Supporting Families Through The First 1,000 Days With Their Little Ones – Rima Suppan and Morgan Mixon, Co-Founders at Peachies
Rima Suppan – Imperial College Business School MSc Innovation, Entrepreneurship and Management Class of 2021 and Morgan Mixon – Imperial College Business School MBA Class of 2021
Tell us more about your company and what you do
Peachies is the next generation nappy brand supporting families through the first 1,000 days with their little ones. We engineered a super soft upgrade to the humble nappy with unrivalled performance and no nasty chemicals. With every pack, we donate to charities helping families in need. Peachies embraces the uniqueness of each family and leans on the humour, the heartache and the joy parenthood brings. Our mission is to change the world, one poo at a time.
My cofounder Rima Suppan and I founded Cleannest, now Peachies, whilst studying at Imperial College Business School. Rima and I led the Business School’s Innovation and Entrepreneurship Club and quickly realised how much we enjoyed working together. Peachies started as a university project in January 2021 – a way for two women curious to explore the founder’s career path and Imperial’s entrepreneurship ecosystem. Immediately we were hooked. We pursued every programme Imperial had to offer to jumpstart our company – from the Venture Catalyst Challenge to the Business School’s Entrepreneurial Journey module. We became obsessed with solving the ‘nappy problem’ – one of the last essential goods where the norms are commoditised products, outdated marketing tropes and an analogue customer experience. We believe there is a huge opportunity to radically improve a family’s relationship with nappies and their nappy company.
What inspired you to start a business focused on women’s challenges, and how did you identify the specific needs or gaps in the market that your business addresses?
Peachies is an ode to the women around us that have inspired us, supported us and pushed us to think outside the box. We design for our sisters (I’m an aunt 6 times over), friends, the working moms, the moms leading on holding down the fort at home, and truly every mom that is balancing 1 million things at once to raise happy, healthy children. But it’s also the dads, the grandparents and the other carers that make up a child’s community. It’s about normalising and celebrating different family structures and the wild, difficult and beautiful journey that is raising children. Peachies recognises that how we care for parents from the inside out has a major impact on the development of their children.
Before joining Imperial’s MBA programme, I was Chief Operating Officer of accelerateHER (now EQL:Her) which focused on addressing the underrepresentation of women in the technology industry. A huge part of what we did was supporting women in entrepreneurship as well as coaching senior leadership in how to build work environments that are open and inclusive to women and other underrepresented groups. This role was a crash course in the full range of challenges women face – in society, in the workplace and at the personal level. The cost of childcare, limited flexible working, the gender pay gap, and the traditional social division of childcare responsibilities are all examples of barriers that Rima and I as the founders of Peachies seek to challenge. We do that through the products we design and the way we cultivate our company culture.
How important is it that this key area has more start-ups focused on tackling this specific challenge for women?
Super important! There is a rising tide of solutions for women designed by women and it’s long overdue. I’m loving how the quality of support is improving for areas such as, but not exclusively, periods, menopause, fertility, and childcare. Beyond these areas, however, the focus needs to be economic empowerment and mobility. The pay gap is real, the investment gap is real, and the lack of women in senior leadership positions is real. And these harsh realities are exacerbated for women of colour. These barriers exist because society for too long has limited womens’ choices, belittled our life experiences and discouraged men from playing an active role in homelife. To be serious about equity, is to be serious about investing in girls and women – their education, their businesses, their career progression, and their livelihoods. The world will be a better place for it. Look to the countries that fared best through the COVID-19 pandemic. Look to studies like the one published by academics at the University of Glasgow and Leicester in 2020 that are part of a growing body of academic work which show how business performance is positively improved when women make up more than 30% of the senior leadership.
What is your long-term vision for your business, and how do you see it evolving?
We’re changing babycare one product and service at a time across the first 1,000 days parents share with their little ones – from pregnancy to the child’s second birthday. This period is crucial in a child’s individual development and, ultimately, their collective development as the inheritors of society. Save the Children shares that undernutrition, for example, affects children’s cognitive development and school performance, with long term consequences on work productivity and the next generation. To us, providing children with a high quality of care also fundamentally means providing effective solutions for their parents and carers. That’s why we love the unsexy products, those deemed too boring, too taboo or too complex to tackle – just like nappies. It’s usually in the use of these products that you find the unnecessary stresses on parents. Alleviating these stresses enables carers to focus on quality time with their children, their work, and the other outlets that also provide fulfilment. This spring, we’re starting with nappies sizes 1-6 which will be available for purchase as a flexible monthly subscription with boxes delivered right to home, and we’ll continue to grow our online platform to complement a family’s everyday life.
What advice do you have for other women who are interested in starting a business focused on women’s challenges, and what resources or support do you recommend they seek out?
- Talk to everyone about your idea. The more feedback you get quickly, the better. Often the fear is that someone will take your idea. In reality, the idea is only about 10% of the puzzle. The real challenge and beauty lies in bringing your idea to life. Be confident you are the only one that can execute it. Talking about your idea always opens doors. You never know what someone knows or who they know that could be relevant to you. Networking can be painful but it’s necessary. These are the people that will help you reach each new milestone.
- Tap into women’s networks – through your school, university, local community, current employer, family and friends. This gives you the chance to speak directly to the people for which you’re looking to solve a problem, and they can direct you towards helpful resources. Female Founders Grow F is a programme we went through in our early days. The London-based FemTech Lab is another. Peanut StartHER offers a pre-seed fund to provide founders with early cash. Look into UK and European Union grants! London Tech Week offers events for women considering or in the midst of the entrepreneurial journey. I’m also a fan of Atlanta Ventures investor Kathryn O’Day’s The O’Daily newsletter which focuses on practical start-up advice. Reach out to me, I’ll always try to help and if I can’t, point you towards people or programmes that can.
- Surf the waves! This is my 2023 mindset and I realise it’s easier said than done. I’ve done a lot of work on myself to get to the point where I embrace this motto. The confidence that comes with focusing on your idea, your customers and your personal growth prepares you for the relentless swells that come with starting and running a business. Finding joy in what you do is essential.
- Finally, and this is a very personal choice, having a cofounder has been incredibly important for me. I wouldn’t trade the support and energy Rima provides me for anything. Choose wisely, think about your strengths, your gaps, how you like to work, what type of people energise you, and your expectations for a business partner. If you can find someone you trust and respect, I’d go for it. It’s worth splitting the pie to have someone to join you on this life changing journey.