Therese Clark, the founder of Lady Suite Beauty, is a trailblazer in the world of feminine care products.
Lady Suite Beauty is a company that offers a range of plant-based and non-toxic products for women's intimate care needs, including pH-balanced cleansers, moisturizers, and soothing creams. The products are made with natural ingredients and free from harsh chemicals, fragrances, and synthetic dyes, making them safe for even the most sensitive skin.
In this interview, Clark sits down with Kristen Carbone, and shares more about her story as a female founder. Clark gives insight into the valuable lessons she's learned along the way, providing advice for other women hoping to make their mark in the business world.
Get ready to be inspired by this fearless entrepreneur and learn more about her journey towards making safe, intimate care products more accessible to women everywhere.
What is the biggest lesson you’ve learned about leadership during your time as a founder?
Therese: The biggest lesson I have learned is that the definition of leadership is ever changing on this journey. The meaning of leadership can be taken literally, and refer to situations where you’re leading. But it can also be interpreted by understanding where you have to step back and let others lead.
I put a lot of pressure on myself to be a leader. But I think what it’s really about is being really steadfast on a vision, so that other people can find ways to lead within that vision. As a leader, you need to find ways to listen well and have others lead within your vision.
What are some of the biggest obstacles you have faced on your journey as a female founder?
Therese: Other than my own inner critic, I feel like I get perceived as young even though I’m in my forties. People will say, “I’m really smiley” and just other comments that I don’t feel a lot of men would hear.
I also think the subject matter Lady Suite covers is more stigmatized and niche. With me coming across as younger or as a minority woman has not always fared well.
In the past when I would raise money, I was told by an ex business partner, “I’m so glad you’re a minority woman, that will be really good for the perception of our business”. I do think there are a lot of inherent biases, and when we look at the statistics showing women aren’t getting funding, I’m not surprised. There’s this mentality that there’s only room for a few of us, and it can be competitive and pit women against each other—both consciously and unconsciously.
What advice would you give a woman who is about to start a business?
Therese: Having a real sense of the operational side and money side of business. It’s very important to know yourself, know what you’re good at, and find the people to help you. You can’t do it alone—I tried that and was a little too late. I really wanted to prove it to myself because my last company didn’t go well. I wasn’t surrounded by the right people and wanted to do it all on my own.
You need to understand operations, the market, and what it takes to be a leader in that market and do all that due diligence up front. I think there’s so much competition and very little barrier to entry these days with the internet and social media platforms. So you need to do your research.
It could be as simple as finding someone like Kristen, early on in your journey. It is a really hard experience to do alone. You need to have somebody that is on your side and not here to judge you. Someone who can offer you tid-bits and also similar stories to what you’re going through, so you know you’re not doing this alone. That is where imposter syndrome starts to happen, and you get in your head and down on yourself. It’s important to have that support system. Everyone needs to find themselves a Kristen Carbone!
Who are some women who have inspired you along the way?
Therese: Rather than one woman, it’s the stories of many women. Sara Blakely and her resilience is inspiring. While she has this huge success and is the youngest billionaire, I didn’t realize how many times she failed. The fact that she’s actually gifting money to employees and the people that got her there, that’s unique because other billionaires would pocket that shit.
The fact that Lady Suite even happened is because I talked to so many real women. Women like me and you who were willing to share issues and stories. Anything from roadblocks, deadends, medical stories—I got so many letters from cancer patients who can use products I developed in the past. This is why I get so mad when I see a marketing company come into the space and just see a dollar amount, but don’t know anything about the space.
So many real women have inspired me and fellow founders like you, who have taken problems and pains and turned them into something that is truly helping other women. That’s the inspiration that’s keeping me going and it’s not the money.
To truly make an impact I want to be able to take funds and change a community. The fact that I haven't been able to do it at that level yet, I have to remind myself we’re still trying to do good and make an impact.
How do you create boundaries for yourself?
Therese: I’m working on this. I don’t think I’ve done a great job yet. I just recently went to a wellness retreat, where a therapist spoke and was discussing the 6 different types of boundaries. They range from physical, to emotional, to even money boundaries.
What I’ve realized is that I have gotten better at understanding that it’s not somebody else’s job to manage your boundaries. It’s your job to continuously manage your own boundaries so people learn. So like when my husband steps on something that broke a boundary—it’s really not his fault. I just have to keep showing him and reiterating to him how not to mess with my boundaries.
That’s the thing that I have done better. I’ve realized when something is not making me feel good, and address it head on with no filter. And no is a complete answer, and actually an aphrodisiac for other people.
I do think that boundaries over the years have gotten better for me. Even dealing with business partnerships and the things that start out so good and maybe not end well, I would get so caught up in emotions and get depressed for weeks. Now I have just realized the business deserves the most respect in all of this and I need to keep that up. Your business deserves boundaries, and deserves someone who is not complaining all the time.
When I start to feel that way I now know I need to take some down time and get it out so it doesn’t impact the business.
You will keep having to hit milestones as your business progresses and I’ve learned that everyone feels fear at different levels of business. We’re going through all these hurdles to prepare ourselves for the next hurdles.
Your path changes and being attached to an outcome can be a pretty negative thing. Your business is an amazing thing, but it’s always important to remind yourself that you are more than your business.