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Wednesday, October 7, 2015

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Women’s health brand goes global ‘overnight’

Tags: Business
Shawna Page, CEO and founder of femMed

Women in the Middle East, Turkey and the Caspian Sea region will now have access to femMED products, a Canada-based line of women’s natural health supplements that address a wide variety of health concerns.

In November 2013, femMED partnered with NewBridge Pharmaceuticals, an international company headquartered in Dubai. “We became a global brand literally overnight,” said Shawna Page, CEO and founder of femMED.

As a Toronto Bay Street business executive for 20 years, Page felt it was time to step back and pause.  “Being an entrepreneur was the furthest thing from my mind,” she told The CJN.

“When I reached 42 years of age, my hormones were playing havoc with my body.  I set out to alleviate my symptoms and soon recognized there was nowhere I could go to get what I needed to help solve my health concerns,” she said.

Identifying a market niche, Page hired a broker in November 2007 to get her a time slot with Shoppers Drug Mart where she could present her ideas.

“I had no bottles and no formulas, only a ‘concept’ of making women’s health simple. I left the meeting with four weeks to build the company with my two founding partners: my husband, Steven Page, and Rob Segal. Within that time, we created five formulas, got a name, did all of our branding and developed ideas for driving sales. We returned four weeks later, and left that second meeting with a promise from Shoppers Drug Mart to launch femMED across the country. 

“In April 2008, we officially launched,” Page said.

The company has grown from a five-product line with an exclusive distribution at Shoppers Drug Mart stores to 13 products available at 3,500 retail locations across Canada, and in the United States through an exclusive deal with the Duane Reade chain, owned by Walgreen’s.

Page and her team set out to simplify women’s health concerns by developing  multi-ingredient products that were simple to understand and easy to self-select from the shelf.

The femMED product range includes solutions for hormonal issues (including PMS, perimenopause and menopause), prenatal concerns, bone health, breast health, hair, skin, nails, energy – the list goes on. The supplements are free of fillers, additives, artificial colours and preservatives.

“The market is filled with single-ingredient products such as the letter vitamins A, B, C, D and E, and minerals such as zinc, calcium and magnesium.  No one had taken on the task of formulating a line of products for women that address their most common health concerns, at every age and stage of life. Our formulas have anywhere from eight to 28 ingredients.

“We take the thinking out of it to make it easier to self-select what a woman knows is right for her. The way we do that is how we name our products. For example, sleep: when a woman hasn’t been able to sleep or can’t fall asleep or stay asleep, that’s the name of a product that will resonate with her. She will understand and self-select what is right for her, rather than have to ask a stock person. There are no misunderstandings,” Page said.

Since femMED is a private company, Page would not disclose the exact amount of capital invested, but she did say several million dollars was raised. 

“I raised my first round of capital – well over a million dollars – on a concept,” she said.

Seventy per cent of femMED’s advertising is now digital, employing search engine marketing and search engine optimization.

“We do YouTube 30-second spots and TV specialty channels like the Women’s Network. We spend a lot of money every year to grow the business and encourage trial, and raise awareness of the brand,” she said. “Our sales in the United States are generated through direct response. We go to the consumer using radio advertising, newspaper and direct mail. The radio spot will drive the consumer to our website and they will purchase online.

“I created the line for me, so I had me at the heart of it. When you are putting something in your body, it has to be the best that money can buy. Our products retail for about $30. That’s a $1-a-day mentality,” Page said.

The company increased its sales by 60 per cent in 2012-13. “This has been a monumental year for us,” she said.

Over the next 12 to 18 months, femMED will expand its business to produce formulas for manMED, ­kiddieMED, ­teenMED and animal branding – ­aniMED.

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