Chatting Break the Mold and the Sexual Revolution with Meika Hollender
Here’s one way to #BreakTheMold: Start an all-natural, vagina-friendly condom company. Here’s another way: Start it with your DAD. Meika Hollender, Co-Founder & Co-CEO of Sustain Natural, chats with us about sexual health, running a company, and boldly turning awkward into awesome.
What was your “aha moment” with Sustain? How did you know this was something you should devote yourself to?
Unlike some founders, my real “aha moment” came a little later than most. I was head down during the first year at Sustain, getting the product made and securing distribution, and I didn’t really take a step back to think about what it meant to be a young woman launching a condom company.
For example, right before officially launching Sustain on shelves, we got our first piece of press on a major media site. The minute I found out, I clicked through to the article and excitement flooded over me: Sustain was REAL. I scrolled down to the bottom of the article, and started reading through the comments.
I read the very first comment and my stomach flipped — “What’s that on her lower lip? Clearly she should be using condoms, not selling them!” (For those of you who don’t know, I have a huge freckle on my lower lip.) That comment, and a few subsequent ones, insinuated that I had an STI on my lower lip.
This was upsetting—like, really upsetting—but it validated what we were doing and it solidified my commitment to our mission to empower women to be proud of their sexuality and never ever feel ashamed for it.
What is the hardest part of running a company?
Finding great people to work with you, and learning to let go a little so they can do their brilliant thing!
What’s your method for work-life balance?
About two years into starting Sustain, my body hit a physical wall. I was traveling almost every week, not being mindful about what I was eating, and failing to stay active when I was on the road. I was in a very “just get to the next day” mentality, and my body just said “nope.”
So I took a step back, and now I’m really focused on making sure I’m eating well, sleeping enough, limiting my alcohol, and staying active no matter what. I am also a firm believer in the 80/20 rule when it comes to work: 20% of what you’re working on is really going to impact 80% of your success. So at the end of the day, if I’m done with that critical 20% and my body or mind tells me it’s done for the day, I listen.
Besides running your business, what’s another way that you #BreakTheMold and stray away from the conventional?
Besides starting a brand of vagina-friendly sexual and reproductive health products (with my dad!), my #GetOnTop movement is something that is a little less than conventional.
This campaign, which started out as a movement to get 100,000 women to pledge to practice safe sex, has now grown into working with Planned Parenthood of NYC, as well as a book that’s coming out next year (which is basically like sex ed for the #girlboss generation).
What’s one thing that people would be surprised to know about you?
I spent a summer in college driving around a white Prius that had tampons and green fairies painted all over it to help the launch of Seventh Generation’s organic cotton tampon line.
What piece of advice do you have for young women just starting out in their career?
“Reflect, don’t react.”
What quotation or saying inspires and motivates you to be yourself and #BreakTheMold?
“Vagina: maybe she’s born with it, maybe it’s none of your business.”
What’s next for Sustain?
Tampons!!! We’re launching organic cotton tampons, pads, and liners in May 2017. #THEFUTUREISFEMCARE
What is the most-used app on your phone – and why?
iMessage and Spotify, because life is all about the people you love and good music.
What’s the first thing you do every morning?
Wake up my boyfriend.
What book could you re-read over and over?
What is your go-to bra style?
Recently, it’s an underwire bra (with cups).
Finish the sentence: I #BreakTheMold By _____.
I #BreakTheMold by: standing up for women’s reproductive rights all day, every day.
This post is part of our #BreakTheMold series, where we celebrate the lives and work of trailblazing women. Check out the rest of the series here.