Meika Hollender Is Helping Women Get On Top of Their Sexual Health | InStyle

Meika Hollender Is Helping Women Get On Top of Their Sexual Health | InStyle


Selling condoms in 2014 was extremely
challenging. Then the election happened. [Soundbite] When you’re a star they let you do it. You can do anything. Whatever you want. Grab them by the *****. Crooked Hillary Clinton. All of sudden women were listening. Donald Trump’s comments about grabbing women by
the genitals inspired a wealth of placards. Ears on the p*ssy hat were just like woop! My body, my choice. Love trumps hate. To our refusal as women to accept
this new age of tyranny. Let’s talk about sex. Hi, my name is Meika Hollander and I’m the co-founder and CEO of Sustain Natural. I actually spent my whole life dreaming of starting a condom company with my dad. Very specific, I know. Hi, I’m Arianna and I’m one of Sustain’s vagina warriors. Hi would you like a condom? Fair trade? I remember sitting on a plane and
somebody said, “what do you do for a living?” And I said, “oh I have a condom startup.” And he said, “oh my god real estate.” He thought I said I sell condos. Yeah, practice safe sex! People just couldn’t even believe what I was saying. It was like, saying “condom” immediately triggered, like, something extremely inappropriate. I actually felt like a drug dealer. This is my friend BFV. Big friendly vagina. She’s going to ask you a few questions about safe sex and for every question you get right,
you get a free condom. What percentage of single, sexually active women
use condoms regularly? Uhhhh… Let’s say 67%. 85%? I would hope at least, like, 50%. Only 21% of single sexually active women use condoms regularly. Wow. Screw that! Women are buying condoms
on the one hand, but certainly not enough of them. And obviously there was a whole
stigma and taboo associated with a woman
who buys and carries condoms. So we thought, let’s combine both of these ideas. Let’s create the first all-natural brand of
sexual wellness products focused on empowering
women to take control of their sexual health. And from there we created Sustain. I love
the substance and your approach to sexual and
reproductive health, but I also love that you’ve married it
to a business. 20 years ago, you wouldn’t have even thought that you could marry that into a world view and
an impact in the world. I’m so excited that we as an
organization like Planned Parenthood can be part of a woman-owned woman led
company. Here’s a little bit about me. A year after spending time
developing our product, we got our first piece of press and I was really excited and it ran on, like, a major news site. And I clicked through and I read it really quickly and then I ran right down to the comments. And the first comment said, “What’s on her lower lip? She should be using condoms not selling them.” And you probably can’t see,
‘cuz I’m wearing lipstick right now, but I have a big freckle on my lower lip. And I got slut-shamed on the Internet. That was the moment where I knew that it
was really my mission and my passion to fight every single day on behalf of
women everywhere so that no one would experience what I experienced. In my short time of being and working
in the space for five years, we had at Sustain aligned with Planned Parenthood from day one. We’re not selling lipstick. Like, it’s
not… it’s not just building a business. It’s building a business in an extremely
controversial space. And taking positions. And taking actions around issues that are controversial and taboo. Your body, your choice. [Soundbite] Well Tommy, our baby’s been inside
mother now for 9 months. Sexual reproductive health is not a gender specific, identity specific, orientation specific conversation. It is an everybody conversation. [Soundbite] Mothers in bringing babies into the world need careful attention. If you cannot decide when and whether to parent, you cannot fulfill your destiny economically, socially, politically. We’re just getting started. About five years ago, what I noticed was there was a huge shift in things like food, and cleaning products,
and even skincare. But when it came to the products going inside one of the
most absorbent parts of our body, our vaginas. Women in particular were not
thinking about the ingredients in these products. We saw an opportunity to create
the first all-natural sexual wellness brand. Starting with condoms, eventually
evolving into lubricants and tampons. I’ve been totally blessed with two
incredible parents. My dad is the co-founder and was the CEO of Seventh Generation. They encouraged me to be myself. They encouraged me to make mistakes. When it came to talking about sex it didn’t feel like we were scared
to tell them what was going on because we genuinely wanted their advice. I am who I am. And I stand up for myself. And I’m extremely, probably, an open book. That enables me to do the work that I do. My real belief is that by having open, honest, conversations about sex and
sexual health, we will create a world in which women are taking control. And whether that means they don’t feel or get slut-shamed for carrying condoms or that women just still have the right to be the masters of their own destiny when
it comes to their bodies and their reproductive health, I think for me, I just hope that I leave this world in a place where our rights are not questioned. That’s a wrap!

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