Lindsay Wynn: “The biggest thing for me is getting people to be honest with themselves; That alone, can inspire creativity, hard work and general altruism; From there, who knows what is possible”

Yitzi Weiner
Jul 28, 2019 · 10 min read
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As a part of my series about strong female leaders, I had the pleasure of interviewing Lindsay Wynn. Momotaro Apotheca was founded by Lindsay in Portland, Oregon in 2019. The seed was first planted a few years back when Lindsay began experiencing chronic yeast infections and Bacterial Vaginosis and was left to rely on conventional, over-the-counter medicine that inhibited long-term healing of her symptoms. After countless trials and tribulations, Lindsay took a deeper dive into self-education on all things vagina-related and found that people have been successfully using natural homeopathic remedies for years. After months of prototyping products, speaking with experts, experimenting with ingredients and formulas and expanding their understanding of the issues they aimed to support, one of Momotaro Apotheca’s first products was born, the Multi-Use Salve. The line now consists of three products: a salve, bath tonic and hydrosol.

Thank you so much for doing this with us Lindsay! Can you tell us a story about what brought you to this specific career path?

It was the perfect storm. About two years ago, I found myself looking back on a decade of work in the commercial beauty world as a photographer feeling pretty unfulfilled. At the same time, I was experiencing new and recurrent issues with conditions such as UTI’s, yeast infections, and bacterial vaginosis. After a few months, I grew exceedingly exhausted with the lack of natural, organic, and inclusive products in the “feminine care” industry. My partner and I knew that we could create more effective and inclusive products that could address the symptoms as well as the stigma associated with the antiquated “feminine care” world.

Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you began leading your company?

I don’t know if it is the most interesting, but it is definitely the most impactful. In pop-culture today we celebrate a lifestyle that includes constant oversharing. We put everything on the internet and tend to share even the most mundane aspects of our everyday routine. We see the “highlight reel” of food, clothes, vacations, and relationships; however an unrealistic and unattainable projection. Since starting Momotaro Apotheca, we strive to share the “imperfect” and showcase vulnerability. Doing so has had a profound effect on me. People mostly do not want to pretend to be perfect, they want to be themselves. Giving them that opportunity to do so has been one of the most enriching personal and professional experiences of my life.

Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?

Funniest mistake… well I think in general, my initial approach to vaginal wellness is comical. When I first started dealing with these issues — I went into full “do it yourself” mode after all of the over-the-counter products were ineffective. If you can google it, I’ve done it (insert face palm emoji here). Garlic up your vaginal canal — sure. Yogurt soaked tampons — you bet. I even did some sort of vulva green tea mask, which was actually the most difficult. It’s funny now, but was kind of terrifying at the time.

The key takeaways from these experiences were 1. I felt embarrassed I was trying all of these seemingly weird approaches to feeling better, why? 2. No one should ever try to balance a tea bag on their vulva. 3. Why aren’t there better solutions!

This whole experience is why we make such user friendly products now — easy to take with you and apply. Additionally, it is one of the reasons we address the taboos surrounding sexual and reproductive health (no one should feel like they have to google this stuff in secret).

What do you think makes your company stand out? Can you share a story?

I totally have that proud parent syndrome and think we stand out for a lot of reasons. I love the collaborations we do. Giving voice to and supporting our communities in the best ways we know how, this mostly manifests in creative, visual storytelling. In the last year we have done three separate campaigns donating 100% of our profits to grass roots organizations that support the broader ideas of sexual, gender, and racial equality we care about. We know that we need to do more than sell a product to provoke real change.

Are you working on any exciting new projects now? How do you think that will help people?

Yes, we are putting our finishing touches on a line focused on menopausal care that we are SUPER excited about. Menopausal care is so important and largely ignored because of the taboo nature of sex and aging. Furthermore, pre-during and post menopausal stigma is present beyond products designed for that type of care, and we hope to change that as well.

What advice would you give to other female leaders to help their team to thrive?

I think everyone, even beyond female leaders need to hear this. Most importantly because being an ally goes far beyond sex and gender. Whether you are starting a business or joining an existing team, support and transparency are invaluable in leading; find people’s strengths and support them, check your ego at the door and admit when you are wrong, hear others out but trust your instincts.

These are all things I remind myself of everyday, especially at this stage in our growth.

What advice would you give to other female leaders about the best way to manage a large team?

To be honest, I don’t manage a large team, and could probably use the advice myself. I have found success in cultivating a smaller group of committed individuals by pushing them to grow in positions that suit them best. Every time we bring on a new team member we ask them what they want to achieve in this position personally and professionally. We are really committed to personal growth and know the business will do better if each person working with us feels seen, heard, and appreciated for what they do and where they want to go. This means taking the time to get to know individual wants and needs, as well as identifying when a professional relationship is no longer serving one another.

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None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?

