We had the good fortune of connecting with Manuela Vazquez and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Manuela, we’d love to hear more about how you thought about starting your own business?
The intention was never to start my own business. As an obstetrician/gynecologist I couldn’t find quality products in the market that solved a specific problem that I was encountering on a daily basis with my patients, so I decided to take matters into my own hands and develop them myself. After three years of researching, designing, testing and even more testing, LaMaria was born.
What should our readers know about your business?
LaMaria is an homage to my mother, Maria, who encouraged me to value women’s wellbeing and inspired me to become a gynecologist. My mother has always believed that beauty is a sense of self-worth that radiates from within, best honored by taking care of ourselves. True to her Brazilian roots, she has always encouraged me to celebrate the joy of being a woman.
With this mindset and as an ob/gyn dedicated to women’s wellbeing, I was underwhelmed by the options for patients experiencing vaginal dryness, a very common complaint heard by ob/gyns. 20% of women between the ages of 18-50 have complained of vaginal dryness at some point in their adult life and over 50% of women over the age of 50 suffer from vaginal dryness due to declining hormone levels. I felt very constrained by the limited options I had to offer my patients for their symptoms, mostly consisting of products filled with unnatural and unproven ingredients, and harmful taboos. It was the first time in my medical career that I found myself recommending products that I wouldn’t recommend to the women in my life – my friends, my sisters or my mother.
I realized that, if I wanted to find suitable products, I would have to create them. I set out to establish a different kind of beauty and wellness brand, one that honors, respects and celebrates the changes in a woman’s life by providing clean, effective and luxurious skin care, that could nurture a love for all that we go through. I wanted to make products that specifically targeted the lack of hydration that women experience due to their changing hormone levels. My goal was to combine scientifically studied ingredients that had hydrating benefits, proven by science, with sensuous design to deliver a luxurious experience, with an approachability such that it could be talked about and shared with friends. I focused on the face and the vagina, the two areas that are rich in estrogen receptors and tend to suffer with respect to moisture as our hormone levels change. I wanted to create a brand that could speak to the needs of women at various stages, from women like my sisters, who are in their thirties, to women like my mother in her seventies – a brand that fully celebrated womanhood and the beautiful natural transitions that occur throughout a woman’s life.
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
We live in Laguna Beach, one of the most peaceful and picturesque areas in Southern California. For your stay in paradise, book a room at the Hotel Joaquin or La Casa del Camino, two beautiful boutique hotels that are just close enough to take in the action downtown, but still far enough away to stay out of all the commotion. Start your day off with breakfast at Driftwood or Heidelberg Bistro. If you’re so inclined, get your coffee to go and take a walk on the beach right across the street.
For an itinerary that’s a little more action-packed, take a hike through Crystal Cove and catch the stunning views of the ocean along the way. Better yet, break a sweat mountain biking on the back trails! You can then head down to the Tide Pools Headlands in neighboring Dana Point for some sea creature and cave exploring. If the swell is too big, try The Ranch for an afternoon snack and enjoy a few rounds of golf on Ben Brown’s course.
If golf isn’t your thing, La Casa del Camino has a rooftop deck perfect for ordering a cocktail and watching the sunset. No matter what you’re in the mood for, Downton Laguna is where to go for dinner. 242 Café Fusion Sushi has the best sushi you will ever eat! If you’re exploring Laguna with little ones in tow, Alessa by Chef Pirozzi is delicious and very family friendly. If you’re feeling fancy, Selanne’s never disappoints. Afterwards, leave the kids at the hotel and end the night at The Saloon for a digestif and some great people-watching.
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
Being an entrepreneur is a rollercoaster ride! You hop on without really knowing what to expect, then take the twists and turns as they come. It’s intense and thrilling, but there’s a fine line between excitement and fear. There is nothing better than having your best friend by your side to share the joyful moments, calm you when you are fearful, and encourage you to just keep holding on tight. My husband has been right by my side through the ups and the downs, the side-to-sides and the loop-de-loops. I couldn’t have asked for a better person to hold my hand through the ride.