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Hardship to Hope: Cancer Survivor and 9/11 Widow on Carving Opportunity

Self

Talk to an entrepreneur of any age, ethnicity, financial background or gender, and they'll likely be able to name more than a few moments that changed the trajectory of their life, both personally and professionally. From deals that went sour before they had time to get off the ground to a disheartening divorce that made getting out of bed for a 9 a.m. board meeting that much more difficult, those who are often the most successful are the same ones who learn how to battle the toughest of demons.


Meryl Marshall, founder of Hynt beauty, has had her fair share of trials, including two major events – she is both a breast cancer survivor and a 9/11 widow. These irrevocably life-changing experiences have made her stronger, and the battles she's fought her way through are what inspired her to create her own line of clean, green cosmetics that is growing at a rapid speed.

Meryl Marshall

Based in New Jersey, Marshall has a cult following on Instagram, which she uses to showcase the line of clean, luxe ingredients. This innovative businesswoman, however, has her own story to tell that extends far beyond what's kept in the bathrooms of women across the country. She also harbors a courageous drive that propels her forward, no matter which obstacles she encounters.

Prepare yourself, because you're about to be astoundingly inspired by this gutsy entrepreneur:

You are such a survivor. How did you stay strong after 9/11 and the cancer diagnosis and subsequent battle?

When asked to reflect on myself, I think of how resilient I am. I have had to endure the tragic loss of my beloved husband Robert on September 11, 2001. It was indeed a very dark period of my life. I was widowed at the age of 42 with an 11-year-old son. I had to deal with the loss of my husband as well as the aftermath of a major world event. I was barraged with people constantly coming to my home to console me and reporters calling. I was interviewed by many, including Katie Couric and The New York Times, where my story made the front page.

I was blessed to meet my husband Craig – a widower with two young sons. We fell deeply in love and vowed to take care of each other and our sons. We married in May of 2004 and six months later, I found a lump in my breast. I was shocked when the test results came back and it was indeed malignant. Though we caught it early, it was a fast-growing type of cancer that required aggressive treatment. I endured surgery, chemotherapy, and radiation. Needless to say, that left me with three frightened kids at home who had already lost one parent.

Craig took such loving care of all of us, and that was when I realized that despite the seemingly insurmountable challenges in life, I had one great guy and three amazing kids in my corner. And so, I was lucky twice.

Were these turning points the catalyst to starting HYNT?

Yes. I was devastated when I received my diagnosis and thus began my journey of questioning numerous things, such as the food I ate, cleaning products I used, lawn and garden products I owned, as well as the products I spread on my body. I did extensive research and realized that many of the products I was using were potentially harmful to myself and my family.

I started making small changes and eventually transitioned to a healthier lifestyle, which included scrutinizing products on the market. I did find healthier makeup, but it was extremely difficult to find the textures and colors I was accustomed to in elegant, luxurious packaging. Clinical white and wood may connote green beauty, but they were not appealing to me.

I wanted to create a brand that expressed the message of trust and love – a brand that can be relied on for pro-makeup-artist level quality, in gorgeous, sexy packaging, that adhered to a strict blacklist of ingredients that were unacceptable in the formulations.

HYNT Beauty Products Courtesy of HYNT

My husband Craig and I infuse our passion into our business and truly love the interaction we have with our customers. We also enjoy working with our dynamic, creative team that keeps Hynt humming soundly. We are also philanthropic by giving back to various organizations that support those going through cancer treatment, a cause that is close to our hearts.

What was the hardest part of starting your own company?

The hardest part of starting a company is the amount of time and dedication required. My husband and I can work very long days and often for hours during the weekend. We still have a relatively small staff to delegate work to so it is often confusing whether we are working on our business or working in our business. We know the difference and we are always fine tuning the process. Craig and I mutually respect one another and play different roles in our business. We work well together and we support one another in problem solving.

Another challenge is the high MOQ's (minimum order quantities) that we must purchase, especially in packaging. The packaging sits waiting to be filled with product so that it can be sold but when you are first launching a company, you can't fill and sell 20,000 of a particular eye shadow shade overnight. And thus, a lot of money ends up sitting on shelves.

We aim to run our business frugally, but one needs to be wise on knowing where to spend the budget when there is a decent ROI (return on investment). The priority of these expenditures is changing all the time while there are changes in the way people purchase product.

Even though the business and its mission to share healthier cosmetic options are my passion, I must stay motivated and keep stress to a minimum.

What do you wish someone had told you before you became an entrepreneur?

I wish I was told how much money it takes up front to do things right. For example, money is required to build a better website, a stronger SEO, for consulting, and hiring and maintaining the top team members. They are costly, but the results are unquestionable. And with time or additional investment, they bring back far bigger returns.

How's business?

