Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey in skin care but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Therese Clark, Founder and CEO of Lady Suite, located in Hermosa Beach, CA, USA.
What's your business, and who are your customers?
We're a modern, intimate care company solving skin conditions on the vulva through wellness-driven solutions backed by science. (The vulva is the external genitalia comprised of specialized skin that plays a protective role in our vaginal health. It is often compromised by hormonal changes, biological aging, grooming, and lifestyle choices.) Think of us as your BFFs when it comes to all things vulva health, which like other lady parts, has been labeled as taboo. Any discomfort in this area, whether visible or not, can cause fear or isolation at times, impacting daily comfort, sexual confidence, and mental health. We have a wide range of women customers. Our core customers are women and moms in their mid-twenties to early 40s entering menopause.
Tell us about yourself
In the early 2000s, my health was impacted by an undiagnosed hypothyroid condition. The first warning signs were in my skin, including vulvar skin, which led to chronic irritation. I remember feeling scared and embarrassed, not knowing what was happening down there. I didn't have the kind of relationship with my mom that allowed for these conversations. My doctor overlooked this area in exams, and when I finally did ask for help, I was given a steroid cream that eventually made my skin redder and more sensitive.
As a product developer, I was creating skin care products for other brands, but my skin was suffering. Weeding out xenoestrogens in my diet made me take a hard look at my makeup and skincare products, and I didn't like what I saw. It was the first time I realized what I did for a living could do more harm than good if I didn't smarten up.
During that time, I was introduced to a progressive biochemist and immunologist turned mentor. He gave me a more profound understanding of the microbiome and the integrative, reciprocal relationship between our health and our skin. Helping women take ownership of their intimate health is my motivation, along with shattering these ridiculous stigmas that are so damaging to our bodies and emotional wellbeing.
What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?
I'd say my biggest accomplishment is bringing Lady Suite to fruition via bootstrapping efforts. Out of all the brands I've worked on or created, this one is special because we can help women in more profound ways now and in decades to come.
What's one of the hardest things that come with being a business owner?
With this particular business, I've faced challenges of being a minority women founder amplified by the taboo nature of Lady Suite. I've had multiple people tell me I was crazy to do this, especially at a time when the market was nascent. There isn't a minute that I'm not thinking of the business and how to keep it moving forward. I'd even say that vacations intensify these thoughts, which is oxymoronic. This is something I'm working on.
What are the top tips you'd give to anyone looking to start, run and grow a business today?
- Be clear on your positioning and establish pillars that do good for people and the planet.
- Surround yourself with solid people and have other women business owners on speed dial that "get it" and can pick you up on the hardest days.
- Raise capital with like-minded investors that bring something to the table in addition to capital, whether it's a skillset or team support etc.
Is there anything else you'd like to share?
I've come to realize that having a life outside of the business is really important, including cultivating and maintaining the relationships in your life that truly matter and committing to self-work and self-care. It will make you a better human and business leader.
Where can people find you and your business?
If you like what you've read here and have your own story as a solo or small business entrepreneur that you'd like to share, then please answer these interview questions. We'd love to feature your journey on these pages.
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