It’s easy to be flippant about an invitation from Lo Bosworth. After all, the reason her name stands out in the subject line is because of her stints on reality TV series Laguna Beach and The Hills – shows that ushered in a genre that has simultaneously debased and defined modern times.
But this email wasn’t promoting a Disney-inspired fashion line or an E! News special (see: former co-stars Lauren Conrad and Heidi Montag). “Wanted to invite you to celebrate the launch of Lo Bosworth’s new feminine product line, Love Wellness,” read the note.
Like the Queen Bee of reality TV (that’s Kim Kardashian, for anyone living under a rock), Bosworth is taking her name and running with it – not to a video game maker in San Francisco, or to the cover of a magazine, but to a feminine hygiene startup. Against all odds, and six years after The Hills went off the air, Bosworth has emerged as a viable businesswoman.
And it’s this version of her that I meet inside a white-washed and sparsely decorated downtown Manhattan apartment. The 30-year-old sips mint tea at her appropriately raw wood dining room table, wearing a green jumpsuit and a smart chignon hairdo.
“This is Pia – she’s our mascot,” she says, gesturing to a vinyl cosmetics case with cat ears and a furry zipper pull. “She’s a pussy!” she adds, erupting into laughter.
Actually, the ridiculousness of Love Wellness, which launches Thursday, pretty much stops there. The idea for a line of 100 percent natural and OB/GYN-approved feminine wellness and hygiene products was born out of her own health frustrations. “A doctor once told me that you either have good plumbing or bad plumbing,” she says. “I have bad plumbing, and a lot of women do.”
To be clear about the “bad plumbing,” the commonplace problems Bosworth hopes to address are yeast infections, BV, funny smells, and UTIs.
“I was really curious as to why nobody had attacked these problems before, in a reasonable way with natural formulas that were based on biology instead of what a man would think a woman would want for her vagina,” says Bosworth.
Drugstore products typically exacerbate the problems with low quality ingredients and cheap chemicals. And often addressing one infection with antibiotics can cause another. “So it’s this crazy chronic circle if it starts to go weird on you, and it can require a lot to get back to a good balance again,” she says.
With the organic and all-natural movement on her side – plus enough personal capital to invest - Bosworth set out to create a line of problem-specific products using high-quality formulations and natural ingredients to address the root causes behind the issues.
The range starts with the “flagship products” called The Killer ($24), a suppository made with boric acid to balance pH. “It’s a really old school product actually, before we had all these prescription drugs, this is what gynecologists gave to women to get rid of yeast infections and BV and things like that - we’re just bringing it back,” she says, adding, “the idea of using Monistat just horrifies me.”
Other supplements include Good Girl Probiotics ($28), which balances the gut (which is directly correlated to feminine health), and the Perfect Condition Vitamin ($28), with turmeric, coconut oil, grapefruit seed extract, folic acid, garlic and boron – ingredients that destroy yeast on a cellular level.
“If your pH is out of wack, you can really easily get an infection,” says Bosworth. “If you have the right number of bacterial colonies down there, you’re chilling, everything will be okay.” Come 2017, she plans to introduce products to tackle UTIs.
With a minimalistic design and subtle packaging, “You’re not embarrassed to have them in your bathroom, or have them in your bag,” says Bosworth. “They’re not flowery, it’s not women running through fields, it’s a really adult approach to taking care of your body.”
Bosworth is part of a still small but growing cohort of business women changing the way we talk about lady business – the generation after Our Bodies, Ourselves. Other products are cropping up, like Thinx – period-proof underwear – and Lola, an organic tampon delivery service. And famous faces are making the subject mainstream. If Willow Smith wants to Instagram about it, Amy Schumer wants to talk about it, and Lena Dunham wants to show it on television, Bosworth wants to take care of it.
“It’s really about self-confidence, more than anything,” she says. “I can’t tell you exactly why, the time is right for some reason. There’s a woman running for president, hopefully she will be president.”
In a sense, Bosworth is putting herself out there even more so than when she was on national television. “Once the show ended, I had a difficult time figuring out what I wanted to do with my life. It’s not easy to be on one of the biggest shows on TV and then just go get an office job and blend back into normal life,” she recalls. “So I kind of knew, post that experience, that I had to pave my own road.”
After The Hills, Bosworth worked at a talent agency, developing TV shows in LA, before moving to New York and trying her hand at the startup world with Revelry House, a party-in-a-box concept. “It failed, but it’s okay,” says Bosworth. “It’s good to have a failure under your belt, because I think you learn way more lessons from failing.”
Already, Love Wellness seems destined for a better chance at success. Not least because she’s already defined herself in the space with TheLoDown.com, a wellness website and podcast that she describes as “a thriving business.”
“I put my head down and I thought to myself, okay, I’m going to actually do this. There’s no reason why I can’t,” she says, of starting her one-woman business. “It’s really just me bringing something that I care really passionately about to the market. It’s something that for a lot of women is really private, hopefully until now.”
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