Vagina, vulva, clitoris. Growing up, I was taught that these words were taboo. In health class, teachers substituted “hoo-ha” and “privates” instead of using the scientific name. They were not to be spoken, let alone used as a marketing campaign. Today, the conversation surrounding women’s health and bodies looks very different, thanks to entrepreneurs like Beatrice Feliu-Espada, founder and CEO of The Honey Pot Company. When faced with a necessity to heal her own body, Feliu-Espada set out to create a completely plant-based feminine care product with a mission to “educate, support, and provide women around the world with the tools and resources that promote feminine health and wellness,” as the website reads. As a result, The Honey Pot was born, and with it, a fresh take on women’s wellness.
BeautyMatter had the chance to learn more about Felio-Espada and The Honey Pot. See below for the full interview:
What inspired you to start The Honey Pot?
I had an eight-month bout with BV (bacteria vaginosis). It was awful. I went to the doctor, who prescribed antibiotics. It would go away for a few weeks until my period came and it would flare up all over again. I was so sick of the merry-go-round. One night, I had a dream. One of my ancestors came to me with a list of natural ingredients that would heal me. I created the formula for my first feminine wash with that list of ingredients. I used the wash and within days I was healed! I knew I had something that women everywhere needed to experience.
What is the meaning behind the name? How does it drive your mission forward?
Honey Pot is an old colloquialism for vagina. I love it because it’s fun and accessible and makes women smile when they see it. It makes the entire topic more approachable. Our vaginas are nothing to be scared of or timid about. We should be able to discuss our feminine health in a strong, honest, and sometimes funny way.
How have your personal struggles with women’s health affected the way you shape your company?
It is the main reason why The Honey Pot Company started. I couldn’t find a natural yet effective way to reduce the symptoms of BV while keeping me fresh and my pH balanced. Necessity is the mother of invention right?
Feminine hygiene is merging with the beauty industry in previously unseen ways. How has the conversation on female care changed since you launched five years ago?
It is finally okay to say vagina and use words like vulva and menstrual cycle in mainstream marketing. For so long, those were taboo topics that were never to be openly discussed and definitely never to be displayed boldly on feminine care packaging. Women are owning the conversation around their bodies and natural bodily functions and we’re so proud to be a part of the conversation!
Why was it important for you to be completely plant-based? What are some other components of the brand you felt were non-negotiable?
We didn’t want to be yet another feminine care company creating toxic, chemical-laden products that could potentially harm girls and women. We had to show women there is a healthier way to do feminine care and hygiene. We had to keep our products fragrance-free, cruelty-free, and free from chlorine and pesticides.
What do you believe consumers look for in feminine care products? How is this changing?
Women have always looked for effective products, meaning washes, wipes, pads, and tampons, that actually work. Nowadays, the consumer is seeking natural yet effective brands. They want the effectiveness of the conventional products without all of the harmful ingredients. Many of today’s consumers want transparency when it comes to what they are purchasing. We’re happy to see this change take place as it forces many conventional brands to display what they are using in their formulations as well as seek out healthier substitutions.
Why did you decide to partner with AFRIpads? How has your brand shifted since the partnership?
We wanted to find an organization where we could effect change on a global level. We loved the concept of AFRipads. We donate a portion of proceeds to them monthly that gives young girls in Uganda access to reusable menstrual pads so they don’t have to skip a week of school. Also, this organization teaches the women in the community how to make their own reusable pads to sell at the marketplace so they can make money and take care of their families.
Women’s health is a largely stigmatized and misunderstood subject; how do you aim to contribute to this conversation?
We aim to contribute by opening up the dialogue on all of our social media channels and allowing a safe space for girls and women of all walks of life to discuss their feminine health and wellness issues, concerns, problems, and experiences. We want them to know we understand where they are coming from and that The Honey Pot Company is a judgment-free zone where they can get real and raw about their honey pots. We also want to be a major resource where girls and women can learn about the truth when it comes to their feminine wellness. There is so much misinformation out there and we want to cut through that noise with credible, factual information that empowers, educates and informs.
Tell me about your campaign “Humans with Vaginas” and the inclusivity aspect of it.
Humans with Vaginas is all about inclusion in that first and foremost, women are human. We need to learn to see each other as human first, gender second. Next, we wanted to let women who are transgender know that we support them as well. Our feminine hygiene products such as our washes and wipes can be used for women who are post-op transgender, as they now are the proud owners of vaginas and will need to use healthy products to stay clean. We didn’t want anyone to feel ostracized or left out. We are a brand for all women including trans.
How do you plan to keep your prices accessible without compromising on quality?
The best way to do this is by keeping our cost low. We have some great ideas for keeping prices accessible by making key partnerships that will reduce our costs without reducing the integrity of our formulations. Healthy feminine care should not be exclusively for the wealthy. It should be for all women.
What’s been the biggest surprise in building the brand so far? What was the biggest challenge?
The biggest surprise is just how quickly the brand has grown. We went from being this small niche brand to a national brand after getting the Target deal. Our biggest challenge has been keeping up with our growth. We are constantly amazed at how much money it takes to scale a brand. Raising capital is one of the hardest aspects of scaling your company.
How have you funded your business from start-up to your recent Target launch?
We started with a friend-and-family round of funding and then progressed into a Series A round that we are closing up now. We are always learning as we go when it comes to funding. It’s been challenging but truly fulfilling to see how the process works and to trust that it will all work out.
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