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Hi! I’m Afton Vechery (@aftonvechery). I live in San Francisco, where I’m the founder and CEO of a company called Modern Fertility. But the first company I ever started was actually in high school. Ours School failed water test and started giving all the kids bottled water. For my science fair project, I got a local company that funded and sponsored a company that tested different water sources in my community. That brought me to the International Science Fair. and tech fair where I listened to a group of Nobel Prize winners. It was an amazing, defining experience. I’m still obsessed with the quality of the water – I find myself not drinking enough water if it doesn’t taste clean, and my fiancé has given me a reverse osmosis filter for my birthday this year. But experience really taught me that science has the ability to to end up in a laboratory. If you want to take the next step in influencing people, business plays a really big role.
My first job outside of school was with a private equity fund in the healthcare sector. I ended up spending a lot of time on women’s health just because I cared about it and leading research for an investment in a network of IVF clinics. Years later, I moved to the West Coast to head the consumer goods division when I and I were 23, and while I was there I realized I wanted to wait until later in life to have a family. I went to my gynecologist and said, “Hey, I remember those basic fertility tests that I learned about back then at Private Equity. Can you order them for me, please?” Since I wasn’t actively trying and not having a child, they didn’t order the tests. I actually had to go to a fertility clinic to get the information I wanted. So I got a PCOS diagnosis. I’ve spent so much time thinking that my irregular periods were just because I was stressed. My doctor told me that I could never get pregnant naturally due to PCOS – which is not true. But my biggest “ah ha” moment was the fact that when I was open about my experiences with other women, each and every one of them agreed that they wished they had more information about their own bodies. Is not that crazy?
Having a baby in the US is not a right, it is a privilege. There are some government insurance policies in place, and some employers may choose to provide infertility benefits, but while infertility rates are increasing, we do not have access to this care at the federal level. It’s also a math problem. There are many fertility clinics in dense areas where people can pay for it. But other states may only have one – there are only five hundred fertility clinics in all of the United States and only two thousand reproductive endocrinologists. You may need to request time off with your employer to drive to a clinic. If you have an irregular menstrual cycle, you may not know in advance what day to go. These are things we should talk about with our girlfriends over brunch, but there is such an information gap. Consumers these days are used to having all the ingredients on the back of our beauty products and financial planners to help us save for a home. But when we look at reproductive health and fertility, it’s just a black box.
When I started Modern Fertility it was about enabling people with ovaries to think about reproductive health the way they think about any other part of their health. You just come to our website, request a hormone test and then receive a cute little box with everything you need to do it. A hormone test alone cannot diagnose anything, but it does give you basic information to start a conversation with your doctor. The actual test uses a simple finger prick. We then combine your self-reported information, your age and your hormone levels into a personalized hormone report. If you have any questions, you will also receive a free individual consultation with a fertility nurse. We host weekly live webinars led by fertility nurses. Finally, there is our free app that gives you access to a community of over 10,000 members. That’s packed together for $ 159. To put it in perspective, my bill for the first hormone test I got was $ 1,500.
My favorite part of my morning routine is testing my ovulation. We started ovulation tests about three months ago and I’m obsessed with them – they’re traditionally used when trying to get pregnant, but women with irregular periods and PCOS can use them to track their cycle. Am I on a twenty-eight day cycle or is it thirty-one days? It’s like a science experiment. Next, I wash my face with Indie Lee’s Brightening Cleanser, a fresh and easy way to start the day. My beauty routine has come a long way – I used to only use pigeon soap and cetaphil. Then I found this company called Haldi that is basically helping you build a skin care routine. I found out about this because its founder was an advocate of early modern fertility and everything he recommended to me was so good. Now i’m addicted. I have so many dermatologist friends who say if you want your skin to look amazing you should use these three things: preventative botox, retinoids, and SPF. I’m not on the botox train yet, but at night I use a retinoid and definitely sunscreen. If you have a scientific approach to products, SPF makes good sense worldwide. I am obsessed with finding good, easy formulas that I can pounce on and don’t think about. I’ve tried so many that I didn’t like, but the two I always reach for are Kiehl’s SPF 30 Moisturizer and Thank You Farmer’s Water Sun Cream. I found out about Thank You Farmer from Haldi and I use this when I’m in the sun.
