For Women, by Women: Interview with the Founders of LOLA
Tell us about LOLA and your motivations creating it?
Jordana Kier: LOLA is feminine care brand that offers 100% cotton tampons via a convenient and flexible subscription service. The concept started off as a delivery service - it didn’t make sense to us that we could have everything from our laundry to our dinner delivered to our apartments, but not tampons. And we were always unprepared! We’d seen an explosion of subscription services, and we thought that this was a use case where that format REALLY made sense.
Alex Friedman: But then, as we started building the brand and doing research on the products on the market, we had this realization that we couldn’t figure out the full ingredients in any of the tampons on the drugstore shelves. We’d been blindly buying these products for years and years and never stopped to consider the ingredients. This was so unlike our choices in all other areas of our lives - we pour over ingredients at the grocery store and always question ingredients in our makeup. Why had we never thought about tampon ingredients? And, weirder still, why couldn’t we figure out what was in tampons?
Turns out that most of the big brands are making tampons out of a blend of synthetic fibers and the FDA doesn’t require that they disclose a full list of ingredients (so they don’t). We weren’t comfortable using something we didn’t understand and instead wanted to create an all-natural product and brand that was transparent with consumers. Thus, LOLA was born!
What has been the most surreal moment of your journey so far?
AF: Having people come to our site on launch day: until that moment, it was just an idea, and we weren’t sure if we’d be able to get the message out there, or if women would care. To see real customers (not just our moms and friends) purchasing was an incredible high.
JK: The best part is hearing from customers that we’re making a difference in their lives. I love it when people write into customer service or comment on our social media that they’d never thought about what was in their tampons, and made a switch after hearing about LOLA. I get excited when we can help customers make educated, healthy choices.
What would you tell a 20-year-old with similar aspirations?
JK: Find a partner or a team to help you. Building a business is hard, and having the right people around the table makes a big difference. Also, talk to people who have built a business before, and learn from their mistakes.
AF: Talk to the people who you want to be your customers about your idea to test and refine the concept, and demand tough love.
When faced with a difficult situation, how do you start intimate conversations?
JK: Before we launched the brand, we traveled around the country doing focus groups with small groups of women about their current product, usage and purchasing behaviors. We’d always start by going around the room and asking every woman there to tell us the story of their first period or their first experience using a tampon. In the first 5 minutes, everyone would be a little timid, but as we got into the stories, people would be talking over each other, shouting “me too!” Periods are such a universal female experience, everyone’s had that awkward moment where they bled through their pants at an inconvenient time or that very first time they had to use a tampon and had their best friend or older sister (or entire groups of friends) shouting instructions through the bathroom door.
It’s a topic that most women aren’t talking about - even with their close friends. At most, it’s, “oh I have such bad cramps,” or “I’m having the worst PMS and want to eat an entire pint of ice cream,” but never the specific experiences we’re having or why we buy the brands we buy. But we found that once we got women talking about it, they were so excited to share and relate to one another, they’d just never had the opportunity to talk about it before.
With brands like ours, created by women for women, that are changing the conversations around women's health - where do you see it going in 5 years time?
AF: It really feels like periods and sexual health in general are having a moment, right? It’s exciting that there’s so many conversations about periods happening in the mainstream media. Hopefully in 5 years time, we see that these topics are a lot less taboo. If you think about it - 50% of the population has or will have a period in their life - so why aren’t we talking about this? An important consideration is also how we educate the next generation. We’re so excited to see people like Julissa Ferreras (New York City Councilwoman) going into schools and providing free feminine care products for students, and starting these necessary conversations around menstrual health.
What are your favourite brands by women for women?
JK: We really love what SoulCycle has built. They’ve taken exercise and changed it from something you dread to something that’s a fun social activity, and have built such an amazing brand and community around it.
AF: We also love that there are so many female-founded brands that are solving problems specific to females. Take Third Love, for example, which is trying to make a better fitting bra or Nine Naturals, a brand that is designing safe, natural beauty products for pregnant women.
Where do you do your Kegels?
AF: I’m doing them right now as I’m writing this. Is that weird?
Where? 144 10th Ave. at 19th St. NY, NY 10011
When? The 8th March to the 3rd April