Here, we chat with Nolan about the development process behind her products, the business’ future plans and the rise in female entrepreneurs aiming to break the silence around women’s health.
Why did you decide to launch Noonie?
When my girlfriend was preparing for the birth of her first child, she asked me to help her make DIY padsicles (which I hadn’t heard of before). After trying to buy a commercially available alternative and coming up short, my co-founder and I decided something had to be done on a larger scale to help women.
From a business perspective, being able to couple my sense of social justice with a very active consumer segment (pregnant women and experienced mothers) and developing products resilient to market conditions (birth doesn’t care about Covid) seem like the right ideas to lean into.
How did you come up with the concept for it?
The products were born out of necessity. I was trying to solve a problem and find the most effective, practical and useful version of that solution. ‘Noonie’ was just something I used to say instead of ‘vagina’ as a younger person. It seemed like the perfect fit, where there was clearly a discomfort talking about the postpartum recovery experience and recognising that even using the term ‘vagina’ is still uncomfortable for so many people. Sort of secretly calling our company ‘vagina’ seemed so apt. It’s been very well-received so far.
How would you describe the past year since you launched Noonie and what have been some of the most interesting customer insights that you’ve gathered in that time?
I’m not sure there’s a word [to describe] the past year. We were born in the thick of Covid and we have been through an absolute ride since the beginning. Whilst behind the scenes has often been manic, our relationship with customers has been incredible. I think interestingly, Covid has made a lot more of us bolder when it comes to sharing our thoughts, needs and feelings.
So much of our lives are now lived online and it’s a strange reality to be in where the world outside is chaotic and a bit scary, but the working world online is thriving and looking ahead.
In 2021, one of the biggest issues for most businesses would have to be freight – domestic and international. Our customers want their products ASAP and want to hear from us more than ever around the status of delivery times. In our industry, that’s really very understandable, but it’s been an adjustment for us.
Tell me about the product development process of launching your padsicles and the spray. What was that like and what were the challenges?
The Cooling Padsicles had a very humble genesis, with homemade prototypes made in my living room. The journey to what we currently sell involved six manufacturers and lengthy product development. I swing between being flattered and haunted by that fact. We were so fortunate early in our journey to meet two brilliant women who had developed breakthrough skin care for decades. They ended up developing the formula for the Cleanse & Soothe Spray for us. Everything fell perfectly into place with the spray. It was a great balance between one very challenging manufacturing journey and one very smooth journey.
More women are launching their own businesses that aim to normalise traditionally taboo female health issues. What are your thoughts on how society has generally viewed women’s postpartum health and why has it been largely misunderstood?
You’re not alone there. We are seeing a lot more women starting their own businesses to help other women. What a wonderful thing! When we launched, there was nothing out there for postpartum health, the hospitals were handing out frozen condoms, women were teaching other women online how to DIY everything necessary for recovery.
I don’t know that postpartum health has been misunderstood so much as it’s been kept quiet or ignored in the past. Many women still feel shame around their bodies so they keep quiet about what’s happening and a lot of the corporate decision makers in healthcare or beauty are men. This isn’t the best recipe for improvement in women’s health.
We’re seeing such a shift now on social media. Women feel more comfortable speaking about their experiences, so I am grateful to social media for helping us with our mission in that respect. And it’s being welcomed with open arms; the same midwives, nurses and doulas that used whatever they could find to help mothers in pain and discomfort are so supportive and active in discussions to make positive change in their industry.
What are your future e-commerce plans?
Our future e-commerce plans are just to refine and expand our online presence and continuously improve the customer experience and ease of engaging with us. At the same time, our e-commerce success has also attracted the interest of bricks-and-mortar retail companies. We’ll be exploring retail partners to align with. I think the baby industry will always benefit from in-person shopping where possible.
What are your plans for the business in the coming year?
Time goes too quickly! We’re working on two additional products that should be ready for launch by early 2022 and we’re so excited for them. Our commitment to only creating useful, necessary and truly inventive products makes for some interesting R&D, but this commitment and consistency is why our customers trust us with their recovery, buy our products, and then come back to get them for their friends.
In terms of international expansion, we’re working on improving our distribution model to selected regions like the US. We need to be creative with how we plan for each region so that our customers get the experience that they’re wanting.