Interview with Catherine Lee, Co-Founder of Semaine Health

Interview with Catherine Lee, Co-Founder of Semaine Health

We interviewed one of the co-founders of Semaine Health, Catherine Lee, to highlight one of the products in January's My Club Red box: the PMS & Period Support supplement! We chatted more in depth about the products, the company’s values, and Catherine's experience as a fellow menstruator. 

Catherine Lee is a co-founder of Semaine Health, along with her sister, Lauren Lee, and Lauren’s husband, Matt Crane. Both Catherine and Lauren struggled for years with endometriosis before founding Semaine Health as a means to alleviate their period pain with the natural support of plants.


MY CLUB RED: Can you tell me more about the idea to start Semaine Health together with your sister?

CATHERINE: Lauren and I didn't set out to create a company. It started with Lauren's husband, a research scientist, putting together powders in a smoothie to help Lauren with her period pain. After a few months of experimenting, he came up with a blend that resulted in Lauren's first ever pain-free period.

I made Lauren ship some to me (we were living across the country from each other at the time) and I experienced the same relief. We used the blend for about 4 months before we started to seriously think that it was something we could share with others.

MCR: How about the PMS & Period Support in particular–when did that product enter your product line and why did you want to create this support for menstruators in particular? 

CATHERINE: The PMS & Period Support was our first product because both my sister and I have endometriosis. We've suffered from painful, heavy periods since our teens and it took over two decades to get diagnosed. There are so few products on the market that specifically target period pain and most of us rely on over-the-counter pain relievers, which are hard on your body. We were passionate about finding a healthy solution that helps to relieve pain while also supporting your body in other ways.

MCR: Do you have any experiences with your own period and Semaine products to illustrate what you love about them?

CATHERINE: Both the PMS & Period Support and Daily Hormone Balance have been life-changing for me. The PMS & Period Support has made it possible for me to function like a normal human being during my period.

The Daily Hormone Balance has really helped reduce my cravings and insulin issues. I never realized how much my hormones were impacting my blood sugar and mood until I started taking the Daily. It's really a great overall product for most people because it's like a multivitamin that also helps to balance your hormones and it's especially great for anyone with PCOS or PMDD.

MCR: Can you tell me more about the process of creating your products? 

CATHERINE: Our third co-founder and Lauren's husband, Matt Crane, is in charge of formulation. Before joining Semaine, he was working in a pathology lab at University of Washington. He's done hundreds of hours of research on each product and prioritizes getting our products clinically tested even though that's not a requirement for supplements.

We started with the PMS & Period Support and then the Daily Hormone Balance for selfish reasons - we wanted to feel better! And then we created our Urinary Tract Cleanse and Protect because we found an amazingly effect cranberry extract that's been shown to be as effective as antibiotics for clearing urinary tract infections. Unfortunately, because of our anatomy, women are more prone to get UTIs and the frequency of UTIs increases with age - especially with the onset of menopause.

Our most recent product is our Menopause Essentials because we heard from so many of our Gen X customers that they are experiencing perimenopausal symptoms like hot flashes, night sweats and weight gain. Societally, menopause is treated very similarly to menstruation - it's something that half the population goes through but there are very few tools on the market to help.

We really hope our products help push the conversations forward about women's health especially surrounding taboo topics like periods, UTIs and menopause.

MCR: I’d love to hear more about your ethical business practices. I know you care about both sustainability and transparency with high-quality ingredients. My Club Red is also committed to eco-friendly practices and hormone-friendly products, so I gravitated to Semaine immediately. Can you tell me more about why and how you are prioritizing these values at Semaine Health?

CATHERINE: Sustainability and transparency have been so important to us from the beginning. Before starting Semaine, I didn't know a lot about supplements. Turns out they are NOT all created equally! We work with suppliers that provide high quality, raw ingredients that are much easier to digest and get absorbed into the body than most supplements.

We know our customers are health conscious and really want to know what they're putting in their body, so we list all of our ingredients on our bottles and website. And it was important to keep our supplements vegan and hormone-free so as many people as possible can take them.

For sustainability, we're constantly iterating on the packaging. After several designs, we've finally found a company that can create aluminum pill bottles for us. Aluminum is infinitely more recyclable than plastic and gets recycled more than glass. Plus, the carbon footprint is smaller with its lighter weight and it keeps the supplements fresher for longer. By next year, all of our full-size products will be in aluminum packaging.

MCR: I love Semaine Health’s mission: “Our mission with Semaine is to not just provide solutions to women’s health that has been overlooked, but to make sure we’re shifting the paradigm in how we talk about these natural parts of our lives.” I am so on board with this mission! My mission with My Club Red is very similar. I’d love to hear more about the future you envision for menstruators–if this paradigm shift does happen, what changes in the lived experience of menstruators? How do you see Semaine helping to shift that paradigm for menstruators? 

