What do I love best about finding and sharing stories?
I always find something I’ve never heard before.
Today I interviewed a VAGIPRENEUR™.
That’s right. A VAGIPRENEUR™.
She says she kind of fell into her line of work.
“No one wakes up and says, oh, I want to talk about vaginas all day.”
Meet Rachel Braun Scherl, business and brand growth consultant and “Orgasmic Leadership” expert.
Now that I have your attention, I can share Scherl’s impressive background – the degrees from Duke and Stanford and the 20 years focused on consumer products and health and wellness with companies like Johnson & Johnson, Pfizer, and Bayer.
Creating a company focused on women’s health was not her original plan, just the latest in a series of successful chapters. With her business partner Mary Wallace Jaensch, Scherl co-founded Semprae Laboratories in 2008 and released Zestra Essential Arousal Oils, a sexual health product for women.
The company aroused interest but the product struggled to find advertisers who would take their advertising dollars.
“We were two women talking about vaginas,” she says. “No one would take our ads. 95% of the people we reached out to said ‘No, we don’t do your category.'”
That wasn’t true, she noted. Those platforms had no issue taking ads for Viagra. It seemed advertisers were uncomfortable with the idea of a product designed to stimulate, well… women.
It took a year and a half to secure the right PR agency to tell their story. Her pitch to put Zestra in the gift bag for the Tony Awards was rejected. Apparently, that was too much of an After Party.
When Zestra was finally in stores – and on the shelves of 2,000 WalMarts – Scherl and her partner sold the business to a specialty pharmaceutical company that could build distribution relationships around the world.
She continued to serve as a spokeswoman for female health and wellness and through her consulting firm, Amplify Growth, LLC, Scherl works with venture-backed companies to find solutions to improve women’s issues like infertility, endometrial conditions, and sexual health.
Oh, she also trademarked the term VAGIPRENEUR™.
Her Next Chapter isn’t so much a rewrite as a continuation of the story.
“I haven’t switched gears,” she explains. “I’ve migrated. Nothing is linear. I don’t see this as an evolution. To me, it was a progression.”
Scherl recently released her book, featuring knowledge and advice from 37 founders and leaders in the female health industry. The title? Orgasmic Leadership: Profiting from the Coming Surge in Women’s Sexual Health and Wellness (Everything I Know I Learned As a Vagipreneur). The book can be ordered here.
“Orgasmic Leadership is a moniker for people who are building businesses in the female space,” Scherl explains. “Most are for-profit, but some are in education or the non-profit world, helping create social impact to benefit women in underdeveloped countries.”
Outside of work, she’s mom to a 22-year-old daughter and 19-year-old son. How do they feel about her chosen profession?
“It’s mortifying to them,” she admits.
But it’s part of her personal brand. She travels frequently and speaks to corporations, conferences, and on panels about Orgasmic Leadership.
“When this whole (female health and arousal) thing hits a tipping point, I want to be part of the conversation.”
As an industry pioneer, she’s building towards its climax.
I think we’ll all have what she’s having.
Profile: Rachel Braun Scherl, strategist, entrepreneur, VAGIPRENEUR™
Title of Your Current Chapter: “Orgasmic Leadership”
Motto to live by: “No Time Outs, No Substitutions”
How do you get Unstuck?: Exercise, watch mindless TV dramas or classic comedies.
What’s Next?: Girls’ Trip with Oprah and Gayle (a girl can dream!)
What advice do you have for others looking to create their own next chapters? Be brave, be bold, spend a little to learn a lot, and of course, No Time Outs, No Substitutions.
Interested in other Next Chapter profiles? Read how Aurelia went from network news to non-profit, Carin purposed her purpose, Christine found opportunities in saying “yes” and Nicole took center stage.
Valerie Gordon put stories on television for years. Now, as ounder of career and communications firm,The Storytelling Strategist, she helps women capitalize on the power of their own stories for greater success and satisfaction at work. If you know of an inspiring woman for the Next Chapter series please email firstname.lastname@example.org