Founder Friday: Solving a “Problem That Really Pisses You Off," with LOLA Founders Alex Friedman and Jordana Kier
As a #ByWomenForWomen company, we love celebrating brands that are led by fellow female founders. Our new series, Founder Friday, is a chance to get to know some of these standout women, including our very own Heidi Zak!
What goes into your feminine hygiene products? It’s not something women think about often, but it’s disconcerting to learn companies do not have to disclose everything that goes into a tampon the same way they have to disclose ingredients in prepared foods. Enter LOLA, the brand dedicated to providing an ever-expanding portfolio of trusted products and candid information for women to make deliberate decisions about their reproductive health.
When Co-Founders Alex Friedman and Jordana Kier met for drinks, they asked that same question, and LOLA was born. We were so excited to catch up with both of these inspiring women and hear more about how they started a company for women, by women, and where they’re headed next.
TL: When did you start your company?
Alex Friedman: We were introduced by friends in the summer of 2014. Jordana was in grad school, working on the early concept that would become LOLA, while I was at a tech startup. After a drink (or two), Jordana asked me, "Have you ever wondered what's in a tampon?" I hadn't. That small question sparked a big idea — could we create a brand that was completely transparent with customers about ingredients in feminine care, starting with tampons? We care about the ingredients in everything from our food to our face cream, why should our feminine care be any different? We’ve since applied this ethos to an entire menstrual care portfolio, as well as sexual health products and products to address PMS. And we’re not stopping there!
TL: Why did you start your company?
Jordana Kier: We founded LOLA with a simple and seemingly obvious idea — women shouldn’t have to compromise when it comes to their reproductive health. It started with tampons; like most women, Alex and I had been using the same feminine care products since we were teenagers, but when we found out that the mainstream brands aren’t required to disclose what’s in their products, it made us wonder: what’s actually in our tampons? So we launched LOLA, the first lifelong brand for your body that aims to address every life stage with a commitment to product transparency and a community built on candid dialogue about all of the things we don’t openly talk about. Since launch, we’ve extended our portfolio to include a First Period Kit, Cramp Care, Sex by LOLA, and most recently a Sexual Wellness Kit. Our mission is to continue innovating to proactively address what women need, both mentally and physically, at each life stage, from their first period to their last hot flash.
TL: What was one challenge you overcame during the early days of your company?
Jordana: We certainly had moments when we questioned whether women would be receptive to changing their purchasing habits after using the same brands for years — brands that their mothers, sisters, and friends had also been using. We were able to validate our idea through a series of focus groups we held the year before launch with women all over the country. We were blown away by how open they were in sharing their feminine care habits and needs, even going so far as to share their first period stories with us (which we now feature on our #FirstPeriodFriday Instagram series!). These personal, intimate insights reinforced our belief that women were not truly satisfied with the feminine care brands on the market at the time and that they also craved a community to share and learn more about their reproductive health. There was a clear appetite for a brand that could deliver on creating transparent, trustworthy products, while also driving productive conversations that lead to real change.
TL: What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever received?
Jordana: Don’t start with a starting a business. Start with a problem that really pisses you off! LOLA started with a simple question — what’s actually in a tampon? — but once we uncovered the lack of ingredient transparency and information available to women, we knew we had the foundation for a business. It was all-consuming and we were adamant that we would innovate to find a solution for ourselves, and for women everywhere.
TL: Was there anyone who helped pave the way for your business or your path as an entrepreneur?
Alex: Each other! What’s great about being so close with your co-founder is learning from and mentoring each other in so many ways. Jordana and I work side by side every day, and we each bring individual strengths to the table. Since we've gone through so much together as co-founders, we trust one another to provide constant and clear feedback on how to be the best versions of ourselves.
TL: What does your morning routine look like?
Alex: My family and I usually go on a morning walk to spend some quality time together. And then my daughter gets ready with me and we share the same breakfast. Having a routine that incorporates both mine and my daughter's needs is key to getting out the door on time, especially when it's super early and my brain isn't fully 'on' just yet.
TL: What are your favorite ways to practice self-care?
Jordana: I’m a strict enforcer of "No Plans Wednesday" nights to ensure I give myself time back during the work week to just unwind and relax.
TL: Looking back, what would you have done differently?
Alex: I wish I would have been even more picky about my time commitments over the first few years. As we’ve grown and gained momentum we’ve been lucky to have so many compelling opportunities come our way. In the early days, we’d over-extend ourselves and take every meeting — which wasn’t always productive. We’ve only recently become truly adamant about prioritizing our time.
TL: If you could give your younger self advice, what would you tell her?
Jordana: Find a partner or a team to help you. Building a business is hard, and having the right people around the table makes a big difference. Also, talk to people who have built a business before, and learn from their mistakes!
TL: What’s the most fulfilling part of your job?
Jordana: The best part is hearing from customers that we’re making a difference in their lives (one in four of our customers reach out to us!). I love it when people write into customer experience team or comment on our social media that they’d never thought about what was in their products, and made a switch after hearing about LOLA. We’re committed to ensuring our customers can make more informed choices about their reproductive health, and it’s exciting to receive feedback that shows you’re making an impact.