5 Things We Must Do To Improve the US Healthcare System: With Limor Weinstein and Kaylyn Easton, CEO & Founder of Chiavaye

“Mental health shouldn’t be treated as some outside entity. All of our biological systems are interconnected — they work with and for the other systems in helping us show up every day. We forget that the brain is the most complex organ in our bodies. If it’s ability to function becomes impaired, the ramifications can be seen […]

“Mental health shouldn’t be treated as some outside entity. All of our biological systems are interconnected — they work with and for the other systems in helping us show up every day. We forget that the brain is the most complex organ in our bodies. If it’s ability to function becomes impaired, the ramifications can be seen and felt throughout all other systems. The sooner we accept this as a society and within the general sphere of healthcare, the sooner we can make progress toward healthier lives.”

As a part of my interview series with leaders in healthcare, I had the pleasure to interview Kaylyn Easton. Kaylyn is a former broadcast journalist, turned marketing exec, turned entrepreneur. Her personal, ongoing struggle with stage four endometriosis and open conversations she shared with real women discussing real sexual health concerns inspired Easton to found Chiavaye, an all-natural, hypoallergenic, vegan personal moisturizer and lubricant tailored specifically to women facing healthcare challenges. The synthetic-free product has also been widely adopted by the holistic health community.

Prior to launching Chiavaye, Easton served in the C-suite at Skinny & Company Coconut Oil, driving all marketing strategy and was responsible for adoption and revenue in the chief marketing officer role. At the time, Skinny & Co. was one of the fastest growing natural skincare brands on the market, and she helped generate more than 165 percent sales growth in just one year. Easton also acted as the national spokesperson for Skinny & Co. and appeared in videos for mega retailer, Sephora.

With more than eight years of on-camera experience as a journalist, TV host, and spokesperson, Kaylyn has worked in Munich, Germany, New York City, Indianapolis, and Denver. She loves connecting with people and providing real value in all of her work.

A graduate of Indiana University’s Ernie Pyle School of Journalism, Easton is a true Hoosier at heart. Growing up in the Midwest inspired a love and appreciation for our country’s heartland communities.

While Easton works daily to bring the business of Chiavaye to international markets, she is a passionate thought-leader, working to drive a comfortable conversation about personal care, largely based on her own health journey, and inspire mothers to serve a more powerful, transparent role in educating their daughters on sexual health.

Thank you so much for doing this with us! Can you tell us a story about what brought you to this specific career path?

Throughout my adult life — including every day in and out of the office — I’ve suffered from severe stage four endometriosis. The painful, debilitating nature of the disease, coupled with a necessary reliance on the healthcare community put me in an unparalleled position — I had been provided with an immense education around female sexual health, which when seen through a prism of my personal and professional experience, inspired me to create Chiavaye and to invest in women in ways our culture historically has not. Conversations I’ve had with my own mother about her transition through menopause and what she was experiencing in that specific season of female life, as well as experiences my friends and female community have shared about marriage, carrying and delivering babies, intimacy, and their bodies after childbirth, have given me added perspective about what women are experiencing. While I’ve always been open about health and the body, this is not a universal approach in our society. Discussing female wellness should never have been taboo, just a normal part of life — and though many agree, it’s realistically a challenge to propel our language and norms around this topic forward. After nearly a decade listening to real women discuss these particular real issues, it was clear I needed to take on the advocate role in both creating products and dialogue to support these women — all women.

Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you began leading your company?

It was 11 p.m. on a weeknight and I was winding down for the evening when I saw a familiar name come through in a text message. I hadn’t spoken to this person in years, but we had worked together at a previous company. He apologized for the random message, said he had been following my Chiavaye work on social media and would like to talk. Like so many men and women I speak with, he felt embarrassed to reach out, but had heard me talk about endometriosis and feared his girlfriend was suffering from the same disease. He was concerned, but not sure how to support her or what to do when she was consistently doubling over in pain. To him, she seemed very sick and he was scared. He said sometimes his girlfriend would turn the shower on and just cry under the hot water hoping to ease her pain. This young MAN was reaching out for help, feeling uneducated, unequipped, and totally in the dark about female wellness. His bravery and compassion was incredibly impactful for me.

