We recently launched Vella, a first-of-its-kind sensual serum, that’s been featured in Vogue, Allure, and Women’s Health for making waves as a game-changing sexual wellness product. We wanted to give you the full scoop behind this first-of-a-kind product, so we chatted with the founders behind Vella! Get ready to discover everything you need to know with Carolyn Wheeler, Chief Operating Officer + Co-Founder, and Dr. Harin Padma-Nathan, Chief Scientific Officer + Co-Founder.
Q: First and foremost, what is the origin story of Vella?
A: Carolyn Wheeler: Founded in 2020, Vella Bioscience was spun out from another company, Manna Molecular Science—an incubator based in Massachusetts that engages top scientific experts to innovate products with cannabinoids using pharmaceutical technologies.
One of those top scientific experts was Dr. Harin Padma-Nathan, who oversaw the development for Pfizer of Viagra and for Lilly/ICOS for Cialis, and has published extensively in top medical journals on sexual function, including on sexual arousal disorder. Harin had the notion that cannabidiol encapsulated in liposomes may allow for an increased ease, frequency, and intensity of orgasms in women—kind of the holy grail of sexual medicine. Manna funded the remainder of the research, which was conducted with the equally brilliant formulation chemist Dr. Michael Frid. And when we saw the data that was coming back from the studies, we realized that we had something on our hands that would require full attention. And thus, Vella Bioscience was born.
Q: For someone who isn’t familiar with a pleasure serum, how would you describe Vella?
A: Carolyn Wheeler: Vella is a lotion that you apply to the vulva, so to the external area of the vagina, namely your clitoris and inner labia. We call it a pleasure serum for two reasons. Mainly, because it does just what you’d hope a pleasure serum to do when you hear that term: it increases your ability to experience pleasure. We also wanted to be sure we were clearly differentiating it from a lubricant. Though it promotes self-lubrication, it’s not meant as a lube in and of itself. (It can go internally—it won’t hurt you, but you won’t get the full effect.)
Q: How did you start your journey in the sexual wellness industry?
A: Dr. Harin Padma-Nathan: As an expert in Sexual Medicine, it seemed a logical progression to look at wellness instead of disease and the leap was not too great.
A: Carolyn Wheeler: To be honest, I can’t say I ever saw a career in the sexual wellness industry coming. My formal education is in anthropology and landscape architecture. But reflecting back on it, it makes sense to me how I got here, and moreover that it’s where I’m supposed to be. I have always been interested in and engaged in creative pursuits that have the potential to affect positive social change. And this is definitely that.
Q: Can you explain more about how Vella combines the power of science and sexual wellness?
A: Dr. Harin Padma-Nathan: We have utilized cutting edge scientific understanding gained from the field of sexual medicine and have applied it to sexual wellness. This included extrapolating what we know works in men to reexamining if a similar approach would work in women and lo and behold, it does.
A: Carolyn Wheeler: Science is the backbone of our company, so as such typical scientific protocols—like mechanistic studies, clinical studies, vaginal microflora studies, condom compatibility testing, etc—guide our sexual wellness product innovation.
Q: How is Vella different compared to other sexual wellness products on the market?
A: Dr. Harin Padma-Nathan: Science, science, science. And data that is derived from clinical trials and real-world experience.
A: Carolyn Wheeler: Exactly as Dr. Padma-Nathan put it. It’s our science. There’s simply nothing else like Vella on the market.
Q: What are some misconceptions people have when exploring a sexual serum?
A: Carolyn Wheeler: People who have already explored a sexual serum before trying Vella likely have the misconception that sexual serums don’t work. But they do work, or rather Vella does.
A: Dr. Harin Padma-Nathan: The use of our serum is so simple, so women readily understand it and use it correctly. But we need to remind users that it is not a lubricant and is applied externally. It has, unlike all other topical sexual wellness products, undergone formal third-party testing to demonstrate condom compatibility.
Q: What advice would you give someone for living their most empowered life?
A: Carolyn Wheeler: Know and deeply understand that you can make a positive impact. But remember a positive impact happens regardless of what scale it’s on. It could be for yourself, for another, for many others, for planet earth. Can you imagine trying to live an empowered life without thinking you could make a difference in even your own life? I can’t.
Thank you, Carolyn and Dr. Harin for sharing with us everything behind Vella! We are incredibly excited for the launch of Vella and love how this sensual serum combines the power of science and sexual wellness to make it a fail-proof product. Discover Vella in our Aspen, Vail, Scottsdale, Montecito, Brookfield Place, Newport Beach, Dallas, and Brentwood locations!