The ongoing Covid-19 pandemic has turned the once niche practice of “prepping” for a global disaster—and in some extreme cases, the end of the world—with a stockpile of nonperishables and other essentials into a national pastime.
The initial outbreak of Covid-19 stateside brought on a wave of panic buying. And while it’s mostly subsided, it’s safe to say the concept of emergency preparedness is a lot more real to Americans than it was six months ago. With the current pandemic in mind, the timing of the launch of Judy, which dubs itself as the “first digitally connected emergency preparedness brand,” couldn’t have been more serendipitous.
Judy is a DTC brand that sells emergency preparedness kits containing a wide assortment of items to prepare for any crisis, such as a first aid kit, wet wipes, hand sanitizer, batteries, a flashlight, phone charger and more. There’s also a digital component, where Judy sends users customized safety and emergency tips based on their location.
The company hit the market in January of this year, according to co-founder Simon Huck, after 18 months of planning and consulting with experts, including first responders.
“We thought, ‘Why isn’t there a brand out there helping the American family be prepared?'” Huck said.
Relatively quickly into 2020, the idea of emergency preparation became not just an abstract concept but a dire reality. And simultaneously, the U.S. also became enraptured by Tiger King, the Netflix docuseries about big cat owners like Joe Exotic and Carole Baskin. Just as the country used the series to take a break from the world around them, Judy felt that Tiger King’s escapist qualities could even be applied to its products.
“Part of the challenge around emergency preparedness is that you’re asking people to talk about scenarios that are really scary and anxiety-inducing,” said Huck. “So you need to think of ways to bring in levity to the situation in order to get people to pay attention.”
That thought process led to the creation of the Tiger Safe, a Tiger King-themed edition of Judy’s core product. The Tiger Safe is, in essence, the same as Judy’s classic kits, but this time the orange box it comes in is covered in tiger stripes. The proceeds from the sale of the Tiger Safe will benefit America’s Food Fund.
Though the product’s release was not done in partnership with Netflix, Judy did manage to recruit Tiger King’s John Finlay to debut the product in a video spot where he provides a voiceover.
Interest in Judy’s product has spiked as the Covid-19 pandemic has spread throughout the world. People who have never before considered their emergency plans are thinking about it in detail.
“There’s a behavioral change right now for the millions of Americans who before this thought, ‘I’m immune to natural disaster or emergency,'” Huck said. “I think right now everyone is rethinking what their emergency plan looks like.”
In a time of unprecedented societal stress, the idea behind innovations like the Tiger Safe is to bring a sense of lightness to a topic that may feel intimidating and overwhelming. Particularly as the need for thorough emergency preparation has repeatedly presented itself—not just with Covid-19, but other crises such as fires in California and hurricanes across the eastern seaboard—the need to make emergency readiness an approachable topic has reached a fever pitch. And for Judy, associating its product with cultural phenomena that inspires feelings of comfort in people is one way to do that.
“If we can have more attention driven to us by using pop culture as a vehicle,” Huck said, “then let’s do it because the mission to prepare American families is so crucial.”