Like many women, Irena Todd and Jean Sim started taking extra note of the products they bought for their children once they became moms — namely, the toxins and chemicals found in so many personal-care items. But this duo had a unique edge.
Sim, a global brand manager, and Todd, a brand manager, met while launching Axe Hair years earlier. Between them both, there's 15 years' experience in the personal-care industry at Unilever, one of the world's largest health and well-being companies.
"What was out there wasn't meeting our needs. We spent a lot of time researching ingredients and ultimately found [safer] products were expensive — more expensive than most families could afford," Sim said.
They knew how to create and sell successful product and decided it was time to make their own, developing the idea for Fresh Monster, a toxin-free line of kid's hair products made with plant-derived ingredients that are also GMO-, gluten- and allergen-free, with an attainable price tag. Items retail for under $8 for an 8-oz. bottle and focus on kids ages 3 to 9, a "sweet spot" Sim claims was missing in the market, while competitors like the Honest Company are pricier and focus more on families and babies.
They pitched the idea to the Telluride Venture Accelerator in Colorado and was accepted in February 2014. So they packed up their families and hit the road to Telluride — five kids in total, including Sim's 10-day-old baby and Todd's four-month-old.
"We went from an idea on paper to a full-grown brand," Todd recalled. "We had a product formulation, a supply chain — we walked away with a product in hand and were truly ready to take on the market."