Aunt Flow — a gender-neutral, buy-one give-one period company run by 20-year-old female entrepreneur Claire Coder — is not your average menstrual product business.
First of all, the company allows users to subscribe to monthly tampon boxes filled with tampons and pads of their own choosing. Then, when a box is purchased, another is donated to a non-profit. By the end of October, Aunt Flow will have donated over 60,000 menstrual products to organizations across the U.S.
Their latest initiative involves selling their menstrual products to businesses, which can then offer them for free to employees and customers. Coder said they’re working with companies ranging from Stanford University to local coffee shops.
We caught up with Coder to hear about Aunt Flow’s latest initiatives.
HelloGiggles (HG): Can you elaborate on the mission behind selling menstrual products to businesses?
Claire Coder (CC): Toilet paper is offered for free, why aren’t tampons? I started Aunt Flow as a result of an unexpected period. We have all been there — I was at an event, got my period, and there were no tampons in the bathrooms. I was surrounded by men, and I felt uncomfortable asking the few women if they had any “supplies.” I ended up leaving that event early thinking “WOW. I just missed out on huge opportunities, simply because of a natural bodily function.” I was frustrated that an anatomical male has everything he needs in the bathroom for natural bodily functions, but a menstruator does not. I was frustrated that no-one talks about menstruation. I set out on a mission to change the conversation and to ensure everyone has access to menstrual products.
Aunt Flow sells our 100% organic cotton menstrual products to individual consumers with a buy-one, give-one model as well as to businesses, so they can offer products in their bathrooms for free.
HG: What has the response from businesses been like?
CC: Overall, businesses GET IT. The majority of business owners and HR professionals have never considered offering free tampons for employees in their bathrooms. Let’s face it — menstruation is not a savvy topic like the next app that helps connect employees. However, we are able to explain to businesses that by offering free Aunt Flow menstrual products in their bathrooms, they can reduce lost work hours from people frantically running to the store, and it improves the opportunity for businesses to rate higher on rankings that consider best places to work for women.
Why is it important to Aunt Flow to commit to ensuring access to menstrual products for everyone?
CC: Menstrual products are not covered by WIC or food stamps, making the nearly $10/month cost unbearable for many people living at or below the poverty line. When deciding where to spend that $10, food becomes the priority. As a result, many people are forced to use dirty socks, rags, and even plastic bags when on their period.
Aunt Flow believes people should have access to the necessary tampons and pads no matter their economic status. As we’ve grown and listened to those around us, we realized we needed to expand our idea of inclusivity to include gender. Those who identify as cis women are not the only people who menstruate. Trans men and those individuals who do not identify as either binary gender also menstruate. To stay true to our mission — to ensure EVERYONE has access to menstrual products — we could not exclude this population.