It’s a man’s world, but maybe it’s becoming a woman’s economy
Women’s health has been long under-appreciated and under-resourced because, as the old adage goes, it’s a man’s world. But if you look closely, you can start to see the tide turning. More and more, women-founded, women-led companies are popping up to bring you products that you actually want, instead of just “shrinking and pinking” existing products (looking at you, Bic, with your razors and pens).
In the United States, there are more than 120 million women over the age of 18 who own more than half of all the wealth. That’s more than $14 trillion that women own—money that they could put toward products that resonate with them. It’s thrilling to know that women are finally leading the charge in designing and creating products for women because, after all, they know what we want.
So, who are these companies transforming the landscape?
Pandia Health: Is there anything more annoying than forgetting to pick up your birth control prescription? It can truly throw everything out of whack. Pandia Health is taking the pressure off, and in their words “making adulting easier.” They deliver birth control to you, rain, sleet, or snow. What I love about Pandia Health? They’re the only company in the space that is women-founded, women-led by Dr. Sophia Yen, a reproductive health specialist. Speaking from my soapbox for a moment, it irks me that men continue to control the legislature about our bodies, and also profit from enterprises specific to our reproductive health. Seeing a woman succeed in this space feels like restoring some justice in this world.
Medolac Laboratories: Have you heard of a bank for breast milk? Adrianne Weir calls herself a Banker of Milk. She and her partner (her mother) have co-founded a breast milk bank where women can donate (for free or for compensation) their breast milk to the bank, and the milk is then distributed to babies who need it—either direct to consumer or to hospitals who have a huge need for milk for babies born prematurely. My favorite thing about Medolac? Their social conscience. Adrianne explains that the demand for breast milk has long been very high, but there has not been enough supply, and babies die in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit every day from lethal infections who could have a fighting chance with access to breast milk. She’s out to change that—flood the market with milk, so to speak.
Naya Health: The breast pump finally got a redesign thanks to Naya, a company that gained notoriety for their cringingly poignant video, If Men Breastfed, which depicts how differently the world would perceive breast feeding if it were a man’s responsibility. CEO and co-founder Janica Alvarez describes how hard it was to find a pump that made it easy to pump while she went back to work. After discovering that it had been decades since the breast pump had been redesigned (and let’s face it, was probably designed by a man in the first place), she took matters into her own hands.
Lola Tampons: Lola Tampons was founded by two friends, inspired by a simple question: “Have you ever wondered what’s in your tampon?” Fast-forward and you get Lola Tampons, organic cotton feminine care in customized assortments delivered to your door. Every woman has experienced at least one late-night run to the corner store after discovering they can’t last through the night with the tampons on-hand. Not only does Lola make that experience a thing of the past, the give you comfort knowing that you aren’t harming some of the most sensitive parts of your body with mysterious chemicals. Plus, they have a cool social responsibility aspect - with the proceeds, they provide menstrual products to women in need across the U.S.
I’m proud that I get to contribute to the women-led tides of change. I co-founded Uqora, a company dedicated to UTI prevention, after growing frustrated with the lack of effective prevention methods. Half of all women will get a UTI at some point in their lives, and millions more are subject to chronic infections. I’m part of that second group, and I knew I couldn’t be the only one who did not want to live their life on antibiotics — the prevention method my physicians kept recommending. Uqora is an easy and effective drink mix that women can drink to defend themselves from UTI-causing bacteria.
As a consumer, doesn’t it feel good to have an option to support a woman-led company? And how cool is it that so many of these companies are able to incorporate an element of social responsibility? Bravo, ladies, and the gentlemen at their sides. Together we can grow and continue to make products designed for women, by women.