Episode 211: From Skincare to Sexual Wellness - Sally Mueller's Secrets for Thriving during MenopauseNov 28, 2023
Sally Mueller is the Co-founder and CEO of Womaness, modern menopause solutions from top to toe.
She is a seasoned executive with impeccable entrepreneurial acumen. Sally spent over two decades of her career at Target Corporation, first in Apparel Merchandising and then in Marketing, helping to build the bullseye from a regional discount retailer to one of the world's most recognized and influential global brands. She developed and implemented Target’s designer program and Design for All platform, transforming the regional discount retailer into a global phenomenon.
Sally went on to launch her own company, Whyse Branding, where she formed a licensing relationship with Who What Wear and successfully launched the consumer products line in Target stores and ultimately achieved international distribution. She was then named Chief Brand Officer for Clique Brands, overseeing their Consumer Brands Division, where she launched Joy Lab at Target, incubated VERSED skincare and expanded Who What Wear internationally.
Sally’s encore is creating a revolutionary consumer hit with the introduction of Womaness (which debuted in March 2021), a brand that is changing the conversation around menopause through innovative products that offer solutions from head to toe (and everything in-between), readily avail via Target.
Womaness provides trusted advice on symptoms from hot flashes to sleep issues to fine lines, and support from an inspired community of women who don’t believe in the pause (of menopause) and exude #menopositivity, aka a dynamic, joyful outlook that embraces who we are today.
A lifelong Minnesotan, Sally, and her husband reside outside of Minneapolis, slowly acclimating to life as empty nesters.
“That night I said to my husband ‘I’m going to disrupt this industry.’”
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Welcome back to your next stop. This is Juliet Hahn, and this episode I speak with Sally Mueller. She is the cofounder and CEO of womanist. She was on episode 148 where we dive into Sally's whole story. Here we are catching up on what womanist is doing right now.
They have a community. They're doing talks, they're doing in person gatherings. You can start looking for that going to womanist.com. If you purchase products on womanist.com, Sally will sit and talk on a zoom with you about questions. This is a movement about aging well.
The art of aging mean, it is such an important topic, so many things for women as we pivot, as we go through menopause, as our bodies are changing, as we're pivoting in life, careers, kids leaving, so many different things that are not really talked about. And I say that womanist is one of the leaders. They started the company in 2001 and really brought these conversations out. You can follow them on instagram at my womanist. You can follow Sally on LinkedIn at Sally Mueller.
There's a facebook community that has thousands and thousands of women that can go and gather and you can ask questions. You can see if what your doctor prescribed is something that you want to use. You can use their products, which are all natural. You guys know that is completely up my alley. I love all the thought and process that goes into what they create.
They speak with experts, and then they come up and put things together. So it's the experts, what their thoughts, what the need is. This is an episode you do not want to miss. Again, thank you for joining your next stop. And I hope you enjoy this conversation with Sally Mueller as much as I did.
So welcome back to your next stop. This is Juliet Hahn. You know, I say this every single time. I love bringing you a guest that has followed a dream, a passion, and turned it into something absolutely remarkable. So welcome, Sally Mueller of womenness.
How are you? Thanks, Juliet. I'd love to be back on. Thank you. So you were on episode 148.
We were just going back, and I think we're at like, two something. So I said to you, I reached out, and I was like, okay, you guys have blown up. I mean, you were doing amazing things. Your business. Basically, you're the CEO and founder, co founder of womanist.
It's the art of aging well. And I think that is, again, when we connected back, I mean, a couple of years ago, I think you were like season maybe season two. What you were doing with the company and where it was evolving and where it was going was just super fascinating to me because of my age right, of aging. The art of aging well is what we all want to do. And so that's exactly what you guys are doing.
I've used your products. I absolutely love them. They were a game changer in so many different things. One of the sleep well is I still have it and when I travel, it's like my best friend. But I want you to give us a little background of how you even got into this space.
I know you have a really interesting background and people can go back to listen to 148, how you kind of evolved into this, but just a little snippet of how you kind of decided this is what you wanted to do and you were the co founder and CEO. Yeah, well, my whole career up until Woman S was really building brands, usually at retail. So I spent 24 years at Target in the corporate office and had a lot of opportunity to work with external partners, all the designers from Masoni to Isaac Mizurahi. So that was really fun. And I learned a lot about product development and sourcing and marketing those brands, but also just learning how to create and identify kind of a white space in the market and then create a brand to really solve a need.
