Entrepreneur Joanna Jensen is the founder & CEO of Childs Farm.
“I work very long days,” says Joanna smiling, who turns the laptop off as soon as the girls return from school each day and regularly works into the small hours once they are in bed. “Childs Farm started off as a good idea that I couldn’t quite leave alone and since then has grown in ways that I could never have anticipated even in my wildest dreams.”
It was frustration at the lack of quality bath and body products for her own daughters that prompted Joanna to start her business in 2010. Prior to this, Joanna had tirelessly searched for a range of children’s toiletries that would come to the rescue. She wanted them to be specifically designed for young skin and hair, and therefore as natural as possible. Ideally, they would contain child-friendly essential oils, be fun for kids to use and, most importantly, work! But she couldn’t find this range anywhere.
So Joanna left banking for full-time bubble bathing, and turns out she couldn’t be happier. Here’s how she did it…
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.
Using my knowledge of natural remedies, I created a basic shampoo and bubble bath at the kitchen table, and then took this to a manufacturer. The feedback I received was not only that it smelled fantastic, performed brilliantly and that children loved using it, but also that it worked wonders on sensitive and even eczema-prone skin... Childs Farm was born!
Could you tell us a little about your background?
Joanna Jensen: Having grown-up in 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!
What inspired the Childs Farm characters?
Joanna Jensen: It’s a fact that little girls like ponies and little boys like tractors and because my girls really did have ponies and a pig and there was a tractor at our farm, it seemed almost natural to recreate the things we all loved through the range.
Children’s illustrator Emma McCall was given the task of bringing Childs Farm to life and so our animals, my daughters and their friends are all woven into a fictional story around the products. Buster the pony, Radar the sheep dog, Peggy the duck and Truffles the pig (who appear on the labels) are part of the Childs Farm cartoon series and are as well-loved as the range itself.
How did you build up the confidence to start your own business?
Joanna Jensen: 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.
What was the toughest part when you started out?
Joanna Jensen: 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.
The best piece of career advice you’ve been given and from whom?
Joanna Jensen: 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.
What's in store for the future at Childs Farm?
Joanna Jensen: 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.
(adapted from https://www.getthegloss.com/behind-the-brand/the-brains-behind-joanna-jenson-founder-of-childs-farm)
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