This is a very exciting time for Hynt Beauty. We are encountering slow but very steady growth. The green beauty industry is here to stay and we receive calls and emails all the time hearing how someone tossed all their conventional products and are starting anew with clean products they feel confident in using. HyntBeauty.com is a thriving e-commerce site that has accumulated over 13,000 subscribers since its launch one and a half years ago.

We are cautious as to who we sell to and how. We learned that there are many challenges selling in brick and mortar locations.

We are still trying to get the line into certain markets. We have amazing partners with other clean beauty e-commerce sites. We have all learned that an expanded sampling program is crucial for the customer to 'try before you buy' which transfers to a high percentage of return to site for a full-sized purchase.

What's next?

We are currently completing our EU Certification. We have several International distributors lined up. We are already selling very well in the Nordic countries.

We are continually trying to improve our packaging sources. I am working hard to secure U.S. manufacturers that can make the same cosmetic packaging that we currently purchase overseas. It is generally more costly but if it makes sense, we try to negotiate for sharp pricing.

Most of our packaging is recyclable, like the proper safe plastics and glass. Eventually a refill program for certain products will be incorporated into the line. We minimize the amount of printing we do in the office and use biodegradable paper when we do print. We even use biodegradable green-line plastic bags for our sample program. We are constantly looking to improve Hynt Beauty and remain dedicated to honesty so that it can continue to be trusted and loved.

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Featured

The G-spot Exists Even When Junk Science Tries To Con Women Into Thinking It Doesn’t

Yes, there is a G-spot. Of course there's a G-spot. There's always been a G-spot. And while we're on the subject, it's not a spot. It's not a little button or dot. It's an area. While we're on the subject, we really should rename it all together. A man “discovered it." Uh, huh. And he named it after himself. Of course. But I digress. The point is, the G-spot very much exists.


How do I know? Because I've touched my share of them. I've touched them and stimulated them, and the women to whom those G-spots belonged had delicious orgasms from the said touching of them. Ask them. Go ahead. You don't have to believe me because the G-spot is not the Easter Bunny or Santa Claus or even God for that matter. It's not something to “believe in." It's something that exists because it's there and you can touch it.

As the author of two books on women's sexuality, “O Wow: Discovering Your Ultimate Orgasm" and “The Ultimate Guide to Solo Sex," I have talked to hundreds of women; researched and spoken to the experts; and read, read, read everything I could get my hands on. I know the G-spot exists because it exists. That is how you know something exists. You do not however, deny the existence of something because, well, it's self-serving.

And in case you're thinking, “You've written some sex books and slept with some women. You're no doctor." You're right. But Juliana Morris, PhD, LMFT, LPC is. She's a credentialed therapist, academic, and a bona fide (s)expert, with decades of experience “counseling and supporting thousands of individuals and couples on their paths to discover and own their sexual agency."

Her thoughts on the G-Spot? “Yes, it exists. Better stated….every (biologically identified) woman has the potential for pleasure in an area within her vaginal cavity. That is how I describe it. An area of potential. I am confident it exists because of hundreds of interviews and work with women. Women who have experienced pleasure in an area within her 'accidently,' women who have made purposeful efforts to find pleasure in this area as a solo or partnered endeavor using specific techniques to maximize the potential of pleasure for her and hearing both groups describe the difference of pleasure from other orgasmic experiences."

The fact that some folks who have the audacity to call themselves “researchers" when they only had thirteen women in their study – THIRTEEN – decided there is no G-spot because they couldn't find one is idiocy. I have touched more than thirteen of them personally. Just all by myself, no research study – OR DOLLARS – required. Morris adds, “That study is inaccurate and is inherently flawed. In large part because of the belief that it functions like other pleasure organs. Mainly, however, because it is asking the wrong questions and using inadequate parameters to prove or disprove it."

I'll tell you what outranks that study by a zillion – reality. I have touched the G-spots of women I have loved, women I have hooked up with, and even women with whom I have taken Body Dodson's famed masturbation workshop Body Sex. Of course there's a G-spot. Don't be ridiculous.

This is just another chapter in the on-going saga of “men who don't want to learn about women's bodies or have women know about their own bodies so let's just call women frigid or broken or too complicated." We and our bodies are none of those things. Women who don't want to have sex aren't frigid. They are tired of showing up for an activity that feeds male pleasure and leaves them hanging because too many men have no idea how to work the equipment.

Women aren't broken. We don't have penises. We don't want or need penises. We have something WAY better. We have clitorises with 8,000 plus nerve endings and no other job other than to give us pleasure. And, no, our bodies aren't too complicated. All you have to do is ask. Believe me, if you care enough to ask, she'll be happy to tell you what rocks her world.

The thing is, men, who are in charge of the budgets and the research and the media and the message, get nothing for themselves – zero, zilch, nada – from teaching and promoting the truth about women's bodies and sexuality. Not to mention is that all men want to do is measure and quantify. No can do with the G-spot. But that doesn't matter one bit.

