'Women Should Not Be Embarrassed to Buy Vaginal Products!' Says This 24-Year-Old Founder Lauren Steinberg is building a brand based on good health and a sense of humor.
In this ongoing series, we are sharing advice, tips and insights from real entrepreneurs who are out there doing business battle on a daily basis. (Answers have been edited and condensed for clarity.)
Who are you and what's your business?
My name is Lauren Steinberg and I am the founder of Queen V, a female-run feminine wellness company specifically focused on vaginal health. We launched our product line, including wipes, sprays and washes, nationwide at Walmart in April of 2018. Queen V takes a simple and fun three-step approach to a topic that many women (including myself at one point) find confusing and embarrassing. All of our products are pH-balanced and use better-for-you ingredients whenever possible.
What inspired you to create this product? What was your 'aha moment?'
I have been around vaginas my entire life, not only because I am female, but because my dad is a gynecologist. As I grew older, I began to develop infections "down there," what I refer to as my Queen V. It was painful and embarrassing. I didn't know why I was getting these infections, so I went to my gynecologist and did a bunch of research. I learned about vaginal pH and began researching ingredients commonly found in most feminine wellness products on the market and why they could be doing more harm than good. I also spoke to my friends about the problems I was having and realized that I wasn't alone.
I began looking for products that had better-for-me ingredients, products that were easy to use, affordable and effective and I couldn't find anything that fit my needs. I became frustrated and decided to take matters into my own hands. This is when Queen V was born.
How have you gotten your brand message out there?
Through our social media channels, we make it a priority to make learning about your body as fun and engaging as possible. Our products have loud and bright packaging, because they are not meant to hide on a shelf, but rather to stand out! Women should not be embarrassed to buy vaginal products.
What has been the biggest lesson you've learned in producing and marketing this product?
We have eight manufacturers for 11 products and yes, it's as difficult as you would think. However, one valuable lesson I have learned is that sometimes the easy road isn't the best road. The reason we work with so many different manufacturers is that I wanted to make sure we had best in class producers making each and every one of our products, and if I wasn't able to find a one-stop-shop, that was ok. I decided not to take the easy road and instead, stand behind the efficacy of our products by choosing the person I thought would do the best job.
What does the word 'entrepreneur' mean to you?
To me, an entrepreneur is somebody who sees a white space in the market and attacks it.
What was your toughest challenge and how did you overcome it?
Being a 24-year-old female in an industry typically dominated by men has been and still is a challenge. Whenever I pitch this brand, getting male retailers and male investors to understand the need for these products can be difficult. Talking about my vagina and vaginal infections was a bit embarrassing at first, but I now encourage women to be empowered to speak about their vaginas. At one point, I was even told that I was "just a girl." Instead of letting this comment get to me, I have owned it. It's true! I really am just a girl who became frustrated with vaginal products on the market and did something about it.
What trait do you depend on most when making decisions?
I rely heavily on collaborative decision-making. I surround myself with people who have different strengths than myself and learn from them. From operations and logistics to social media and product development, I am always leaning on those around me. I am lucky because my team is made up of all millennial women so I have a focus group right in front of me! I use this to my advantage.
How has your leadership style evolved?
I've always been the type of person that wants to do everything on my own. I like to be in control, and it was hard for me to let go of certain responsibilities once I realized I couldn't do it all. However, I knew that I had a qualified team of smart women who were experts in their own field. Teamwork really does make the dream work. There are a lot of ups and downs with starting a business and it is so important to celebrate the small wins.