Successes and Challenges of Entrepreneurship with LOLA Feminine Care Brand
by Theresa Christine Johnson on 07/27/2017 | 7 Minute Read
As an entrepreneur, you’re in for a lot learning by doing. Turning to other business owners and learning about their experiences, though, can help you on your own journey. In this final part of a 4-part series, Jordana Kier, one of the co-founders of LOLA, reflects on the challenges she and co-founder Alexandra Friedman encountered, mistakes they’ve made, and what’s in store for the future of their brand.
What was your biggest challenge in founding LOLA?
Jordana Kier: The biggest challenge to date has been encouraging women to think about their feminine care the same way they do with other health and wellness products. Historically, we think of tampons as transactional products that we need in order to move past our periods and get on with our day. But given that tampons, pads, and liners are such intimate products, we should be approaching our consumption of them with the same mindset as we do when we think about the food we eat, or the amount of exercise we get every week. Shifting the conversation around periods into this new direction requires new creative assets (i.e. brand videos), targeted messaging, and engaged conversations. We’re definitely seeing the lightbulbs go off when women make the connection between feminine care and wellness, but paradigm shifts take time!
If you could go back and do anything differently in this process, what would you want to change?
Jordana Kier: I’d have started this business earlier!
Did you make any big mistakes during the first few years you were in business? If yes, can you share one or two?
Jordana Kier: There’s not a big mistake that stands out, but like any startup, we’ve had our fair share of challenges. One of those challenges was learning to take things one day at a time and realizing that we can’t say yes to every opportunity or request that comes our way. We have this feeling of “let’s do it all!” but that’s just not the right or most effective way to evaluate decisions. Our aim is to remain focused on the best path for the company.
What is your main advice to other entrepreneurs who would like to start their own company? What about your best advice for others who want to start a business that is transparent about the what the products are made of?
- Develop a network where you have mentors and people you can rely on for honest feedback and advice. We’ve been very lucky to have cultivated a network of people who are supportive, but who also provide tough love and aren’t just saying “great job” all the time. They’re giving us objective feedback, and that has been invaluable and made us better entrepreneurs.
- Great people attract other great people. Find smart, motivated, talented people to add to your team. They will be your strongest asset in acquiring more talent. Our team is small but very special and hard-working. When people interview at LOLA, they leave wanting to be a part of it.
- Get comfortable with building the plane as you fly it. The learning curve stays steep, and you’re always building while operating. Proactively manage your time and energy to ensure you are able to multi-task, move quickly, and think strategically.
What do you think has contributed to the success of your business?
Jordana Kier: Launching LOLA and seeing customers embrace our brand and mission has been amazing. We now see women spending in line with their beliefs—recognizing that they deserve to know what was in their product—which was something they’d never had a chance to do in this category prior to LOLA. The fact that we were sitting on a couch a couple of years ago, just the two of us, shocked by the fact that we had never once thought about what was in our products, to now, having a team and large community of passionate women talking about feminine care and changing purchase behavior to support their beliefs, is one of the most exciting things we’ve ever experienced. The positive feedback and community support always keeps us going!
What challenges have you encountered specifically as entrepreneurs who are female? How have you overcome them?
Jordana Kier: We like to think we’ve had the same experience as our male entrepreneur counterparts. However, given we were pitching such a women-focused product—even though periods affect 50% of the population!—we did hear the word ‘no’ over and over again during our early fundraising efforts. The investor community is still majority male, so initially our biggest (and most crucial) challenge was educating investors about periods and our product. For most investors, we were introducing a topic that was really unsexy, so there was a lot of planning catered to what the ‘in’ could be to not only help men understand the market opportunity, but also get them truly excited about it.
We learned that having tampons on us and encouraging men to interact with them was extremely helpful (if not also hilarious!). Bringing tampons to lunch and dipping them in the water on the table to simulate what would happen to the product in a woman's body was eye-opening. Most men had never thought about this category at all (some had no idea how periods worked), and couldn’t believe the lack of transparency and stale brands that dominated it. We learned to use this potential weakness (a lack of knowledge) as our opportunity, and learned a great lesson in how to cater our vision to and find common ground with different audiences.
Menstruation is still a taboo topic. How do you hope LOLA can change that?
Jordana Kier: At LOLA, we want women to feel empowered to ask questions about their periods and informed enough to make educated decisions about their product choices. Since launching, we’ve been humbled and surprised by the overwhelming number of women willing to share their own personal stories (everyone has a period story!) and engage in a larger conversation about transparency in the industry.
With LOLA Gives Back, knowing we make a difference for underserved women every month with access to essential products such as tampons and pads has definitely had an impact - it has created a larger sense of purpose day-to-day. Our mission is now not only to transform women’s health and provide women all the products and content they need throughout their entire reproductive cycles, but to make a lasting difference for underserved women when it comes to menstrual equality. We’re excited to see what happens next!
What’s in store for the future of LOLA?
Jordana Kier: Our focus since launch has been first and foremost on improving the feminine care experience but ultimately, our goal is for LOLA is to be a go-to brand that provides feminine health and hygiene products for women throughout their lives. Since launching with applicator tampons, we’ve expanded to pads and liners, non-applicator tampons, and our First Period Kit, providing smart content and products for girls to feel more prepared. We’re also thrilled to continue growing our LOLA Gives Back program! First launched last October, we’ve pledged to donate 400K products by the end of this year to women in need across the U.S.
We’re proud of what we’ve done in the nearly two years since the business launched. We recently rolled out in Equinox clubs nationwide and partnered with Theory on a limited-edition International Women’s Day kit, with proceeds going to nonprofit Girls Who Code! We’re thrilled to continue the momentum and conversation with new products, content, and partnerships.