There are really so many people. I am lucky to have an incredibly supportive group of family and friends around me. However, if there was one person who has truly impacted me it is of course — and not to be cheesy — my mom. My mom was marching in environmental rallies since before I can remember and always said to “Vote With Your Dollars”. This has led me to make decisions in two ways: 1. stand up for the people, places and things you care about with your brain and your body. Marching, reading and sharing, along with listening to others can make a big impact. Major social and political change started at a grassroots level. 2. Voting with your dollars — while valuable, isn’t always accessible. Socioeconomic restrictions are real and companies, especially for-profit companies should be making responsible decisions so the consumer doesn’t have to. We always ask ourselves is this the easy decision or the right one?

How have you used your success to bring goodness to the world?

“My success” feels relative to the success of my business and in the grand scheme of things we are still a small company with big dreams of changing the feminine care industry globally. On a small scale I think helping people feel good and seeing the positive impact Momotaro Apotheca has had on people inspires me to do more. We will continue to focus on sustainable business practices, creating effective and inclusive care, and be a driving force changing the taboo and antiquated sexual and reproductive wellness space

What are your “5 Things I Wish Someone Told Me Before I Started” and why? (Please share a story or example for each.)

  1. Be willing to change — When we first started we had a very particular vision. It was so specific that the smallest mishaps felt like they could derail us. We have since learned to be more malleable and grow with our customers and market. This has allowed us to better serve our community.
  2. You are going to have work nightmares — This just kind of makes me laugh at this point, starting a business I am so connected to I have found myself more than a few times waking up in a cold sweat thinking about someone’s email regarding sexual or vaginal discomfort. NOT something I would have thought would have been part of my life before, but is a very common occurrence at this point in time.
  3. Not everyone is going to like you (and that’s ok) — As we have grown we are exposed to harsh critics — whether they are valid or not remains to be seen. However, trying to change the way people view sexual and reproductive care is inherently tricky and not everyone is ready to put these issues on the table.
  4. Burning out and overworking is so common it’s culture — After about a year and a half in, and three months of pulling consistent 15–17 hour work days, I started having panic attacks. I felt like working that much was the only way to compete, when in all honesty I should have been working smarter not harder. Take care of yourself first or your business will never thrive.
  5. Enjoy it, when you can — Starting a business is like running up hill with weights on your ankles. There are so many unforeseen challenges, some that you will be prepared for and some you will have full blown meltdowns over. All in all, it will be hard but if you are truly doing something you love, all of the challenges and hardships you get through are fun and rewarding. Poke fun at the hard times and laugh at yourself. It’s not easy, but it’s also quite literally not the end of the world. Fall down, pick yourself up, and do it all again.

You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. :-)

Can I aim to inspire world peace, and if not that, at least amicable cohabitation? (Just kidding, kind of haha). In all honesty I think “great influence” gives me more credit than I deserve. “Influencing” in general is so accessible now with the continuous rise of social media. Anyone at this point can make impressions on large groups of people. That being said, personally and professionally I always aim to be honest, hardworking, and kind. I think these qualities can be impactful and inspire people to look inward to find things they are passionate and work towards them. I think the biggest thing for me is getting people to be honest with themselves. That alone, can inspire creativity, hard work and general altruism. From there, who knows what is possible. The point is that it’s coming from the right place.

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?

I am not really the “live, laugh, love” quote type of person, but this quote has stuck with me since I was a very unhappy, confused, angsty… the list goes on… teenager. “Holding onto anger is like drinking poison and expecting the other person to die”. This resonates on a physical and emotional level. Your body literally creates poison (cortisol) when angry, stressed, etc. It’s bad for you for so many reasons, and holding on to things that amplify that is only going to exacerbate your bad feelings. It takes continuous work to learn to let things go, release ego and move forward. I am constantly reminding myself to release day to day stresses and things that don’t serve me in a positive way.

Some of the biggest names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US with whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might just see this if we tag them :-)

I have two. Yvonne Chouinard and Emily Weiss. I often try to describe that if Glossier and Patagonia had a child it would be Momotaro Apotheca. I love what both founders have accomplished for different reasons. Eventually I would love if our company could serve its customers and the planet in a way that is as respectful and impactful as both of those companies. *Phil Knight, Michelle Obama, AOC and Ellen are pretty high up there as well.

Authority Magazine

Leadership Lessons from Authorities in Business, Film…

Yitzi Weiner

Written by

A “Positive” Influencer, Founder & Editor of Authority Magazine, CEO of Thought Leader Incubator

Authority Magazine

Leadership Lessons from Authorities in Business, Film, Sports and Tech. Authority Mag is devoted primarily to sharing interesting feature interviews of people who are authorities in their industry. We use interviews to draw out stories that are both empowering and actionable.

Yitzi Weiner

Written by

A “Positive” Influencer, Founder & Editor of Authority Magazine, CEO of Thought Leader Incubator

Authority Magazine

Leadership Lessons from Authorities in Business, Film, Sports and Tech. Authority Mag is devoted primarily to sharing interesting feature interviews of people who are authorities in their industry. We use interviews to draw out stories that are both empowering and actionable.

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