At Damiva our products are inspired by our heroines and on International Women’s Day, I thought I would share some history about women we think about every day.
Mae by Damiva is our vaginal suppository that was inspired by Mae West, who was a Hollywood icon, sex symbol and comedic writer. I love Mae West for so many reasons. One of her famous quotes is, “Is that a gun in your pocket or are you happy to see me?” When we designed our brand, we came up with slogans that we could imagine that a modern Mae West would say herself such as “Enough beating around the bush. Let’s talk about your vagina.”
Mae West is the only woman who has ever been jailed for writing about sex. Her Broadway play, Sex, which she wrote, produced, and starred in, was notorious and controversial in 1927. She was charged with obscenity, fined $500 and spent 8 days in jail, reduced from 10 for good behaviour.
Another reason why Mae West is near and dear to our hearts is that she achieved her fame after age 40. Imagine being in Hollywood in the 1940s, in your forties, and famous for being a sex symbol delivering impertinent lines such as, “When I’m good, I’m very good but when I’m bad, I’m better.” It doesn’t get any better than that.
Our second product, Cleo by Damiva, is a labial moisturizer named after Cleopatra, the most famous Queen and last ruler of Egypt, who was much maligned by the Romans after her death. In 51 BC after her father’s death, Cleopatra was forced at age 18 to marry her younger brother and they co-ruled the throne of Egypt. Amidst much sibling and political in-fighting and in order to solidify her power, she won the support of the Roman general, Julius Caesar, by becoming his lover. She rolled herself up in a carpet and was delivered to him and that night they became lovers. Caesar took Cleopatra and their son to Rome and after he was killed in 44 BC, Cleopatra returned to Egypt.
After Caesar’s death, Cleopatra maintained her rule by famously becoming the lover of Mark Antony. She set the stage for their meeting by drifting in on the river Cydnus on a golden, perfumed and decorated barge dressed as Venus. After their defeat by Octavius, and mistakenly believing that Cleopatra was already dead, Mark Antony stabbed himself and eventually died in Cleopatra’s arms. Facing execution herself, Cleopatra died of a self-inflicted cobra bite. After her death, the Egyptian empire became a province of Rome and she would go down in history as the last ruler of Egypt.
Cleopatra achieved many feats in her lifetime including becoming the lover of two of the most powerful Roman politicians and generals in history in order to maintain her rule. However, that’s not the reason why we named Cleo after her. She was a great intellect who spoke 9 languages, a scientist, philosopher and architect. She constructed incredible buildings in her time, wrote books, including a treatise on gynaecology, and also one on cosmetics. Cleopatra was a trend-setter in cosmetics and invented many face and body washes, eye-liners and eye-shadows, lipsticks and lip balm, often using beeswax and other insect derivatives.
We named Cleo after the last Queen of Egypt because she was an early inventor of lip balm and gynaecologist and we call Cleo the “lip balm for your other lips.” In case you’re interested, our formulation of Cleo does not contain beeswax as it is an insoluble ingredient and our products are designed to melt at body temperature.
In 2017, we have a lot to celebrate at Damiva on International Women’s Day. Both Mae and Cleo are launching in the U.S. in April and May and our second product, Cleo, is now in Rexall and Shoppers’ Drug Mart pharmacies across Canada as of March 10. So Mae and Cleo will sit on the pharmacy shelf, side by side, inspired by heroines, and created by women for women.
We’ve come a long way and there’s still a journey ahead of us. We believe that there are very few products for women over 40 because of a combination of reticence about speaking about our needs, being overlooked by an industry that has been predominantly led by men, and the fact that we are the first generations of women to have this long a life expectancy and there aren’t that many role models for us.
On March 8, whatever your passion is, speak out about being a woman and follow the generations of women who have carved their own paths. This is a belief that we embody at Damiva every day. Email me anytime at firstname.lastname@example.org and tell me about your needs; I’m here to listen.