Stephanie Elias & Hannah Hutton of Personal Fav Co. on their mission to change the conversation around sexual wellness
Describe your business in a few words?
Changing the narrative around sexual wellness with elevated clean products.
What made you take the leap to start your own business?
Looking at the health and wellness sector from a holistic lens, it became evident that sexual wellness was an underserved market that needed real change. Not just change in the ingredients, which was crucial for us, but change in how the story around our sexual health is being told.
What was your background prior to starting your own business?
SE: Working in the music and entertainment industry for nearly a decade, and consulting for events, projects, and brands thereafter. I grew up around a family business, and saw firsthand how much time and effort it takes to keep a company going from some of my earliest memories. I am grateful to have learned so much from a young age.
HH: Starting with The Honest Company during its launch year of 2012 and seeing a true start up grow overnight and the obstacles and rewards that came with it. The energy and rush was so contagious. I grew tremendously professionally and personally during those six years.
Did you always know you wanted to be an entrepreneur?
SE: I possessed the entrepreneurial spirit from a young age. I have a natural ability to sell, and definitely knew that was going to be a part of my journey. In elementary school, everyone wanted me to be in their class because I always sold the most wrapping paper and subsequently my class would get a pizza party. I knew I wanted to do something creative and unconventional – which led me to music initially, and now creative projects and development with Personal Fav Co.
HH: I did not have the desire to be an entrepreneur necessarily but I knew how good it felt to lead. Even from being the captain of my high school Field Hockey team, I got such a rush encouraging my teammates, motivating them to do their best. That love for leadership followed me early into my career. I wanted all my employees to feel valued and truly believe in what we are selling and to authentically connect with the consumer! I am beyond energized to lead Personal Fav Co and the community it brings.
Take us back to when you first launched your business, what was your marketing strategy to get the word out and did it go as planned?
We are continually iterating this process daily. Our marketing strategy combining social, influencer, PR, as well as organic growth marketing via word of mouth has been going well, but we are pivoting towards utilizing additional strategies that are currently in the works for late spring/summer 2021. Stay tuned!
We always learn the most from our mistakes, share a time with us that you made a mistake or had a challenging time in business and what you learned from it?
Working and launching a product in sexual wellness has proven to be challenging for us in regard to running advertisements on Facebook, Instagram, and Google. We are learning to iterate and market through different channels to negate the conservative content guidelines that try to ban this conversation from even happening. It is outrageous.
Mistakes? They happen every day. We are learning so much as we grow and something refreshing that we are learning is that if you approach people kindly and transparently with your mistake, they are pretty forgiving.
What is the accomplishment you are the most proud of to date?
Our first press coverage was in Glamour Magazine. We have always been fans of Glamour, and admired the advertisements that spanned the pages of magazines past.That was when things started feeling really real. A true ‘pinch me’ moment.
When hiring for your team, what is your go-to interview question? Please share any hiring tips you can share from your experience?
HH: When I am interviewing I look for four things: positive attitude, strong work ethic, initiative, and innovation. Those things I cannot teach, the rest is teachable and moldable. Also, I am allergic to ego, especially in the startup world. If you’re ‘too good’ to do a mundane task or roll your sleeves and get messy – it probably will not be a fit.
How has your business or industry been impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic?
Learning to relinquish the control over consistent lead times and further shipping delays was something all businesses with supply chain and manufacturing components dealt with during the pandemic. It definitely tested my patience, and made it clear that we had to roll with all the delays and celebrate every small victory.
What’s next for your business? What can we expect to see over the next few years?
We are working on launching our second SKU, our oil-based formulation, as well a few other items in the pipeline for later this year. We hope to awaken sexual confidence within others, and make the conversation surrounding sexual health and wellness more mainstream. It’s so important to have these topics top of mind when making informed consumer decisions. We understand this topic can be “awkward” or “shocking” for some and we want to diffuse that.
What is the biggest lesson you have learned in 2020?
Hard work and discipline pay off. Keep moving. And compassion is a superpower.
What do you know now that you wish you knew when you were first starting your business?
You don’t know what you don’t even know yet – stay humble, stay curious. You are never done learning and growing.
How have you managed to stay grounded this year?
SE: Workouts and leisure time spent with good friends have kept us sane this year. Also dancing around my living room.
Do you believe in work/life balance? What are some of your best tips?
SE: We vehemently believe in work/life balance. It is so important to prioritize time for yourself and your self care. We have both learned this the hard way. I burnt myself out five years ago – I got so sick, it was crazy. My tips are to take time for yourself by creating rituals in your morning routine as well as learning when to rest – meditation and yoga are big ones for me, but making time to read, and workout also help me recharge and reset.
What are your top 3 tips to stay productive each day?
1) Go for a walk first thing – get outside.
2) Over communicate with each other to prevent assumptions and confusion.
What does being an Entreprenista mean to you?
It means empowering others by staying true to your ethos, and always offering help to fellow entrepreneurs because collaboration is key.