Founder Series: Therese Clarke / Lady Suite
1. Hi Therese, you founded Lady Suite after being diagnosed with hypothyroidism- what was it that gave you the “push” to create your own brand?
After being misdiagnosed for two years by prominent physicians in Los Angeles, I inherently knew that my vulva skin problems weren’t going to be easily addressed either. And, I was right. I was given steroid creams for hypersensitivity and hydroquinone for the plethora of dark spots. While those are short term fixes, they compromise the skin and the body’s health over time.
Luckily, more experts like Dr. Talakoub are making a concerted effort to make sure vulva skin isn’t overlooked, and with elevated solutions that don’t work against our holistic health.2. Hypothyroidism can often lead to dryness, what were your treatment options before Lady Suite?
I didn’t really link dryness to the issues I was having - above (on my face) or below (vulva area.) I co-founded the first postbiotic skin care line in the medical channel prior and was lucky to work with a biochemist (still do) who taught me the importance of protecting the skin barrier. This was at a time when probiotics in skin care wasn’t “a thing”, and when peels and over-exfoliation seemed to be the go-to for faces. In essence, the goal was to stimulate the dermis by wounding the epidermis to increase protein production like collagen. We were using DNA microarray assays to see what our formulas were doing to the skin - if they were in fact doing their job without increasing inflammation.
I learned epidermal cells - keratinocytes - are so important to skin health and protection (not to mention hyperpigmentation prevention.) So it’s best not to over-exfoliate and to mitigate inflammation.
I choose to groom and have no pubic hair. After years of shaving (then waxing, then laser hair removal) coupled with hypothyroid, dryness is a real thing for me. It’s also a sign of pH skin imbalance and increases inflammation. This worsened ingrown hairs, dark spots, and general itching and discomfort. My doctor at the time prescribed a steroid cream. Steroid creams can work but they can also thin the skin over time and I would argue they don't provide a healthy long term fix for dryness. Being a product developer in the skin care space and an advocate for “clean ingredients” I wanted to create plant-based solutions that are effective and don’t compromise long-term health.
3. What is something people don’t know about you?
I should have been an immunologist because I geek out on that stuff, but I secretly wish I were a lounge singer. LOL4. What is your favorite product in the line?
It’s cliche to say I love them all for different reasons but the Rejuvenating Botanical Oil is my must-have. It took almost 3 years to get it right and I use it everywhere. It’s my desert island product.5. Tell us about your morning and evening skin routine!
I try to make this routine easier these days because I’m a beauty junkie and have worked on so many brands outside of my own, it’s been hard to consolidate. I do much less in my 40s.6. What does your Vulva skin routine look like?
AM: I’ll use the Probiotic Refreshing Cleanser most mornings, especially after sex or a workout. (I’m a morning sex person because I have no energy at night these days!) I’ll also use it in armpits because it mitigates unwanted bacteria that can lead to body odor. I also use this as a mask on my face when I’m breaking out. Its pH is 4 so it’s vulva pH friendly but a pH of 4 is more acidic than the face. So it works as an exfoliating cleanser or mask on the face.
PM: I’ll use the Glow Refiner Exfoliating Spray a few times a week. I don’t recommend this on the days you shave or wax - you don’t need to double exfoliate down there. I also love this as a facial toner for me because I have an oily t-zone and my skin loves lactic acid and niacinamide.
I use the Rejuvenating Botanical Oil every night without fail. I use a dropperful on my entire vulva area, and I use this as my go-to face oil. It has minimal essential oils for specific reasons and is loaded with essential fatty acids in the way of linoleic acid that rejuvenates and protects the skin barrier without weighing it down. I don’t have any more ingrowns or dark spots down there. My intimate skin feels healthy, smooth and the oil makes foreplay more fun ;)
But keep in mind, I use this every night. You can’t expect these results if you use it once a week or just when you shave or wax. Also, if you have hair down there, this is still a great oil. It has meadowfoam seed oil which is so conditioning for hair and hair follicles.7. For readers who want to start their own business, what are your top tips?
- Have a unique position and a real point of difference
- Do something good for people and the planet
- Learn how to raise money / ask for money
- Have a couple of solid mentors
- Don’t underestimate good branding
I found solace in good friends and found health experts that understood me and were willing to listen. Talk to us at Lady Suite. We’re not doctors but we’ll connect you to a solid person or resource whenever possible. Talk to Dr. Lily!
9. What mantra would you want to share with every woman?
Be here now is the one I take with me. Be present even though it’s so hard not to live in the past or in the future. You’re exactly where you need to be right now.
10. What’s next for Lady Suite?
We’re in the process of finding the right investors to be able to launch our vision for better lady parts education, content, and of course, more essential product solutions that better serve our needs as women.