Morris explains, “I do believe the reason behind the quest to invalidate the G-spot area is heavily rooted in the misguided notion that a woman's pleasure experience cannot be measured or seen and thusly cannot exist. The antiquated medical and scientific views of research do not apply to the variance and contextual nuisances of womanhood and female pleasure. And that difference-from the male, medical model is threatening and challenging and for some in that world, easily dismissed. Or must be dismissed. Unexplained + variance +can't be seen/measure= bad, crazy, non-existent. And frankly…the scientific and medical world, especially male practitioners in general still exhibit a level of discomfort if not distaste for female pleasure."

On the other hand, straight men gain plenty from creating and feeding the myths. They can keep women feeling less-than and self-conscious and dirty and broken and thinking that they need a man, that they are lucky to even have one since they are so broken. Then men don't have to learn or put in any effort in the bedroom or anywhere else for that matter because they are, all puns intended, cock of the walk. Well, fuck that.

Listen up, ladies. There is nothing wrong with you. Not one damn thing. Your body and your clitoris and your vagina and your very much existing G-spot are all perfect and they are all yours. And while we're on the subject, you have every right to enjoy them on your own, with a partner, with many partners, within a loving relationship, just for fun, whatever.

Masturbate, make love, hook up, you do you. Literally. You don't need a man. You can want one. But you do not – I repeat, do not – in any way need a man for sexual pleasure. The penis is completely and totally unnecessary for female sexual pleasure. COMPLETELY UNNECESSARY. There are mouths and fingers and toys and even vegetables that are actually far better suited for the job.

Too much of this “there's no G-spot" nonsense comes from the fact that most folks don't even know the truth about the clitoris. That tiny little bud on the outside is the tip of the iceberg. The clitoris has long, internal legs. Think inverted wishbone.

Women have just as much – if not more – erectile tissue than men.

Women have just as much – if not more – erectile tissue than men. Women can experience gobs of pleasure when some penis isn't just using the vagina like some sort of masturbation sleeve, banging away until said penis is done. And – side note – when it's done it's done, unlike the mighty clitoris which requires zero recoup time. ZERO. Sure the G-stop is a relative of the clitoris. Regardless of who or what it's related to - it exists. Not every woman goes wild when her G-spot is stimulated. That is true. Not every women can identify her G-spot. That is true. But every woman does have a G-spot. You simply have be enough of a human being to care about women and their bodies and their pleasure to know that. People can tell you about Game of Thrones in minute detail but they don't know the difference between a vagina and a vulva. (The vagina is the internal canal. The vulva is the external bits.)

This is getting so idiotic. We don't need any more studies. We need people to start talking to and LISTENING to women. The very pussy owning humans themselves. Want to know the truth about women's bodies? Pay attention to the ones you are insanely lucky to be intimate with. This is all verifiable info. This is not some Lochness shit here. Come on.

Women need to know their bodies. Human need to know about women's bodies. “I think it is crucial for women to understand, deeply, the implications of our variance in anatomy and pleasure," says Morris. "Our variance needs to be acknowledged, understood, celebrated and validated. Our variance is indeed beautiful. Normal. Expected. No big deal. Some of our variance is rooted in evolutionary brilliance. Some of it is evolutionary irrelevance, and it just is. We all need a roadmap to examine our sexuality and pleasure and medical studies like this just distract us from the REAL research."

"That dream aside, pleasure is our birthright. We have the right to seek, enhance and experience pleasure. On our own terms and in our own way. Validating the existence for the potential for pleasure in this area is one area where women can choose to claim this collectively." -Juliana Morris

If you're a woman, grab a mirror and have a look. Masturbate, please. Insert your own fingers into your own vagina, curve it upwards, and two inches in, toward the front of your body, you will feel a patch of tissue with ridges on it. Play with it and it will expand. That's your G-spot. Insert a toy that vibrates to stimulate it. Insert the classic and most reliable toy on earth for masturbation, the Betty Dodson Barbell, and try out her Rock and Rock Method of masturbation. (You can thank me later.) And once you have done that, you will smack the face of anyone who tells you what body parts you don't have. And if someone argues with you, make a note to never, ever, ever have sex with them. Ever. And to those “researchers," get a real job. Women don't need anyone else telling us that we don't have body parts that we clearly do. We don't need anyone else chipping away at our self-esteem. We don't need any more sex shaming. And thirteen people? Really? Thirteen? Shame on you. You and your practices and your findings are ridiculous.

And to anyone who has the honor of engaging with a woman and her body, be respectful, pay attention, put your own pleasure on the back burner, remember that just because it feels good to you doesn't mean it does a damn thing for her, and for God's sake, listen – listen, listen, listen.

Yes, Virginia, there is a G-spot.