Menopausal Feminist Influencers: A Joint Profile
A Q&A with Nina Collins (49, Brooklyn) and Susan Feldman (63, West Hollywood)
Give us an overview of your career.
NC: I spent eighteen years working in book publishing, first as a scout and then as an agent, in both instances running my own agencies. In my late 30s I decided that I wanted to try new things and I shut down my business to go to graduate school. I got a masters in Narrative Medicine as well as a life coach certificate and did some consulting in the field of end-of-life care. Around that time I started a closed Facebook group fo women over 40, inspired by my own slide into peri-menopause, and when that group started to grow in popularity, I wrote a book called What Would Virginia Woolf Do and Other Questions I Ask Myself As I Attempt to Age Without Apology
SF: My dad was in retail when I was growing up, so the writing was on the wall. Early on, I worked as a buyer and then moved over to the wholesale side where I ran sales and marketing teams for brands like Ralph Lauren swimwear, Polo Jeans, Anne Cole swimwear and C&C California tees. In 2005 my family and I moved to LA from New York, and everything changed. I had an idea, and it was a really good one. So in 2009, even though it was the height of the recession, I cofounded One Kings Lane. One Kings Lane was a new and innovative way to shop. We disrupted the home décor industry – actually democratized design. In 2016 we sold One Kings Lane to Bed Bath and Beyond. Today I am the ultimate brand ambassador for this beloved brand, but after selling I had another aha moment. I kept asking myself where women that were 50ish were hanging out online. I couldn’t find anything online that spoke to me in a fun modern way so I decided to do something about it. Get In The Groove was born, an online destination that engages with age-defying women in a fresh and genuine way. In The Groove is the go-to place for women of a certain age for what you need to know, and maybe didn’t even know you needed to know (until we came along) to stay in the groove.
Tell us about what you are doing now.
SF: I’m working day and night to build the In The Groove brand and audience.
What was your “aha moment” before starting What Would Virginia Woolf Do / Get In The Groove?
NC: I was 46 and suddenly suffering from horrible insomnia. I felt like no one was talking to me about aging and I needed to have that conversation.
SF: I kept hearing women that were 50ish say they felt invisible and irrelevant. I wanted to dig in a little deeper and understand where that was coming from. I found that our generation is healthier, wealthier, and more engaged than any previous generation, yet no one was talking to us. It’s time to change that.
How did you feel when you started it, and all these women came rushing in?
NC: Overwhelmed, excited, surprised. It was a lot of laughter and great information from day one, so it’s been very gratifying to see that others feel the same way I do.
SF: I was excited! We need to change the conversation around aging, and the first step is offering information that allows women to be a part of the cultural conversation. Every day I get notes from women thanking us for what we’re doing, which is the best motivation to keep going.
What advice do you have for women in peri-menopause or menopause?
NC: Find a doctor who understands the female endocrine system. Talk to your friends. Ask for help. Don’t be ashamed!
SF: You are not alone. Whatever you’re feeling, there are many other women going through the same thing. Talk to your doctor. Every day, there are great articles and new websites launching daily that are providing great information. Find them and use them.
What surprised you the most while you built up this community?
NC: How much women crave community and want to share and support each other. This doesn’t actually surprise me, but maybe how much they’d be willing and want to do it with “strangers” did.
SF: We knew that getting women together would be a positive experience. But I’ve definitely been surprised by just how engaged, enthusiastic, and excited everyone is to be with other like-minded women.
What are some of the topics that you’ve found resonate the most with your audience?
NC: Sex, health, emotional and relationship challenges. We love to talk about books and fashion too, but the former is more urgently needed.
SF: Fashion, beauty, and wellness are the subject they engage with the most. Anything about menopause and sex toys also do very well. They like to shop…for anything and everything.
There’s this perception that older women aren’t attractive, or that we don’t want to have sex anymore. How do you feel about that? What do you think is getting lost in the messaging?
NC: We live in a culture that prioritizes youth and I’m not sure we can change that. I think what’s important is that we recognize and celebrate our own value, do that for ourselves, and for each other.
SF: All you need to do is look around to see that “older women” are looking fantastic today. I’m not sure who started that rumor that they don’t want to have sex anymore, but I know it’s not true. Nothing stays the same forever and as time goes on, you definitely have to get creative to shake things up. But we need to talk more about it and be unafraid to ask questions, so we can take it into our own hands. The more actively we participate, the quicker the world sees that we’re here, we’re gorgeous, and we’re active.
What are your secret weapon products that get you through the day?
NC: Water, magnesium, rosehip oil. And lately that’s not enough!
SF: Exercising every morning is so necessary. It helps me organize my thoughts and get energized for the day…and coffee helps too.
What would you say to women who feel like they’re alone or are just lonely during this strange time period of our lives?
NC: Reach out. There are lots of women just like you who are ready to be your friend!
SF: Reach out…be part of the conversation. Often people feel lonely because they haven’t kept up with what is going on around them. With the world changing so fast, you can feel really out of it. I would encourage people who feel lonely to jump in and do as much as they can to stay up to date and keep learning.
Culturally, aging is viewed as this sad thing. What’s the key to changing the conversation?
NC: There are a ton of things I love about getting older — my freedom, my wisdom, all that I’ve learned from my experiences — and there are things I don’t like at all, like back fat and insomnia and getting closer to death. I think it’s a mixed bag, like most things, and being honest about that is liberating.
SF: As a society, we’re doing a better job of taking care of ourselves both inside and out. No one really feels their age anymore. Even though many of us feel damn good about where we are, who we are, and how we feel, advertisers and marketers either don’t talk to us or talk to us as if we were 100. We need to keep pushing this conversation and make them realize that we’re here, we have a tremendous amount of wealth, and we’re super consumers. They’re slowly starting to come around. I think creating platforms like In The Groove will also give them a way to present their brands in a cool modern way.
What’s the best thing you’ve read lately?
NC: Flash Count Diary: Menopause and the Vindication of Natural Life by Darcey Steinke
SF: Michelle Obama’s Biography
What’s your go-to hostess gift?
NC: Scented candles are always easy, but the last hostess gift I gave was a LaLoop eyeglass holder/necklace. I wear mine religiously.
SF: I like to personalize the gift. One of my favorite things is to get a nice frame and print out a picture of the hostess. Bonus is to include a lottery ticket.
What was your last google search?
NC: Bioidentical hormone patches.
SF: How to make your home more eco-friendly. I’m really trying to do a better job at this.
Who would play you in the movie of your life?
NC: Maya Rudolph
SF: Sarah Jessica Parker
What’s the last thing you bought online?
NC: Skin Trip coconut lotion.
SF: Gorgeous 30” taper candles from Creative Candles.
What is your go-to drink?
NC: I alternate between tequila with fresh lime juice or vodka with fresh lemon juice.
SF: I am such a stereotype — a 63-year-old woman who loves her chardonnay.
What would you put on your menopause registry?
SF: A great cotton nightgown or pair of pajamas. I would also recommend checking out our In The Groove Menopause Registry
If you could have one superpower what would it be?
NC: I’d love to be able to fly.
SF: To be able to be in 2 places at one time, or to be invisible. Either would be welcomed.
If you had a warning label what would it say?
NC: Does not suffer fools gladly.
SF: Back off – woman on the move.