Suzanne Sinatra, 44, is a cancer survivor, speaker, and the Founder of Private Packs, a reimagined therapy pack that’s sculpted for vulva-owners’ intimate areas. A Project Entrepreneur alumni and advocate for female sexual wellness, Suzanne is an active member of Women of SexTech, a community of entrepreneurs united by a desire to meet the needs of women and remove the stigma from innovations within the sexual technology industry. Private Packs is launching in 2019 on Indiegogo and is a 2018 Y-Combinator Startup School participant — basically, Sinatra is wonder woman.
Modern Fertility: You’re the founder and CEO of a sexual health company, a speaker, and you’ve just finished your cancer treatment. Not only are you strong as hell, but you’re so busy! What does your self-care practice look like for you?
Suzanne: Yes! Self-care has become even more important to me after cancer. I spend a lot of time journaling -— every day if I can! I also go to the gym daily as a part of my ritual, especially to build up bone density. Cancer really took a toll on my body and it induced menopause, so working out helps me ward off early-onset osteoporosis. I also meditate now in the morning before I start work — that's been great!
MF: You make ice packs for people with vulvas. What inspired you to go out and invent this product?
Suzanne: I went for my usual run-of-the-mill Brazilian wax at an upscale expensive spa in SoHo, NYC, and the esthetician ripped off all of my hair and all of my skin. I was in excruciating pain when I got home, so I went to the freezer and when I saw a bag of frozen peas, it was if my vagina was saying to my brain, “Don’t put that on me!” I settled for a small bottled water, then I Googled “vagina ice pack” and I couldn’t find anything!
It was 2014, how was it that no one was making vagina ice packs?? I decided to make one for myself — and I did. After a few days, I told ALL my girlfriends about the “accident” and my inventions, and then all of a sudden, they started telling me about the times they had had vaginal pain. These stories actually helped create the design of the product, and also inspired me to make a heat pack that can be used to relax the muscles, as well as protective sleeves.
Our mission is to create products that provide direct comfort to a person’s intimate areas no matter what the source of the discomfort is.
Our goal is to get you to shift your whole being to a positive space as quickly as possible to ensure that you can go back to conquering your world at your best and no one being the wiser.
MF: What puts the biggest smile on your face about what you do?
Suzanne: When I first tell people what I do for a living, their reaction is priceless — then they tell me their TMI stories. I can see it in their faces that they have a sense of relief from finally being able to tell their story to someone! Another thing that makes me smile is that there is finally going to be a product on the market for private pain. To know that Private Packs is going to make someone’s life less painful makes me unbelievably happy.
MF: Is there a piece of advice that someone gave you that has shifted your outlook or your perspective on something?
Suzanne: Yes! Make every decision for your business as if you’re the customer and make it from a place of love.
MF: As someone who has survived cancer, did your relationship to your body shift in any way?
Suzanne: In more ways than I anticipated. In 2015, a small blip of a lump showed up on my mammogram. It was 1.5cm. I got calls from the doctor, letters to come back in for a follow-up. I remember saying to myself, “I don’t have time for cancer, I have a startup”. I thought I was invincible. Well, in July 2017, it was cancer and now I had two tumors and it spread to my lymph nodes, and then all of my tumors grew during chemo. I had my mastectomy on December 20th 2018; I had to sacrifice one of the twins to save the rest of me. I had a major identity crisis and I had to come to terms with my carelessness. I did this to myself. As a woman first, how do I go on without a part of my sexuality and sensuality – I love my breasts.
I had to slowly accept my new normal, and I'm happy with my new body. I see my scars and embrace them and I see them as battle scars, not something that once was. The doctors did not warn me that sex would change during and after treatment. My breast cancer is hormone positive and HER2 negative, and no one shared with me how dry my vagina would be. MY vulva is so tender that even toilet paper can tear my skin. Sex is so bad that I don’t want it and now I suffer from vaginal atrophy. I apply coconut oil on my vagina and sit with a Private Pack and relax or make dinner while I’m healing.
MF: We don’t get taught too much about our bodies, and fertility is a topic that still isn't talked about to young uterus-owners until they're ready to have a family. How do you think we can change that?
Suzanne: I think we can change that by speaking candidly about genital health on social media. Back in my day, I had to go to the library and nervously ask the librarian where “those” books were located. Working in this industry, it's our responsibility to provide correct information in a digestible manner and that’s easy enough for young people to understand. We need to create safe spaces, not just for young adults, but also for anyone who has questions about their bodies, genital health and wellness.