Interview by Nicole Dahlstrom @nicoledahlstrom
Shaina Kandel is the Founder & CEO of Moon + Leaf. She has 10 years experience in consumer goods, strategy consulting & healthcare consulting. Her career has been dedicated to supporting the health of people, organizations, and the planet. When not working on Moon + Leaf, you will find her doing yoga, painting, playing music, or dancing. She is based in Marin, CA.
What is the idea behind your project / product and how did you come up with it?
Moon + Leaf exists to create a culture in which women love, honor, and listen to our bodies. We create CBD products for period relief to turn our periods into a ritual of self-love.
I spent 10 years in the corporate world and in each job, I would start to experience burn-out. Inevitably, I would stop getting my period - which is when I knew something was really off. This would prompt me to quit and prioritize my health. This cycle happened a few times.
It finally dawned on me that my period was giving me information about how I was living my life. It changed my relationship with my period from something I dreaded to something I respected.
At the same time, I had studied the growing cannabis industry during my MBA program and worked in consumer goods at Fair Trade. One day, the light bulb went off to create products for period relief, using the power of CBD, that helps women learn to love our bodies.
When did it all start and do you have other members on your team?
The idea for Moon + Leaf started in 2017, followed by prototypes, focus groups, user trials and more!
The Moon + Leaf team was assembled in March of 2018, which includes myself, Alexis Travis, Co-Founder & COO, and Sumeet Banerji, our Designer.
How long did it take you to be where you are now?
A year and a half.
What was the biggest obstacle?
The CBD industry is just forming. And even though we use hemp-derived CBD (no psychoactive effects and federally legal), we still faced challenges that other business wouldn’t blink at, such as getting a bank account, getting an online store and ecommerce payment processor.
While being part of a new industry is an exciting buzz, it also has its challenges.
What are your biggest achievements to date?
We are proud to be in 6 stores between SF, LA, and NY
We did a soft launch of our brand in November
What are the challenges of being an entrepreneur in the niche you are in? How about being a female founder / entrepreneur?
Even though the game is changing rapidly for female founders, there are still underlying biases against women that run deep.
For example, when I share that I am starting a business, most people immediately start to give me advice - whether or not they have any experience as an entrepreneur or in my industry.
In contrast, my partner is starting a new division at his company. I haven’t heard one person offer him advice. They say, “hey, that’s really awesome, good for you.”
Is #WomenInTech movement important to you and if yes, why?
YES! For so long I had the experience of feeling like I needed to act masculine to get ahead in my career or be seen as credible (and in many situations, I still feel this way). That was because the cultural picture of success was a man.
#WomenInTech is creating a new cultural picture of successful women. And it’s enabling a shift from competition to support and collaboration between women. And that is something worth celebrating
What is the most important piece of advice you can give to all female founders and female entrepreneurs out there?
You have to align yourself with a vision that is more important than any setback you experience or any voices of self-doubt you have. The setbacks and the doubts and fears will be there. But if the vision is powerful and has a purpose bigger than you, you will find the strength to keep going
What will be the key trends in the health tech industry in the next 5 years and where do you see it heading?
There is an amazing wave of FemTech innovation right now in fertility tracking, sexual wellness, fertility solutions, and more. I think this trend will continue with even more sophisticated products and innovative solutions.
Who are your top inspirational women in health tech?
Miki Agrawal, founder of Thinx, is a powerful disruptive voice who set out to eliminate tabboo around periods.
Talia Frankil, founder of L., created a socially conscious women’s health company from her experience seeing the neglect of women’s rights across the globe
This interview was conducted by Nicole Dahlstrom, Women of Wearables Ambassador in San Francisco, USA. She has been providing marketing and project management services to non profits for the past six years. Passionate about women's health and fem tech, Nicole decided to leverage her network of established feminine health companies, industry professionals, and leaders in the female health space to develop a network of support for founders of female health focused tech startups called FemTech Collective. Their mission is to shape the future of healthcare through technology that meets the needs of the female consumer. Connect with Nicole via Twitter: @nicoledahlstrom or LinkedIn: Nicole Dahlstrom