Joy Williams & Jane Molina of Ninni Co. on being moms’ “breast” friend
Describe your business in a few words:
We are Joy Williams + Jane Molina. Sisters, best friends, and co-serial entrepreneurs. We launched the Ninni Co. brand on March 1, 2021, and sell direct-to-consumer from our website. Our featured product and what we’re known for is our breastlike pacifier. It’s a technology we patented and worked on for seven years before finally bringing it to market. Birthed out of a need Jane had with her third (exclusively breastfed) son, she couldn’t find a pacifier that met his needs.
Breastfed babies are used to a specific oral movement when feeding on the breast, and nothing else had entered the world to soothe this specific need. The sisters went on a journey to construct a silicone product, made in the USA, that could meet the biological expectation of these babies. It took a lot of work, navigating uncharted territory and hearing a lot of “no’s” before finally bringing the Ninni pacifier to fruition.
Since its launch, the company has shipped over 30,000 pacifiers to households all around the world who needed a solution that their picky breastfed babies would take to, and offer them an elevated oral development solution for their pacification needs. Because not only are we moms’ “breast” friends, we also help reinforce strong, healthy latch and proper mouth development.
What was your background prior to starting your own business?
Prior to working in the Construction Industry, Jane went to Film School in Miami, FL, and worked in Corporate Film Production. Joy went to school in Chicago and was in the Documentary/Reality television production Industry before moving back to St. Louis to join the family business.
Did you always know you wanted to be an entrepreneur?
Not only was our dad a business owner our entire lives but his father before him was also an entrepreneur. In Mississippi’s early 1900s, black people didn’t usually own land, but our grandfather had his own farm where he harvested cotton and operated a meat/dairy farm.
I’d say it just lives in us. We inherited our strong entrepreneurial spirit. The security of conventional jobs never appealed to us, but we both had hopes and dreams of risking it all to live out our purpose. In past jobs, we would always have out-of-the-box ideas and never really liked the status quo or conventional ways of doing things. It seems that being our own boss was always meant to be.
Take us back to when you first launched your business, what was your marketing strategy to get the word out and did it go as planned?
We had no idea, to be honest. It was like, let’s hurry and launch this product because everyone needs it! Tell your sisters and all your friends! Ha…but in all seriousness, we got heavily involved in Instagram and Facebook from the very beginning.
Posting every day, engaging with our target audience, and running some very simple ads on our own. This sparked little fires all throughout various breastfeeding groups, chat threads, and posts of moms raving about Ninni Co. saving the day. Word of mouth was our best friend and continues to be our biggest revenue generator.
What is the accomplishment you are the most proud of to date?
I think our greatest accomplishment is developing a product that works and helps moms/babies. It was our dream for so many years. We bootstrapped our company, putting all of our money and resources into what we believed in so deeply. Every time we get an email or a DM from a tired mama, in tears over finally finding a solution to help her get some rest and a much-needed break, that’s what we are and will always be most proud of.
Do you believe in work/life balance? What are some of your best tips?
We believe in it. But we’re not always the best at it. I guess the way we see it is, there’s really no such thing as balancing the two. If you put all your energy in one, the other is going to lack in some way. There are always things to be done!
However, I think the balance comes in the mental balance. Knowing it’s ok. Being aware of our time and saying “no” have to be constants. There will be entire days’ worth of schedules we will put off to spend time with our kids or take a self-care day. We have non-negotiables like picking our kids up from school/getting them off the bus every day. And because we’re entrepreneurs, we get to make the rules!
What have you achieved recently that you’d like to celebrate with our community?
We just won a prestigious Engineering award. It’s a Worldwide competition that our design Engineers entered our product in, called the Good Design Award. We are pretty proud of it!
What’s next for your business? What can we expect to see over the next few years?
Retail and International Distribution. They both take planning and strategy but we hope to be in stores around the world very soon!
What excites you about being an Entreprenista League member?
Jane and I are always excited about being in the presence of other entrepreneurs. Coming from the Construction Industry in a family-led business before this, we gain so much energy and excitement being in the presence of like-minded and driven women. We believe in the nature of collaboration and not competition, helping others and always being open to sharing knowledge. We also love to ask questions and learn from others’ experiences as well!