By Jenna Guarneri
For this team, it’s what you may call brotherly love. Literally! From a college basement, Leif and Erin Frey conceptualized, concocted, and launched their business. They wanted to create something that would change the way we look at laundry. FREY was born out of the idea to make clothing care an experience that’s a little more personal and a lot friendlier for both the environment and our clothing. With a modern line of laundry detergent and clothing care products that contain essential oils and natural fragrances, FREY has created a product unlike any on the market. We recently had the chance to sit down with the guys to chat about the brand and themselves and here’s what they had to say.
Give us a bit of a backstory.
Leif: We are from a small rural town in Maryland and graduated from the smallest public high school in the county. We graduated Ivy League, volunteered both in the U.S. and internationally, practiced as licensed EMT’s, played sports, enjoyed pushing ourselves, and loved helping others. But as we were starting FREY, we briefly went back home to Maryland where we made and filled our bottles by hand from our basement. Luckily, we are far past that point, and now have other people who handle every step of our production process, allowing us to focus on the big picture a little more.
What was the inspiration for FREY?
Erin: There are two parts to this answer: The first is that when we went to college and started doing more of our laundry and selecting the laundry detergent, we realized most every person we knew was only using their detergent because it was their parents’ detergent of choice. There was very little variety, and very hard to choose something that resonated with us. Almost all the scents, designs, and advertisements were tailored to an outdated image of the type of person who did laundry several decades ago—in many ways perpetuating old stereotypes. Looking into it more, we also realized that many mainstream detergents contained harmful chemicals, harsh on both clothing and the environment.
So we decided that we could do something about this, and give consumers a product to call their own because they like its specific design, scent, cleaning power, formulation, and the positive impact on the environment—and the world through our philanthropic programs. We decided that we could take our company to another level, and realized that we could evolve to be something more than just a detergent, but a full line of products designed to give people something they enjoy using.
The second part of the story, however, is that my brother and I have always wanted to start a company together. We love each other and work well together and enjoy sharing in each other’s passions, so the dream of creating a company together began at an early age, as far back as when we were in elementary school, and we started making and selling bracelets by hand. Over the years, we came up with many ideas, but this was one that we thought was something that we wanted to use.
When was the moment you decided to try your hands at being an entrepreneur?
Leif: When we started getting some good press, and no longer had any time to do anything other than ship orders! At that point, we were able to take a step back, look at the bigger picture, and realize that what we were doing had far more potential than we may have initially expected.
What is it like working with your brother?
Erin: As brothers, we have been fortunate enough to play competitive sports together, go to school together (not college), travel the world together, and more. We’ve been through thick and thin, and now we’ve had the opportunity to start a business together, be on national TV together, and bring another level of adventure to our friendship. We haven’t met any siblings who are as close to each other as we are, and I think that’s one of the main reasons why we work so well together. It has always been him and me versus the world, and we still will have each other’s backs and each other’s best interests at heart.
You recently brought on a Co-founder and CTO. Tell us about him and your decision to make him a permanent part of the FREY team?
Leif: He’s a rock star human being, and we’ve known Aidan Porter since we were kids. Our families were very close growing up, but we hadn’t seen/contacted each in over a decade until we launched FREY. He reached out (from halfway across the world in the UK) and started helping us. We knew from the beginning that we would eventually hire someone to handle our website, so his flexibility, enthusiasm, dedication, and his passion all made the decision to bring him on as our CTO was an easy one. We are close enough that we don’t hesitate to tell each other what we think, it minimizes politics and keeps everything on the table since we’re all working towards the same goal and we know and trust that each of us is doing what they can to drive this forward. Being able to imagine this drive and purpose of everyone you work with is one of the best things that you can achieve, and we are delighted to have him on our team.
What is it like working with close friends? The dream is to surround yourself with great people. Some workers become incredibly close friends, and some incredibly close friends become business partners. But if you build a group that blurs the lines of friends, family, and business in the right way, all of a sudden work doesn’t feel as much like work but fun—which can be productive, as you’re randomly brainstorming over drinks. The atmosphere we’ve managed to create is honestly happy. Friends, part-time workers, people running their own businesses are constantly hopping in and out of our lives, and it’s a never-ending cycle of fun, work, new ideas, and just great feelings with people we’re close to. We’ve been very fortunate in this regard, but we’ve also built this intentionally.
What are you most excited about now that you live in New York City?
Leif: New York is such a lively energetic place. Many people have inspired work ethics as well as inspired ideas and passions that they pursue in a way that creates a refreshing atmosphere that permeates everywhere. We are constantly exposed to new ideas.
What’s next for FREY?
Erin: We will, of course, focus on continuing our growth, but we also want to start launching products with other scents, which will hopefully give people more options for them to select something that appeals to them. With the launch of additional scents, we are likely going to go through some branding changes to create a brand that resonates with all of our users.
For more information on FREY products, visit livefrey.com.