We recently had the pleasure of catching up with a yet another of our Beauty BFF's via Instagram Live, for our Beauty Talks segment, and we're excited love to share our conversation with Lady Boss and Lady Suite Beauty Founder Therese Clark with you.
Therese is an industry disruptive visionary who had been developing products in the Beauty and Wellness Space for 20 years before launching Lady Suite Beauty - a minimal Intimate Skincare line of safe and natural feminine care products that help soothe, smooth, & nourish lady parts and are specifically designed to keep the vulva healthy. The Lady Suite Collection can also be found HERE at Shop Kalosophie, including the newly released Glow Refiner for Stubborn Intimate Skin and the Lady Suite Beauty Complete Care Kit - 3 Step System.
You can head over to our IGTV to see the recorded conversation, but we also wanted to share the more in-depth interview below where Therese answers all of our intimate (no pun intended hehe) questions and talks about her brand vision where "women’s health is prioritized inside and outside of the beauty space".
Therese, what distinguishes Lady Suite from other Brands in the beauty space?
We were among the first to focus on healthy, plant-based intimate skin care in a way that is also beautiful, approachable, and accessible. Being that I have a 20 year background as a skin care product developer in both the retail and medical channels, I pay close attention to the formulas, testing, and working with the best biochemists, labs, and ingredient suppliers to ensure safety and efficacy.
We believe in a less is more approach, so you won’t see us come out with 20 products for intimate skin. We want to help empower intimate skin without compromising its health long term. For example, outside of omitting parabens, harsh surfactants, synthetic dyes and fragrance, and other vulva-villains, we limit the use of essential oils which can be too active for the vulva area.
I also think our branding, positive/cheeky messaging, and tone also set us apart and reflect who we are at Lady Suite. We’re also women experiencing/dealing with daily lady struggles from intimate skin sensitivities to period problems to endometriosis to thyroid imbalance to sex pain, and more. All of these things are difficult to navigate and we shouldn’t feel alone as these are very normal experiences. Lady parts problems are also more emotionally loaded compared to other body parts. We want to talk about these things in a way that’s friendly, informative, digestible, and conversational. We want to empower women to tell their stories to shed light on these experiences. Hopefully we’re doing that!
How would you like your brand to impact the those who choose to use your products and the beauty space?
I want Lady Suite to help other women and those who identify as women to be super attuned to and in love with the uniqueness of their bodies. We want all conversations around vulvovaginal (physical, mental and emotional) health to be normalized, empowering us to be more confident, in balance, and act as better detectors of our whole-body health.
Our vision is that women’s health is prioritized inside and outside of the beauty space.
How did your journey to launching Lady Suite Beauty begin and what was your inspiration? Has your heritage played a role in impacting your business or inspiration and how?
Coming from a family that didn’t talk about sexual wellness, my own health journey with hypothyroidism, plus being a long-time beauty product developer and brand strategist in the beauty space have all inspired/impacted Lady Suite.
I had an undiagnosed hypothyroidism in my 20s that negatively affected my skin including my intimate skin, hair, metabolism, mental state, and more. That experience made me aware of a couple of things: 1) Women’s health is not a priority in our medical system and sometimes you have to take your health into your own hands 2) As a product developer, I realized I not only needed to know what ingredients are and what they do, but how they interact with the skin and our bodies to avoid long-term inflammation and disruption to our endocrine system.
When I started going through my own skin struggles down south, mainly from grooming than coupled with hypothyroid that left my skin dry and more sensitive, I realized I had little knowledge of the entire vulvovaginal area beyond sex and babies. Being that my mom is an OBGYN nurse, you would think I would have a leg up here, but she is old school and never talked about lady parts to me or my sisters.
I also co-founded the first probiotic skin care line in the medical channel in 2010 (which used non-living isolates from good bacteria.) I was lucky to work with an incredible biochemist (and still do) who’s also constantly working on curing chronic diseases like cancer. He was using DNA testing methods to understand how different constituents can positively and negatively affect cells at the gene level, including skin care ingredients. This was eye opening to me. This experience also forced me to better understand the importance of our vulvovaginal health and pH in this more delicate area.
