Felicia Hershenhorn turns her entrepreneurship into a sexual wellness business – The Florida Star
MONTREAL — Often, to succeed, you have to step out of your comfort zone.
That’s exactly what Canadian Felicia Hershenhorn did when she left her job as a lawyer.
Hershenhorn co-founded Imarais Beauty with popular model Sommer Ray. Still unsatisfied, the budding entrepreneur focused on sexual well-being. This idea was the spearhead of Runi, her sexual wellness and personal care brand which is gaining popularity and sales.
Runi, her childhood nickname, was a carefully thought-out brand name to get her family and friends to believe in her.
Hershenhorn’s assertive business practices are a far cry from his youth as a rules follower. Zenger met the young entrepreneur who wants to free sex education from shame.
Zenger: Why choose Runi as a business name?
Hershenhorn: It’s really funny. I like to be shocking and out there. Because the business was sexual wellness, I knew people around me would ask, “What are you doing?” Giving him my childhood nickname would give him a personal touch and let them know I was serious. The company is fun, exciting and sexy, but we have a purpose.
Zenger: Was becoming an entrepreneur a leap of faith or just something you wanted to do?
Hershenhorn: I’ve always been good with books. I excelled in school. If you took me out of school and put me somewhere else, I was a fish out of water. I really like the rules. My parents and my sister joked that I would always work for someone, keeping others in line. Being a lawyer was a natural progression. But when I became a lawyer, I said to myself: I’m too creative for that. I loved rules when I was younger, but then I grew up and found my voice – and wanted to use it.
A friend and I created Imarais. When it took off, I quit my job as a lawyer. When I left Imarais, I was the CMO of Psychedelic Water. And it was incredible, but I had Runi’s idea in the back of my mind since I left Imarais. I told the people at Psychedelic Water that I had this idea and should follow it. One of the guys who got me involved in Psychedelic Water is one of my main Runi investors. I decided to think outside the box and do what no one expected me to do.
Zenger: Leaving a comfortable and successful career like being a lawyer can be scary and intimidating. Was it like that in the beginning?
Hershenhorn: It wobbled at first. I knew I had to be strong-minded, strong-willed, and believe in myself to make it all work. When I worked for other people, I saw the difference between an idea that didn’t succeed or a business that did. I worked for a real estate development company as a lawyer and learned that it wasn’t the amount of money you had, however important it was, and it wasn’t the tenacity . It was more about the project people who believed in it.
All other things can come and go, but if I believe in myself, I have no choice but to do so. It’s about having a positive mindset. I wake up every day knowing that I will make better decisions if I believe in myself.
When I started what I thought was my dream, a beauty business, I returned home. I was 28, I lived in my parents’ basement, I worked at this company and everyone thinks I’m crazy because I left this job as a lawyer. I had a fantastic job, a fantastic support system, and I left it all behind. I was like, “What am I doing?” Then I had this moment: “You have to prove yourself. It’s time.” So I did.
Zenger: Is it important to have an open dialogue about self-care and sexual pleasures?
Hershenhorn: Oh yeah! That’s one of the things I really focus on at Runi: knowing what you want and exactly how to get it. The problem is that we don’t know what we want. We are ashamed to ask. It starts early. Consider sex education. Sex education in America is completely flawed. What they teach and how they teach. For example, if I read states that mandate sex education, you would be stunned. Sex education is not federally mandated in the United States
Some states require it and some don’t. Even in states that require sex education, it need not be medically valid. To me, that’s crazy. I’m not saying that Runi is going to come over and overhaul sex education in America. We would like to work in this direction, but we are only one piece of the puzzle. Where Runi comes in is where the system fails.
I hope we can make enough noise to get people’s attention. Let’s go back to sex education programs in American schools. Not only do they have to be medically accurate, but many of them are based on abstinence and shame. I understand the concerns about teaching young children about sex. It’s a scary subject. Not every parent will be happy with every conversation. It is a difficult subject. The problem is that when we don’t give children a good sex education, the natural desires they begin to feel in adolescence become attached to shame.
You can scare someone into doing nothing for a while. These are natural desires; they don’t leave. When you opt for shame or abstinence, you aren’t discussing healthy relationships and learning about your own body – what you like, what you don’t. That’s what Runi is here to do.
We want to show people that when you know what you want, you can say yes. It’s directly related to your ability to say yes and your ability to say no. When we open a dialogue about pressure, about what you want, you can say: this is a healthy relationship. It is a line of demarcation that I want to draw. You learn about yourself and others. When you know what you want, it translates into other areas of your life. We say, from the bedroom to the boardroom, and beyond.
Zenger: Given the sensitive nature of your products and the sensitive moments we find ourselves in, are you toeing the line or kicking down the door?
Hershenhorn: I always run to the next Runi idea. For me, the message of knowing what you want and how to get it is important. I’m ready to shout it from the rooftops. I know what it’s like to be an 18 year old girl who doesn’t have many friends. I was not the cool girl and never felt empowered. I never had a voice. If you’re always told that’s the way it should be and it’s not what you want, you’re going to feel flawed.
For me, Runi is much more than a product or a brand. It is a platform and a community. Not just to talk about pleasure in a sexual way, but about everything users want, in a constructive and supportive way. Of course, due to the nature of the product and the appearance of the brand, there are limitations. We walk a fine line and stay within limits.
I liked rules because I wanted to stay within limits. Now, whatever that limit is, I want to push it.