She spent afternoons playing Skat, a card game, with her mother and her mother’s friends, who taught her aphorisms such as “If someone shows you who they are, you should believe them. Or “there’s nothing a hard drink can’t fix.” “
“I was 12,” said Ms. Pelletier. “They were seasoned and wise and had been through hell. What they hoped for me was that I would go out and never come back. What she did. (Although “on really bad days I tuck into my infrared sleeping bag and drink a martini,” she said. “Gray Goose, very dry with a lemon twist”).
After attending Husson University in Bangor, Maine, Ms. Pelletier worked as a sales representative at GD Searle, the pharmaceutical company that first developed the birth control pill, now owned by Pfizer. She became responsible for new global affairs in the women’s health division. “Working in pharma has taught me to speak with influence, to behave, to present, to use certain levers, to read a play,” she said.
In 2009, she founded a nonprofit called Woman Care Global, which focused on reproductive health around the world. While there in 2013, Ms. Pelletier came across a product called Amphora, developed by a team of scientists at Rush University in Chicago, and owned by a company called EvoMed that was in trouble. “They didn’t have the right strategy, they didn’t have the funding, the leadership,” she said.
Eventually, EvoMed investors separated the women’s health division, created a new company called Evofem, and put Ms. Pelletier in charge. Amphora was later renamed Phexxi (the first two letters represent pH and the double X is for the sex chromosome.) In 2015, she became CEO of the company. Since then, she has led Evofem to raise $ 491 million from investors and has hired 128 employees.