On this episode of the Busine$$ of the V, hosts Dr. Dweck and Rachel ramp up a conversation that has burst forth in recent years. No more is menopause a whispered word, suitable only for the gynecologist’s office. With some 20 percent of women in the U.S. at some stage of menopause — many of them in the workforce — it was time to break the silence, which is just what Michelle Jacobs and Sally Mueller, the co-founders of Womaness, have done.
As CEO and COO respectively, Sally and Michelle are all about taking the “pause” out of menopause. Their Womaness platform was developed specifically to provide modern, innovative products, essential information and unlimited inspiration to women transitioning through this stage. The overarching goal is to spark a radiant, dynamic outlook based on treatment options and education. They call it “menopositivity.”
Womaness’ complement of products zeroes in on a range of menopausal issues because every woman’s journey is different. They believe symptoms like hot flashes, brain fog, fine lines, vaginal dryness, low libido, and bladder leaks should not slow anyone down. Their products are carefully vetted, backed by clinical data and made of clean ingredients. The centerpiece of this vision is the role that community has to play. They want Womaness to be a “first line of defense” for women in search of science-based, cutting-age information. Their platform is built not just to sell products (which are also available online and at a variety of retail outlets, like GNC and Target), but also to advance discussion through Facebook meetups, a newsletter, social media posts and Q&A’s hosted by trusted medical authorities.
It’s been a major leap for Sally and Michelle, whose careers were previously within traditional corporate environments. Hear all about their wild entrepreneurial ride and the in-the-trenches camaraderie that has kept their team going strong. You can learn more about their products and take their W Quiz here.
Watch the Womaness Interview with Founders Sally & Michelle
Womaness Interview Topics of Discussion
- Dr. Dweck and Rachel share news from the frontier of healthcare innovation, where menopause is “out there” in ways unfathomable until relatively recently.
- Womaness grew out of a “love affair” between Michelle and Sally, who met when their careers (at Real Simple and Target, respectively) brought them into each other’s orbits.
- About the “aha” moment that ultimately served as an early springboard into the idea of “disrupting” the menopause space, which Sally was shocked to discover had little to offer in the way of clean, positive products.
- Womaness stands for quality products but equally for education and inspiration.
- Menopause can have wonderful connotations: Freedom from having to use contraception; freedom from menstruation and related products; a sense of wisdom and confidence.
- Womaness products are focused on three distinct categories:
- Skin Care
- Sexual Wellness
- About the medical/clinical support behind Womaness: Products are selected based on rigorous clinical data, anecdotal information, partners in the gynecological community.
- Western and Eastern Perspectives: Dr. Dweck reflects on the range of approaches she taps when working with menopausal patients — from nutrition and lifestyle to herbal remedies to pharmaceutical options. There is no “one size fits all.”
- Because of Target’s strong consumer orientation, it made an ideal partner in the effort to fill a void in quality options available to menopausal women at an affordable price.
- Womaness has been laser-focused on building community in myriad ways, including a robust social media presence, product Facebook group, online resources, an innovative newsletter and “Taking Questions,” an interactive forum.
- Stepping out of their corporate comfort zones to make this entrepreneurial leap has been stressful, but Michelle and Sally have found in each other a mutual source of support (as well as regular reminders about self-care). The camaraderie is huge!
- Symptoms of menopause are mutable, which makes it a constant journey and a potential strain on mental health. Everything from brain health to sexual wellness issues to sleep issues factor into how women feel and the amount support they need.
- On the Horizon: A new, versatile retinol product is launching, including at Target, and also a vaginal moisturizer called “Coconut Bliss.”
About Womaness Co-Founders Sally Mueller & Michelle Jacobs
As the Co-founder and CEO of Womaness, Sally Mueller is a consummate business builder specializing in retail and brand innovation. Her trend-forecasting Midas touch has benefited companies such as Target, Who What Wear and VERSED skincare, among others. She is a seasoned executive with impeccable entrepreneurial acumen. Sally spent over two decades of her career at Target Corp., first in Apparel Merchandising and then in Marketing, helping to build the bullseye from a regional discount retailer to one of the world’s most recognized and influential global brands.
Michelle Jacobs, Co-Founder and COO at Womaness, is a strategic development leader with a sweet spot in brand building, leading sales (e-commerce and traditional), branding, partnerships, licensing, logistics, inventory planning and financial management. She’s worked across multiple categories from home to health, décor to baby, for both start-ups and established brands. Michelle began her career in licensing then spent a few years at a digital media agency, leading client relationships for Polo, Ralph Lauren and Lancôme. After earning her business degree, Michelle marketed billion-dollar brands like Centrum and Advil to every store from the corner bodega to Costco. Michelle then spent a decade with Time Inc., launching and developing the licensing and retail business for Real Simple, Cooking Light and InStyle magazines with mass retail partners including Target, Bed, Bath & Beyond, BJs Wholesale Club and Crate & Barrel.
Quotes from Today’s Interview with Womaness
“(Menopause) isn’t one thing. It’s lots of things.” (Rachel)
“(We) really felt that there was this turning point happening with women … It’s time for them to do something for themselves. They didn’t have to prove themselves anymore.” (Sally)
“For the most part, there is a lot of freedom that goes on (with menopause). (Dr. Dweck)
“Women are not only hungry for a solution but consumers overall have been very focused on self-care and doubling down on that, especially during the pandemic.” (Sally)
“We feel community is about education and have brought forth a lot of different experts that … are leading our community with something that they haven’t heard before or is going to make them feel empowered and more inspired.” (Sally)
“We want to be the first line of defense. We want to be the best out there with the cleanest products we can pull together.” (Michelle)
“Self-care is hard. (Sally and I) probably don’t do as good a job as we could. I don’t think I’ve ever worked so hard on anything in my life!” (Michelle)
“It really is a sisterhood and so important to support each other … It’s hard to be a startup and building something from scratch, creating a new category, trying to de-stigmatize menopause.” (Sally)
“We’re trying to reach a woman who has been largely ignored. It’s not easy!” (Sally)
“One of the biggest benefits of brands like yours (at Womaness) is that we are having conversations about menopause and people aren’t going through it alone.” (Rachel)