A Conversation With Colombian-American Entrepreneur Daniella Levy on Vaginal Health

Photo courtesy of Forbes.com Belatina, latinx
Photo courtesy of Forbes.com

Miami-raised Colombian-American, Daniella Levy, is taking on a task that’s been long overdue. She’s ensuring vaginal health is top of mind.

Through the creation of Happy V, in a very Latina fashion, she is pushing all the buttons necessary to promote vaginal wellness and the education needed for us to be healthy. 

Levy started Happy V in 2017, immediately after graduating from Florida International University, where she studied marketing. Before that, she did some work for a dietary supplement brand that focused on fitness and nutrition more than anything. This opportunity allowed her to gain insight into the dietary supplement world, what type of products were out there,  and the type of landscape created around health.

According to their site, Happy V is a wellness company committed to creating scientifically sound products and educational content to help women lead healthier and more empowered lives. One of those products is a dietary supplement that has been put under the most meticulous evaluations to ensure its safety.

This is a step in the right direction, especially for our community. 

Breaking Taboos

The Latinx community is known for many lovely things, but can we talk about the lengthy scroll depicting taboo subjects? There are so many things we stay mum about, and one of them is vaginal health, which includes talking about periods, sex, and anything relating to our reproductive health.  

Considering most of our community’s households are conservative, it’s no surprise this subject is often off-limits. But this can be dangerous, too. 

How many times did your mom or grandmother suggest you drink tea or un tilito whenever your lady part wasn’t feeling “right?” Though we can still appreciate our homemade remedies, our health needs more.

Levy, alongside Hans Graubard, the COO of Happy V, spearheaded their vision to finally create a space where vaginal health was finally in the spotlight. 

The founder of Happy V tells BELatina that through ​​her own experience with bacterial vaginosis, she realized that there had to be some change in this industry.

Interview Highlights

On why she felt the need to create Happy V

From my perspective, traditional brands were talking down to women and not including them in the conversation. 

On the obstacles she faced as she tried to create this space 

On one side, people implied that I had a lack of experience. On the other hand, some people were wondering why I was getting into vaginal health. Couldn’t they really wrap their heads around it? Many people did not necessarily have an issue with me starting a company, but it was about the fact that it was about vaginal health.

On overcoming the challenges and working towards their credibility

Before 2017, we were doing a lot of research around the topic itself and doing a lot of market research for two years. We also looked into different ingredients because there are probiotics, vitamin C, and prebiotics, but there are also generic ingredients, and then there are clinically studied ingredients.

​​And, these three ingredients are the ones that actually are conducted in a clinical trial with actual women that are going through these issues. So, we looked at the clinical data, and we realized we wanted to create an effective product that would work and not underdeliver or not give out false promises to our audience. 

We took the time to look at all this scientific data and make sure that we were making the right products that were actually going to be effective for women. 

Fortunately enough, we were happy that our partner and co-founder, Hans Graubard, and his family have been in the dietary supplement manufacturing industry for over 25 years. Additionally, we do have medical advisers; we have Dr. Jessica Shepherd and Dr. Barry Peskin. 

On how important an open dialogue vaginal health is

Growing up, we would talk about our menstrual health or our periods with our girlfriends and maybe our mothers, but we never really spoke about vaginal infections. If we did, maybe it was about yeast infection or UTI. I realized that bacterial vaginosis is the most common vaginal infection that around 21 million women in the United States experience each year; that is the most common vaginal infection, and I had never heard about it. Even when I spoke to my friends about it or my family members or any other person, they would be like, ‘oh, maybe I’ve had it. I don’t know. I’ve never heard of this before.’ That was very eye-opening for me. So, that’s initially why we wanted to create Happy V. 

On speaking to the older generations about vaginal health while destigmatizing the subject altogether

I realized that when it comes to speaking to the older generation, it’s telling them that it’s almost the same as speaking to the younger generation. 

It is important to tell your mom or abuela different things about vaginal health and let them know that it’s common. We need to tell them that so many other issues can be going on with you that can cause issues — it could be with your lifestyle, could be with medications. Now we have to inform them of the education that is out there based on scientific data and understand that there are things that we could be doing to promote vaginal wellness. 

Of course, we can pay attention to the remedies of our past generations and continue drinking the teas and eating healthy, but make sure there is something else helping you maintain your vaginal health. 

The dangers of abiding by the taboo about vaginal health

We must have conversations about our reproductive health and our sexual wellness within the Latino community because, for decades, we’ve been told that we need to keep these conversations to ourselves. If young Latinas cannot have these conversations, it could lead to negative health outcomes simply because we’re not communicating its issues, especially when it comes to our vaginal reproductive health. So, if we’re not talking about it, how do we know how to seek out help from our doctors or a specialist? How do we know how to ask the right questions? 

The role doctors play in the issue

How doctors communicate with us today is also key because you go to the doctor when you have a problem. And, sure, when you walk out of there, it’s usually with something tangible, like a prescription, but sometimes you don’t truly understand the root cause of what is going on. And, for a lot of people, that leaves them feeling very alone. This causes people not to know who to turn to because your doctor really is the person you rely on to give you this information. 

They often don’t get into the nitty-gritty of what is going on in your body, or they speak to you in medical terms where you don’t understand what they’re even saying.  

People could be turning to “Doctor Google” and going down a rabbit hole, to forums and blogs where there could be misleading information, or it could negatively impact your health as well. 

When I was creating Happy V, I realized that we really had to put education at the forefront and inform people on what we’re doing with our mission and why we’re doing it.  

The products found in Happy V are 18 and over. Consult a physician beforehand if you’re younger than 18 or are immunocompromised.