Keep an eye out and you might see products on the store shelves of a women’s reproductive health start-up founded in Charleston in 2019.
Natalist, which sells everything from pregnancy and ovulation tests to prenatal supplements, seeks to put a modern twist on age-old issues of pregnancy and infertility.
The company started in Charleston in 2019 primarily offering subscription bundles of its products for purchase online. Big-box department store Target gave Natalist a chance at a limited number of stores in 2020, and now the company says its products are available in Targets in all states, drugstore giant Rite-Aid and grocers. Albertsons, Safeway and Shaw’s.
It was important to store the products in places where women normally go, said Vernita Brown, CEO of Natalist.
âOur company was really founded because of a lack of millennial-friendly products on the market,â Brown said. “When you think about fertility and pregnancy, what you really find are products that are just a little outdated and not user friendly.”
Brown was also the company’s first employee.
The meaning of marketing fertility and pregnancy products to millennials is clear, given that most new mothers are currently millennials.
In 2021, the millennial generation is between 23 and 38 years old. According to the March of Dimes, 92% of people who give birth are between 20 and 39 years old. The birth rate is also falling, with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention saying that in May the rate was 4% lower in 2020 from the previous year; the trend has been declining since the mid-2000s.
Brown said millennials as consumers want “fresh packaging, fresh instructions, and companies that stand up for something.” Natalist also claims to have committed to a net zero plastic footprint.
It also competes on price; her pregnancy tests cost between $ 3-4 each, compared to $ 6.50 for one at CVS.
Brown also noted that customers have generally waited longer than other generations to have children, which means they are much more used to avoiding pregnancy than to welcoming it. And once women decide they want to have children, 10% will have a hard time getting pregnant or staying pregnant, according to the CDC.
âWe know a lot more about our fields of study than about our own bodies,â Brown said.
Thus, Natalist also seeks to demystify pregnancy and motherhood. A section of its website is devoted to dozens of articles ranging from fertility to COVID-19 and pregnancy, all supported by scientists. The company also has a medical director on staff and a handful of medical advisers. Brown said the information, which is free, is intended to serve as a “friendly and trustworthy resource” and to encourage confidence in the brand.
Natalist remains based in Charleston. It closed a $ 5 million investment round shortly after its launch in late 2019 and was also the first member of a business accelerator led by publicly traded software company Benefitfocus that year.
Despite being focused on women, the company has also started offering products for men, including a fertility test marketed at $ 195, for example.
Brown said plans are for the company to remain based in Charleston, where she said startup culture has a more user-friendly pace than in Silicon Valley, California.
Reach Mary katherine wildeman at 843-607-4312. Follow her on Twitter @mkwildeman.