Lauren Steinberg embodies everything her brand, Queen V, truly is. She is literally the Queen of the V, bringing empowering and playful products to the feminine care space.
It’s about time feminine care is made to be not so embarrassing. Why was it ever? I don’t think any of us can explain it, but we can all say we, or someone we know, has been embarrassed at one point in time checking out with nothing more than a box of tampons at Target.
Through their fun and flirty products, QueenV is making feminine care anything BUT embarrassing, maybe we’d go as far to even say ‘cool’. Lauren not only created a top-selling product, but started a much-needed movement in the feminine care space. How did she do it? Why did she do it? We have SO many questions.
What inspired you to create the first millennial-focused feminine wellness brand?
As I grew older I began to develop infections “down there,” what I refer to as my Queen V. It was scary and painful and also really embarrassing. I didn’t know why I was getting these infections. I went to my gynecologist and I did a ton of research and learned just how complex a vagina is. I learned about pH levels and studied and researched the ingredients that are in most feminine wellness products and discovered why I was getting these infections. I also spoke to my friends about the problems I was having and realized that I wasn’t alone.
3 in every 4 women will get a yeast infection at least once in their life and 25% of infections that women get are UTIs. This was astounding to me. I began looking for products that had better for me ingredients, products that were easy to use, affordable and effective and I couldn't find anything that fit my needs. I was determined to change this not only because I realized that women shouldn’t be afraid to talk about their vaginas but also because I know that when I feel good inside, I feel like I can take on the world. And I knew that if I wasn’t feeling good on the inside, other women probably weren’t as well. I wanted to change that. I became frustrated and decided to take matters into my own hands. This is when Queen V really began.
Our products are made for women by women and take a really unique approach to vaginal health. We have created an easy to follow three-step process that helps women maintain, heal and enjoy their v. Maintaining your v is all about keeping your vagina clean and healthy by using products that are pH-balanced. Healing your v addresses infections and problems that can arise like yeast infections and UTI’s. Enjoying your v aims to help women love and embrace their vaginas. Each of our 11 products fit into one of these color-coded categories. Maintain products are blue, heal products are green and enjoy products are pink.
In addition to creating better-for-you products, Queen V aims to empower women to take control of what they are putting into and on their bodies. It is so important to take the time to read what ingredients are in a product and to understand the why behind them. Through our social media channels, we make it a priority to make learning about your body as fun and engaging as possible. Queen V has cultivated a community of empowered women and we aim to destigmatize the word vagina. Because all of our products are available at Walmart and are price comparable with every other product on the shelf, every woman has access to these products. Our products have loud and bright packaging because they are not meant to hide on a shelf, but rather to stand out! Women should not be embarrassed to buy vaginal products. Queen V really is a high-end brand at an affordable price!
Let’s go back to the beginning. How did it all happen? How has the company evolved over time?
Getting a retailer to believe in your brand and really understand and see the vision for your brand’s voice is critically important. Walmart taking a chance on me and giving Queen V a brand statement with 11 products has made the company what it is today. Andy Dunn who is the former CEO of Bonobos (which was acquired by Walmart) saw the deck for Queen V and knew it needed to be at Walmart. He introduced me to the buyers there and I told my story and they listened. We are now sold pretty much everywhere in mass market (Target, CVS, Rite Aid) and we just launched internationally in South Korea and in Australia with Sephora!
If you started Queen V today, would you do anything different?
My journey with Queen V has been so crazy and I wouldn’t have it any other way. Not knowing has been a really fun part of running a business. I wish I had taken a few business classes in college but other than that I am actually really happy that I was able to experience everything and react to it in a way unique to me. There have been a lot of failures, but I learn from each and every one of them.
What were some of your biggest challenges in the early stages of the company? Compared to today?
Being a 26-year-old female in an industry typically dominated by men has been and still is a challenge. Whenever I pitch this brand, getting male retailers and male investors to understand the need for these products can be difficult. Talking about my vagina and vaginal infections was a bit embarrassing at first, but I now encourage women to be empowered to speak about their vaginas. At one point, I was even told that I was “just a girl.” Instead of letting this comment get to me, I have owned it. It’s true! I really am just a girl who became frustrated with vaginal products on the market and did something about it.
How did you build your team? What were some key qualities you were looking for when hiring?
I looked for a qualified team of smart individuals who are experts in their own field who were passionate about women's health. Team work really does make the dream work. I surround myself with people who have different strengths than myself and learn from them. From operations and logistics, to social media and product development, I am always leaning on those around me. I am lucky because my team is made up of all millennial women so I have a focus group right in front of me! I use this to my advantage.
Do you ever find yourself suffering from ‘imposter syndrome’?
Self-doubt is totally normal but I never let it stop me from doing anything or from taking risks. The topic of vaginas and vaginal health has historically been a very taboo subject and I am using my platform to talk openly and freely about “private parts.” What I have learned is that in order to run a successful business I need to be unapologetically myself and use my voice for those who may be afraid to use their own voices. Queen V is changing the conversation around health and wellness. Females feel empowered now more than ever and this allows us to harness that power and be heard. The availability of feminine hygiene products 10 years ago was 1-2 options if you were lucky. Today, women have options and that is so important.
How has your position in the company changed from then to now? What does your typical day look like?
When I launched Queen V I had a really small team and I did basically everything. I was a huge micromanager and liked to be involved in everything from operations to sourcing to logistics to content creation. Now that we have grown larger, I manage a team of eight incredible women. My duties vary but mostly include product development, press, strategy, retailer relations and continuing to be the heart and soul of Queen V. I usually get into the office at 9am, tackle my inbox, meet with the team, film content, having some more meetings and then go home!