Meet Annie & Margo, Founders of Conscious Period
[dropcap background="no" color="#333333"]E[/dropcap]ver looked at the list of ingredients in your tampons? Well, I just did and I’m especially concerned about the ”may contain” following “ingredients” in parenthesis. What do you mean, may contain? Thankfully, Margo and Annie have eliminated our worries and created organic, chemical-free tampons. With every box of tampons purchased, a box of environmentally friendly pads are donated to a homeless woman who wouldn’t otherwise have access to these safe feminine care products. Meet Margo and Annie, founders of Conscious Period:
[divider type="dashed" spacing="10"]Introduce yourself to our readers! Tell us a bit about who you are and what you do.
[dropcap background="no" color="#333333"]W[/dropcap]e are the founders of Conscious Period and we’re committed to making healthy period products available to all women in need, via our 100% organic cotton tampons with a comfortable BPA-free plastic applicator and an innovative social enterprise business model.
Margo: I have always known that I would spend my career making a positive impact in the lives of others. After working with a social enterprise startup and then at TOMS, I saw firsthand the benefits and challenges of how social enterprise models work in the real world. I realized that building sustainable models is the only way to truly affect change, and pursued an MBA from USC Marshall to gain a deeper understanding of how innovative business models can solve the world's most profound problems.
Annie: I hold a BA in Women's Studies from Washington University in St. Louis and an MSW from Columbia University, and have a lifelong passion for women's issues. I spent the early part of my career working in nonprofits and co-founded Conscious Period with the purpose of combining product innovation, a sustainable giving approach, and socially conscious activism to create real change for our customers and women in need.
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What made you decide to found Conscious Period? What was the jumping-off point?
[pullquote align="right" cite="" link="" color="" class="" size=""]We are so proud of our messaging, and feminism plays a big part in how we run and operate our company, serve vulnerable populations of women, and meet our customers where they are.[/pullquote]
[dropcap background="no" color="#333333"]B[/dropcap]oth of us were really concerned about the lack of transparency around ingredient labeling for commercial feminine hygiene products and really dissatisfied with the quality of organic tampons; we thought they were overpriced and we really didn't like the cardboard applicators and flimsy paper wrappers they came in.
Plus, we were outraged that food stamps don't cover menstrual products and they're taxed as luxury items in most states. After speaking with several shelters, food banks and service providers, we discovered that menstrual pads are one of the most requested but least donated items - so we decided to do something about it! Originally, we considered a straightforward one-for-one giving model: for every box of tampons we sell, we would donate a box of the same high quality tampons. But women in unstable living situations prefer pads for a number of reasons, including a widespread lack of access to safe, clean bathrooms to change products as frequently as is required for tampons (making tampons an inferior product). That's why we're donating organic, biodegradable pads– of the same quality as our tampons– and activating a unique dual giving model to employ those same women to produce, package, and sell the pads using a cottage industry system and innovative manufacturing technology pioneered in India.[divider type="short" spacing="10"]
I love that your mandate is so clear in supporting women (and periods)– can you speak to the role feminism plays in Conscious Period?
[dropcap background="no" color="#333333"]T[/dropcap]hank you! We are so proud of our messaging, and feminism plays a big part in how we run and operate our company, serve vulnerable populations of women, and meet our customers where they are. Feminism is essential to our mandate; we believe more than anything in the power of giving women real options and allowing them to choose the right products for themselves, and we seek to serve women who can't afford period products in the most respectful ways possible.
Plus, there are few issues in feminism or elsewhere that are as universal to all women as menstruation. While many are fortunate enough to never have worried about how they’ll be able to afford period products month to month, many others are struggling to make ends meet and have to make sacrifices in taking care of their menstrual needs. Regardless of her financial situation, every woman everywhere has experienced a time when she was caught off-guard without a tampon or pad when she needs it most. That is a really powerful pain point and a tremendously relatable experience that provides an important point of connection among all women, everywhere.[divider type="white" spacing="10"]
What have been the hardest, and best parts of running a startup?
[dropcap background="no" color="#333333"]T[/dropcap]he hardest part of running a startup is the instability that comes from bringing a dream into fruition– it can be draining, frustrating, and really daunting at times.
As a very young company, we feel the ups and downs dramatically. The best part is the flexibility that comes with that instability– we can constantly innovate, pivot, and dream big... and when all goes well we see the fruits of our labor very quickly. Even better, though, is our partnership. We are truly a meeting of minds and a tremendous team, and we love working together, supporting each other, pushing each other forward, and learning and growing together. No matter how tough or wonderful it gets, it is so much more rewarding to share this journey with a partner.[divider type="short" spacing="10"]
What advice would you give to a woman thinking of starting her own socially/environmentally conscious business?
[dropcap background="no" color="#333333"]T[/dropcap]he biggest piece of advice we could give to any woman starting any business is to believe in herself and her vision more than anything. Being an entrepreneur doesn’t mean being fearless, but having a clear vision and enacting it with tremendous integrity can have big rewards. Both of us have meditation and yoga practices and work really hard to be the best versions of ourselves– openly and honestly– to build the best business we can.[divider type="white" spacing="10"]
Any plugs you want to give or cool upcoming initiatives you want our readers to know about? Or last thoughts you want to leave them with?
[dropcap background="no" color="#333333"]W[/dropcap]e will be officially launching in April and, until then, Conscious Period tampons are still available for pre-order through ConsciousPeriod.com. We are hard at work gearing up for launch and people can follow us (@ConsciousPeriod) on social media for a behind-the-scenes glimpse as we put the final touches on packaging, start to ship out Indiegogo orders, and more.