Every issue, GRAZIA USA highlights Game Changers, who inspire, educate, and celebrate individuality, beauty and style. Meet Anne Fulenwider, the magazine editor who founded Alloy Women’s Health to bring menopause solutions and an online pharmacy to women over 40.
The path to becoming an entrepreneur has been insane and wonderful and terrifying and gratifying! I thought I knew all about what starting a company entailed because we covered entrepreneurs at Marie Claire and I hosted a female founders conference for many years, but it turns out I had absolutely no idea. When I left Marie Claire as editor-in-chief, I had no idea I would be starting Alloy Women’s Health, a telehealth company, online pharmacy and content machine for women over 40. There was definitely a combination of naïveté and optimism behind my decision to leave my prior career; I thought we were going to do content and sell a few nutritional supplements.
But then we did our research and realized how huge the problem was — women over 40 just weren’t being served by the current medical establishment at all, and, as a result, millions of women were suffering needlessly. The more we learned, the bigger the project became. I’ve learned a ton along the way, including to trust your gut. No one really knows that much about anything, so you might as well just jump in.
I make a ton of plans, and then nothing works out exactly like you thought it would, so it’s a question of how long are you going to stand around and mourn the way you wanted it to go and how quickly can you assess the situation, make adjustments, and move on.
I think intention and velocity are important to get anything started, and then, once you’re up and running, reaction time and ability to change and build on the fly while keeping a relatively cool head are crucial. For example, early on we partnered with a back-end vendor, and we had months of difficult negotiations and a super hard time getting our working relationship off the ground, and for a while we just tried to force it to work. It didn’t, and we ended it, but had we not been so wed to our original plan, we would have ended it a lot sooner, which would have saved us a lot of money and time.
There were so many little steps that went into the launch. A lot of phone calls and cold mails, the solid backing of our early investors, some serendipitous introductions, a 180-degree change in technical approach two months prior to launch, the eleventh-hour hiring of a 19-year-old engineer, and so many other twists and turns. A few years in, I’d say the only consistent patterns are that the giant, slightly foolish and definitely risky leaps of faith have tended to move us the farthest.
My five-year map for Alloy Women’s Health is to radically normalize the discussion about menopause and hormones, and to partner with major media outlets, pharmacies and health systems to reach as many women as possible and democratize access to the expert care and science-backed solutions they deserve.
We’ve just launched a new suite of products and I’m super excited about the direction they will take us. Our first year in operation, the goal was to solve her pain, to provide science-based solutions to solve the acute symptoms of menopause. After a lot of work, I’m proud to say we succeeded at that beyond our expectations. Now we want to spark her joy — we’ve launched a prescription orgasm enhancing cream that will improve her sex life, a truly miraculous estriol-based face cream that actually rebuilds collagen and dramatically reduces lines and pore size, and we’ll be launching a solution for thinning hair soon, too.
All of the new products are based on solutions that have been out there for years but have never been explained or marketed to women at scale. And the best thing about them is that they have active ingredients based on solid science, so they really work to solve the issues that plague women as they age.
When I’m not focused on business, I’ve gotten really into cooking, and I take our dog on long walks in Prospect Park. I drive my son to rock climbing when I can, just to get some catch-up time in the car, and I go to Upstate New York to visit my daughter at school as often as possible. After years of commuting to midtown in New York City, I am so grateful to work from home, but getting out of the house, and out of the city, is crucial for my mental health.
Read GRAZIA USA’s Spring issue featuring cover star Lucy Boynton: