MN: What do you think it is about the panty liners specifically?
BFE: It’s the herbs. Because you can wear panty liners any day. You put it on and it’s like an air conditioner for your vagina. You feel the mint and you feel the lavender. It’s amazing.
We started with the wash because that’s the most important thing. You do that every day or I hope you do. And it’s the same as using beautiful skincare on your face or eating well. And then the wipes, in support of that and the menstrual pads because you’re bleeding every month. I just want to develop products for whatever the scenario is. So tampons are a big deal for us. The reason I started off with pads is because I’m still a wholehearted believer in free bleeding. Because women don’t necessarily know how to use a tampon properly. I meet so many women who go to sleep with a tampon in. It’s like, ‘B*tch, your arms might need to be cut off.’ Like, seriously. There is a high fashion model. She has these beautiful gold titanium legs now but she kept her tampon in too long. And the way that toxic shock works is it feels like cold symptoms. So you think you have a cold. ‘You’re like let me just lay down, eat some soup. See what happens.’ But by that time two, three days later your blood is toxic and you can die. They check your blood, it’s probably very acidic when it’s supposed to be alkaline. And they say, ‘We’re going to have to cut off your arms and legs or you’re going to die.’
So for that reason, I believe in free bleeding and a tampon in scenarios when you just need a tampon. I’m not in this business just for the money. The money is a f*cking byproduct of what I do. If I am successful financially that means that I am a success. But for me, if I am successful making products that work, that people can give a testimony to, that is success. And there’s not enough education and know how around using tampons. So that is why I did not want to launch tampons first. I would have made a f*ck ton more money by now but it wasn’t true to what I believed in.
MN: Also, cultural. Black women…tampons are for when you’re like grown grown.
BFE: Listen! Our moms are like, ‘You’re putting something in your vagina? No ma’am. You’re not putting anything up there. Nothing goes up there.’ We couldn’t even put red lipstick on or nail polish. So you’re not putting a tampon in. But that’s a cultural thing for us.
Black women buy my products 220 percent more than anybody else. But that’s because we’re in the wash and wipe world. Black and Latina women use feminine wash 220 percent more in America. We’ve been taught that you shouldn’t use anything to wash your vagina. Which goes into the conversation about your vagina being a self-cleaning oven. And it is but that’s inside your body. That’s not the vulva. So culturally, we were taught to wash ourselves.
MN: In some dangerous ways sometimes.
BFE: My mother even thought that she should douche.
MN: Mine too.
BFE: We’re a Black-owned company and so that’s coming out in the forefront. You’d be surprised how I get questions. I had a big known brand, huge brand that I was talking to and he asks me, ‘Is this product only for Black women?’ It was seriously a real question.
MN: Can you speak to the other challenges of operating as a Black business?
BFE: Hell yeah. Raising money. To walk into a room and sit down with a man or woman that does not look like you, you’re already three steps back. Then you’re talking to a man because most investors are men–I mean, I had investors that I had pitched to that found out that Richelieu Dennis was investing in Honey Pot, they had told me a year before, ‘Nah, you guys aren’t where we need you to be.’ Then I get to the threshold and I go back and I’m like ‘Boom. Made it. What are we doing?’ And they’ll say, ‘Now, we’ve raised that threshold.’ But then they heard I was a part of the New Voices Fund and they’ll say, ‘We really want to come in on this round.’ So there are a lot of challenges and it’s not just color driven or the fact that you’re a woman. It’s the fact of numbers and business. It’s just a hard business to be in because all that you’ll ever need is money because all you’re doing is buying products to sell products. You can’t sit down with an investor unless you can speak their language. That’s something that Black women or women who are in business and need to raise capital need to know. If you can’t sit down and build an investor deck. If you can’t say, I need to get to x amount of dollars, you need to level up.