Let’s start with Cora, a subscription service for organic tampons with black packaging that bears closer resemblance to a lipstick than to a shiny yellow plastic bullet. But the brand is not just content with being pretty. For every month of Cora tampons you buy, Cora provides one month’s worth of pads to women and girls in need in India through its partner, Aakar Innovations.
Then there’s Thinx underwear. You’ve likely come across the cheeky ads for its ultra-absorbent (and cute) underwear that offers an alternative to pads, tampons, and cups. Newcomer feminine-care brand Lola will ship you 100 percent organic cotton tampons, pads, and panty liners right on schedule. Lola also recently created a refreshingly elevated period starter kit for girls.
And women are behind all of this. For decades, a handful of companies have dominated the $15 billion feminine hygiene space. But today impressive startup companies led by female entrepreneurs are finally disrupting it.
“Feminine care as an industry had been stale for such a long time, so it was overdue for innovation,” said Alex Friedman, a cofounder of Lola. “As women, we’re naturally more prepared to know how to make periods better, simply because we’ve had years of firsthand experience.” When starting her business, Friedman and her cofounder, Jordana Kier, decided to create a period experience they would want themselves.
They’ll Actually Make Your Period Better
“We’ve actually had women tell us that Cora makes them look forward to their periods because it’s such a beautiful and grown-up experience.”
“Business is a powerful force in this world, and we believe in using it to make the world better for women and in turn everyone else too,” she explained.
If you want to see what things look like when women aren’t driving the conversation around menstruation, look no further than the so-called tampon tax. In many US states, tampons and other feminine care products are not tax exempt like other medical necessities. Instead, tampons and pads are treated as a luxury item, which means you pay an additional four percent at checkout. Think about how crazy that is: tampons and pads are officially considered “nonessential” items in many parts of the US. If they’re so nonessential, why are disadvantaged girls around the world missing school when they get their periods and don’t have access to pads or tampons?
Obviously, menstruation is not a choice, so why does the government act like it is? Perhaps because our government is often disproportionately run by men. Note that medical necessities and prescription drugs like Viagra are not taxed, yet tampons are. According to California legislator Cristina Garcia, each California woman spends $7 per month for tampons and pads over the course of four decades. When taxed, that gives the state $20 million in revenue each year. In 2016, she introduced a bill to end the tax in America’s most populous state, but California Governor Jerry Brown vetoed it, citing budget concerns. Apparently, fiscal responsibility relies on women getting their periods.