And 24 years later, I decided when I was 45 to leave Target and just felt like, I don't know, I had this urge to start my own business. And so for the next twelve years, I actually had my own business twice. And then one of my clients, both clients actually hired me. So I had this like every two years I was pivoting to do something new. But in that whole time period, I had a really great opportunity to help create Versed, which is a clean skincare brand sold at like, Target and learned a lot about beauty and product development around beauty.
And Womanists really came about because while I was flying all over, working for an La. Based company, and I had a team in New York and I live in Minneapolis, I was always traveling. I was going through menopause, and I thought menopause was just hot flashes. I didn't realize it was affecting my sleep, kind of making me a little more irritable. What else was happening?
Low libido, trying to remember all of my symptoms, but it was nothing that was life threatening by any means, but it was just a lot of painful lifestyle, right? Yeah. And I'm going to pause you for a second. The thing that I think is what I love that you guys did is because you guys were really early on in kind of talking about menopause and the changes in bodies and the changes in what we're doing. And I remember kind of it's just like as a woman, you crack on, right?
You're like, okay, I'm dealing with this, but you just crack on and you don't really talk about it even if you're open. So I just shared with you, I recently got and my listeners know I just went through some hormone stuff and I got my blood work taken because I was like, I'm going to be on top of this. I want to see what's happening. And I am very natural. I don't want to go down that route if I don't have to.
I want to try everything instead of having to go on, I guess, meds, whatever it is. And the doctor said to me, okay, do you have a heavy flow? And I said, I guess. I don't know. I don't sit around and say to my friends, hey, can I see your pad or your tampon?
Because this is what mine looks like, or how many you're going through. And again, I'm a very open person. It's not that I'm ashamed to talk about, but we just don't sometimes talk about it because it's like, again, you just crack on. You just move forward. Right.
And so when I started going down this and realizing I was severely anemic and I have energy out the wazoo, so it was like, Whoa, whoa, wait a second. What do you mean I'm severely anemic? But then, yes, it's okay. You have a very heavy flow that you're still, at this age, flowing like this. And I said, it's just one of those things that you just move on.
And so the fact that you guys brought it out and we're like, let's talk about it, was really, I feel, started the movement. I really do. Thank you. I look to you guys to say that, because now more people are talking about it. Yeah, absolutely.
I mean, we launched in March of 2021. We started working on the company in 2019 because it takes that long to develop original product and create a brand. But it was all based on this doctor's appointment that I had where I learned that I knew I was a menopause. But she really educated me about all these symptoms, and now there's, like, over 45 symptoms of menopause. Yeah, I think so many women don't know about it, so it was like, we knew we wanted the brand to be about education and community and obviously products that were modern, made with clean formulations and clinically proven ingredients.
So it really came out of a lot of decades of building brands. But most importantly, that AHA moment of my experience in a doctor's appointment. Right. And one of the things I've talked to a number of times with clients, with clients, with guests on the podcast are there's certain things when you're building a company? Right, so entrepreneurs, there are certain things.
You have kind of your core values, and then you have things that you're like, okay, if I need to grow here, I can grow here. But then I also have my non negotiables. This is always what I want to keep, and I want to build around that. Can you take us through that? Did you guys ever have any of those kind of conversations?
Oh, yes. We followed kind of a disciplined process of creating womaness like what's our brand positioning? What are the guardrails of the brand? What are we going to do? What are we not going to do?
So we wanted some of those must haves we wanted to be accessible. We wanted to make sure all women could afford our products as well as be available in national retailers. We didn't want to be a niche brand that only very elite few could afford. We also knew that education, backed by doctors and other experts was one of our pillars of our brand. And then, like I said, product.
The product had to be beautifully designed, beautiful packaging, really respected women because there was so much outdated product in the market. And just like really masculine names like a Vaginal moisturizer that I don't want to cut down any of those legacy brands, but, you know, some of those names are so off putting to women. And so that was also like a must deliver that we had to really be able to stand by our products, the quality of our products, and also just deliver on the yeah. And what I love also about your story is your background, right? So you were doing this in Target, so you were doing this for big brands.