As the founder of a company focused on female sexual wellness, I hear personal, sometimes heart wrenching, sometimes hilarious, often random, and very detailed stories from women all the time. But this young man not only inspired me to start creating resources for both men and women, it also illustrated our society’s deep need for more connectivity (not separateness) in dealing with our personal health: more conversation, more acceptance, and a greater focus on the relational interactions we have with our partners.

Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?

To me mistakes are an opportunity to learn and grow, and it’s a good thing because I’ve made plenty. One of the best stories happened when we were launching a new bottle size for Chiavaye customers. They had requested a smaller size that would be good for travel or as an opportunity to test out Chiavaye before purchasing our most popular full-size bottle. We created the perfect 30ml size that would be ideal for their needs! I was so excited and made the product available on the website for purchase. Thankfully orders started rolling in.

Great problem to have, right? Except that I didn’t have any 30ml bottles to send to my customers. The empty 30ml bottles had gotten delayed in transit due to a snowstorm and were just sitting in a shipping warehouse. Though I had strategically mapped out the operations and marketing of this launch perfectly, mother nature had other plans. Empty 30ml bottles still needed to be hand-labeled, filled (which we do in small batches in Colorado to ensure product quality), and shipped to customers. It was a terrible situation, and totally my fault. The new product would be delayed at least two weeks. Customer satisfaction as a business owner is my top priority and I refused to allow customers to wait that long for their product to arrive.

So what did I do? I upgraded every customer to a free full-size bottle. Shipped them out right away with a hand-written note. The business lost some money that month, but I made a lot of customers really happy. And I learned a great lesson — don’t launch a product until you have it ready to send out and be adaptable in times of adversity. No matter how much we plan, sometimes things just don’t go our way. We must calibrate, adjust, and then act with the best interest of our customers in mind.

What do you think makes your company stand out? Can you share a story?

Chiavaye stands out as a company overall and within the CPG category because our focus is on health and wellness, not on sex. This may sound unorthodox for a company that creates an all-natural, vegan, hypoallergenic lubricant and personal moisturizer intended for intimate use. We are a health and wellness product for a part of the body — just as we easily look to skin care and eye care and other types of products to support the health of those body parts and systems, Chiavaye focuses on care for our bodies.

Our mission is to make sexual health actually about health. Female wellness, sexual health, the vagina — these are topics that have long been considered taboo within society. Even women have a hard time talking about their issues with other women. The Chiavaye approach to creating safe, holistic products is the foundation and outside goal of driving broader conversation around sexual health and de-stigmatizing personal topics considered weird,private or overly sexualized. The product gives us a foundation to facilitate progress.

We do this by focusing on specific stages in life such as becoming a mother, menopause, endometriosis, intimacy after chemotherapy, and other realities women face across the globe. The female body experiences so many transitions in life, and we want to support women ever step of the way.

We often hear from our customers that their doctors have prescribed estrogen creams and other synthetic products that aren’t covered by insurance, are expensive and require a trip to the pharmacy. Ultimately, these products aren’t used and inevitably don’t create the change, relief and improvement in women’s health.

In our opinion, all-natural is the only way. Extra chemicals and hormones added to an already sensitive equation doesn’t produce immediate and long-lasting health.

What advice would you give to other healthcare leaders to help their team to thrive?

Remember your commitment to serve. First and foremost, healthcare was created to heal and to serve patients in need. It’s easy to focus on business growth, product innovation, and staying competitive — while those are all important and necessary aspects for a team to thrive, it’s the commitment to service that ties it all together. When your team stays focused on a purpose-driven mission, nothing can hold you back.

Ok, thank you for that. Let’s jump to the main focus of our interview. According to this study cited by Newsweek, the US healthcare system is ranked as the worst among high income nations. This seems shocking. Can you share with us 3–5 reasons why you think the US is ranked so poorly?

