How LOLA Founders Started a Company to Solve Menstruation Woes
by Theresa Christine Johnson on 07/25/2017 | 6 Minute Read
Inspiration for entrepreneurs is all around, but the deep details about how a brand goes from an idea to a physical product or service are fuzzy. We’re breaking it down this week with one of the founders of LOLA, Jordana Kier. In part 2 of a 4-part series, learn about how she and Alexandra Friedman got the idea for this feminine hygiene product delivery service and how they turned into a full-fledged business.
Be sure to check out the first part to this series on LOLA.
How did you two meet? How did you approach starting a business together?
Jordana Kier: We went to the same college but Alex and I actually didn’t meet until we were introduced years later by mutual friends. We instantly bonded and quickly shared gripes with the feminine care market. Among other things, we wondered why we found ourselves making frantic last-minute trips to the drugstore each month—we knew we needed them, yet somehow we were almost always unprepared. That’s when LOLA was born as a modern solution to feminine care. We started working together on the business over two years ago and launched the company together in July 2015.
How did you get the initial idea to start LOLA?
Jordana Kier: I was already thinking through potential business ideas while getting my MBA, identifying any consumer pain points in existing markets, and feminine care stuck out to me. We always find ourselves unprepared at the start of our periods; why wasn’t there a more convenient way to get the products we knew we would need every month? After some initial research into the category, however, it was clear that the story was bigger than just inconvenience: I could not find a comprehensive ingredients list for the tampons I had used for 15 years. But like everything else we put in and around our bodies, we deserve to know exactly what’s in these products. We were inspired to start this business because we realized that we, as well as all of the other women in our lives, wanted a better feminine care brand that was transparent and conveniently delivered.
Once you decided that this was something you wanted to pursue, what were your next steps? How did you take it from an idea to physical products people could buy?
Jordana Kier: In addition to extensive market research and surveys, we held numerous focus groups with women all over the country the year before launch with friends and friends of friends to talk about their feminine care habits and discuss the brand we were building. We knew there was a market for LOLA, but since we weren’t yet selling a product, it wasn’t easy to be certain that women’s frustration with the status quo in feminine care would translate to an actual switch in behavior.
Real-time feedback from our focus groups was critical to refining LOLA and our go-to-market approach, and through these conversations we validated the demand for what we were offering. Once women were made aware of the fact that they didn’t know what was in their tampons, they were angry but also galvanized to educate themselves and make a conscious change—that was the key indicator for us.
Why did you want to make LOLA a delivery/subscription-based business?
Jordana Kier: We initially set out to solve what we thought was the main problem with feminine care: delivery. We were able to get our groceries, our beauty products, and our dry cleaning delivered to our door, so why not our tampons? As we began to research the feminine care market, however, it quickly became clear to us that a more pressing issue than convenience or delivery was an obvious lack of transparency about the ingredients in tampons. Trying to figure out what went into the products that we had been using since we were teenagers was a guessing game—a result of the fact that the FDA doesn’t require feminine care brands to disclose exactly what’s in their products, just what they may contain.
This lack of information inspired us to develop our own product, made from an ingredient we know and trust, and create a new transparent feminine care brand. LOLA offers tampons, pads and liners (and a brand-new First Period Kit!) made with 100% organic cotton, delivered right to your door in customizable assortments.
When you were just starting, what did your operation look like? How many people did you have helping you then, and how have you expanded?
Jordana Kier: We’ve grown a great deal, from 4 full-time employees (including Alex and myself) when we launched the business in July 2015, to 12 full-time employees today.
How did you spread the word about LOLA when you were just starting out?
Jordana Kier: The focus groups were essential for spreading the word about LOLA pre-launch and then later at launch. Our friends and their friends shared with their networks, so through that ripple effect, more women were suddenly aware of the fact that they didn’t realize what was in their tampons and wanted to do something about it. LOLA was not just a new product, but an entirely new way of thinking about feminine care.
How did you get the message out that the type of pads and tampons you use do matter, when it can often feel like people (even women) don’t want to openly talk about feminine hygiene and menstruation?
Jordana Kier: At launch, we encouraged our customers to post their own #lolashelfie and were so excited by what we saw. The existence of social media makes it easier for women to team up, start a movement, and realize they aren’t alone when it comes to traditionally taboo topics. We’ve seen women comment and engage on our Instagram page more and more over time as they’ve realized periods are something that we all can relate to and shouldn’t be embarrassed about. We love seeing customers take photos, tag us, and share their LOLA experiences with their communities.
We also created The Broadcast, a destination for information on women’s health, tips for living a healthy and balanced life, and conversations with trailblazing women we admire. We launched it to tackle stigmatized topics and personal questions that we’re all independently thinking about but not necessarily engaging with each other on.
We hear from our customers every day that they are so thankful they now have a brand they can turn to for questions about their periods and reproductive health. Women call us to ask basic questions about their cycle, how to make informed product choices, and we even have the occasional woman who calls us from a bathroom. For us, launching a blog was a natural next step to allow us to connect with women through a different channel and open up the conversation across a spectrum of women’s health topics that too often go undiscussed. Part of opening up the conversation is creating a safe space for women to engage on these topics, and The Broadcast will hopefully become that destination for many women.