Marian Kennedy, founder of Anewmum, talks to ThinkBusiness about why she started the company and how her products support women who have just given birth.
I guess I always knew I wanted my own business. I remember when I was young and people would ask what I wanted to be when I grow up, I would always say ‘I’ll have my own business’. I wouldn’t have a clue what it was, but I knew I wanted to do my own thing.
True to my word, I studied business and received a first-class honours degree from Tipperary Institute, which is now part of Limerick Institute of Technology. I also completed a certificate in Innovation, Enterprise and Entrepreneurship with UCD. I remember the lecturers bringing in a guest entrepreneur every week to share their story and I would just love to listen about how they set up their business and what they had to go through to get where they were.
“I found simple tasks like sitting and going to the toilet extremely painful”
Also, my mother is one of my biggest supporters always wanting me to do what made me happy, although I think I broke my father’s heart leaving a permanent pensionable job in the HSE two years ago. I suppose that’s the thing with been an entrepreneur; I guess you have to be a risk taker.
When was the company started?
On the 15th October 2015, I gave birth to my first baby – a little girl called Emily, well not so little at 9lbs 4oz! I had a very fast labour and with such a big baby, I incurred vaginal tears and received a lot of stitches. When I was discharged from hospital, I was in a lot of pain. I found simple tasks like sitting and going to the toilet extremely painful. I was the first of my friends and family to have a baby and I found myself resorting to Google to look for products that would help me in my recovery. I found a lot of ‘how to make your own comfort products at home’ and so I began to make my own.
When I was doing my research, I noticed that there were few companies providing products that were already prepared, unlike me going down to the health food shop to buy five different ingredients and putting them together. I could only find small amounts of products for new mothers for the perineal area and none seemed to have a complete range of products to support all the physical hygiene elements such as the bath, shower, hair, etc.
What is the problem you are trying to solve and the size of the market you are addressing?
Every birth is different whether it be a caesarean section or a vaginal birth. Vaginal births can be aided by episiotomies, vacuum, forceps or through natural tearing on exit of the baby. According to the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecology, 90 per cent of women will incur a tear whilst given birth vaginally. As a result, women may encounter problems such as initial pain from the birth, swelling, bruising and discomfort sitting. Infection in healing can also occur after birth as medical professionals encourage new mothers to shower or bath twice a day for the first six weeks postpartum.
We want to provide women with a range of products to support them in their postpartum recovery and to make it a better experience whether it be their first or fifth child.
“According to the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecology, 90 per cent of women will incur a tear whilst given birth vaginally”
According to a report from Arizton, the global maternity care market is expected to cross $9 billion, growing impressively at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 2.15pc in terms of revenue during the forecast period 2017-2023. The market is witnessing a growing demand for and consumption of products that offer ease-of-use and convenience, owing to the fast-paced lifestyle in developed countries such as the US, Canada, the UK, and Germany. In such countries, the awareness on various maternity care products is also high. Hence, customers in these regions are demanding various types of improved, high-quality maternity care products.
What is your core product?
Our first products to launch from our OTC range is the hygiene products on our website. We have a comfort mist to help promote the healing, cooling and soothing of the sensitive areas of a women after she has given birth. We have worked with the Shannon Applied Biotechnology Centre and undertaken studies on how well our product rejuvenates the cells using innovation vouchers.
“Last year alone, there were 59,796 babies born in Ireland”
Due to current market activity and in response to Covid-19, we have reacted to the market and are in the process of developing a wellbeing section which will launch in the coming months.
What are your impressions of the start-up ecosystem in Ireland?
I think Ireland has fantastic support system for start-ups. If you do the work and validate your research and are committed to your vision, there is a support there for you. I started off by entering the IBYE competition back in 2016 and I won the runner-up prize for best new idea in Tipperary. I honestly felt like I won the whole thing as it was validation that I had something, and I didn’t want to give up.
What are your growth plans?
Our entry market is here in Ireland. We currently have the highest birth rate in the EU with 16.876 births per thousand people every year. Last year alone, there were 59,796 babies born in Ireland.
“It would be very easy for me to say yes and that I would change this and that, but those hard days and mistakes happen for a reason”
Our growth plan is a phased launch into the EU, concentrating on high birth rates, disposable incomes and societal needs for mothers in countries such as the UK, France and the Netherlands. We have already been approached by a wholesaler in South Africa who intends to bring our products to market there. In time with growth and brand awareness we will enter the US market.
Is there anything you’d do differently?
Honestly, no. It would be very easy for me to say yes and that I would change this and that, but those hard days and mistakes happen for a reason. They educate you for the future and they wisen you up for the path ahead. I think those day make the success that bit sweeter and well earned.
What advice do you have for fellow founders?
Validate your market. You might have a lovely idea but without validation, your idea will come to nothing. It’s also so important to familiarise yourself with the supports that are available.
I was asked before how I knew about all the supports and my answer was ‘how do you not?’ If you’re hungry enough and want to succeed, put yourself out there and try get onto the countless programmes out there. Surround yourself with similar people who are going through the same thing, you need people cheering, guiding and rooting for you along the way.
Don’t forget to look after yourself and your mental health. Take the time away when you need it and if you need help, don’t be afraid to ask for it.
Interview by Stephen Larkin
Published: 14 October, 2020