"I want to make a difference for women's challenges around menopause and break the taboo that surrounds this totally normal life stage.”

My pet peeve is: When somebody tells me they're going to do something and then they don't My happy place is: On a beach

Rochelle Weitzner

Breaking the menopause taboo with a pioneering skincare brand

STEPPING INTO THE SPOTLIGHT. When Rochelle Weitzner decided to embark on an entrepreneurial career, she intended to avoid being in the spotlight. However, several unexpected events in her life have made that unavoidable. "I always thought of myself as kind of a great number two person behind the scenes getting things done, but a lot of things in my life ended up happening that forced me out there. I got pushed out of the closet several times; that was what led me to be the face of my brand."

Rochelle's company, Pause Well-Aging, is a pioneering skincare brand that established an entirely new beauty category. Before its launch, menopause skincare had been largely ignored by the beauty industry. Rochelle recalls male investors being uneducated at best, while even female VCs would deem it an "unsexy" investment.

"I faced a lot of headwinds from major companies like Amazon and even QVC, who told me that menopause is a medical condition and you can't talk about it on television. I was told you couldn't advertise products through Google because it violates their health standards. The reality is menopause is a life stage no different than puberty."

The idea for Pause was sparked by Rochelle's first hot flash, which she experienced while driving with her wife to the beach in Los Angeles. "At that moment, it dawned on me that as a beauty industry, we stop thinking about beauty once women turn 40. It's like their beauty ends, but the reality is there are a lot of physiological skin changes that come up during this life stage that now impact women as early as 30. And no beauty companies are speaking to it."

Rochelle is used to breaking convention. Before entering the startup world, she spent 19 years working at the International Paper Company, the world's largest paper and forest products company. When a life-changing promotion arose, meaning she would move to Paris, she was forced to decide whether to decline due to the company's lack of domestic partner benefits or come out to her colleagues and be willing to accept the consequences that resulted. By speaking up and stepping out of her comfort zone, not only was she able to accept the life altering promotion, but within six months, domestic partner benefits were rolled out for all 100,000+ employees at International Paper.

UNAFRAID TO DREAM BIG. From a young age, Rochelle was aware she was the "alternative" one among her peers. "Growing up, I always had pretty eccentric tastes. I've always looked a bit different, even with my hair today. I was a bit edgy and needed to have a particular style. I used to say that one day I would be on the cover of Fortune Magazine driving a pink Lamborghini. I have absolutely no idea why that specific car, but it had always been my dream."

Living in the world's fashion capital inspired Rochelle to refocus her career towards beauty. She moved back to the US, joined Laura Mercier cosmetics and RéVive Skincare as CFO, and later became CEO of Erno Laszlo. One of her biggest learnings prior to launching Pause was to abolish the term 'anti-aging'. "We are all about what we call well-aging. To me, anti-aging says we're against aging, and that's ridiculous. We are aging, so let's do it on our terms.

"I want to make a difference for women's challenges around menopause and break the taboo that surrounds this totally normal life stage. I want to normalize the discussion and for the beauty industry to take that step forward to recognize that beauty doesn't stop just because we turned 40, but rather, our beauty continues to evolve."

Order your own copy of the Gaingels 100, today! Our mission is to encourage greater representation and create a more diverse, equitable, and accessible venture capital ecosystem. Elevating the stories of the most inspiring amongst us is one of the ways in which we do this.

Lead Image

Presented with Pride Here is the first collection of one hundred incredible and inspiring LGBTQIA+ venture-backed entrepreneurs featured in this year's Gaingels 100.