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When her daughters were two and four-years-old, Joanna Jensen gave up her career in investment banking to focus on launching a bath care range for children.
In 2008, Joanna saw a gap in the market when her second daughter, Bella developed sensitive, eczema prone skin. Joanna wanted to avoid using steroid creams and so the business idea was born – she would make her own range of bath and skincare products that contained naturally derived ingredients, came in child-friendly packaging and smell amazing.
Named after the farm where she lived, Joanna created a line of bubble bath, hair and body wash, shampoo and conditioner, called Childs Farm.
The skincare business is now a huge global brand. Here’s how this mum turned her dream into a big business.
Joanna Jensen gave up her career as an investment banker to follow her dream.
How did you launch your business?
My daughters were really young when I first came up with the business idea, so not ideal. Looking back I have absolutely no idea how I did it. I used to be an investment banker so I thought it was commercially a good business. I wanted to do something could grow into a profitable business.
It was always going to be a bath care line as I couldn’t find anything that worked for my daughter’s skin. I knew a lot about skincare as I’d educated myself on natural remedies. As a family, we never went to the doctor we always went to the homeopath.
When did you realise your business idea was going to work?
You’re either determined and you will do it or you won’t. My hand was somewhat forced because I got divorced and that left me with very little. I knew if I wanted to look after my children that it was all down to me. I had to make the business work. I couldn’t sit around going, ‘Oh, I’ll do that tomorrow’. I had to do it today. I’d put so much of my time and my money into the business and it was our future. It was up to me whether I sunk or swam.
How did you finance the product range?
At the start it was just bits of money here and there and then it became more. Going through the separation and realising that things were quite tight, I then brought in investors as I couldn’t do it on my own and I needed some level of income to be able to look after the children.
A lot of people worry about bringing in external investment and I brought in ‘angel investors’ and they invested in me. At that stage of a business, the idea has to be sound as people invest in the individual and they are looking for someone who is determined and bloody minded and is going to make a success of a business and they can sniff out frauds at a thousand paces. I was selling the idea to the investors and I could show them that I had retail interest. I was very lucky. Now, I’ve got 26 investors. I’m still the largest shareholder but I have 26 investors to satisfy. I’m not taking on anymore!
This year it has just been announced that we are the ninth fastest growing business in the UK according to the Sunday Times, which is a massive accolade.
Joanna created the Childs Farm skin and bath care range when she couldn’t find a product that worked for her daughter’s eczema prone skin.
In the early stages of the business, how did you balance work and family life?
I didn’t! I would work every hour. I’d work to three or four in the morning and then I’d get up for the kids. I’d be with them when they needed me and work when they didn’t. After school I’d have supper with them, they’d go to bed and I’d be working again. I did 20 hour days. It was madness. I had no work life balance. I was trying to be the best I could be for everyone and I was putting myself at the bottom of the heap.
It’s so much better now. It has been nine years and I was exhausted. I realised it wasn’t sustainable. I had been looking for someone to come in and run the business for me and I found a new CEO last year. We had a handover and I took the whole of December off and I loved every second of it. I spent December with my children and my boyfriend and it was a revelation. I now have time to think and focus on developing the products further and making sure that our sustainability manifesto is the best in the business.
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Mum-of-three, Rebecca Little says Childs Farm products helped to quickly clear her daughter’s severe eczema.
About Childs Farm
Joanna launched Childs Farm in the UK in 2010. The range of skincare and bath time products for newborns and upwards. The range is made from naturally derived ingredients and is suitable for sensitive, eczema-prone skin.
The Childs Farm range is available online and nationally at Woolworths, Coles, Big W, and amazon.com.au.