- Insight: Create an engaged community to evangelize your brand.
- Insight: Understand the habits of your target market
How She Started: How did you end up in marketing?
Laura Bucks Tedesco: I first started in consulting. The thrill of problem-solving was invigorating, but I craved a role where I could actively implement solutions instead of merely suggesting them. That led me to pursue an MBA at Northwestern’s Kellogg School of Management. I focused immediately on the CPG space.
I concentrated on traditional brand management and finance to help build the foundation for a career in general management. After graduation, I started working at Colgate Palmolive, where I spent a phenomenal, almost seven years. It was an outstanding training ground to learn how to operate as a P&L owner and mini-CEO. I gained experience across a number of roles in brand management, innovation, global strategy, and sales, all of which ultimately gave me a broader perspective on how to run a business and a general management mindset.
Working at Colgate was a fantastic experience, and after seven years I was eager to take on a new challenge with an earlier-stage company where I could have a significant impact and could focus my time on building a brand. That's what led me to Zarbee's Naturals, a leader in the better-for-you supplements space. I joined that company leading the Baby business, aligning perfectly with my life as a mother to two young daughters. My older daughter was almost 3 and my younger daughter was about 9 months. My work life was my home life and my home life helped inform my work life.
Zarbee’s was private equity backed, and eventually was acquired by Johnson & Johnson in 2018. It was a great learning experience and an inside look at what it was like to be acquired by a bigger CPG family; which provided me with invaluable insights into acquisition dynamics, integration processes, and the post-acquisition landscape. I transitioned to overseeing the Adult and Equity businesses and eventually assumed the role of overseeing all consumer marketing.
Post-acquisition I was ready for my next challenge. When I met Beatrice Dixon, the co-founder of The Honey Pot Co., I immediately knew it would be my next (and best!) job. I was drawn to the company’s purpose, Beatrice’s vision, and the incredibly efficacious product portfolio that was bettering vaginal wellness for millions of humans. It's been a phenomenal journey in the last almost three years.
The Honey Pot Co. focuses on revolutionizing a stagnated category with empowerment at its core. We provide not only highly effective products but also education, enabling our community to take control of their vaginal wellness.
It's truly the best job ever. I oversee marketing, brand, and strategy, which entails traditional omnichannel marketing, innovation, our retail efforts, strategy, analytics, and brand design. It's a broad JD, but I have an extraordinary team who are phenomenal in their areas of expertise and the work we do is so incredibly rewarding.
HSS: How did those legacy companies respond when The Honey Pot Co. entered the market?
LBT: Our founders, Beatrice Dixon and Simon Gray, have done incredible work from day one to build a human-centric brand. From the beginning, we have always kept our community at the center of everything we're doing. Our first product, our foaming intimate washes, was a product that resonated so much with our community. It addressed the importance of having a balanced vaginal pH and effectively tackled challenges like odor and itching. We differentiated ourselves through efficacy and harnessing the power of plant-derived ingredients. The strong product performance fostered robust word-of-mouth recommendations within our community, and once people find something that works well, they want to tell their friends about it.
The Honey Pot Co.’s journey was less about what those legacy brands weren't doing and more about what we were able to bring to the market. Our human-centric approach takes a holistic view of total vaginal wellness needs, serving their period needs as well as their daily vaginal wellness needs to help maintain balanced pH. That was a new approach for a brand - historically the legacy brands typically stayed on their side of the aisle. Their approach was narrow - vaginal wellness is either a menstrual solution or a hygiene solution.
We thought it was silly to separate the consumer in that way because it's the same person who gets their period and also wants to maintain a balanced pH. The Honey Pot Co. was the first brand that really brought that whole human approach to retail and it has worked so incredibly well.
The other kind of pivot was that these products are usually rooted in shame and stigma. Traditional messaging is that you should feel bad about your vagina. From day one it's been very important to The Honey Pot Co. that not only should we destigmatize and normalize the vagina, but it’s equally important that you feel good about your vagina. It's a significant organ for all of life. We literally all come from a vagina. That should be honored and treated with respect and treated in a positive way. From a brand positioning perspective, that's empowering for our community.
HSS: What’s The Honey Pot Co.’s response to consumers who say that the vagina is self-cleaning?
We agree - the vagina IS self-cleaning! One of my favorite social media assets we've posted is a picture of an oven in the stove denoting that the oven has a self-cleaning function, but the stove top does not. That analogy is the same for a vagina and a vulva - the internal vagina is self-cleaning but the external vulva anatomy is not. It is one of the more brilliant analogies from our incredibly talented social team as it so clearly addresses the misunderstanding around basic anatomy. And this lack of knowledge creates such an opportunity for The Honey Pot to continue to educate.
HSS: What is The Honey Pot Co.'s growth strategy?
What excites us is that there is immense potential in this category. We have a robust period portfolio, consumer health products like supplements, and an OTC anti-itch line. We have the products that you need to maintain overall vaginal wellness. But we see there's a massive opportunity to get in front of more consumers and help them understand the role of vaginal wellness. Most humans with a vagina have some sort of facial skin care or body skincare routine, even if it's just putting lotion on when they get out of the shower. Your vulva deserves the same. For us, we're excited because there's so much opportunity for us to continue to penetrate households and help the broader community.
We're never going to put a product in the market for the sake of taking up shelf space — it's going to deliver an efficacious benefit. We have clinical testing on every product which is a powerful way of demonstrating the efficacy of any given product and the role it might play in vaginal wellness.
HSS: Thanks so much for taking the time!
- Insight: Create an engaged community to evangelize your brand.
- Insight: Understand the habits of your target market.
- Insight: Look to adjacent markets to help build your marketing strategy. In Laura's case she looked at the skincare market to shape the Honey Pot Co.'s vaginal wellness strategy.
I formed a partnership with SHE Media. SHE Media is "A mission-driven media company that focuses on the extraordinary power of content to inform and inspire the world."
I've always been passionate about women helping other women. I created this blog to tell stories of successful female-founded businesses. Hopefully, these stories will help inspire more women to found their own businesses.