1.) A lack of focus on preventative medicine and relatable education for the public

2.) A reliance on pharmaceutical drugs for healing

3.) Physicians being over-burdened with regulatory initiatives, bureaucracy and paperwork. I have robust exposure to this through our family business.

4.) Medical school course-work that neglects a holistic approach to healing

5.) Inflated costs of medical procedures, medicines, and services

You are a “healthcare insider”. If you had the power to make a change, can you share 5 changes that need to be made to improve the overall US healthcare system? Please share a story or example for each.

1.) Focusing on preventative medicine and relatable education for the public would do wonders for overall health and wellness in the United States, not to mention impact other areas of the economic sector.

For example, in women’s sexual health we have the tendency to politicize female wellness (on both sides of the spectrum) instead of just addressing the issues and providing the necessary education for women to make competent decisions about their bodies. I was listening to a young woman share her testimony at a fundraiser for teen moms. She had become pregnant in high school and watched all her dreams fade into the background as she dealt with the new reality of caring for an unplanned infant. She said, “My mom had never talked to me about sex. We didn’t really cover it in school. I had no idea what to expect or even what birth control was. Then I found myself pregnant at 17.” If our focus was more preventative and educational in nature, young woman and men would have had a greater understanding of intimacy , and the responsibilities, potential impacts and consequences of unsafe sex. Additionally, women can learn how to choose a birth control for specific to their bodies. Having this knowledge sets up our youth for the future.

2.) We must change our mindset when it comes to pharmaceutical drugs.

Pharmaceutical drugs have been wildly beneficial to our society, creating amazing and wonderful impact that, quite honestly, only manufactured drugs could provide. We have cured numerous diseases and prevented millions from suffering. It’s incredible! The caveat? We have become a society that relies on prescriptions as an immediate ‘bandaid’ for symptoms instead of curing the actual issue. This reliance has birthed a slew of societal problems,including a large population of epidemic proportions who are addicted to pain medication. This “pharma-first” attitude will be a tough cycle to break, but a necessary one if we are to create true healing and body wellness.

This strikes a chord with me because I have personally lived the sacrifice and struggle associated with opting out of the “pharma-first” attitude. After a second required abdominal surgery for endometriosis, I experienced extreme complications and ended up with a back injury to my L5,S1 vertebrae. The pain and debilitation was indescribable. I was given two choices: begin cortisone shots to my spine and take prescription pain medication to quell the pain OR spend the next 9 months in a back brace and begin intense rounds of physical therapy to mechanically heal my spine. It was very tempting to choose the drive-through fix of medication to kill the pain; however, I was fortunate to have an honest, compassionate physician who openly discussed the risks — he was transparent and precise as he explained the intention of a medication method to treat the pain rather than a therapy method to heal the injury.

Not all patients are that fortunate. For nine months, I went to physical therapy three times a week, wore a back brace, and focused only on mechanical healing. The physical challenge — not to mention schedule reorganization — was intense and the progress was slow. Really slow. It’s understandable to think about how we’ve become such an instant-gratification society, to the determinant of physical and mental health.

Our reliance on pharmaceutical drugs as a “cure all” has become the norm, and we must provide other options and alternatives to patients for greater individual and societal health. According to the CDC, the sales of prescription opioids has quadrupled in the United States while, as stated in their 2016 study, “there has not been an overall change in the amount of pain that Americans report.” The CDC goes as far as to suggest that other therapies and non drug options, such as physical therapy or psychological therapies, could “ameliorate chronic pain.” However, these alternative therapies are not always offered as potential solutions, and many Americans want a “quick fix” — ultimately perpetuating a negative cycle of healthcare.

3.) Let doctors get back to being doctors.