So you had the knowledge and then you had the doctor's appointment. And so many times I've come across people that have then jumped in and done it. But then there's so many times that I've spoken to women and men that maybe have had the similar kind of journey. They have this really big experience and they may be not loving what they're doing, but they're still there. But they've had a couple of AHA moments and they never jump to do it.
So one of the things that I also love is that you stayed curious. You kind of stayed open and were like, wait a second, I'm in this space, I have this background, and now I see a need because of myself, right? So a lot of times people don't kind of look inward to see that. And at different stages in our life, as you said, pivoting, it really is. I know that there's so many times that we've all pivoted, men and women, that it's like you come to a certain point in your life, whether your kids are grown, whether just so many different things.
And it's like you ask yourself a question like, what do I want for myself? And I don't think a lot of people let themselves do that dreaming. I don't think a lot of people let their minds wander and do it. So when you were in that doctor's office and then you kind of came up with this for someone that's like, wait, I've had this kind of experience, now I'm hearing it again, right? This is another sign that I need to do something.
What was your first step? What did you do? Did you put it on paper where you call your friends, what did you do that kind of moved you? The needle forward, if you may. Yeah, well, that night I went home and my husband said, now, what did the doctor tell you to do?
I'm sure you're not going to listen to the doctor. He always gives me a hard time. And that's when I told him and showed the list of products that I was supposed to go out and buy that I thought were really unappealing. They were not modern. They were invented decades ago.
So I even said to him, I'm going to disrupt the space. I love it. And so the first thing you have to do is kind of like, get that fire going, that passion, and that's the first thing. And then my co founder Mueller and I, she's a friend from the past, and we met up in New York, and I was telling her about this, and she got all fired up because she was saying, oh, my gosh. All my sister's friends, who's a little bit older than I am, are going through all these career changes, and they're struggling.
They're trying to find their next chapter. So there's something going on with the Gen X woman. And so we kind of took all those pieces together and we did start putting things on paper. We also did a lot of research. So we did focus groups in, like, three different know.
We wanted to make sure we know friends in New York together, friends in Minneapolis, and there was a lot of consistent feedback across all those women, and that kind of helped to further refine our whole brand strategy. And I think that's super important to do know, because you might have your own hypothesis as you're starting your company on even just tactics. It doesn't mean that the fundamentals of it need to be completely changed. But we just didn't want to be arrogant and think, oh, we had all the answers we wanted to really hear from women. So I'm glad that we did that.
Yeah, I love that. And I think what you said is so important. When you have that fire, it is something to follow. It is something to follow that fire, because that fire means something. That fire means something.
Whether you believe in God or the universe, that is something that's like, okay, let me just not ignore it. And I love that you said, I'm going to disrupt this space because you did. Okay, so again, people can go back to listen to 148 because you really take us kind of through where you were then. What has evolved, and where are you guys headed now? Well, we're now three years into this, and we are just building an incredible community.
And you're all over the place. I mean, you guys are all over the place, so I'm going to let you go. Well, we're really proud of the community we've built. We have a private Facebook group called the after party. We have about 7500 women that have joined that, and it's really the most intimate part of our community where women can share tips with each other, comment on posts, just to help, really.
Sometimes you can't get an answer from your doctor, but the best answers might come from other women that have had the same experience. So we're really proud of that. We're continuing to really tout our whole product line, not just we've been really known for our skincare and our let's Neck, which is our number one seller, which has been great, but we have such fantastic supplements and sexual wellness products. So really rounding out that story, I think is a big goal for us in 2024, and then just continuing to spread the information and really expand our expert panel. We've had a doctor from the Mayo Clinic that's been working with us, Dr.
UKTA Kapoor, that's been hugely instrumental in just creating really research backed information. So we want to just continue to expand the idea of art of aging well, and it is about menopause and the medical side. But I think our woman also is really interested in other topics. It's really like more about a lifestyle. We did a partnership with Everave this fall that was super successful.
Ever Eve is a fashion retailer, and I think that's a great example of going into other aspects of a woman's life that tells her how to maybe inspires her to dress differently as she's going into her forty s and fifty s, or wear color cosmetics, according to a more appropriate, I guess, look for aging skin. So there's different not that we're going to have products in those categories, but just the idea of opening up the conversation to be more about how to age well, and so definitely covering off menopause and women's health, but really expanding into other lifestyle. Right.
