Colette Courtion is an award-winning consumer marketer and business leader based in Seattle, Wash. Her career has spanned from venture capitalism to coffee, and now to her current role as CEO of Joylux, Inc. (Seattle, Wash.), a global femtech company that specializes in light-based devices and products that help with intimate health issues, including the vFit and vFit PLUS in the U.S.
Having earned a BA in economics from the University of Washington, and an MBA from the Graziadio School of Business and Management at Pepperdine University, it was Colette’s strong will and motivation that allowed her to rise through the ranks of the male-dominated venture capital company, Maveron. She also ran the Starbucks loyalty card program before transitioning to aesthetics; upon which she became the CEO of JeNu, maker of the first home-use anti-aging ultrasound device.
She then launched Calidora Skin Clinic (Seattle, Wash.), a leading anti-aging clinic that expanded to multiple locations and became a top 1% provider of Botox treatments in the country.
Colette spent more than 15 years working in beauty and with medical aesthetic technologies, but it was her personal experience of becoming a mother that led her to start Joylux.
The ‘Aha’ Moment“
When I first found out I was pregnant, I had girlfriends who shared their pregnancy experiences with me,” Colette recalled. “Of course, there were some things I expected to hear – weight gain, nausea, those sorts of things – but I wasn’t expecting them to share with me that after I gave birth, I’d wet my pants when I sneezed or if I jumped up and down. No one had shared this before. I had no idea. Why was nobody talking about this? “
I did some research and realized that this was stress incontinence (SUI); a problem that affects a large number of women,” Colette continued. “It is estimated that at least one in three women suffer from SUI; we suspect this is underreported and hypothesize it actually affects closer to 50% of all women.
“My background is in medical aesthetics – tightening, toning and restoring facial tissue – and I had this “Aha” moment, when I thought,‘Why can’t we take this same technology and apply it to pelvic health?’,” she added. “That’s what led to the creation of Joylux. I was looking for a safe and non-invasive way to help women tighten and tone their pelvic floor.”
Colette partnered with leading OB/GYNs and launched Joylux in 2014 to bring to market the first and only home-use device to address women’s intimate wellness. Several more home-use innovations for women followed – vFit, vFit PLUS, vSculpt and vSculpt PRO – which are now leading the way in the femtech space.
When asked what her “why” is, Colette responded,“There are so many amazing, wonderful things about women. We’re strong, resourceful and adaptable. But as incredible as it all may be, some unfortunate physical changes occur after we give birth, and even as we age. Most women learn to live with them, but they can lead to bigger problems that affect both us and our partners.”
Pelvic floor disorders are estimated to affect over 30 million women in the U.S., yet many women never talk about intimacy issues in the bedroom because the topic is considered taboo. The embarrassment and fear behind having a pelvic floor disorder has kept many women from seeking professional help, despite the detrimental effects on their lifestyle, relationships, and overall confidence.
Colette’s mission is to demystify women’s health issues and make them as mainstream as the struggles men experience. Women have been suffering in silence for too long. Joylux wants them to get comfortable talking about it and ultimately strive for personal care inside and out. Many products on the market today are focused on masking these problems; Colette wants to solve them.“
I was lucky enough to work for Starbucks during the formative years of my career, and my boss, Anne Saunders really helped shape who I am today, Colette expressed. “I spent the early part of my career in finance, and Anne pushed me into sales and marketing. Ultimately, this made me more well-rounded and positioned me to holistically manage my own business. I learned how to successfully connect on an emotional level with the consumer and how critical that was to any product. Numbers give you one perspective, but human insight and emotion tell a very different and important side of the story.”
Motivating women to talk about their intimate health and ensure they know they can speak candidly about their struggles is a big goal for us. Women’s health has provided us with the opportunity to create a full product pipeline with devices that will help women feel empowered and live their best lives.
Overcoming ObstaclesGrowing Joylux has been difficult, with one of the main challenges being funding, Collete explained. Pelvic health is a sensitive topic and discussing it with investors is not easy.“
We live in a world where funding is dominated by men, so many of our potential investors are men and simply don’t understand this problem. We overcame this challenge by working with female investors looking to support other women.”
Marketing a device that targets pelvic health has also been a struggle. Facebook advertising policies have “adult content” restrictions, but their interpretation and enforcement overtly favor men and penalize women. While erectile dysfunction pills, condoms, penis pumps and “manscaping” products have been approved under Facebook’s advertising policy, ads promoting products aimed at women such as vibrators, lubricants and accessories have been banned. “This has forced us to be very clever and creative in how we talk about our product,” Colette explained.“
As a businesswoman working in an industry that has been marginalized by society, marketing a product that addresses issues that are considered ‘taboo’, my passion for our mission must be unwavering,” Colette underscored. “Leaders don’t take no for an answer. Instead, they find creative ways to turn a ‘no’ into a ‘yes’. Keep fighting until you find the best partner(s), secure the best investor(s), recruit the best employee(s), are marketing to your optimal audience(s) and selling to the right customers.”