I really like offers, and Tata Harper recently made an offer where if you bought a certain amount you would get a free travel suitcase. I’ve stocked up – I’ve got the moisturizing mask, green clearing mask, and refreshing cleanser … that’s what I clean at night. Haldi also drew my attention to Tata Harper. My retinoid is from Dear Brightly, a direct customer company that ships you prescription retinol. You take an online quiz and they adjust your dose – I have super sensitive skin but that makes things look fresh. After that I use Tata Harper’s Repairative Moisturizer, which is really nice and weightless, and some nights I will put oil on it. I used to have combination skin and dry spots, and after lathering my face with oil every night, it all went away. I never thought I’d put oil on my skin, but I’ve converted.
When I’m recording something or have a special Zoom call, I put on makeup. I think my work life really influenced my makeup routine – when I was working in New York, I commuted three and a half hours from Connecticut, and when I moved to San Francisco, I lived in Russian Hill and commuted three and a half hours to Mountain View. I always had to roll out of bed before sunrise, which forced me to reduce my makeup routine to the essentials. I usually use Laura Mercier’s tinted moisturizer and this Ilia stick that I have in a gift basket all over the place. That makes me look a little more awake. I also like to use the Dotcom fig balm when I want more moisture. Then I use a little Glossier Lash Slick which gives me a super clean look.
When I was in college, I was an intern at this biomaterials regenerative medicine company. You looked at keratin, the protein in your hair, skin, and nails, and I received funding from the National Science Foundation to look at its cosmetic uses. That company eventually became Virtue Labs. It’s so fun because the extent of my hair routine is now really just Virtue shampoo and conditioner. They use different types of keratin based on the type of hair you have and these products leave me a year between haircuts. My mom always told me that if you use the same shampoo every day, your hair will get used to it. I don’t know if that’s true or not, but it has found its way into my head – switching between the Smooth and Full Virtue shampoo and conditioner, and recently used Oribe shampoo and conditioner as well.
At night, I like to wear birthday balm on my eyelids to get a little more shimmer. I also have this really fun Urban Decay Naked Honey palette. When I started working I realized that I should probably have eyeshadow – that’s one thing adults have. In high school I bought an Urban Decay palette with a mesh chain on the front and all these crazy colors so I was familiar with the brand. That’s how I got into it. It’s a range of golden fairy dust colors that have a bit of 90s nostalgia but also look very flattering to me. I religiously wore the soft pencil eyeliner from Chanel Espresso that I spotted on a makeup counter. It was the only thing that wouldn’t irritate my eyes. And when I want to do a lip I use this Yves Saint Laurent Rouge Pur Couture by Zoe Kravitz lipstick. [Ed note: discontinued] I found that on Instagram. I will get a mani pedi every now and then when I want to feel together. I was definitely that person answering emails on their laptop while getting a pedicure – this is my ultimate happy place. But I keep my nails short. I love outdoor activities so I would say I have outdoor nails.
My partner is very allergic to all kinds of odors. Although I love fragrances, I couldn’t incorporate them into my routine. I had to translate my love for candles into other non-smelly household items. The first time we went out together I bought a two plate and two bowl set from this really nice local ceramist in San Francisco. I recently expanded this so that we have enough for our full table. There’s this other potter in North Carolina who makes beautiful pink dessert plates with gold rims, so I ordered a set of those too. I also love glassware – I have random Hay glasses that I only use for coffee and I bought two orange and yellow martini glasses from Moser. Martinis are my favorite cocktail, and when I drink one from this glass, it tastes even better. “
– as ITG said
Photos about the author