As the listeners know, but all of us know, we're multidimensional, right? A woman is multidimensional. And not to say that men don't pivot because they go through the same thing, but like a woman, whether you have kids or you don't have kids, whether you are in the workforce or you're not in the workforce, whether you're going back into the workforce. There's so many different chapters of our life as a preteen and then as a teen, as you get your period and your menstruation, and then as your body changes and then as you come into your own for the fact that you guys have this community, which I think is so beautiful that people because what is it about I mean, I say this on my podcast word blindness. The one I have a Dyslexic podcast, as I was telling you about.
And it's about the understanding. It's about the understanding and knowing when you talk to someone oh, wait, you went through that too. I thought it was just me. Right? And again, you could be someone that is open that talks about stuff, but not everyone goes through menopause is as you said, there's the symptoms, but not everyone goes through every one of the symptoms.
And so to have a community that you can talk about it like, hey, okay, my friends, my group haven't been through this, but is this normal? I have a doctor's appointment, but it's not happening for another month. And I just want to make sure that this is like something that's the relatability that's the okay, oh my gosh, okay. I'm not alone in this journey. And for so many years I think that that's what we did because as women, we're kind of just taught again, just to crack on.
You just move on and you do it. And it's not that we're not talking about it, it's because it's okay, well, it's just happening. I feel fine. So I'm just going to continue to move on. But are there ways that we can make it better?
Are there ways that you don't have to struggle through it? Are there ways that things that you can do that are maybe going to make it just a little bit easier? And having that community, I think, is so beautiful and the art of aging well is important. You want to feel strong. There's all these researches and again, every couple of years things change and okay, you're supposed to be having this now you're not supposed to be having this.
Right? But to have that community that you can kind of just kind of feed and love and seed and water and grow together is a really special thing. So thank you for doing that. Yeah, and we're so excited to be able to also throw events now that obviously people are craving to be together and women in particular, we've been doing more and more events. So I'll keep you posted on that and your listeners.
But we're planning some really exciting events in the spring of 2024. Again, just to kind of complement our, I guess, digital community. Really bringing that into in real life and allowing women to be together and hearing from experts, I think that is so powerful. It really is. And again, just that understanding and the underlining of like, I'm not alone, right, someone else is going through that is really important.
Is really important. Okay, so I have like 1000 billion questions and I'm trying to think of what I wanted to go right now. And we did this last time. But what are some of your favorite products from your line that are like your and I know you probably love all of them, but the first that comes to mind that, you're know, I don't go without it's always in my I i have it all the, you know, something that it's a staple. Staple in your daily well, right now, I would say, and I just happen to have it here.
Cocoa Bliss, which is our vaginal moisturizer made of coconut oil. It's really great for just everyday hydration in your vaginal area, but also as you can use it on your elbows. I had someone pregnant on my team that used it on her pregnant belly. It's a really hydrating product. So I love that product, especially in the winter, because it has multiple uses, right?
And one of the things I know you touched on, but again, what was important to you guys is that you had natural ingredients. So that is so important. And a lot of times women going through menopause, if they go to a medical doctor, which we all do, right? We all go to our obgion, but they sometimes push the products that are in the pharmaceutical world. My listeners know I'm homeopathy.
Homeopathy is like the way I go. If I can do everything natural, I will do everything natural. And I will I don't want to say go down kicking and screaming, but if I can, I want to do that. So that's something that's really important that you guys have done. And I know you've done a lot of research in all of those aspects, so can you take us through that a little bit?
Yeah, I mean, even in the case of Cocoa Bliss, we partnered with a doctor who gave us a lot of advice around what ingredients she know, referring her patients to go out and buy, and actually a lot of them would go to Costco and buy coconut oil. And so that was really what inspired us to do Cocoa Bliss, was because women were going to grocery stores and buying coconut a very, it's a natural ingredient, as you said, and it's very healing. So it's a great product to use for, like I said, vaginal dryness. So we partnered with different experts depending on the category. Like in our skin category, we partnered with a formulator that had a lot of experience in aging skin and knew the latest ingredients, which is why we chose hyaluronic acid isn't necessarily a new ingredient, but we have an advanced form of hyaluronic acid in our skincare.