My personal experience with severe stage four endometriosis and a plethora of other health issues has allowed me the privilege of seeing A LOT of doctors, surgeons, nurses and healthcare professionals. Despite different specialties, different approaches to medicine and different philosophies, one constant remains the same — healthcare providers are burdened by, and complain about, an overwhelmingly high amount of paperwork, bureaucracy, and regulatory initiatives that prevent them from devoting the majority of their time to serving their patients. Instead they are rushing from one appointment to the next, with one shared retort, “This isn’t why I wanted to be in healthcare.” How do we help doctors get back to being doctors?

4.) Greater legal protection for healthcare providers.

Healthcare is broken in a variety of ways, and it’s hard to make blanket recommendations that will make healthcare sustainable for generations to come. One reality that is also a systemic issue, is that physicians and healthcare providers are burdened not only with the high cost of malpractice lawsuits, but also with the ongoing fear or threat of legal action by a patient frustrated by his or her prognosis. Again, this is not meant to be a blanket statement, but rather a vision for a setting where healthcare providers can expertly and authoritatively suggest alternative, holistic, or other non-conventional options for healing in appropriate settings. The heavy legal ramifications, though no doubt important at preventing atrocities and protecting individuals, can create a prescription paralysis for physicians afraid to offer a bleached out application of pharmaceutical drugs.

We know healthcare is an individual journey, but let’s take for example acne medicines. According to the American Academy of Dermatology, acne is the most common skin condition in the United States, affecting up to 50 million Americans annually, and approximately 85 percent of people between the ages of 12 and 24 experience at least minor acne. Acne is not life threatening, it is a physical and emotional inconvenience that can lead to other healthcare problems if untreated. Many of the pharmaceutical drugs prescribed to treat this condition are incredibly harsh on the body, leaving behind permanent side-effects that can be life altering for those who complete a full dose. If healthcare providers are able to take the time and have greater support to review holistic health with patients, we can work toward longer, sustainable regimens that drive change without the permanent scarring of some synthetic offerings.

5.) Improve medical school course work to include a more holistic mindset.

We must help patients and providers today. But what about tomorrow? Medical school generally teaches a functional approach addressing accepted “systems” that together create the body. Alternatively, the holistic mindset presents the body as one complete system, instead of multiple systems that are treated individually from the others. For example, when a woman with endometriosis sees a physician, that physician wouldn’t just treat the reproductive system but would also take a look at a variety of others: the digestive system, which is often impacted greatly in women with endometriosis due to inflammatory foods and a greater propensity towards IBS and other digestive issues,; food sensitivities, emotional well-being, environment, exercise routines, water intake, and other aspects of the women’s health that can affect or contribute to the patient’s experience with endometriosis. Institutions ultimately decide what amount of time and which approach to take with the education of medical students, and I would like to see more training from a holistic approach.

Ok, its very nice to suggest changes, but what concrete steps would have to be done to actually manifest these changes? What can a) individuals, b) corporations, c) communities and d) leaders do to help?

A.)What can we control? Individuals can adopt better personal responsibility in learning about their bodies, health and overall wellness. We must take pride in educating ourselves rather than rely on the healthcare system to make decisions for us or provide all the facts. We live in an age of information. Use it. Knowledge is power.

B.) Businesses can improve their mindset of corporate social responsibility. Yes, building a successful business and driving profits are important. Social metrics exists because they contribute to the bottom line — people want to work with organizations who do good. This double bottom line — for businesses to care about the people they serve and increase their metrics for holistic health, as well as involvement in local causes, charities and public support — will only help to bend the healthcare cost curve toward sustainability. Additionally, if organizations were to offer and then support mental health days — used for reflection, used to volunteer, used in whatever way is meaningful to the individual — we would be able to help employees understand that their health matters, and there are a variety of additional benefits that come from this message.

C.) Communities can foster greater opportunities for communication and educational resources. Humans thrive in communal situations. We can use that strength and connectivity to create events, resources, and conversational moments. For example, November is Prostate Cancer Awareness Month and from that has come a great campaign for men to do ‘no shave November’ or ‘Movember’ where they grow mustaches and increase conversation about Prostate Cancer, a topic that was not highly discussed until recently.

