By Vanessa Saw
A business idea is often sparked by an “aha moment”, but for Lauren Suen, the idea behind Spare came from one of life’s unexpected moments… an early and surprising period.
- Can you tell us a little bit about yourself and the vision behind Spare?
I’m originally from California but have also spent many years travelling across Asia. My love for travel and exploration led me to make the move overseas and, as a marketer in the tech industry, I’ve been able to find exciting opportunities in Japan, Hong Kong, and Singapore.
My vision for Spare came from an unexpected—yet common—mishap that I, and all women, have experienced many times in life: an early and completely surprising period. A few years ago, when I had just moved to Japan, I was busy and stressed with settling into a new apartment, a new job, and a new country where I didn’t speak the language. We all know that when we’re stressed, our bodies and hormones tend to get triggered and fall out of sync. So, of course, on top of everything I was busy with, I got my period two weeks early, in the middle of the day, during my first week of work. I was completely unprepared and knew I was going to be uncomfortable for the rest of the day until I was able to go home. I was frustrated and in a bit of disbelief that there wasn’t a solution for this issue. It instantly brought me back to my puberty years and the constant worry of never fully knowing when my period would arrive.
And that’s when I thought of Spare—it’s a backup pair of comfortable underwear that you can keep discreetly in a pouch in even the smallest purse. Once you’ve experienced a leak, whether it’s a period or light bladder leak, you can rest easy knowing you have a Spare in your bag and a fresh pair of seamless and comfortable panties. Once you’ve put on your Spare, the Spare pouch also acts as storage for your old pair of underwear so that you don’t have to throw it away or wrap it in toilet paper!
- How do you see Spare bringing positive change for both individuals and the community through your product and messaging?
When I initially started researching my idea, I came across an article in Forbes that stated that 25% to 45% of women experience incontinence or a light bladder leak. This doesn’t even include period leaks! It was reassuring to know that I wasn’t the only one that had to deal with the occasional period or light bladder leak (especially once I became pregnant), and I became even more motivated to figure out a solution to help other women. However, I realized that the other part of the problem was that I felt like the only person with these issues because they’re never talked about. There continues to be a huge stigma attached to these types of feminine matters, but I believe that the more awareness that is brought to the topic, the smaller that stigma will become.
I know firsthand how uncomfortable and embarrassing it can be to experience a leak, so my goal with Spare is to bring comfort and relief in an otherwise uncomfortable moment—we have too many other things to worry about! So, I hope that when people have a Spare in their bag, they can have peace of mind and feel confident that they’re prepared for any type of leak.
- What has been the most challenging and rewarding part of being an entrepreneur?
For me, the most challenging thing is staying motivated and pushing forward even when it feels like it’s a pointless endeavour. Not everyone will understand your product, your mission, or the challenges you’re trying to solve, and it’s easy to get discouraged after a conversation that has you second-guessing everything you’ve been working on. Luckily, not all conversations are discouraging, and the best moments are when you speak with someone that you’ve been able to help with your company or product, even if it’s in a small way. It’s a lot like starting a new relationship—you have to experience the ups and downs, but you also get to experience all of the exciting ‘firsts.’ Like the first day you launch, first sale, first positive customer review—all due to something you created yourself!
- How has your working experience prepared you for any setbacks?
Unexpected challenges will always come up and things won’t always turn out exactly the way you envisioned them to. Instead of getting too attached and focusing too much on a specific aspect, ideal, or even strategy in your work or endeavour, stay passionate and attached to the mission and overall big picture of what you’re trying to accomplish. It allows you to be flexible and pivot when needed in order to get to the finish line.
- What advice would you have for young female entrepreneurs who are working towards bringing a purpose-driven business to life?
Keep at it! Don’t let impostor syndrome hold you back. Let your belief in what you’re doing be the best fuel for your confidence in yourself and your business. With every conversation you have, remember that you’re the face of your company and it’s always OK to let your passion and enthusiasm shine through!
You can learn more about Spare at @wearspare on Instagram.