A female-bodied person’s period is natural. It’s something that has happened since the dawn of time, and without it, none of us would exist. And yet its importance, and its destigmatization, isn’t always valued by society as a whole. Most states still tax women on a product they need to function; girls in third world countries often miss school and ultimately drop out because supplies are not provided to them while menstruating; and women are at risk of losing access to basic reproductive rights based on President-elect Trump’s promises to defund Planned Parenthood.
That is why companies like Aunt Flow — a gender-neutral, buy-one give-one period company‚ are so important. Founded by 19-year-old Claire Coder, the company allows users to subscribe to monthly tampon boxes filled with tampons and pads of their own choosing. When a box is purchased, another is donated, completely free of charge, to a non-profit. We spoke with Claire about her experiences as a young business owner and about the need for increased access to menstruation products across the globe.
HelloGiggles: What do you think your age enables you to do as a small business owner and what doubts did you overcome as a young entrepreneur?
Claire Coder: Launching a business as a female is hard. Launching a business as a teenage female is wicked-hard. Launching a business as a teenage female who only half the population understands is nearly impossible! The fact that I am a teenager is GREAT for PR and publicity, but when it comes to credibility and investment, no one takes me seriously.
News flash: I AM SERIOUS! I dropped out of college for this! To be an entrepreneur, you have to have some ignorance (99% of businesses fail…that is pretty telling of what will happen!). Since I am young, I still take outlandish risks and I believe that I can be that 1% who succeeds.
HG: Where did your interest in women’s reproductive health come from (aside from being a woman yourself, of course)?
CC: Growing up, I was not hidden from the truth. My mom (a therapist) would talk to me about how many women she would serve who would come to her groups wearing plastic bags or dirty socks when they were flowing. I didn’t understand why. At my house, we always had a stock.
It wasn’t until I was 18 and doing my own research when I learned that menstrual products aren’t covered by WIC or food stamps and many organizations only offer two tampons per woman per month. I knew I wanted to create a sustainable solution to this problem, and that is why I founded Aunt Flow.
If your period comes once a month, so should your menstrual products!
HG: What’s the story behind the name, Aunt Flow?
CC: Aunt Flow is a clever euphemism for “that time of the month.” It is great when I tell people that I own a company called “Aunt Flow” and they are taken aback…Clearly I couldn’t be talking about that…But I am. I truly enjoy talking about menstruation… Someone has to!
HG: What is the importance of selling 100% cotton tampons and pads? How does your product differ from other tampons and pads on the market?
CC: Aunt Flow is the only true buy-one, give-one company for tampons and pads (for every 18 pieces bought, 18 is given to an org in the US!). Our products are high-quality, 100% cotton, FDA regulated, hypoallergenic, and biodegradable. Can you believe that many name brand products are still bleached with chlorine… YIKES. Our products have never caused TSS while many name brand products have been proven to cause TSS, ovarian cysts, and other reproductive health issues.
Plus, we are the ONLY gender-neutral tampon and pad company…Yes, there are humans who identify as male, but still menstruate. Our branding is forward, loud, and excited. Many other companies are softer and secretive. We don’t want our menstruators shoving tampons up their sleeves to hide that they are on their period. Menstruation is a fact of life and it should not be shameful!