From this founder’s perspective, one of the most fascinating things that we do at Say Hi is make the connection between cannabis and people, things and places that our readers never thought a connection existed. It’s surprisingly easy to do, and that’s because cannabis at its best is a supplement for wellbeing, and who doesn’t support that?
LisaMarie Lawrence certainly does. She is the co-founder and CEO of the startups Monthly Gift and Dear Kate, who together are the destination for products made for women’s reproductive health. LisaMarie is addressing a need that, well, half of the human population has in common. But she’s also trying to change the way that people think about subjects, like menstruation, that our culture still considers off-limits. (Sound familiar?) An entrepreneur after my own heart, she and I sat down to talk about her secret to building a thriving startup, her love of grated cheese, and the support that cannabis can provide in women’s reproductive health.
Tell us about yourself and the journey that led you to help found Monthly Gift.
To start, I’m an interior designer by trade. My sister [and co-founder] and I both graduated from FIT, here in NYC. We sort of always followed similar, but very different paths. After graduating she fell into the venture world, and I followed the design path working on the design team for a television series. After my stint in TV, I was looking for something with more stability and started working for the furniture division of Kohler, the plumbing manufacturer. I managed operations and sales for multiple locations in the Northeast and eventually transitioned to the plumbing side of the business where I managed Global Sales in New York—I worked mostly with designers on hotel projects and really got to dig into how bathroom spaces around the world function in different ways. Spaces have to be able to accommodate all of the various cultural needs and unique approaches of their location, and a big part of my role was working with the A&D community to make that happen. I loved working for Kohler and learned so much from my various roles there – including how to run a business.
My sister had been working in venture capital for several years when she came up with the idea for Monthly Gift. It was probably the 1000th time she’d been caught off guard by her period while at work, and she wondered how this kept happening in this day and age. With so much technology at our fingertips, female hygiene products should be more accessible and automated. She asked if I would want to join her on a new venture, and I said yes before even knowing the concept of MG. I love my sister, we’re only a year part, we went to the same college, and we’re best friends. So we set off to build a one-stop-shop women’s healthcare brand. We started with period products, since that’s the most common touchpoint among women, but we have since expanded and plan on evolving the brand into the go-to source for women’s reproductive health.
Our first product was the femme care subscription service Monthly Gift, launched in 2016. At the end of 2017, after a round of funding, we acquired the period apparel company, Dear Kate. Prior to the acquisition, we had been prototyping our own line of period underwear, but when we came across Dear Kate, and their superior absorbing and drying technology, we knew we had to join forces. The products, which include period undies, activewear, and dancewear, are all 100% fabric, totally breathable, and unlike anything else available on the market.
What do you love most about your work?
I love when our customers tell us how life-changing our products are. We have young girls writing in about how relieved they are that they don’t have to worry about wearing white for their confirmations. When you’re 14, oftentimes your period isn’t regular, you don’t know when you’re getting it, and that used to be incredibly stressful. This is true for older women too—and we hear from adults a lot. Women going through postpartum bleeding share their appreciation for having an alternative to the hospital grade pads they’ve had to wear in the past. Hearing stories from women who use our products to make their lives better and to get through their day-to-day is truly awesome.
I’ve worked with members of your team, who are fantastic. Tell us your secret as a leader.
I wouldn’t say I’m an awesome leader by any means, and it’s been a lot of trial and error. But one thing I’ve learned is that you can’t be afraid to hire people who are more intelligent than you are or have a skillset that you don’t. It’s important to let people run with what they’re good at. Too many managers try to stifle others because they’re afraid of letting their team shine.
We’ve collaborated to talk about how cannabis products can relieve PMS symptoms, but what’s your personal take on cannabis?
My mom shattered her elbow about three months ago, and she could not get relief. She tried so many things, including pain medications, but she wasn’t able to sleep. I got her a cannabis-oil based cream, and she uses it every day now. Cannabis has such a bad reputation from the 80s and 90s, the war on drugs, D.A.R.E., and being called a “gateway drug,” which I don’t buy for one second. The broader public ignored its medicinal uses until fairly recently. I’m all for the therapeutic uses of cannabis. From relieving period cramps and migraines, to helping alleviate the severe pain women suffer when they have ovarian cysts, there are so many applications from a reproductive health standpoint.
Into The Icebox, Middle Shelf: What’s the one thing in your fridge you couldn’t do without?
Milk and grated cheese. Milk for coffee, and grated cheese because I put so much of it on pasta and everything else. I just have to have it.
Another one of my questions would have been, “If forced, would you rather give up bread or cheese?” But I think we know the answer?
Oh, I’d definitely give up bread.
If you’re interested in learning more about LisaMarie and women’s reproductive health, or if you want to experience technology that can help you or the women in your life take more control over your bodies, visit www.monthlygift.com. And let us know what you thought of this conversation by leaving us a note on Facebook.