We had the great pleasure of hosting our second start-up lessons session with one of our favorite new brands made by women for women – LOLA, 100% organic cotton tampons customized and delivered to your door.
We first met LOLA participating in friend focus groups with co-founders Alex Friedman and Jordana Kier last summer to talk about category perceptions, taboos, barriers, pain points and more (we’ll save you all the details) – and have been loyal followers and subscribers ever since.
We were thrilled to have had a chance to sit down and talk more about their journey, how they built a brand that challenged category conventions, and what else they have in store. The most refreshing part of our conversation was the reminder that even for start-up brands, the same core tenets of brand building are integral to getting off the ground.
Know where to disrupt: From the onset this was a brand for women by women. At its very core, the founders wanted to offer women something that didn’t already exist in the marketplace – a convenient and customizable feminine care brand. The convenience came from the ability to schedule automatic monthly or bi-monthly deliveries straight to your door. After all, what is more painful than running out of tampons midweek?
The customization aspect came from the ability to pick and choose the quantity
and type of tampons that’s right for you. This immediately set LOLA apart from
the sea of light, regular, super offers found in local drugstores.
Consumers at the heart: As LOLA’s founders shaped their brand experience they talked to a lot of women, family, friends, friends of friends, friends of friends of friends. And, what’s amazing is that, once women started talking – they couldn’t stop! It’s like no one had ever asked them anything about their periods. LOLA’s founders acknowledge this was a critical part of building their brand. And something that continues today with their dedication to creating an ongoing dialogue with their subscribers online, via social media and research.
Challenge weakly-held beliefs: A major “aha” moment came early on when the founders started to look into the feminine care category more closely, and realized it was a lot more opaque than transparent. Go home, look at your box of tampons, and try to find an ingredients list. That’s right – it doesn’t exist – online, on pack, or anywhere. That’s an interesting tension when you think about professional women ages 28-35, which also make-up the bulk of some of today’s most conscious consumers. We think about what we eat, what we put on our skin, what’s in our beauty products, but yet we’ve never stopped to think about (or challenge) what we’re putting into our bodies month after month.
Strong brands are built on clarity of difference: LOLA’s founders know what makes their brand unique, and they celebrate it: they stand for trust, honesty and badass female pride. With so many women’s issues stigmatized by the public, this is a brand that isn’t afraid to uncover the dirty truths and tackle tough female topics – from discharge to fertility, to birth control – with science, smarts and a sense of humor. This sense of knowing who they are comes through across all points of touch. Beginning with the name, chosen because they wanted something that sounded like the name of a woman you would trust, to the beautiful, simple and elegant packaging that rivals any luxury skin cream or perfume, all the way through to the inside of the box, which reads “this too shall pass,” LOLA’s founders have ensured their voice is clear, different, and resonates with their core audience.
Brand = Product = Experience: Today’s consumer does not separate brand from product – they are seen as one experience, and great brands treat them as such. LOLA launched as a feminine care subscription service, but has used its platform to lead a more important conversation around women’s issues, and has big plans to transform the women wellness category – continually evolving their brand, products and overall experience.
Its been a crazy few weeks for all of us – but talking with LOLA was a much needed reminder of all the amazing things women entrepreneurs are doing to change the status quo and elevate women’s issues. We’ll be rooting for their success – and look forward to bringing in other startups to learn more about their challenges and how they succeed in building their brands!
Alexis Sheehan is senior vice president, strategy + design.