Born out frustrations experienced by co-founders Victoria Thain Gioia and Alex Taylor during their own pregnancies, the Los Angeles-based vitamin and supplement company entered the women’s health market in 2020 to provide straightforward, tailored solutions backed by clinical expertise to a prenatal category they viewed as muddled by a one-size-fits-all approach. They joined forces with OB-GYN Dr. Banafsheh Bayati and launched their first five core products designed to meet a woman’s diverse needs across conception, the three trimesters and postpartum.
The brand has since grown its portfolio to close to two dozen products and bundles, sold direct to consumer online as subscription service. It has also branched out into supplementing everyday need states like gut-immune health, sleep and relaxation, libido support and bloat relief.
Here, Thain Gioia shares how Perelel Health is approaching its mission to destigmatize and simplify the category through staged solutions supported by open hotline access to clinical expertise.
NIU: What went into building the brand? What was your path to market?
VTG: In 2019, myself and Alex found ourselves navigating the wild world of prenatals after being pregnant with our first kids and having suffered a miscarriage (I did). I’ll also add that my eldest daughter was born with a cleft lip without having any common risk factors or genetic link. Cleft is associated with a folic acid deficiency. The idea that women deserved better and a shared frustration over the lack of straightforward information on what to take led us to bring a more targeted and honest solution to the market.
We spent about a year and a half ideating and figuring out exactly what we were going to build, what our voice would be and exactly what products we would launch with. Connected with that, we had to build our team of founding doctors to formulate those initial products, develop our content and help us understand this woman’s needs.
Fundraising in mid 2020 was a pretty rough environment. We ended up mostly bootstrapping, raising from friends and family to get through the first six months. In September 2020, we launched with the five core products within our Motherhood suite: Conception Support Pack; 1st Trimester Pack; 2nd Trimester Pack; 3rd Trimester Pack and Mom Multi Support Pack.
NIU: What sets Perelel apart from others in this category?
VTG: Most vitamins use a one-size-fits-all approach to prenatal nutrition that fails to deliver targeted nutrients for each unique stage of a woman’s hormonal lifecycle. Using exclusively high-quality ingredients in the most bioavailable formats, each formula is meticulously created in collaboration with a panel of certified OB-GYNs and multidisciplinary women’s health experts and consciously made to deliver the essential nutrients a woman needs (no more, no less) for the specific stage of life she is in.
All of Perelel’s offerings extend beyond just a pill subscription in the form of an intimately supportive community and personalized resources at every step of the prenatal and postnatal journey. Beyond that, we continue to evolve our product offerings to meet our community’s needs where they are. From daily vitamins for men to vitamins that support women navigating fetal loss, the brand continues to show up for the Perelel community.
For every new subscription to our motherhood products, we also donate a supply of our prenatal vitamins to underserved women who lack access to high-quality prenatal care, and a percentage of our Women's Daily Vitamin Trio sales goes to support women's health research and advocacy.
NIU: What specific ingredients are in your formulations, and how do dosages and targeted nutrients shift—whether across pregnancy or the menstrual cycle—to meet the unique needs of women in each stage? How complex are the differences in nutrient needs during these stages?
VTG: We use vitamins and supplements that target specific needs by stage. Each of our products within our Motherhood suite which includes Conception, each trimester and postpartum, include our Core Prenatal Multivitamin that was formulated with vitamin D to support normal immune function, the chelated format of key minerals for optimal absorption, and a blend of vitamins to aid in a healthful pregnancy. They also all include an Omega with both EPA and DHA as EPA is crucial to DHA metabolism.
Then they each contain targeted supplements to that exact stage such as added folate in Conception and 1st Trimester Pack for early fetal development, or added magnesium and calcium in the 2nd and 3rd Trimester as the baby’s bones are developing. Each ingredient and dose is meticulously informed by the latest medical research along with its founding doctors' clinical insights, targeted to specific reproductive stages of a women’s hormonal lifecycle.
Our Cycle Support Pack is one of the first of its kind to address the full menstrual cycle rather than short term symptom driven products. The 28-day vitamin formulation is designed to ease the side effects associated with the menstrual cycle and support the follicular and luteal menstrual phases, which, though often overlooked, are equally as important as the period phase.
Our cycles are so much more than just PMS and our period and can be uniquely supported by properly timing supplements around the changes in your hormones. Furthermore, timed support in all supplementation can allow us to better support those unique life stages without overdosing or underdosing at any one time.
NIU: Why did you decide to launch a Hormonal Hotline and how does it work?
VTG: We took a survey and learned that almost 50% of our audience knew very little about their cycle, and 90% felt that their education system failed them when it came to reproductive health. Hormonal Hotline is meant to be a way to start to bridge that gap by educating women about their reproductive health in a way that is as informative as it is entertaining. By having our medical co-founder Dr. Banafsheh Bayati respond to prompts from our community, women will be able to get answers they can trust to questions that unfortunately they may feel shame in asking. We believe that the more that women understand their bodies, the more they can advocate for themselves.
NIU: What trends are you seeing in women’s health supplements?
VTG: There has definitely been a lot of over supplementation out there and a notion of “more is more”. Our doctors take a cautioned approach to make sure that our products are safe and effective, but also can layer together. Too often they see patients taking beauty vitamins that are really just multivitamins or greens powders with high levels of Vitamin A taxing their bodies more than they realize.
NIU: How has the brand grown since launch? How has it been received?
VTG: We have 20 products total across what we call “Packs” that are comprehensive offerings that cover all of your daily needs as well as “add ons” that are supplemental to support specific needs such as our Hormonal Balance Support and Sleep Support. We have added 13 products over the past three years deepening our ability to support the phases of womanhood.
We’ve been incredibly proud of how the brand has been received to date and the growth in our business over the last three years. We are truly a brand founded by women for women and that resonates with our customers.
NIU: Could you tell us more about why you chose pack packaging?
VTG: The pack packaging allows us to provide the convenience to this busy woman giving her everything she needs in a daily sachet without needing to pill sort or carry 5-6 bottles around with her daily. Comparatively the sachet uses 300% less plastic than the equivalent bottles per month. All of our boxes are made with recycled materials. Plus, both our boxes and shipping materials are 100% recyclable, too.
NIU: What is next for Perelel? Do you have new products or initiatives in the pipeline?
VTG: We are excited to continue to support women throughout their reproductive lifecycle as she experiences her first period with our Cycle Support Pack and as she ages.
NIU: What advice would you offer other startups in this space?
VTG: Continuing to make clean, safe products in what can be a bit of a dirty category is important! And we need to remember that especially on the days when it feels overwhelming!