Founder Feature: JEAN SIMS AND IRENA TODD

A lot of parents speak fondly of their kids’ firsts: first tooth, first step, first day of school. Jean Sims’ and Irena Todd’s kids have a few other firsts: first focus group, first test with the watermelon bodywash, first approval of their moms’ coconut milk detangler.

Jean and Irena came to motherhood with MBAs and highly successful track records at Unilever. They knew parenthood brings challenges – sleep deprivation, babyproofing, anxieties on steroids. They did not predict parenthood would usher in a new business. With their deep knowledge of hair care (both had worked on launching Axe Hair), they knew the kind of products they wanted to use on their own kids. They looked at the market and saw a need: there were baby products and adult products marketed to the health-conscious consumer, but there was a dearth of products for the three-to-nine-year-old age group. And there was a price point problem; most of the products that fit the requirements of the no-list audience (no parabens, no gluten, no animal testing, no sulfates) cost significantly more than the average hair care product in its category.

Irena and Jean developed Fresh Monster as an affordable children’s hair care choice that could compete not only with natural product lines but also with mainstream personal care lines. Their kids provided input on the consumer-facing aspects of their formulations. Seeing their products on the shelves of stores like Whole Foods, Publix, and Target has been a dream come true. Jean told a CNBC reporter, "Having our kids be a part of this will always be part of the brand — they inspired us. It makes us feel so proud that we are setting a standard and model for our kids in working hard and making it happen."

Katelyn Murphy-McCarthy

Katelyn is a writer and editor specializing in creative nonfiction. She comes from a long line of entrepreneurs, and loves hearing and sharing the stories of women who are making a difference
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