Beatrice Dixon is the founder of The Honey Pot Company, a plant-based feminine hygiene line created to provide women with healthy alternatives to feminine care.
The Honey Pot Company began with a dream — literally. In 2014, Dixon was struggling with an ongoing case of bacterial vaginosis. She visited her doctor and tried everything they recommended, but nothing worked.
Early one morning she was visited by her grandmother in a dream. She gave Dixon a list of ingredients and told her what to do.
When Dixon woke up, she immediately went to Whole Foods, where she was working at the time, and got the ingredients. Within a few days, the infection was gone. It was at this stage Dixon started working on Honey Pot and giving away the product to friends and seeing their results.
"There has never been a moment — not one time — to this day that I have ever questioned if this was a business if this was viable," Dixon says. "So when I was giving it away, I was giving it away because I needed to make sure that it worked. Because I had the intention of making it work."
Dixon says her "hack" for getting into retail comes down to creating prototypes that big retailers will appreciate as a token of commitment.
"When you're beginning a relationship, it's just like beginning any relationship. You got to go into that thing, intentional, and showing them from the beginning, how you run your ship. And so it's really important to show them how committed [you are] because prototypes are not cheap, and that communicates to the buyer that you came ready and that you're willing to show them where you're going," she says.
Today The Honey Pot Company sells feminine care products nationwide at Target, Walmart, Whole Foods, Walgreens and retailers across the U.S.
In this episode of the Behind Her Empire podcast, Dixon talks about starting her plant-based feminine care company, scaling the business from her kitchen to mass production, advice she has about getting your product into retail outlets, candid thoughts around fundraising and more.
dot.LA Audience Engagement Editor Luis Gomez contributed to this post.
Jon Shooshani and Sebastian Elghanian got a bird's eye view of how quickly the pandemic changed tech workers' priorities.
The founders of JOON, an employee benefits software platform that automates the reimbursement process for workers, said they almost immediately began to see shifts in how people were using their benefits.
Employees were quickly redirecting their gym membership benefits towards wearables and home workout equipment, and companies were expanding benefits for a home office and childcare — things they normally didn't pay for.
"It really tells the tale of the hybrid workforce that we are seeing now and we will be seeing in the future," said Elghanian, JOON's CEO, adding, "companies are providing more flexibility as to where their employees can work. And from that, different programs need to fit different needs."
JOON co-founders Jon Shooshani (left) and Sebastian Elghanian.
The three-year-old company raised $2.3 million in seed led by L.A. venture capital firm Alpha Edison and contributions by a slew of angel investors, including Sweetgreen and Airtable executives.
Through JOON, employees can link their credit or debit cards to the platform, which automatically tracks employees' purchases. Employers can set a monthly allowance for verticals like family care, health and wellness and professional development, and the company leverages several data points, such as the name of the vendor, to pluck those dedicated purchases. The employer reimburses everyone at the end of the month.
"We're going to try to help you keep yourself accountable and we're going to take away the pain of paying," said Elghanian.
That kind of flexibility is likely to continue post-pandemic, as the workforce becomes more distributed and more people opt for working from home full-time. Different employees, based on geography and commute, will have different needs.
The pandemic kickstarted an overhaul of benefits programs. Some went unused as gyms shuttered and plane tickets were cancelled. A report by the International Foundation of Employee Benefit Plans found that more employers expanded mental health and childcare benefits and revised paid time off policies in the last year as COVID-19 forced people indoors. It found 48% of the multi-employee employers surveyed said they added tele-psychiatry services due to the pandemic.
JOON signed up around 60 companies and 10,000 of their employees since 2019, including meal service company Daily Harvest. It has also partnered with a slew of meal delivery brands, fitness apps, telehealth services and furniture companies to provide products at a discount to employees.
The two, best friends who grew up in Los Angeles, were inspired by challenges they faced managing employees and their benefits at a previous venture that fizzled out.
"It was a mess," said Shooshani, JOON's president, recalling how he and Elghanian struggled to provide their employees with perks that tech workers have come to expect.
The pair first tried to partner with a slew of gyms and other vendors, but the inflexible benefits went unused by many of their employees. After setting up a new program through Expensify, they found it created more administrative work for employees who wanted reimbursement.
"What we saw through our own experience was that barely any employees use it," Shooshani said. "So the engagement and utilization [was] super low."
The new funding will go towards expanding benefits categories to better accommodate employees' specific needs and tracking how well the program is working for employers, whether or not employees are actually using it.
The founders also have bigger plans to create personalized benefits options for employees by suggesting products such as meditation apps, wearables or meal kits they can use their allowance on.
"All of us want to work out, want to eat healthy, but there's things that get in the way," Shooshani said. "So we really believe in being a technology company that makes health and wellness more accessible, more affordable and nudging people in the direction of positive behavior."
This week on Behind Her Empire, we hear from Afton Vechery, the co-founder and CEO of Modern Fertility, a startup that aims to make fertility testing more affordable and accessible.
Vechery drew on her personal experiences with reproductive care when she was starting her company. She said she found doctors often aren't open to referring patients to fertility testing if they are not actively trying for a pregnancy.
Once she finally was able to get tested, she said it cost upwards of $1,500.
Vechery said she was very disappointed by the barriers people with uteruses had to overcome just to get basic information about their bodies. Every person has a different fertility curve. As she started her company, she found people were demanding these type of services.
"The 'A-ha' moment was really sharing this experience with my friends that then turned into friends of friends, and truly hundreds of women that were reaching out and having conversations about reproductive health and fertility."
Being able to offer users customized information about their fertility empowers them to be active participants in their family building decisions, "as opposed to having biology make those decisions for you," she said.
"I think it's just what people with ovaries deserve to have at their fingertips," she added, "more tools and more solutions."
Disseminating information is cornerstone to Vechery's entrepreneurship philosophy. A project for her high school science fair testing water quality in her neighborhood led her to start a water testing company. She talked about how this project inspired her and grew her interest in entrepreneurship.
After college, she went on to work in clinical settings and as an investor. Vechery said as she began her work on Modern Fertility, she felt uniquely suited to address this information gap.
Afton Vechery is the co-founder and CEO of Modern Fertility.
"When I was pitching Modern Fertility to investors, there was just kind of confusion and disbelief 'You're creating a fertility company, for people that don't want to get pregnant. What is that?'" —Afton Vechery
dot.LA Engagement Intern Colleen Tufts contributed to this post.