So that's a great example of just going to the different experts that really understand those categories and finding out what are the researched ingredients and the new modern ingredients as well, which is so. Important because again, there's so many things out there that sometimes we don't know. And I love kind of thinking back before there was pre engineered stuff, I guess, and going back to kind of like nature and the earth, what was out there that worked. And then again, there's nothing western and Eastern medicine, I believe in both. I definitely am more of, again, the homeopathy, but I know that there's a time and place for it.
But again, if you can use something that you know that there's no side effects, there's nothing that's going to happen. Might as well try it. And so that's one of the things, again, I love your line because you know what you're getting. You know that it's nothing that could have the 1000 list, that's like, this could happen, this could happen, this could happen. It's not all the side effects.
And so I think that's something that's really important as people go out and really look, because you have to be aware of your body. You have to be knowing what could work, but also what you're sensitive to. And the fact that you guys have this whole line of different things, that you went to experts, you went to experts, you checked with the experts. It's like, okay, this is our vision. And you worked with them, I think is such a brilliant way to look at it, because again, it's the whole picture.
It's not just the half, how you guys kind of started the whole womanist brand, right, absolutely. The other thing I want to say is all of our products are estrogen free and soy free and vegan. That matters to a lot of people. But I think any woman that's had breast cancer or maybe any cancer mutation needs to be very careful about taking estrogen. And how many women get breast cancer?
One in eight, I believe. So it's really insane. And so you have to be really watching what ingredients you're not only ingesting, but putting on your body, right? No, totally. Again, so you're going to be doing right now the art of aging well.
How many products are in the line at this moment? At this moment, there's 14, and almost half are in skincare, and then the other half are kind of divided between sexual wellness and supplements, which is great. And I know, as I said, I've used all of them and again, some of my favorite products. And as you said, as you guys are evolving, it's really, yes, the menopause and women's wellness, but all of these different things, it's about aging well and how can you age well. So having these events.
So you guys definitely go over to my womaness on Instagram. That's the best place. I know you're on Mean, you're also on Instagram and LinkedIn, Sally Mueller, you can also check that out. But when we're looking for events, because again, that's a fun thing to do. Like minded people going through the same kind of similar things, being ahead of it, right?
Like, if you're perimenopause, what does that mean? What stage of perimenopause? Being educated on this from a different kind of different, all different viewpoints is really important. But as you said, you're working with doctors, you're working with people in this space. You guys are talking.
And so definitely go check these guys out because you said in the spring it's going to be happening. And the spring is literally right around the corner. I think of January as spring because it's like a new year, right. They finally have a moment to think about themselves again, because from now until the end of december. We're all trying to multitask and really focused on our families and getting ready for the holidays.
Right? Exactly. And it's a crazy time. So definitely check out my Womanists on Instagram and then Womanist.com is the website. And then again, you guys can purchase and if you can kind of rattle off where people can know because I know my listeners are going to be like, well, wait, where can I do it?
It's going to be in the show notes and stuff, but some people like to hear. Exactly. Okay. Womanist.com has our obviously full selection of products and a few more that I didn't mention. Amazon.
And then we're in all beauty stores. Amazing. Yeah, we're really excited about a partnership with Beauty, so but if customers buy from our site, they usually get an email from me and they can set up a zoom with me. And it's amazing how many women just want to share their story or be heard, want advice. So I definitely have taken time to invest in that because it's so important that I'm hearing from our customers as well.
Well, and that's the thing. I mean, that's the thing that, again, sometimes companies get so big that you lose that. But you guys have grown. You've Skyrocketed and you're still doing that. And I know that that's one of your core things and that's what is.
So, you know. Thank you again, Sally Mueller of Womanist for joining your next Juliet. You guys know what to do, like rate review and share. And you don't know who needs to hear this. You don't know who in your community, who in your world, who in your life is actually maybe suffering.
And you don't know because they just crack on because a lot of women do. So share this with as many people and we'll see you for another episode of Your Next Stop. I hope you liked this episode of your next stop. Please subscribe to my channel, share with your friends and join in each weekend.
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