SHARP speaks to Child’s Farm CEO Joanna Jensen about combatting the soap and water brigade and how it really feels to sell a product every 15 seconds.
When my mum talks about something, I know it must be good. She has no social media, doesn’t watch the news or listen to the radio, and her entire reckoning on products is through word of mouth.
So when she came in a few weeks ago with a bottle of ‘Child’s Farm’ moisturiser she proudly placed it on the table and told me ‘everyone’s talking about it.’ Although normally this means around 2-5 people have mentioned it to her, I still think that’s a pretty good rating system.
Both of us suffer with eczema to a mild degree and, after doing a bit of research online, its didn’t take me long to find countless stories about this new ‘miracle-moisturiser’ that was actually showing results.
Last year Child’s Farm overtook PZ Cussons to become the country’s second largest baby brand, following behind the American powerhouse Johnson and Johnson.
Just one Google will see your search filled with hundreds of national news stories where products have changed people’s entire lives.
CEO Joanna Jensen, set up Child’s Farm after struggling to find products for her two young daughters who had sensitive skin and finer hair. “They all look medicinal or have cartoons like Disney or Peppa Pig on the bottle and smell of flip flops. None of the products out there really engaged with children.
“I’ve always been very enthusiastic about homeopathic remedies, I knew what I wanted from the start, and knew what I didn’t want. I wanted every product to be as fully organic as possible. We would have gone completely organic too but this massively drives up the price of the product.”
Working on the products from home, Joanna developed her own recipes and then found a manufacturer to produce the shampoos and moisturisers, creating an initial six products.
The name came from where they lived and to get the branding right Joanna went to illustrator Emma McCall to design colourful and inviting animal packaging.
Six years on and Joanna’s products are now stocked in Asda, Tesco, Lloyds Pharmacy, Boots, Superdrug and Co-op, the farm animals on her labels were also such a big hit, they were turned into a children’s TV series for channel Cartoonito.
Joanna was confident it was going to work even from the very beginning. “I always knew it would be successful because it had to be. With whatever I do I’m all in, it’s my entire livelihood and I have two small children. I’m here to pay for them and you have to invest.
“By my very nature I would have never done something on a whim, it’s expensive, risky and you have to invest so much before you see a return. So I knew I had to be confident it was going to work.”
With success comes even more hard work and Joanna’s days are back to back from 4am each morning. “We’ve had exceptional growth and it’s a really exciting time, but of course with that comes challenges. Everything has to be done faster, sooner, quicker, I’m always talking daily and constantly.
“For example today we’ve had meetings about plastics and our packaging, there’s a real focus on being sustainable in everything we do going forward and making sure we’re doing everything in the best possible way.
“Then I’ll be in manufacturing meetings, overseeing the general running of everything, answering hundreds of e-mails and then of course going home to see my girls.”
The full operation is ran by a team of 20 in Surrey and they manufacture all of the products in the UK.
Joanna added: “When I hear that one of my products sells every 15 seconds, I just think ‘oh my god’ what if that changes to 10 seconds, what will I do if things have to move quicker, do I have enough warehouse space… the list goes on.
“You have to be strong-minded, determined and have balls of steel to go into businesses.
“It’s all about risk. Everything is a risk when you’re setting up your own business, everyone has to have skin in the game because there’s risk everywhere. Whether that’s through buying stock, tying up money, deciding which products are going to sell, hiring employees and attracting really impressive people it’s all talking a risk. But it’s worth it.”
Turning over £5.7m in the last financial year, Child’s Farm is well on the way to achieving its goal in overhauling the baby and child category.
Joanna added: “Every product should be fit for purpose with younger skin. I remember even seeing cartoon products that have glitter for children, this isn’t helping. It’s the largest organ on our body and we need to look after it by moisturising and massaging it.
“Some people pride themselves on the fact that they have used soap and water their entire lives but it’s not something to be celebrated.
“The food revolution happened, now I want people to change the way they treat their skin.”
To learn more about Child’s Farm, visit the website here.