In honor of Women’s Month, Herbivore Botanicals celebrates the indomitable spirit of female entrepreneurs who are shattering stigmas and breaking glass ceilings. In each inspiring conversation, we explore the meaning of womanhood and the power of divine feminine energy.
Therese Clark wants to undo vaginal taboo. A beauty product and brand developer for many years, Clark's entry into feminine care happened somewhat serendipitously when an undiagnosed thyroid condition changed her skin and body—including her skin down there, which become dryer and more sensitive. “I couldn’t find anything on the market that was non-toxic and effective, or attractive that spoke to me,” says Clark of the bleak offerings for intimate skincare at the time. “Plus, I just knew too much not to do something!”
And do something she did. Clark created Lady Suite, an independent skincare and wellness brand offering women a suite of elevated skincare products, beginning with their Rejuvenating Botanical Oil for Intimate Skin. The blend of organic botanicals oils moisturize and soften vaginal skin, roadblocking razor burn and treating skin post-ladyscape (wax, sugar, or laser).
“Creating Lady Suite has helped me be more attuned to my body as a whole,” says Clark, who hopes her innovation will help women reclaim their bodies and feel empowered in their womanhood. “An essential re-education of lady parts, a more complete and positive relationship to my body and my lady parts, and undoing the vaginal taboo—in society, in the industry, and even in my own life—is what Lady Suite represents.”
HB: Despite the world’s growing interest in self-care regimens, vaginal health and care are often left out of the conversation completely. What motivated you to break this taboo?
TC: As I was studying the category, I Googled everything possible on vaginas, vulvas and so on, and I came across an article in the UK that reported young teens were asking for labiaplasty due to insecurities—because their lady parts didn’t look like something in porn, or they decided it was ugly because of a (sh*tty) boyfriend. That was sad to me but truthfully, I could relate.
I grew up with sisters but none of us were really open about our lady parts. My mom, an OB/GYN for over 40 years, still can’t say the word “vagina” out loud. So I really separated my lady parts from my idea of wellness—they were just for sex and babies. I didn’t become more aware of their importance until my mid-30s when I realized the vagina is at the center of our health as women. If it’s off, our whole bodies are off. It is our sacred center.
Because it’s tucked away and taboo to discuss, not enough of us have given our vaginas and vulvas the attention or respect they deserve. And because many of us have been shamed in some way down there, the separation from them becomes even more profound.
HB: What effect do you think this open vagina dialogue will have on women’s empowerment?
TC: I can speak from experience that I view my lady parts so differently now. I want to take care of them for me, and not just so they look good to someone else.
My goal is that every woman has access to smarter education and real conversation, and is compelled to get into good vulva and vaginal health habits. It doesn’t have to get too deep or spiritual, but it does need to happen! Just knowing the difference between your vulva and vagina is a good start.
HB: How has the “re-discovery” of your lady parts changed your perception of womanhood?
TC: I used to think womanhood was about having babies. And while that is part of it, it’s not my definition anymore. Womanhood to me is the freedom to be fully who and what I am and be really good with that. It took a long time to get here.
HB: Who is an inspirational woman in your life, who has helped shaped the woman that you are today?
TC: This is cliché, but my inspiration is my mom. She was a tough mom, not very “cuddly” or nurturing in an emotional sense, but she is a hard worker, has integrity, is never late, is always there and now, as a Grandma, I’ve seen that nurturing side that I missed as a kid. She taught me the value of hard work and the resilience you need as a woman in business. Try talking to a male VC about vulvas! Resilience is something I have because of her.
HB: What advice do you want to give to the next generation of women?
TC: I’d actually like advice from them! This generation of women have their voice and are so much more confident and sure of themselves and what they want. It took a thyroid issue and a few kicks in the ass for me to find my voice.
HB: What is your morning ritual?
TC: I wake up and say a prayer of gratitude. Then, I try to drink a lot of water because I’m bad at drinking water throughout the day. I like to drink my lemon water before coffee and spend some time with my pups and husband before the chaos begins. I also take probiotics, thyroid support, and my vitamins in the morning.
From there I shower using clean products, and then I use Lady Suite immediately after the shower. Some people start with face, I start with the lady parts! And I really do make a concerted effort to check in with my body during the shower and assess how I’m feeling.
I live by the beach and my hair is very moody—it will go straight in places and wavy in others. That’s why I love the Sea Mist. It gives me the perfect resting beach hair and smells so good.
After that, I finish with my skin care products and start the work day.
HB: And how do you practice self-care throughout your day?
TC: Everyday as an entrepreneur, I can feel overwhelmed or isolated, so I ask the Universe for something good to keep me going and I usually get it.
I try to be mindful which helps prioritize my thoughts and focus on the task at hand. When I’m doing something creative like writing, I ignore email and turn on white noise so I get in a zone.
Because I live near the beach so I try to see the water during the day even if it’s from afar just to feel like my issues/crap isn’t the biggest thing out there. Nature definitely puts that in check and connects you to something bigger than yourself. I’m a spiritual person, so I know my purpose is progressing women’s health. When you’re in the day to day, it’s easy to forget the big picture so I try to set an intention and remember that when things get chaotic or even mundane.
And of course, self-care means moving your body so I try to get a workout in or at least walk the dogs longer later in the day. I have a Peloton which is perfect for my life right now. And by the way, if you spin, Lady Suite keeps the skin happy while its getting annihilated by the bike seat!
And I do believe in humor (and the glass or two of wine depending on who you’re with) and having solid relationships and mentors that support you, ground you and make you laugh!