The delicate nature of down there. Lindy Rama-Ellis opened the book on intimate wellness with the sheet mask that launched a thousand conversations. And this is only chapter one.
Lindy Rama-Ellis is, by all accounts, confident. One might wonder if a woman so comfortable in her skin ever tires of answering to the ‘taboo topics’ and ‘intimate care’ rhetoric. A woman who double-masks to wind down (one mask for the face, one for the vulva). However, this is exactly why the beauty mogul launched Fig Femme. This is what she does. Rama-Ellis has frank conversations around intimate self-care where most would falter, she turns the inherently uncomfortable into a beautiful, Instagram-friendly, and sustainable package.
Despite global movements promoting sex positivity, and the influx of products normalising the discourse around menstruation and self-love, the launch of Fig Femme did not escape a culture bent on divisiveness. The model and mum-of-four is no stranger to scrutiny, or immune to bouts of body insecurity (when she met former husband and Olympian Michael Klim, she weighed in at just 42 kilos). Feeling confronted by the backlash that her vulva sheet masks were sexist and promoted vagina-shaming, Lindy felt compelled to set the record straight.
We caught up with Lindy to go deeper on how intimate wellness promotes female empowerment, and why it should be discussed as freely as your face routine.
Congratulations on the success of this much-needed brand and the conversations it has allowed many women to have. Was there a moment you knew Fig Femme needed to be the next step in female wellness?
Thank you. I had been sitting on the idea to start an intimate wellness range back when I had my first daughter Stella, now 15. Postpartum is a challenging space for women as our bodies have just been through so much. As conversations about birth and postpartum became more frequent and frank between my girlfriends, it became obvious that 1) there was a lack of conversation around these so-called ‘taboo’ topics, and 2) there was a huge gap in the market for intimate wellness products that were designed and made by women. In particular, ones that aimed to nurture and soothe an area so often ignored.
How did you settle on the name, Fig Femme?
The name of the brand was just as important as the carefully selected ingredients that go into our formulas. I wanted something feminine, and representative of the female form. I’ve always loved the look of figs, as when you cut them open they look like the female form. Like women’s vulva’s, no two figs are the same which gives the name a compelling meaning behind it.
How important is it to be open about intimate care, and what this can do for our mindset?
I believe that talking about this kind of thing is essential. I wanted to create a company that encourages women to have open conversations and speaks candidly on intimate wellness. One that provides a safe space for women, who otherwise might have been too shy to speak up. I would say 9 times out of 10 a female has encountered some sort of issue in the past they may not have felt comfortable discussing. This becomes more evident when women write in expressing struggles to chat openly with other women. When we start talking about these topics, there’s a realisation that we’re not alone. It’s about removing that feeling of isolation that comes with silence and uncertainty.
The more we talk about these kinds of things, the less taboo it becomes.
Growing up and living between Australia and Bali, are there cultural differences between the way women talk about or look after themselves intimately?
Since the launch, we have noticed a huge difference in the way people around the globe both discuss and look after themselves intimately. In some South East Asian countries (and other countries around the globe), they dedicate a month to rituals for postnatal care with the focus on nourishing and looking after the mother after birth. This is to prioritise the recovery of the mother’s strength, health and well-being not just after birth, but also for her health in the future, and for future pregnancies. So, in some Asian countries, it’s actually quite forward.
My mum always talked about intimate wellness openly which was so invaluable. I’m always aiming to raise my children with that same shame-free environment whether they are in Bali, Melbourne or anywhere else in the world.
As we expand into different markets we’ve had to really revise our marketing strategy to suit. It’s been fascinating to see the different stages and levels of awareness and acceptability each country and culture has.
Why do you think intimate wellness has taken so long to become part of the self-care conversation here in Australia?
Honestly, it hasn’t taken that long. There have been products out there for many years, it’s more that it’s taken a while for the right products to come to market that aren’t just clinical, run-of-the-mill, back-of-the-bathroom-shelf type products (I mean we all had them in our bathrooms… we just never spoke about it).
I certainly think the sex-positivity movement and the current push for women’s empowerment have allowed people to be more frank about once-taboo topics. It gives brands the space to create beautiful products without the stigma attached.
What kind of feedback have you been receiving from women?
Mostly positive with an overwhelming response from women wanting a product like this. Of course, with anything new on the market, we gained a little backlash which was hard to digest. It was quite upsetting that some women took offense to the range, that’s the complete opposite to what we were trying to achieve. Some women presumed our products were created to change the way the vulva looked and smelt, when in fact they were created to nurture and give love to your vulva and surrounding skin. An area that is so often subject to harsh fabrics, friction, wax and extreme heat from IPL.
My team and I have gone to great effort to ensure that each product is made especially for the vulva and is therefore plant-based, pH-balanced, and vegan.
Tell us about intimate wellness as a self-care ritual?
For me, it’s about taking time out just for you. We see it as the ultimate self-care act as it’s not for anyone else. You and you alone.
We here at Fig Femme see it as reconnecting with your very essence. I know that sometimes your body doesn’t feel like it belongs to you anymore post-birth. In this case, it could be about reconnecting with yourself, finding that inner peace, and slowing down. Regardless if you’re a mum or not, everyone deserves to put themselves first every now and then, and our Fig Femme RESTORE Sheet Mask aims for exactly that. Let’s be honest, you can’t walk around the house with it on, so that’s 15 minutes of solitude (hopefully) while you relax.
What are the ingredients that promote vulva health in the RESTORE Vulva Sheet Mask?
It’s a luxurious sheet mask specifically designed for your vulva skin that aims to hydrate, soothe and protect. It contains nourishing ingredients from around the globe, creating a unique formula specifically suited to your most delicate skin.
It is formulated with ingredients such as Lactobacillus Ferment, a non-living probiotic that reduces irritation and vaginal itch caused by BV or thrush; Pineapple Fruit Extract, a gentle AHA (Alpha-Hydroxy Acid) that boosts hydration, encourages cell turnover, and Willow Bark Extract, an anti-inflammatory and antibiotic exfoliant that reduces instances of ingrown hairs and acne. The RESTORE mask aims to strengthen the skin’s ability to defend itself from aggressors (goodbye pesky irritation), while doubling up as your go-to, all-rounder vulva mask.
The brand and products have a strong commitment to sustainability, why was this important to you?
We are so blessed to be able to live in this beautiful world and as a mother of four, I want to make sure we do our bit to leave it a better place for them and generations to follow. Sustainability is a huge part of our life here in Bali with our kids even going to a “green school”. While the Fig team and I still have a bit to go until we are 100 percent sustainable, we are doing our best and will continue to always do better where we can.
What’s the best self-care advice you’ve ever received?
To take time out for yourself in order to be a better version of yourself – for you and others. As a mother, it’s natural to feel guilty taking time out, but I know when I do, I’m able to show up and be my best for not only my husband Adam, and the kids, but the business.
How do you unwind? What practices recharge you at the end of a long week?
I’m very blessed to live in Bali where healing and wellness is easily available and affordable. I do a mixture of rituals such as massages, acupuncture, yin yoga, and heather. Once a week I like to take a relaxing bath, put on my favourite candle and ‘double mask’. One for the face and one for the vulva.
What does the future of Fig Femme look like?
Bright. We have just launched into the US market with POOSH by Kourtney Kardashian, which is very exciting. We have also just launched our UK-centric site and are currently speaking with retailers there. There is a lot of interest from parts of Asia which is exciting and definitely our next market to tackle. Interestingly enough, one of our biggest online sales comes from the UAE and we can’t wait to set up distribution there. Watch this space!
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