Lady Suite is a culmination of my curiosity, skin struggles, not feeling empowered and confused by the lack of education out there, plus crappy femcare products (unnecessarily perfumed) with marketing messages that continue to undermine women.
I want to be clear – not all women need to use intimate skin care on their vulvas. It’s a choice just like intimate grooming is a choice. When you lose the protective pubic hair, intimate skin is more susceptible to sensitivities. I’m also experiencing hormonal aging causing intimate skin dryness. For these reasons, I wanted to create better solutions that are safe, effective and specific to intimate skin.
What is the best business advice you’ve ever received and from whom?
- Trust your gut
- Surround yourself with people/allies/employees smarter than you and who you can trust
- Don’t run out of money
What has been your biggest obstacle so far?
Lack of transparency in partnerships I’ve had. Making sure you both have an exit strategy at the onset of any partnership is significantly important because things do and will change.
What advice would you give to an entrepreneur just starting their journey in launching a new brand or starting a small business?
I think the same advice I got (listed in the previous question about best biz advice - Trust your gut; Surround yourself with people/allies/employees smarter than you and who you can trust; Don’t run out of money.
Originality is important. When I was at a creative agency, we had so many founders come with ideas that looked just like Herbivore, Glossier, etc. plus had no real exciting or unique positioning. It was amazing to me how people were just unaware of the space they wanted to enter. It’s good to know your competition as long as you don’t copy them verbatim.
Lastly, invest in good branding.
What do you do to unwind?
As I type this, I’m in wine country with one of my BFFs (social distancing of course) in one of our favorite resorts here. This is my more extravagant form of unwinding. But in my day to day, I talk to God/the universe to stay calm, inspired, and grounded. I also unwind by moving my body/exercise, looking at the ocean since I live a few blocks away, and laughing with my husband. Plus cuddles from my dogs. They’re the best emotional support.
What does wellbeing mean to you?
Well-being means I’m feeling good in my body, in my mind, in my home, at work, and I’m excited about life. Enjoying the smaller moments, taking time for myself, and connecting to nature and the people that I love helps me be well.
I realize the word “balance” is more aspirational for me these days so if I do go off kilter, ie drink too much wine that week or do the negative self-talk thing, I do my best to put myself in check and make healthier choices and think good thoughts.
What is your favourite daily ritual and why?
I do love the lady suite ritual – especially using the Rejuvenating Botanical Oil at night after a bath or shower. It makes me feel feminine, connected, and empowered.
I also love baths – sounds cliché I know. I’m a water sign and I think that’s why?! I pour the lady suite oil in there, put a mask on my face, and can basically stay in there for hours. I know that baths are not always good for vulvas/vaginas so I limit what I put in my bath i.e. bubble baths that don’t support pH down south.
What are skincare and makeup go-to products that you just can’t live without?
Outside of Lady Suite of course, I’m loving the St. Jane C-Drops, the Bioeffect EFG Serum you introduced me to, Kari Gran Cleansing Oil and Kari Gran Tinted Lip Whip in Peppermint, Ilia Tinted SPF Serum and Ilia Bronzer, and Fit Glow Makeup Palettes.
What makes you feel most beautiful and why?
A good hair, skin and intimate skin day makes me feel beautiful because it’s a reflection that I’m healthy and comfortable in my body. Being in a positive state of mind makes me appreciate beauty, not just my physical beauty but beauty in life, nature, and in other people. Being myself. Also, I’m a sucker for compliments from my husband. Also, lip gloss, lol.
How do you continue to stay inspired on a day-to-day-basis?
Lady Suite inspires me in so many ways. I get to talk to amazing women (like you) doing cool things and work with women that inspire me to be better. This brand is teaching me that we need to stand up for each other as women and help change tired taboos, paradigms, and systems that hold women back, especially BIPOC women. For example, I’ve been in the process of raising capital from investors through SheTransActs, a collective of women founders trying to change the broken system that traditionally invests in men. Women of color get something like less than 1% of investor capital. That’s just not ok!
I want to do so many things (beyond products) to help empower women’s health and hopefully we will grow into a brand that can reach that vision.