Sharing stories from the Beli community gives us all the feelings. Now, we’re sitting down with the woman behind the community, Beli founder Joni Hanson Davis. She shared her perspective on all things Beli – why she started the company, why the focus on fertility as a women’s issue makes her nuts, what drives her day in and day out, and how she balances life as a mom of three with a demanding day job. Let’s get to it!
So, a prenatal company. What jump started that idea?
The idea itself was years in the making. During my own pregnancies, I was really unimpressed with the prenatal vitamins on the market, which clearly hadn’t kept pace with nutritional science. By 2018, I had enjoyed a long, successful career leading various Fortune 500 companies and technology startups to IPO, and I was looking for something new. I started thinking seriously about the need in the fertility and prenatal vitamin market, which hadn’t made any strides in the years since I was pregnant.
So I set out to create a line of science-backed prenatal vitamins for women, and along the way, something big occurred to us. What about men? A little research made it immediately clear that sperm health plays a significant role in everything from conception to the health of future generations, and men experience fertility issues just as women do. Plus, nutrient shortages are one of the most common reasons behind sperm deficiencies. A prenatal vitamin designed to support sperm health just made so much sense. And while the idea of men’s prenatals were as novel as it gets just a few years ago, they’re actually part of the fertility and conception conversation these days — and I’m really proud that Beli played a part in that.
What are your thoughts on the focus of infertility as primarily a women’s issue?
It’s what we’re conditioned to think, but that doesn’t mean it’s accurate. Women’s fertility issues make headlines routinely. Doctors and fertility specialists and dietitians and all the other experts regularly advise women on what they can do to get their bodies ready for the greatest chance of pregnancy. Our lifestyle choices are picked apart and conversations revolve around biological clocks, fertility diets, fertility acupuncture, fertility-boosting yoga, fertility trackers, egg-freezing, medications, IVF, all of which are geared toward women. I mean, what else are we supposed to think?
It makes me furious, to be honest, because the science is clear that infertility and miscarriage aren’t automatically the woman’s issue. It’s just not how it’s presented. It’s one of the things that keeps me up at night, along with brainstorming how I can get Beli in the hands of every person who is thinking about a baby, actively pregnant, or navigating that post-delivery new baby blur. I truly believe that everyone in those categories will benefit from Beli’s prenatals – women and men – so we’re continuously reaching out to grow our community through search engines, social advertising, our affiliates, and doctor networks.
Education is a big pillar of the Beli mission, and we want to make it very clear that sperm health is a huge piece of this whole getting-pregnant puzzle.
The fertility and prenatal market is pretty crowded. What sets Beli apart?
A few things, I think. First, we recognized that there is little to no federal oversight, which means we needed to set our own standards for purity, safety, and efficacy. I wanted to do everything right, even if it costs more. That’s why our formulations are manufactured in an FDA-registered facility and certified GMP. They’re vegan, non GMO, gluten and allergen free, and made right here in the U.S.A. We sought out the highest quality ingredients, like Vitacholine and methylated folate.
When it came to formulating our prenatals, we referenced the most current scientific research and looked to the experts in the field – organizations like The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists and the American Medical Association – for their recommendations. Every nutrient we use has been exhaustively researched so we’re clear on its benefits and the specific amounts needed to realize those benefits. You’d be surprised at how many prenatal companies are either missing really crucial nutrients or using them in such negligible amounts that there’s no actual benefit.
It’s unfortunate that consumers have to be so diligent about prenatal vitamins, but it’s really so important. You can’t assume that anything you grab off the shelf is really meeting your needs, so educating women and men about how to shop for prenatals – what nutrients they need and in what quantity – is a big focus for us.
Our men’s line is a big differentiator too. You’ll see more fertility and prenatal vitamins targeted at men these days, but Beli really was the first and I think we’re still doing it best. Our men’s vitamins have a proprietary Vitality Blend – six key ingredients that have a huge impact on sperm health and male fertility, including L-carnitine, L-arginine, coenzyme Q10, L-taurine, N-Acetyl-L-Cysteine, and, unique to us, shilajit extract. This adaptogen has been used for centuries in Ayurvedic medicine, and we included it specifically because of its effect on sperm count and overall sperm quality.
For both partners, shoring up nutritional gaps with a high-quality prenatal vitamin is kind of the low-hanging fruit – it’s pretty easy to set an alarm and take a few vitamins every day, and the payoff can be huge. What’s more, we know the role certain nutrients play in supporting the processes that drive fertility and reproduction, and that’s what we’ve included in Beli. Why not take advantage of that?
You’re a mom of three. What’s your work-life balance like?
It’s nuts! I’m just like any mom juggling home life and a career – there’s definitely some compromise, some give and take. Honestly, I try not to think about it in terms of one or the other. Everyone has a long list of things we need to get through every day. Some fall into the work life and some into parenting life, but the goal is to find your passion and do what you love.
I will say that my own parenting journey makes me even more committed to growing Beli. I started this company to help give couples the best chances of getting pregnant, having healthy babies, and raising healthy kids. That’s my entire focus. And I’m reminded of that every day, especially when I see my own kids.
What’s next for Beli?
We’re moms ourselves, and we’re setting our sights on cleaning up the supplemental health market. Our focus is on healthy fertility, pregnancy, moms and babies, dads – there are a lot of exciting prospects on the horizon, I’ll just say that.
What do you love most about the work you do?
Ah, good question. It’s very purpose driven, but at the same time, it’s so personal. Every journey to parenthood is different, but we all want the same outcome – creating, growing, and welcoming a healthy little baby. I want to help couples be the healthiest they can be for the best chances of making that happen. It doesn’t get much more rewarding than that!