In case you haven’t heard, it is no longer taboo to talk about periods. And a big part of that is the growth of the natural tampon market as well as femtech companies and other feminine healthcare startups that are all about promoting honesty and transparency and empowering women by giving them more choices and control.
One of the pioneers of this new market is LOLA, the organic tampon startup which launched all the way back in 2014 with its line of direct-to-consumer feminine care products. This was before the Women’s March, before period shaming was a concept and before cofounders Alexandra Friedman and Jordana Kier had raised $11.2 million in funding according to Crunchbase (early investors included Lena Dunham, Allison Williams, and Karlie Kloss.)
They also just launched Sex by LOLA, a new line of natural latex condoms, chemical-free personal lubricant and first of its kind 100% natural cleansing wipes, which marks the brand’s first expansion outside of menstrual care.
Ladders spoke with Friedman about collaboration, what she looks for when hiring, and being a cofounder, and mother.
On how they inspire collaboration with their team
We’re lucky that our team at LOLA is naturally very driven, creative and resourceful; it’s inspiring to be a part of such a passionate team that so mission oriented. One of the best ways we inspire collaboration is through regular team-building activities and volunteer days that help ground us and remind us of our shared mission. I’m also encouraged by our team’s openness to lending a hand across the business, and willingness to engage in conversations about their own reproductive health, whether through sharing their first period stories or having really honest office conversations around pregnancy and sexual health. As a leader, I think it’s important to create and foster open and honest relationships with your team, especially at a company like ours that is built around destigmatizing taboo topics and sparking candid dialogue.
On learning to be a better leader
I grew up in New York City with two full-time working parents who supported and empowered me in every way — but who also made it very clear that one day I would be expected to support myself. Being raised this way has shaped the kind of leader I am — I want my team to know they have my support, but to also realize that I expect them to be individually empowered to drive the success of an outcome.
I’ve also worked for a lot of different types of leaders, and from each experience have internalized lessons of what to do and what not to do in certain situations. Even some of the most difficult people I’ve encountered in my career have taught me valuable things about what it means to lead well. While I don’t know how to qualify “better” in terms of leading, I can say that each year brings new lessons that are humbling, give me perspective and help me lead with empathy and a more clearly defined vision.
On what they look for in potential candidates
Everyone on our team here is passionate about LOLA’s mission and who we are. I look for candidates who show real, genuine enthusiasm for our mission and vision. Having a passion for what we’re doing here is a must, and when we see that passion, we want to work with you.
Another characteristic that’s important to have in the start-up world is the ability to work cross-functionally in a team, learn quickly, and multi-task. LOLA is a high-growth environment as we expand into new product categories and become the first lifelong brand for a woman’s body. Priorities and workloads shift from one week to the next. We need to know that our team can run up a learning curve quickly, support those around you, and wear a bunch of hats.
On being a mom and a cofounder
Being a mom, especially being a mom to a daughter, has motivated me and made me more committed to LOLA’s mission of empowering women at all stages of their lives. As I’ve encountered new and different phases of my own reproductive life, I’ve realized the multitude of ways that we’re able to help women through our products and community at LOLA.