D.) Healthcare leaders — from physician influencers to associations to advocates — can create meaningful change without partisan policy. . When constituents and patients and communities tell you what they want, listen. Then act accordingly — we will all be better off in five years.

As a mental health professional myself, im particularly interested in the interplay between the general healthcare system and the mental health system. Right now we have two parallel tracks mental/behavioral health and general health. What are your thoughts about this status quo? What would you suggest to improve this?

I believe all health is connected. Mental health shouldn’t be treated as some outside entity. All of our biological systems are interconnected — they work with and for the other systems in helping us show up every day. We forget that the brain is the most complex organ in our bodies. If it’s ability to function becomes impaired, the ramifications can be seen and felt throughout all other systems. The sooner we accept this as a society and within the general sphere of healthcare, the sooner we can make progress toward healthier lives.

I relate to this theory of parallel behavioral health and physical health tracks, because our physicians are educated and trained to treat the failed or flawed system, rather than the whole. I see this happen in women’s sexual health. As a society and within healthcare practices, we tend to separate female sexual health from the other aspects of care. It is silo. How many times have you been out to eat with girlfriends and one leans over and whispers to the table, “I have my annual appointment tomorrow. That’s going to be fun.” Then everyone chuckles, gives the I know what you mean eyes, and then resumes eating their salads. We all experience it, but feel uncomfortable discussing it. This, like the non-discussed issues in mental health, leads to greater issues. Relationships break down, women find themselves depressed, not understanding their bodies or why they feel a certain way.

We must stop tagging these aspects of health separately and making them taboo. It’s all just health!

How would you define an “excellent healthcare provider”?

I’m grateful to have been cared for by an excellent healthcare provider — and though he’s now retired, he is still making an impact in the lives of many. His approach to care was through compassion and conversation. He didn’t take the notion of “orders” literally, and connected with me the way he hoped other physicians would speak with his own daughters. We spent as much time as I needed to understand my diagnosis and treatment. He called me personally multiple times during post-ops to make sure I was healing in accordance to our agreed-to treatment plan. He never made me feel like a demanding or overly concerned patient, and he worked diligently to solve my medical case as an individual. I also appreciated the transparency of his whole team — from his prognosis to the costs associated with care. His purpose in life was to serve his patients and it showed.

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?

I have two favorite life lesson quotes:

Gratitude in the Grind — from Craig Groeschel is a quote I say to myself almost everyday. Building anything takes a lot of effort. Sweat equity as some like to say. Whether it’s a healthy relationship, a business, going back to school, or working towards a goal. Most of the time it’s not glamorous, but a tedious grind. Gratitude in those seemingly small moments makes a big difference. It’s a reminder for me to be grateful that I have the opportunity to pursue my passion even when the work looks boring or unimportant. It’s not. Big things start small. Big things start in the grind.

Life’s Tough, Get A Helmet. — This quote came from the show Boy Meets World and it’s stuck with me ever since. Life is tough. There’s no way around it. We get hurt, make mistakes, learn lessons, try to grow, experience hardships, and feel pain. No one was promised an easy life and no one gets out unscathed. The trick is to not be a victim. To rise above. To keep moving forward. To know that you’re tough and you have the power to put on your helmet and tackle anything in your path.

Are you working on any exciting new projects now? How do you think that will help people?

Currently, I’m working on a resource book for women and couples with endometriosis. My personal journey of nearly 15 years learning, dealing with, and treating endometriosis has inspired me to be the change. So much misinformation exists regarding every disease, but endometriosis is mine and I’ve spent an unparalleled amount of time understanding it from the patient’s perspective. Women continue to suffer on a daily basis. I want to provide some practical ways to manage the disease and also address a big issue for women with endometriosis — how to handle daily, monthly impacts of the disease while in a relationship, marriage, as a professional, at different stages of life — you name it. Changing our social constructs on sexual health will take effort from BOTH men and women. We are in this together and I hope my book helps foster that conversation.

