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How a Former Advocate Editor and Judy Greer Got Into the Menopause Business

Corey Scholibo and Judy Greer

For gay entrepreneur Corey Scholibo, delivering products that help women deal with hormonal changes is more than a business but is, he says, “a kind of feminism.”

Scholibo, former Advocate arts and entertainment editor, is cofounder and chief operating officer of Wile, a company offering a line of natural health supplements designed to alleviate the unwanted effects of perimenopause, the time around the onset of menopause, usually in the 40s. That’s when levels of estrogen and progesterone decrease but stress hormones often spike. The unwelcome effects include hot flashes, insomnia, irregular periods, and lack of energy.

Scholibo has become what he calls a “serial social entrepreneur” since leaving The Advocate, where he worked from 2006 to 2009. He founded Repurpose, a company making plastic-free, compostable tableware and trash bags. Gwendolyn Floyd, a friend since high school who had previously created a line of ethically produced jewelry, came to him with the idea of doing something for women (including some nonbinary folks and trans men). She is now CEO of Wile, and Julie Kucinski is chief marketing officer. Actress Judy Greer (Arrested Development, The Thing About Pam), another longtime friend of Scholibo’s, is also a partner.

“All the smartest women I knew were talking about this,” Scholibo says of the need for remedies for the symptoms of perimenopause. He also notes that there’s very little marketing of health-related products — or any products, for that matter — for women who are over 40 and not yet seniors. “It was a huge white space, and all of these women thought that it was compelling,” he says.

Wile, based in Portland, Ore., launched last year, with Scholibo having secured funding from investors and set up its supply chain. The company worked with Dr. Jillian Stansbury, a naturopath with 30 years of experience, in developing supplements that help bring hormones back into balance, with different products aimed at different symptoms. The products are comprised of ingredients such as kudzu root, fennel seed, mimosa pudica seed, licorice root powder, and dong quai. The supplements are available in capsule form or as fast-acting tinctures. In Scholibo’s opinion, they combine the best of Western medicine and natural remedies. Wile’s website touts the products as being for women who are “grown”: “Not old. Not young. Nowhere near done.”

Scholibo acknowledges that he’s possibly the only gay man — and one of the few men overall — in this business. But with the idea of making life easier for women, it appealed to his feminist sympathies, and in a way, as a gay man, he could relate to what people were experiencing with perimenopause. Those going through it sometimes don’t want to talk about it, he notes. “This feels similar to the idea of coming out as a gay man,” he says. “I can empathize with the idea that there’s something going on that you don’t want to tell people.”

Greer cites Scholibo’s empathy as a reason she became involved with the venture. “You know, when Corey approached me about this, I wasn’t sure I was ready to talk about what felt like private changes in a woman’s life,” she says. “He actually used some of the parallels of being a gay man and the need to talk about completely normal parts of the human experience without shame and embarrassment. He has inspired me in so many ways in my life.”

To consumers who may be skeptical about natural products, Scholibo points out, “These plant-based remedies have been around for centuries.” Research has indicated that an overwhelming majority of women want a natural way to treat the effects of perimenopause, and Wile’s products are now available widely. They have been sold online on the brand’s website (WileWomen.com) and on Grove Collaborative (Grove.co), but as of this spring, they’re also in two major retail chains, Whole Foods and Walgreens.

“Give them a try,” Scholibo says of the products. “There’s very little to lose.”

 

This story is part of The Advocate’s 2022 Champions of Pride issue, which is out on newsstands May 17, 2022. To get your own copy directly, support queer media and subscribe — or download yours for Amazon, Kindle, Nook, or Apple News.

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