“Get comfortable with building the plane as you fly it. The learning curve stays steep, and you’re always building while operating.”
LOLA offers a new way to think about, purchase and receive feminine care products– by delivering organic, all-cotton tampons as a subscription service.
Years in industry?
We launched LOLA in July 2015.
Who or what inspired your career in tech? Jordana: We were inspired to start this business because we didn’t already have the technology to facilitate smart management of our period products, and because we couldn’t figure out what was in the mainstream tampon brands. LOLA was born when we realized all of the other women in our lives also wanted 100% cotton tampons delivered to their doors.
Alex: The goal of our business is to give women a choice in feminine care, allow them to access natural products and provide them with a customized experience. Our tech platform is relatively simple, as it’s designed to facilitate an easy entry to a better habit and then allow for on-going management.
What has been your greatest career/startup challenge and how have you handled it? Alex: The greatest challenge has really just been taking this one day at a time. The momentum is big right now, and we’ve been presented with a ton of opportunities (extensions, partnerships, etc.) so we have this feeling of “Let’s do it all!” But we know that’s not the right way to evaluate decisions. We are learning to stay focused on the best path for the company.
What is your biggest career success to date? Jordana: Launching LOLA and seeing the market embrace our brand and mission. We saw women spending in line with their beliefs – recognizing that they deserved to know what was in their product – which was something they’d never had a chance to do in this category prior to LOLA. Also, when LOLA was featured in Us Weekly’s Buzzzz-o-meter AND on the front page of the NY Times Business section, we knew we made it!
Alex: Taking an idea from concept to reality. The fact that Jordana and I were sitting on a couch less than two years ago – just the two of us – lamenting the fact that we couldn’t figure out what was in tampons to now, having a team and large community of passionate women talking about tampons and changing purchase behavior to support their beliefs, is one of the most exciting things we have ever experienced.
What’s been your best hack ever? Jordana: Our best hack as a business has been building a strong network of folks at a lot of other startups in NYC. As an early stage business, many of our resources are not in-house (we work with third-party agencies across our tech stack, as well as in marketing and operations), and finding the right partners quickly through our networks has likely saved us a tremendous amount of legwork in identifying, screening and onboarding the right partners.
What advice do you have for other female founders?
1. Develop a network where you have mentors and people you can rely on for honest feedback and advice. We’ve been very lucky to have cultivated a network of people who are supportive, but who also provide tough love and aren’t just saying “great job” all the time. They’re giving us objective feedback, and that has been invaluable and made us better entrepreneurs.
2. Great people attract other great people. Find smart, motivated, talented people to add to your team. They will be your strongest asset in acquiring more talent. Our team is small but very special and hard-working. When people interview at LOLA, they leave wanting to be a part of it.
3. Get comfortable with building the plane as you fly it. The learning curve stays steep, and you’re always building while operating. Proactively manage your time and energy to ensure you are able to multi-task, move quickly, and think strategically.
Who are your role models? Jordana: We’re big fans of Diane von Furstenberg. She’s a trailblazer, not only as a fashion designer but also a female business owner in an industry initially dominated by men. Her bold and feminine brand identity also really resonates with the ethos we’re building at LOLA. I also really admire Lena Dunham for the way she’s pushed the envelope.
Alex: Every woman I’ve ever worked for has founded and run her own business. I admire Mindy Berman (founder of IGS) for her scrappiness, ability to attract talent to her team, and raw horsepower; Diana Frazier (founder of FLAG Capital) for her ability to access anything she puts her mind to; and Alexis Juneja (founder of Curbed) for her on-going investment in herself as a leader. I also admire my mother, Elaine Friedman (founder of CFAL), who serves as my lifelong daily example that if I didn’t see what I wanted out there in the world, I should build it myself!
If you could go back in time, what’s one tip you’d give your teenage self? Jordana: Nothing is ever as scary as you think it is. And, if not now, when? Had I known, I would have started much earlier. Alex: Don’t be afraid to ask for help.
What do you do when you’re not kicking butt at work? Jordana: We work hard and we make sure to set aside time for things that are important to us, whether they be family, workout, friends, hobbies, or alone time. We are personally at our best when we lead balanced lives, so we make that a priority for ourselves. For working out, I spin, Alex swims. I see a lot of live music, and Alex goes to a lot of off-Broadway plays. We’re both total foodies and we’re always on the lookout for the best new dumplings joint or taco stand.
Flats, heels or kicks? Alex: If we’re being honest… we wear sneakers everyday. Sometimes, when we’re fundraising, we fake it and throw on some heels.
Best career advice book? Jordana:The Hard Thing About Hard Things by Ben Horowitz has a lot of excellent leadership advice. In the book, Ben is extremely honest about how difficult it is to start and build an early-stage business. He tackles the hard topics – team-building, wartime versus peacetime CEO duties, and the importance of giving your team honest feedback. We both read this book last year and we know that we’re dorks, but we quote it all the time.
Who are the women in tech that you most admire and why?
We really look up to Susan Lyne, President and Founding Partner of BBG Ventures. Susan has had an impressive and varied career serving as President of ABC Entertainment, CEO of Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia, CEO and Chairman of Gilt Groupe, and CEO of AOL Brand Group. The first time we met Susan was the first time we ever formally pitched LOLA to a potential investor. Our last slide in the deck presented our forward-looking financials. Susan looked at our projections and asked, with an enormous smile, “Don’t you think you can grow it bigger than THAT?” Susan taught us how to sell the dream, and her guidance has been integral to LOLA on several occasions.