Avonda Urben, founder of The Perfect V, is bringing the vagina back. Well, not exactly the vagina. The Perfect V, which launched in 2017 in Europe and made a push into the U.S. during the second half of 2018, is luxury skincare designed for down there, or as Urben would prefer you call it, “the V.” The V is what she dubbed the part of the body where the hair grows — or does not.
And Urben is riding this new wave of self-care and personal care as talking about — and caring for — the V becomes more popular and more common. By 2020, the value of the worldwide feminine hygiene market is expected to be $40 billion. From 2018-2022, the global vaginal odor control market (The Perfect V has a beauty mist) is expected to grow over 5 percent. Urben saw a gap for a luxury product, and worked to fill it.
But let’s get one thing out of the way first: Urben does not believe in perfecting the V. Or that there is one specific way to groom. “The perfect V is whatever it is,” she says.
What is in the name V: “I was working on a project as a marketing consultant for a BB cream, and I was kind of going through the alphabet — BB, CC, DD — and I got to VV and VV Cream sounded really kind of cool to me, and I started thinking about it … What kind of upscale products are there for the V area, which I immediately just kind of called that area the V area. There really wasn’t a name when I started doing research.”
Cultural differences: “You know, I was a New Yorker. Worked at L’Oréal and all those beauty companies for 20 years in New York. And when I moved to Copenhagen, for the last six years, there is a very different attitude. They are much more comfortable and have a quiet confidence, I call it. This was still something new to them though, they also had the same, you know, competitive set, where it was available in the drugstore … so for us to introduce the V in Magasin, which is the largest department store in Scandinavia, was a big deal. You know, people were talking about it ‘Oh, what is that for?’ It’s very funny, even the countries where it is more open, and people are more confident about their bodies and they do the you know, group saunas and those kinds of things, it still is a little like ‘wow, skincare where?’”
Launch of the line: “The focus was not on beauty but rather the negative aspects of that area, so all of the messaging that was being sent and talked about to women was bleeding, itching, smell, odor, you know, infection … and I started thinking, wow that’s an antiquated way of talking to us. It would be as if our serums for the face only talked about age spots and crow’s feet, you know, all of the negative as opposed to radiant skin.
That’s really where I saw the opportunity that no other company was really addressing. I mean, there are a couple of products out there for post-wax, but it was all centered around the method of removing hair, like it’s a shave item or a wax item. And I thought well that doesn’t really matter, it just matters that you have skin there that should be treated delicately.”
Market Gaps: “It’s not women-centric, it’s unisex. And that’s fine for some products, but for me, when I think of the V, I don’t think that it’s unisex. That would be one area where you think we could have a product designed specifically for us.”
Retailer pushback: “It wasn’t just U.S. We are in 14 countries now. That was one of my original kind of objectives: to see if this was truly a global opportunity. And more and more women are removing more and more hair so there is more skin, and you know, thought about it.
Everyone took a risk, but the consumers like it.
The biggest misconception about your brand: “They think it’s for the vagina. And that was probably my fault because I named it the V.”
And the highlighter. “I think a lot of people thought [Shades of V] was makeup … It’s not makeup, it still has a lot of the attributes of the VV cream, but it has a little bit more shimmer to it.
The headlines were like, ‘Oh my gosh, now they want your vagina to look great too,’ and I am a feminist so I felt really kind of like, ‘Oh shoot, come on the reason I did this line is because it was developed by a woman with women sensitivity to that area, and I have actually elevated the whole conversation by calling it the V, offering skincare instead of telling us to use unisex products.”
Favorite product in the line: “I hate to even say this is my favorite, but it is — the wash. It’s so basic. And it was the one product I wasn’t going to put in the line … but then when I started looking at the concept of skincare, I said wait a second, you have to start with cleansing the skin.”
Best way to practice self-care: “I do like the winter bathing. I haven’t done it since August since I moved [back to the U.S.], but I love that.”
Favorite beauty spot: “I went to Amazing Space — I love them. They’re in the D’Angleterre Hotel.”