It all started with a hot flash. For all the noise made about aging and the products aimed at anti-aging, Rochelle Weitzner was shocked to find no products existed to address menopause in the beauty industry: “It was as if the whole topic of menopause was forbidden.” What started as a search for information and products led to the discovery of a white-space opportunity and a mission to start a conversation and offer a smart, safe place for women to share and learn as they experience menopause. Weitzner is ready to stop talking about anti-aging and denying that aging happens, and is committed to removing the taboo around menopause. She says it’s time for the Pause well-aging movement.
Tell us a little about your career. How did you find your way into the beauty business?
Almost exactly 30 years ago I went to work in the paper and forest products business. One of my roles there led to me to Paris where I lived for 4 years. While there I became very enamored with beauty and fashion. Once I moved back to NYC, I joined Gurwitch Products (Laura Mercier & Revive Skincare) as their CFO. After a successful stint there, I went on to become the CEO of Erno Laszlo.
After building a successful career on the corporate side of the equation, what made you throw your hat into the entrepreneurial ring? And why tackle menopause?
I left Laszlo when the company was sold to a Chinese private equity firm. I was doing some consulting work in LA and trying to figure out what was next for me when I had my first hot flash. In that moment, when I realized what was happening, I also realized that there was no one speaking to me as a consumer. Menopause is still one of the last remaining taboos. I knew that if I wanted to have some tools to help me weather the physiological changes I was about to experience, then I needed to create them myself.
As a woman with a concept outside of the Millennial x Gen Z sweet spot, how difficult was it to find investors for Pause?
This was a challenge far more difficult than I ever suspected. First of all, nearly every potential investor I met with was a man. Imagine explaining this incredible investment opportunity to a man who has no idea what you’re talking about. I literally had one man say to me “I have absolutely no idea what the f*ck you just said, but I will speak with my wife.” This was my life for 12 solid months. During that time, I kept going, I invested my own money and just kept searching for the perfect partner who would ultimately recognize this opportunity for what it really is.
How did you know Grace Beauty was the right investment partner?
From the minute I met Frank Fazzinga III, I knew he was my dream partner. He understood immediately what could be created and what the opportunity represented. After several months of discussions, he said to me, “You know, I wake up every morning thinking about Pause. We just have to do this together.” I couldn’t be happier with my decision to partner with Grace Beauty Capital.
Why is this the right time to begin the conversation about menopause?
I think that women are really finding their voices and we’ve reached that point in society where we are ready to start this conversation. We are ready to stop talking about anti-aging and denying that aging happens. It’s time for the Pause well-aging movement. As a matter of fact, we trademarked Well-Aging as we really hope to shift the dialogue and eliminate anti-aging from the conversation. It’s time for women to feel that they remain beautiful throughout menopause. I also feel very strongly that it’s time for women to embrace their inner superheroes and know that menopause is not the end, but the beginning of a new chapter with endless possibilities ahead.
Do you think the destigmatization we’re seeing around period care has paved the way for the conversation around menopause?
Yes, for sure, but the destigmatization of period care is just one small element. What’s really happening is that we’re finally having open and honest conversations around women’s health issues in general. We’re seeing the beauty industry beginning to celebrate and openly discuss, rather than hide, the products that women use every day to function as well as make them look and feel beautiful.
The numbers speak for themselves yet the 40+ female consumer is pretty much overlooked. Aside from the white space you have identified, do you think brands and marketers are missing an opportunity?
Absolutely! We’re the ones with the spending power and ability to spend on ourselves.
The branding feels very intentional. Can you share a bit about the process and meaning?
It is definitely intentional. The name Pause came out of a brainstorming session with friends where I just said, “You know, we really need to take the men out of menopause, let’s call the company Pause.” Pause is a company by women, for women. Pause also has the added meaning of taking time for yourself to reflect, assess, and plan your life forward.
Our logo, the 3 gold dots or ellipsis, represents the Pause in the conversation. It’s a transition or bridge to what’s next. A place to take a breath. When you’re waiting for someone to respond to your text and those 3 dots are flashing—this is your pause in the conversation.
From a product perspective, what consumer needs are being served that are specific to menopause?
As estrogen levels fluctuate and ultimately decline, there are very real physiological skin changes that occur. Most notably would be the loss of collagen, loss of elasticity, loss of radiance and excessively dry skin. We created the Pause Complex, a carefully researched fusion of vitamins, antioxidants, and peptides that helps fuel collagen production and diminish the visible signs of skin aging. The Pause Complex is part of all Pause formulations.
What is your formulation philosophy?
It was very important to me to create a serious skincare company based on science and results. Our products are clean, vegan, gluten free, cruelty free (Leaping Bunny certified), and highly efficacious. We tackle skin changes from the outside in with our topical products and from the inside out with our FDA-cleared Fascia Stimulation tool. This tool was co-created with a Doctor of Physical Therapy to address tissue quality and health.
How did you arrive at the launch assortment of two products and a tool?
I wanted to launch with a few products that would provide some immediate relief while I continued to work on the formulation of additional products to fill out the line and address the most significant concerns. Because the brand was launched as a result of my first hot flash, it was clear that I needed to create a Hot Flash Cooling Mist. There is nothing like this product on the market today. It instantly cools and calms the skin and remains cooling and calming for about 20 minutes. It can be used as often as needed and won’t disrupt make-up applications or stain clothing. For those of us that suffer from hot flashes, this product is definitely a game changer. Launching with a collagen-boosting moisturizer also seemed very straightforward as dry skin coupled with the loss of tissue strength and elasticity are the most problematic concerns of women experiencing menopause. Our Fascia Stimulating Tool was also straightforward as we seek to improve tissue quality and health.
What’s your distribution plan for the brand? Do you have any early insights from retailers on this new category?
Currently, we are distributed through our brand website. We expect to quickly be available on Amazon as well. I definitely think it will make sense for us to have a bricks-and-mortar presence, but it remains to be seen which partners will make the most sense for the brand. I do believe that the brand is perfectly suited for a home shopping venue.
In your mission you say Pause is more than skincare. What are your plans for activating the brand beyond product?
We intend to build a community where women know they have a safe space to learn, share experiences, and realize that they are not alone. We intend to help educate women about what to expect, what to plan for, and recognize what is “normal.” We will look to the community to share their stores, provide helpful tips, talk about embarrassing moments, and remove the fear of the unknown. It is also essential to have humor too—this can be a crazy time and we have to be able to laugh at ourselves.
What excites you about the current state of the beauty industry?
I’m a bit of a skincare junkie and I love that the industry is very heavily focused on skincare right now. I also love that the industry is really moving away from harmful chemicals in products and there is a realization that we can formulate clean products that are also highly efficacious.
What was the most shocking information you came across related to women and menopause?
Most shocking would have to be the lack of information and awareness about what we experience with menopause. Most women don’t know there are 3 stages of menopause: Peri-, meno-, and post-menopause. Most women don’t realize that peri-menopause typically begins at age 45, lasts for about 7 years, and is when we are most symptomatic. And, most women don’t know that skin changes are very real but can be mitigated with the right tools in the toolbox.
Photo: via Pause