Former Google employee turned entrepreneur and co-founder of NAIF baby products . . . and oh, yes, also one of our fellow travelbees. From throwing in the towel on a corporate job to designing and realizing an all-natural line of baby products with his best friend, Jochem is here to tell us about his business inspiration, and let us in on some of his kid-friendly vacation tips. He’s also graciously granted a discount for all TRVLBEES members on his natural skin care line: when you buy a NAIF protecting sunscreen, you will receive a cooling after-sun gel (value of EUR 14.95) for free. Code: TRVLbees18.
Hi Jochem! You’re path from the corporate world to entrepreneur is pretty rad. Can you tell us a bit about how that transition happened?
One of my best friends, Sjoerd, and I discovered that we were going to become dads at the same time. As our children were born, we were thrust into the confusing, and sometimes overwhelming world of baby care products. It didn’t take us long to realize that there was a big gap in the market for natural, chemical-free skin care products for children. We decided that we wanted to make a difference in this brave new world, so we left our corporate jobs, and in 2012 we founded NAIF, a natural and premium Dutch baby care brand.
Aside from some of your wonderfully creative taglines –“silky bottoms are our priority” and “bubbles are our business” — tell us about NAIF products and what makes them special?
NAÏF is a skincare range for babies and toddlers that is completely free of chemicals. Because babies have very delicate skin and a lot of skin compared to their body mass, we use transparent, mild ingredients – products without any unnecessary additives. We only use ingredients that we can pronounce, like cottonseed oil, sweet almond oil, avocado oil, and chamomile. To design our products, we listened to experts in the field of natural skincare, as well as many, many moms, and closely collaborated with a laboratory in Switzerland to create a range of products that are natural, dermatologically tested, hypoallergenic, PH skin neutral and free of any harmful ingredients for babies, parents, or to nature. No pastel colors. Only baby care products of the highest quality, delivered with a dash of humor that will appeal to parents and kids of all ages.
What is one of the biggest challenges you faced in founding NAÏF?
The switch from corporate life to start-up life was tricky. Without a big company name behind you, you have to work hard to get make your contacts, and earn the respect, treatment, and attention you want your brand to have.
If you could give a budding entrepreneur one piece of advice, what would it be?
Just go for it, and aim high.
Where do you currently sell your products?
We sell all over the world, and are building the brand in Western Europe, the Middle East, and Asia. NAÏF products are sold in over 1,500 stores and online at naifcare.com
If you could take one NAIF product with you on holidays, which one would it be?
It depends on the season, but assuming the summer months: protecting sun spray (spf 30).
Owing to your commitment to use natural skin care ingredients, are you also engaged in a sustainable lifestyle at home?
At home we separate the waste properly, I take my charge out of my socket every morning, and I eat reasonably consciously (little meat, fresh ingredients, and lots of vegetables and fruits). Interestingly enough, I don’t think about these kinds of things as much on holidays. I believe the most important thing when you’re on vacation is to enjoy the company of others, indulge in the local cuisine, and not think too much.
You have four children, right? Tell us how that plays out at home!
There is never a dull moment in our house! We have four children, 3 boys: Tycho (7), Tobias (5), and Wicher (3), and one girl, Fiene (1). Tycho, the oldest, is very sporty, and enjoys playing soccer, cricket, and tennis. Tobias is our signer – he is happiest when he is singing (even when on the toilet . . . I told you there was never a dull moment)! Wicher is our youngest son, he is a real clown and I fear he’ll be the biggest monkey! And last, but not least, Fiene is our little princess, and she is always smiling.
What is your favorite family-friendly holiday destination and why?
The beach, sun, good food and drinks, and the absence of crowds make the ideal holiday for me. My family and I enjoy staying in locations that are walking distance to the sea, no matter where that may be. With small children, you could be in southern France, in Zeeland on the Dutch coast, or in southern California and they wouldn’t know the difference.
One of our favorite family retreats is the boutique hotel Spanish Garden Inn in Santa Barbara, California. It is quintessential Santa Barbara with Spanish Colonial adobe with lots of arches, beamed ceilings, painted tiles, and ornate ironwork. There is a fire going in the lobby, the scent of freshly baked cookies in the air, and always a smiling concierge willing to help. The large rooms have a private balcony or garden patio, fireplace, and 300-count linen sheets. The grounds are lush and exotic with palms. It has a heated pool, spa, and the wine bar serves local vintages by the glass or bottle. It is located within easy walking distance to the best Santa Barbara shopping, dining, and entertainment, as well as the beach and acclaimed wineries. I would go there tomorrow, if I could. Check the whole review on the TRVLBEES platform.