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Lisa Beattie Frelinghuysen & Emily Kelly

Lisa Beattie Frelinghuysen & Emily Kelly

Celebrate International Women's Day with us as we spotlight Lisa Beattie Frelinghuysen and Emily Kelly, the driving forces behind "clutchkit". Rooted in a deep commitment to gender equality, inspired by Frelinghuysen's experience working with Ruth Bader Ginsburg, ClutchKit offers more than just a thoughtfully assembled kit containing three essential products: condoms, the morning after pill, and pregnancy tests—it represents a powerful mission to empower young adults with agency over their futures.

In this special edition of Women Who Dress, Frelinghuysen and Kelly unveil their journey in creating a bipartisan solution that is both simple as it is transformative, in the prevention of unintended and unwanted pregnancies

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Lisa: As the visionary force behind ClutchKit, what sparked the inspiration for this initiative, and what motivated you to turn that idea into the reality we see today with the company’s recent launch?

After the Supreme Court’s Dobbs decision overturning Roe, I was concerned about women’s limited access to reproductive healthcare across the country. I thought, if we could give women the tools to prevent unwanted pregnancies, we could help solve what was turning into a growing health crisis and a deepening political divide. And ClutchKit was born, giving women access to these reproductive health tools in clutch moments.

Lisa: The journey from concept to launch is seldom smooth sailing, especially in the startup world. Could you share some of the significant hurdles you've tackled to bring ClutchKit to its current position?

We’ve experienced a few hurdles involving emergency contraception, commonly known as the morning-after pill. Finding pharma partners who would provide these pills at reduced prices, and then having Shopify tell us they would not support payments on our website because of the morning-after-pill. This latest roadblock seemed absurd, given that the morning-after pill is approved by the FDA as an over-the-counter medication. Hard pill to swallow!

Emily: The startup landscape is notoriously demanding, with team members frequently wearing multiple hats and juggling an array of tasks. What drew you to take on such a multifaceted and impactful role as the first official employee of ClutchKit?

Two pieces of advice that I had been told was to work for and with good people and do what you love. Last summer, I was doing neither of those things. After re-evaluating, I called Dune Thorne, who had invited me to a focus group the summer prior to discuss a company her and two friends were thinking of starting, Clutchkit. The mission of accessibility to reproductive health tools resonated with me personally, and I hadn’t been able to get it off my mind.

Not only did I feel this company was something I would wake up every day and love to do, but I was amazed by all three women founders. AND after meeting all their kids, I can also say they are admirable role model mothers as well. As a 27 year old woman, I couldn’t image a better group of founders to work for. It’s been an amazing journey so far, and I know we are just getting started.

    Emily: Since joining ClutchKit, can you share an instance that truly highlighted the significance of the company's mission for you?

    Following every event or focus group we host, there’s constant interest in follow up calls from people who want to chat with me directly. Spanning various demographics- successful professionals, those just beginning their careers, young adults, parents, and grandparents, all are excited to discuss their admiration for clutchkit, how they can help, and, what has been most moving, they all want to share personal stories. Each person carries a “why” of why clutchkit’s mission resonates with them.  The stories I have heard from men and women from all walks of life, have been emotional and special for me and are a constant reminder of the significance of clutchkit. 

    Lisa: ClutchKit represents more than just its physical offerings; it embodies a progressive stance on reproductive health and feminism. How do you hope ClutchKit will influence the broader discourse on these critical issues?

    Yes, we want to decrease the stigma around these products. We made ClutchKit giftable, hoping moms would send it to their daughters and sons, and include supportive notes, such as: “Hey daughter, you’ve worked hard to get into college! And I hope you achieve all your dreams. Here’s a toolkit to help you on your way. I’m routing for you!” 

    We also believe that the prevention of unintended and unwanted pregnancies is something everyone in our country (whether pro-life or pro-choice) should agree is a worthy goal! We think the ClutchKit represents the middle ground, and we’d like to see our country come together on this issue. 

    Lisa: With an impressive background that spans both business at David Yurman and clerking for the legendary Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, it appears you've uniquely bridged the realms of business and women's health advocacy. How have these experiences shaped your approach at ClutchKit, bringing together your dual passions in such a seamless manner?

    Clerking for RBG was the highlight of my life! And it certainly cemented my commitment to gender equality. I think ClutchKit will help women achieve equal status, with the tools to avoid an unwanted pregnancy before they are ready to have children. 

    We decided to launch ClutchKit as a business so that it would be self-sustaining, and we have worked on the financials to enable us to donate ClutchKits to those in need. 

    Last, the government – the judiciary and state legislatures – are failing women, taking away agency and rights to basic health care. I love innovative businesses, and see many cool ones stepping in to fill needed gaps. 

    Emily: With your active engagement in the fashion-focused social media space, you're well-acquainted with how fashion can be a force for challenging societal norms and reshaping perceptions. In what ways do you envision ClutchKit contributing to this narrative of change?

    Social media, fashion, art, trends, influencers, etc, all have power to promote diversity, advocate for social issues, empower individuals and so much more.  Personally, I find there is a noticeable gap in social media when it comes to addressing topics that are uncomfortable but crucial, such as women’s reproductive health. With clutchkit, I hope to challenge this stigma, finding ways to bring conversations like these to the forefront in a friendly, “cool”, and fashionable way.    

    Lisa: As one of the visionary leaders of ClutchKit, what are your personal goals and aspirations for the company as it moves forward?

    I would like to get ClutchKits into the hands of every young woman, especially those in red states with limited means. I want to empower all women to live their dreams and have children when they are ready. 

    Emily: Looking into the future, what are your ambitions for ClutchKit, and how do you see your role evolving with the company's growth?

    As with most startups, there are constant changes and unknowns. But personally, my hope for clutchkit is that we break down the stigma around reproductive health conversations, provide clutchkits to those who cannot afford or don’t have access to these tools, bring a polarized pro-life and pro-choice side together over a middle ground and eventually be a part of a significant decrease in the rate of unintended pregnancies in our country. But if we can change just one person’s life by providing them a clutchkit, that is a success for me.

    Lisa: I couldn't help but notice that both you and Emily are elegantly dressed in ONE33 Social green dresses for today's interview. Could you share the reason behind this choice? Is there a particular significance to the color green for you, and what draws you to choose ONE33 Social for such significant occasions?

    ONE33 Social has fun and easy-to-wear designs for women on the move. I picked green as a nod to the “green wave” in South America – predominantly catholic countries are passing gender equality and reproductive health laws – and the women fighting for progressive reform wear green bandanas. 

    Can you recall a moment when you felt an overwhelming sense of pride in being a key part of ClutchKit's journey?

    Lisa: Seeing 500 ClutchKits arrive in NYC was thrilling! Telling friends about our website and reading their positive responses was meaningful. And looking at my cofounders at our first launch event filled me with pride.

    Emily: Launching our website after months of preparation was super exciting!  I know it isn’t perfect but after all the hard work that went into the last few months, I was proud to see it all come to fruition, and we are just getting started!

    Reflecting on your experiences with ClutchKit, what key lesson have you learned that you'd share with others chasing their own passions?

    Lisa: Working with an awesome team makes all the difference. We have four women with unique strengths, but a shared dedication, coming together on this project, and that has been amazing. Emily, here, is a total rockstar!!

    Emily: Do what you love and work for good people that bring out the best in you!