When Anne Fulenwider stepped down as editor in chief of Marie Claire at the end of last year, she eschewed all the usual post editor gigs of book writing, consulting and lifestyle web sites. Instead, she revealed that she would be launching a venture focused on women’s health.
The career switch raised a few eyebrows in media circles, but it may not be as left field as one would think. At Tmrw Life Sciences, a new fertility technology company that has digitized egg and embryo freezing using robotics and software and raised $39 million in funding last year, scientists have tapped three women’s media and fashion veterans to help get its message across to the consumer.
Robbie Myers, the former longtime editor in chief of Elle, has been added to its board; Melanie Goldey, most recently Refinery29’s chief financial officer, has joined as chief financial officer and chief operating officer, and Ann Watson, previously vice president at Henri Bendel, is now chief marketing officer.
Of his decision to make these perhaps unexpected hires, New York-based Tmrw cofounder Joshua Abram said that while it is a “hardcore life sciences company,” it is involved in something that is core to the human experience and he believes these women have the right skills to communicate its message to the consumer.
And Tmrw’s message comes at a pivotal time, according to Abram, with 300 million babies expected to be born by IVF in the coming decades. For its part in the fertility business boom that has exploded in recent years, the start-up, whose tech is being rolled out to U.S. fertility clinics representing approximately 20 percent of all IVF activity, wants to replace manual analog system methods that haven’t been updated for nearly 50 years. This, it believes, will reduce the potential for errors, such as the wrong embryo going to the wrong mother.
“We are working with clinicians and our hardcore scientific approach and we’ve perfected the solution. But ultimately it is consumers who are concerned about the safety of [the IVF] process,” he said. “Because we will be speaking to consumers — not exclusively but particularly when in a demographic that parallels a lot of luxury fashion and luxury wellness, we were very interested in having women from those fields as part of the leadership.”
In the case of Myers, who led Elle for 17 years until 2017, Abram approached her as she spent most of her career “speaking to women of this age about a changing society.” “It wasn’t just about the hemlines. It was about what’s going on in the world and how you interact with it,” he said. “And we wanted her sensibility to help guide how we talk about the fast-changing world of IVF and how it intersects with the lives of not exclusively, but largely women of a demographic who were very familiar to Elle readers.”
According to Myers, Elle is often cited as being one of the first magazines to run a feature on IVF. “We did it often because it’s central to what it means to be a modern woman,” she said. “When you run a magazine or a media company that’s for women that covers fashion you’re talking to the whole woman.”
Goldey, fresh from leading the sale of Millennial women’s web site Refinery29 to Vice Media for $400 million, told WWD that she stayed for a month after the acquisition, but knew that she wanted to do something else in the health industry. Prior to Refinery29, she spent nine years at Everyday Health, a digital media company that owns web sites and produces content relating to health and wellness.
“I knew that I was probably not going to stay,” she said. “I loved my time at Refinery. It really gave me an opportunity to lean into empowerment for women, how to spark conversation, bring together community and drive action. But I think we had a really great run there and that it was a good deal. I really wanted to try something new.”
As for Watson, a longtime brand-marketing expert who has held high-level marketing roles at national chains like Saks Fifth Avenue and Club Monaco, she likes to be where the consumer is.
“Through most of my career, I really spent time supporting women to look good, to feel great about their fashion choices and for me it was a natural progression to continue to support them at where they’re at now, which is much more of an emphasis on health and wellness and certainly an empowerment of choices around family building,” she said.
“I am bullish about how do we continue to empower women and be able to have them be in control of their reproductive clock versus it being imposed,” she said.
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