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How Chelsea Hirschhorn, CEO of Fridababy, Got Sucked Into Baby Products

You've seen it in the baby aisles, the so-called "snotsucker" with the distinctly Scandinavian design. It's called the NoseFrida, and this alternative to the bulb syringe is one of many uniquely designed baby items from Fridababy that help parents out with everyday, messy moments. In addition to the NoseFrida (yes, the one that needs a parent to literally suck out the snot—don't worry, there's a filter!), Fridababy also has the Windi (to help with gas) and the Fridet (aka "buttwasher").

Chelsea Hirschhorn, a millennial mom of two boys, took over Fridababy in 2014 and is now the company's president and chief executive officer. While balancing work with motherhood—her son Hunter is 3 1/2, and Jax turns 1 this month—Hirschhorn has grown the company from a niche brand to one that appears on the shelves of Target, CVS and Walgreens.

The former bankruptcy attorney and associate counsel for the Miami Marlins talked to Mom.me via email about career shifts, success and why we shouldn't portray female leaders as the exception. After all, why can't they simply be the norm?

What inspired you to take over Fridababy?

Working at the Miami Marlins, running the ancillary revenue initiative, was an entrepreneurial experience within a larger corporate context, and it was there that I realized for the first time how incredible it could be to manage an initiative from start to finish—the full 360-degree process. When my neighbors approached me with the proposition of taking over Fridababy, I had just had my first son and it felt like the appropriate time to tackle a challenge of that magnitude. I definitely needed some confidence-boosting encouragement from my husband, but I’ve never looked back on that decision with anything other than gratitude.

What sets Fridababy's products apart from other baby items?

Fridababy provides parents with a smart must-have tool kit for baby problems big and small. The baby care category is oversaturated with nice-to-haves, so we try to simplify the selection process for new parents who are overwhelmed with an abundance of choice when deciding how to best prepare for baby. We specialize in smart, simple and effective solutions, and we aren’t afraid to push the envelope and talk about the reality of parenthood, and the challenges we often face—usually at 3 a.m.!

NoseFrida, the original SnotSucker nasal aspirator, started it all, and now we have a full line of equally as effective and innovative solutions. The great success we’ve had is in large part due to the incredibly dedicated support of pediatric medical professionals, midwives and doulas. And, of course, those multitasking millennial parents who are looking for instant and natural relief to some pretty common problems!

Stay tuned for some new additions to the Frida Family toolkit coming soon!

Describe the moment you first felt successful.

“Successful” sounds like a fait accompli. I think success is an amorphous, moving target for me—a definition that changes with each passing accomplishment: our first new product launch (the NailFrida!); my first employee hire; first feature alongside some seriously accomplished and inspiring women (Chelsea Clinton, Alicia Keys, Jessica Alba, etc.); building out our brand new office space; buying the business from the founder. All of those have felt like momentous feathers in my cap, but with each one the target gets farther, the metrics for success get redefined, and we get back to work as a team. That’s just my personality!

As a successful female entrepreneur, what are some ways that you want to teach your sons about "girl power"?​

I think the tone of the conversation needs to shift away from identifying women as exceptional for having a powerful role, and start expecting those ceilings to be shattered. Then we won’t need to teach our sons anything—they will just grow up in a world where society tells them that’s the norm. I guess that’s how I’m teaching them in a de facto sense. It’s not a spectacle every morning that mommy goes to work—it’s a normalized routine. They expect great things from both me and my husband outside of our home, and they won’t know any different unless we insist on continuing to draw a distinction. Stop celebrating the fact alone that women work, and instead present no judgment either way. Kids dwell on the things you draw attention to, so to normalize something with my children, I show them that we never knew any different!

Has there been anything about building your businesses that has surprised you or inspired you in a way you didn't expect?

Yes! I am amazed every single day by how much we can accomplish with such a small but dedicated team. When I took over two years ago, we were a team of four; now we’re 20! Over 1 million people in the U.S. have bought our products this year, and so I tell them that means that over 1 million people loved the work that they did this year—which is a powerful insight! I think when you reach a certain level of success in a business it’s tempting to staff up and grow the team to keep up with the business growth. But I’ve been incredibly deliberate and mindful with each new addition, like I’m adding a new member to my family to care for my growing baby, and so we all wear a lot of hats. Nevertheless, they continue to surprise me by how much they can tackle regardless of how lean we may operate.

I think the tone of the conversation needs to shift away from identifying women as exceptional for having a powerful role, and start expecting those ceilings to be shattered.

What's your advice for moms who are looking to start their own business—or take over another one?

You have to be willing to make short-term sacrifices personally to accomplish whatever your professional goals might be. It’s very hard (read: impossible) to be everything to everyone at all times. Sometimes your business will need you 110 percent of the day, and other times your family might make the same demands on your time or attention. If you’re willing to shift focus—even if only temporarily—you’ll be able to get something off the ground. With that momentum, it becomes a bit easier to “do it all.” I’ve been fortunate to blur the lines a bit with a business in the baby category, and I am focused on creating a family-friendly work environment for our team, with dedicated areas in the office for parent-time in our nursery and play space (where we’ll host a music class for kids) and me-time with a yoga room and an instructor that will visit a few times a week.

I know first hand how hard it is to juggle all of the balls in the air for working men and women, and so I’m deeply committed to creating an environment for them that eases that burden—even if it means a quick after-school snack together.

What sacrifices have you made as a mom and an entrepreneur to keep everything in balance?

Where to begin?! My life is organized chaos at best right now, and I’m exhausted most of the time. But I wouldn’t trade a thing. On the personal side, I’ve had to sacrifice a lot of scheduling luxuries this year, like attending music classes with Jax or picking Hunter up from school and taking him to his various activities—play dates, time with other moms like mid-day lunch breaks, etc. Some days my mom hat wins, though, and my assistant does gymnastics with my schedule so I can attend Hunter’s school play, or fly up for a girlfriend’s birthday dinner, which may mean delaying an important conference call or meeting. We closed up shop for 10 days so we could all dial in 110 percent with our families over the holidays, which is a major undertaking when you have the customers that we do (Target, CVS, Walgreens, etc.), but it’s worth navigating those challenges to demonstrate to my team how much I value that time, personally, and encourage them to do the same!

What would you say are the most important skills and experiences you've brought to Fridababy from your previous positions?

I’ve always worked in a collaborative capacity at each of my prior professional experiences, so bringing a team together to achieve a common objective is an important skill I continue to hone.

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