CATHERINE: This is such a great question and something I'm so passionate about! It continues to blow my mind how far we've come and how much further we have to go to really see a shift.

We're taught at an early age that menstruation is something that we don't talk about in public. Why? Why do we hide our tampons and pads up our sleeves when we go to the public bathroom? Why aren't young boys taught about menstruation just like young girls? Why aren't we taught how important our cycle is APART from fertility? Why don't we learn that our immunity and inflammation fluctuates with our cycle every month?!

Menstruation is something that happens to over half the global population and yet we still treat it as taboo. We've landed a robot on Mars, but still have so few options when it comes to period care, hormonal issues and menopause. It's ridiculous.

I really want Semaine and wonderful companies like My Club Red to help my menstruators feel proud of their bodies and know they can look beyond over-the-pain medication and birth control for help. I have nothing against pharmaceuticals and birth control, but they are used frequently as a band aid when dealing with women's health.

It wasn't until the 90s that medical research had to include women in studies, so we're just at the very beginning of understanding our health. I always tell menstruators that we need to give ourselves a break because we're functioning in a system that hasn't supported us and our health for millennia. However, I'm optimistic that things are changing for the better and we all need to talk about our health openly, without shame.

MCR: Do you work while you’re on your period? What does a period day in your life look like? 

CATHERINE: Now that we've developed the PMS & Period Support, I work everyday of my period! Before then, I would have to take at least two days off of work and just lay in bed with a heating pad. However, even though I work, I try to schedule less meetings the week of period and give myself more breaks.

I also eat cleaner when I have the energy and don't beat myself up when I eat chocolate and salty chips! On my worse period days, I take 4 doses of PMS & Period Support and one dose of The Daily Hormone Balance, which really helps reduce cramping and inflammation. 

MCR: What do you see as your strengths that come from being a menstruating leader in your company? 

CATHERINE: There are several period products and apps in the market that are created by men. I don't think that's necessarily a bad thing, but I think it helps to be a menstruator because I can empathize with our customers.

Also, generally speaking, I think menstruators are amazing problem-solvers. We've had to figure out how to go about our daily lives while bleeding for 3 to 7 days every month, for goodness sake!

MCR: What about the challenges?

CATHERINE: The biggest challenge as an entrepreneur is having my heart 100% committed to Semaine Health. It's what keeps me motivated and inspired, but also results in really low lows if things aren't going well.

MCR: Has your relationship with your period changed as you’ve co-founded Semaine Health and helped create this company that prioritizes women’s health?  

CATHERINE: Absolutely! I'm ashamed to say that I never tracked my cycle before starting Semaine and meeting so many amazing menstruators in the business. I really thought you tracked your cycle if you wanted (or didn't want) a baby. I didn't realize how much our cycle - even on birth control - is a reflection of our health overall.

I wish I had know that at a younger age and shown myself more kindness when dealing with the horrible periods, fluctuating hormones and anxiety. The concept of selfcare that goes beyond sheet masks and baths to self-love and self-kindness is something I keep with me everyday while doing my work with Semaine Health.


Period Lightning Round


MCR: What period products do you use?

CATHERINE: I love period underwear. It makes nights when I'm on my period so much easier! Of course I use our PMS & Period Support and Daily Hormone Balance.

MCR: Do you get period cravings? 

CATHERINE: My period cravings have lessened over time with taking Semaine supplements, but I still get random cravings for chocolate even though I usually prefer salty and savory foods.

MCR: Are your periods painful?

CATHERINE: Not anymore, but they were for 20 years!

MCR: What period symptom do you wish you didn’t experience? 

CATHERINE: Butt cramps! They're the worst, especially when you're out in public sitting down - sheesh!

MCR: What’s your favorite way to care for yourself while you’re on your period? 

CATHERINE: I try to take it as easy as possible if I can. I'll reschedule meetings and/or schedule more breaks in my day. I prioritize meditation and drinking lots of caffeine-free tea.

MCR: If you took a day off for menstrual leave, how would you spend your day? 

CATHERINE: Reading in bed with a cup of tea or if I have the energy, getting a pedicure

MCR: What’s your favorite or most-appreciated aspect of your period? 

CATHERINE: It sounds cheesy, but it's a monthly reminder of how proud I am of our supplements. My periods are so much better and I never take that for granted.

MCR: If you could describe your period in one word, what would it be? 



Thank you so much, Catherine! We loved hearing your thoughts and learning more of your story, and are so happy to include Semaine in My Club Red!

Back to blog

Leave a comment

Please note, comments need to be approved before they are published.