are such a big asset and are so important to us, we have a very loyal following and we’ll be doing more this year to talk to them.
GTG: Where do you think your industry is headed?
JJ: I truly believe that consumers are going to become even more savvy about the ingredients that go into the products they buy, particularly for their children. This will mean that the industry needs to be a lot more transparent about what it does, and more honest about their messaging. We firmly believe in being open about what is in our products, because we know mums deserve the best for their children’s hair and skin.
GTG: Is there anything you'd change about your industry, and why?
JJ: Working with the grocery retailers is a double edged sword for all small businesses, they can be a great support to us but also put a lot of pressure on their suppliers. I’d like to see a more collaborative approach from them.
GTG: What's in store for the future at Childs Farm?
JJ: We are definitely going places. We are expanding our distribution network, so our consumers will be able to find us in more places. We are launching some new products towards the middle of the year too, so look out for those! In the long term we want to become the go-to brand for all mums, who want to use natural and fun products on their children that actually work.
For more information on caring for sensitive skin, check out online editor Judy’s Sense & Sensitivity column