Now it will be delicious! In today’s interview we introduce you to Jana Deckelmann and Angelica Conraths, they are the founders and managing directors of fembites GmbH.
I am happy to be able to interview an absolute female power duo and would like to start right away by giving the readers a little insight into your life journey so far: Who are you and how did you meet?
we are Jana and Angelica. Jana has a degree in biology and nutritional economics, has worked a lot in laboratories and trained as a hormone nutrition coach. I, Angelica, actually once studied hotel management, traveled the world with it, and after 14 years stopped taking the pill, which caused me to suffer from post-pill syndrome, which ended in extreme hair loss and PMS and crippled my immune system. At the time I met Jana, I had to starve a nasty intestinal fungus. We met in 2020 at GRACE in Berlin – a bootcamp for women who want to start up.
The startup scene is still very male-dominated. How did you develop the idea and find the “courage” to embark on the entrepreneurial journey together?
We founded in the middle of the 2nd lockdown, which was crazy enough. At that time we both lived somewhere in the country with our families and had a lot of peace and quiet around us. Networking events and the like were completely cancelled, which didn’t bother us, but rather enriched us, as we were able to concentrate completely on fembites and our first customers. I don’t think we gave it much thought at all. We had only our vision in front of our eyes: the needs of the female body must receive more attention from society and no longer be associated with shame and taboos.
Is there any advice you can give to (aspiring) female founders who are also considering the idea of their own startup?
Just do it! And if anyone reading this feels they need help, they can always contact us. We ourselves were very grateful for our network through GRACE as well as through our unis and acquaintances/friends. Network is everything. You’re going to run into so many question marks when you’re founding. All of a sudden, you’re responsible for so many things you’ve never done before. That’s perfectly normal, and for that, the network’s input is incredibly valuable. Everything else will come!
Together you develop nutrient supply for the female body. Feel free to take us along on this process: How did the product idea come about?
I, Angelica, suffered from immune insufficiency, massive hair loss and severe PMS due to post-pill syndrome. Jana’s experience in laboratories as well as in food technology had made her realize that the female body is not considered enough in medicine or in the food industry, whereupon she developed a passion for hormone-based nutrition in interaction with the female cycle. Together, we conducted research and surveys on Facebook & Co. and spoke with over 500 women. It came out that 85% suffer from PMS and menstrual symptoms, such as mood swings, anxiety complaints, breast tenderness, headaches, and many more. In addition, the female body is chronically unexplored. Our favorite example at this point: erection problems are 5x more researched than PMS, an issue that affects so many in their daily lives. We talked about it a lot and then thought:
Okay, we understand that we and 85% of (menstruating) women want to feel good every(!) day, regardless of the menstrual cycle, and we know that to do that, it takes a daily nutrient supply that goes beyond ‘normal’ food.
We also knew that society dismisses these symptoms that you have before and during your period as, “Oh, she’s having her period again,” and doesn’t address the needs of the female body. That’s why we founded fembites: to enable every woman to feel good in her body every single day and to raise awareness to change things in society as well.
What is different about your products compared to conventional alternative products?
With us, pleasure meets effect. I can’t swallow pills and capsules to this day and Jana just doesn’t enjoy it. When we found out that many of these pills and capsules are full of microplastics, gelatin and other artificial substances, we completely abandoned the idea. Our way: We focus on the flexible integrability into everyday life, through (so far) gum drops and cocoa powder. We completely avoid artificial additives, colors or flavors, gluten, refined sugar and other things that the body does not need. In our “fempow PMS Support“, for example, the micro- and macronutrient complex is stirred together with cocoa powder and can thus be used in multiple ways: In a smoothie, muesli or in energy balls.
We have already heard the most creative ideas. In our femgums, the micro- and macronutrient complex is in gummy drops that can be taken anywhere and taste fruity and delicious. In the development we rely completely on studies that have already been published in connection with PMS and the female body and we work together with experts.
Not only have you developed a product line, but you are also actively raising awareness. In your opinion, which additional topic area should receive special focus?
All topics related to the female body. From diseases, such as endometriosis, to cycle issues and menopause. All of these things receive far too little attention, as evidenced by research results that are embarrassingly low.
Are there any challenges you’ve faced on your journey to owning your own food startup and how did you deal with them?
So some. Due to the fact that our idea stands between “dietary supplements” and “food”, we have been able to learn from both areas, but have repeatedly come up against bureaucratic limits. For example, at the beginning we didn’t want to mix any sugar into our chocolate “femchoc“, but according to food law, a chocolate must contain sugar, otherwise it cannot be offered as a chocolate on the market. Unfortunately, the idea of extracting sugar from the cocoa bean was not recognized either. So, in the end, we opted for the absolute minimum sugar content from the coconut. A mess!
You are not only dedicated to the topic of “female empowerment” through your product development, you even go one step further and cooperate with Social Period e.V. How did this cooperation come about?
From the very beginning, we asked ourselves the question: What can we “give back” as a company? The collaboration with Social Period e.V. came from Jana, who was heavily involved with period poverty at the time of our founding. Our goal is to support as many organizations as possible to create new structures socially. We are also planning appropriate political campaigns for the next few years to bring the needs of the female body more and more into focus. There is so much that many people don’t know.
To what extent do you think the community idea and networking is crucial in this context?
It is quite clear that only if we all pull together will we achieve long-term and sustainable change. We’ve had a lot of criticism from people on social media who didn’t (or wouldn’t) understand why it’s important to talk about equality, female empowerment, or whatever you want to call the kid. Many feel attacked by this. Those who know us and our content know that our communication on these topics is firm but friendly, and we don’t exclude anyone. But I think you can’t please everyone.
In closing, I’m incredibly curious about what’s next for you guys: Where will your further personal/entrepreneurial journey take you in the coming years?
We will launch our second product line in October, which is primarily designed to provide support when discontinuing a hormonal contraceptive. But more on that soon. In addition, Jana is expecting her first child early next year and we are already busy developing a range of products for during and after pregnancy. It remains very exciting and we are so looking forward to everything that is coming and every single person we can support to feel good in their body.
Dear Jana, dear Angelica,
Thank you for introducing yourselves to our community in the FemalExperts Role Model Interview and giving us some exciting insights behind the scenes of your food startup.
Thank you very much.
About the author
Kinga Bartczak berät, coacht und schreibt zu Female Empowerment, neuer Arbeitskultur, Organisationsentwicklung systemischen Coaching, und Personal Branding.
Zudem ist sie Geschäftsführerin der UnternehmerRebellen GmbH und Herausgeberin des FemalExperts Magazins.