Vagisil Parent invests in “vagina compatible” company, Sustain Natural – WWD
In 2017, Keech Combe Shetty, CEO of Vagisil, says WWD that she was “optimistic about vaginas.”
Now, with a majority investment in Sustain Natural, a five-year brand that focuses on natural, long-lasting tampons, condoms and other sexual health products, she has acted on it.
“It remains true,” Shetty said of her previous comment. Combe, the parent company of Vagisil which was started by those close to Shetty, took a majority position in Sustain.
The two brands will continue to operate separately, but Sustain will have access to Combe’s research and development capabilities, and Shetty and Sustain Founder and CEO Meika Hollender will work to push the boundaries of the conversation around women’s sexual health. women. Terms of the deal were not disclosed, but Sustain is said to experience rapid growth and reported a 300% increase in sales for 2018.
“With the evolution of the Me Too and Time’s Up movement, there has been an opportunity to talk about issues and topics that have always been taboo and closed, and what we hope to do is have that halo in health. intimate sex, vaginal health, and women’s sexual well-being, ”said Shetty.
Both companies take a “shameless” approach to talking about vaginal wellness, Shetty said – instead of bringing it up in a calm, minimalist-chic way methods many new brands of intimate health products.
“Amplifying those conversations is really what’s going to move the needle,” Shetty said. “You can only be so flowery and beautiful… women’s history is at the point where enough is enough – we need to have serious conversations.” “
“There are people who make products to make them discreet… but there is a level of dialogue that has to happen for women to buy and wear condoms,” Shetty said.
Shetty and Hollender met a few years ago, they said, and when it came time for Sustain to raise funds, Hollender said he remembered the “shared values” of the two companies. “It’s hard to fundraise, but it’s really hard to fundraise when you talk about sex,” Hollender said.
It’s also apparently very difficult to advertise when you’re talking about vaginas, the two agreed.
One of the reasons the partnership with Combe was so appealing to Hollender was a decades-old story from Vagisil. At the time, the brand was struggling to gain approval for its name and to get the word vagina out in an advertisement, Hollender said.
Sustain, a digital native, struggled with the wording of its Facebook ads, Hollender said.
“The phrase repeated by the Facebook team is ‘nice, not fun’,” she said. “Facebook, and pretty much every digital platform, is finding out or trying to figure out how to deal with women’s sexual health. The policies are [for] family planning, you can technically advertise, but in [about] four words.
Shetty noted that Vagisil encountered similar problems with advertising on the television network.
Hollender started Sustain with his father, Jeffrey Hollender, the founder of Seventh Generation, in 2014. The company, which bills itself as “vagina friendly,” started with condoms that were about ingredients and work. Sustain’s fair trade condoms contain ingredient lists. , no nitrosamine, parabens or gluten, and let’s talk about the rubber procurement process. Gradually, the line rolled out other products including tampons, pads and liners, menstrual underwear, menstrual cups, wipes, lubricants, massage oils, shower gels and balms.
The deal is expected to give the company access to more resources for R&D, but also increased distribution potential, Hollender said. Currently, Sustain is sold online, as well as in approximately 4,000 Whole Foods, Bed Bath & Beyond, Meijer and Wegmans stores, as well as other outlets. New products will likely hit the market in 2020, she noted.
For its part, Vagisil offers a multitude of new products that have recently appeared on the market or will soon be, some of which contain a hypoallergenic fragrance and a “dry wash” (similar to dry shampoo).
The deal underscores the increased focus on women’s intimate health that has hit the beauty market in recent years, ranging from products such as organic cotton tampons to lubricants and even vibrators.
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