Much of this content will be shared across media — from written articles to video to Instagram — with the intention of creating conversation around female wellness and sexual health. There are so many topics that we ALL experience as women, but just don’t discuss. My background as a broadcast journalist lends itself to this endeavor, and I think videos in particular are an important resource for sharing information.

What are your favorite books, podcasts, or resources that inspire you to be a better healthcare leader? Can you explain why you like them?

Craig Groeschel Leadership Podcast — An amazing resource for any person wanting to be a leader in their field. Craig has spent an unprecedented amount of time reading, researching, and being a better leader. His advice is practical, not fluff, and he always approaches leadership as a great responsibility.

Expert Secrets by Russell Brunson — In an age of so much stimuli, it’s hard for people to take notice about the important work you’re doing. Brunson makes marketing in this crowded world seem easy.

You Are A Badass At Making Money by Jen Sincero — This book is about so much more than money and I’d recommend it for any woman searching for her purpose.

Social Pros Podcast — So well done and a great podcast for marketing, branding, and storytellers

TED Radio Hour on NPR — Who doesn’t love Guy Raz’s voice?! Plus they cover so many interesting topics from some of the best TED talks. I always enjoy digging in deeper.

So many Endo gals I follow to keep up with how they are feeling, what they are talking about, and what matters to them — The Endo Co., Jessica Murane, Life Above Endo, etc.

I read healthcare news and reports from soooo many different sources because I like to be more well-rounded in information and not biased. News media, academic papers, research studies, community announcements, influencers, etc.

You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂

I want to inspire mothers and fathers to have healthy conversations about sexual health with their children. If we can educate a generation of young people that their health is not taboo, but incredibly normal — then we could prevent so many unwanted circumstances, and create a sense of empowerment for future generations. I want to provide a series of courses and resources aimed at educating young people in a way that is practical, conversational, and relevant. As parents, we have a responsibility to prepare our children to be adults — and yet we omit a major aspect of the human experience in our teachings. Understanding the physical, mental, and emotional aspects of sexual health, female wellness, intimacy, etc. would benefit everyone.

How can our readers follow you on social media?

I’m on Instagram and Facebook as @KaylynEaston

Chiavaye is on Instagram and Facebook as @Chiavaye

Thank you so much for these insights! This was so inspiring!

About the Author:

Originally from Israel, Limor Weinstein has been anorexic and bulimic, a “nanny spy” to the rich and famous and a Commander in the Israeli Army. Her personal recovery from an eating disorder led her to commit herself to a life of helping others, and along the way she picked up two Master’s Degrees in Psychology from Columbia University and City College as well as a Post-Graduate Certificate in Eating Disorder Treatment from the Institute for Contemporary Psychotherapy.

Upon settling in New York, Limor quickly became known as the “go to” person for families struggling with mental health issues, in part because her openness about her own mental health challenges paved the way for open exchanges. She understood the difficulties many have in finding the right treatment, as well as the stigma that remains so prevalent towards those who are struggling with mental health issues. She realized that most families are quietly struggling with a problem they’re not comfortable talking about, and that discomfort makes it much less likely that they will get the help they need for their loved ones. She discovered that being open and honest about her own mental health challenges took the fear out of the conversations. Her mission became to research and guide those families to the highest-quality treatment available. Helping others became part of her DNA, as has a commitment to supporting and assisting organizations that perform research and treatment in the mental health arena.

After years of helping families by helping connect them to the right treatment and wellness services, Limor realized that the only way to ensure that they are receiving appropriate, coordinated and evidence-based care would be to stay in control of the entire treatment process. That realization led her to create Bespoke Wellness Partners, which employs over 100 of the best clinicians and wellness providers in New York and provides confidential treatment and wellness services throughout the city. Bespoke has built its reputation on strong relationships, personalized, confidential service and a commitment to ensuring that all clients find the right treatment for their particular issues.

In addition to her role at Bespoke Wellness Partners, Limor is the Co-Chair of the Academy of Eating Disorders. She lives with her husband, three daughters and their dog Rex in Manhattan.

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