Meet Josie and Isabelle – These two inspirations are the Founders of The Monthly Co.; a social enterprise so brilliant that when you buy your box of tampons from The Monthly Co., which are 100% organic and don’t pollute your body with chemicals during your period like some of our commonly known brands do, they give a box to a woman at risk through Aviva ensuring that all women have sanitary products to use during their period.
Don’t they sound amazing?
Read below for more information on these absolute #Girlbosses in the interview I had with them after buying a t-shirt from The Monthly Co. that has the caption “Women Supporting Women” proudly embroidered on it – (I’ll post a pic of the t-shirt when it arrives all the way from Dunedin!)
1. Tell us a bit about yourself?
Isabelle (my co-founder) and I are both currently in our last year of university, with Isabelle studying law and environmental science. I finished my chemical engineering degree last year and am almost done with my masters in engineering management. Not very typical backgrounds for a tampon enterprise!
2. What were you doing the moment the idea for The Monthly Co. came about?
Isabelle and I were reading an article about how girls were missing school and women were missing work when they got their periods because they couldn’t afford period products, and we were shocked to hear this was happening in NZ. This was about the same time when we were talking about the potential to set up a business together, and so with the desire to help these women we formed our social enterprise.
3. Can you tell us what your greatest achievements are at The Monthly Co. so far?
Recently we crowdfunded our first shipment of organic cotton tampons, raising over $15,000! This is huge for us because it not only gives us the seed capital to kick start the business, but also gives us an amazing crowd. We also were in the University of Canterbury 85k Challenge, which we came runner up overall and winner of best business plan, awarded after a series of workshops and business presentations.
4. Why do you believe it’s important for all women to have access to period products?
Getting your period is a natural process that happens to roughly 50% of our population at some point in their lives, and we think it’s crazy there are women in NZ who are marginalised due to their lack of access to period products. Getting your period isn’t pleasant, but missing school and work because you can’t afford to manage it is pretty unacceptable, which is why we wanted to give women a way of supporting other women.
5. Can you talk us through how you set up The Monthly Co. for those out there who are aspiring to do good too?
I think the first thing we did is begin conversations with others about the business idea to gauge how they responded, and find out any ideas and suggestions they had! From there we found a trusted supplier, and made the big decision to crowdfund in order to give the business the kick start it needed. During this crowdfunding period we spent a lot of time promoting the campaign, and really pushing to get the word out about what we were doing.
6. How did you become so passionate about the ingredients and harsh chemicals in tampons, and subsequently find out how you could make them 100% organic?
During our search for a supplier we came across several articles that convinced us that organic cotton was the way to go when it came to sourcing the tampons. We wanted The Monthly Co. to be a business we were really proud of, and therefore we knew we had to sell tampons we trusted and would buy ourselves. Not only are organic cotton tampons better for you due to less chemicals being exposed to one of the most sensitive parts of your body, but it’s also much better for the environment. Organic cotton tampons are biodegradable, meaning they break down and are compostable, as opposed to synthetic tampons that take years, or may never break down.
7. Why did you choose to partner with Aviva?
When looking for a charity partner we wanted to find one that had a strong passion for helping women. Aviva was the first Women’s Refuge in NZ, and does amazing work with women experiencing financial hardship and/or family violence. Moving forward, and as The Monthly Co. grows, we would like to partner with charities across New Zealand, so that based on your location you would be able to support a charity in the area.
8. Do you have an inspiring story about some of the women you’ve met and worked with on this journey to build The Monthly Co.?
We have been incredibly lucky to have the support of many wonderful people, however Erin, our business mentor is very inspiring. Erin runs Narrative., which is a Christchurch company telling the story of businesses and running their campaigns. She recently had a wee baby boy and was back at work a week later, working her magic and being a true girl boss. I also had coffee with the Nope Sisters when I was in Wellington who run a tee shirt business, designing custom charity tees. The work they do is amazing, and if you haven’t checked them out then you definitely should.
9. How does it make you feel knowing you’re on a path to changing the lives of many women around New Zealand?
We’re really excited to not only help those who are currently struggling to access period products, but also help all the busy women out there! With more and more subscription services taking off (Toothcrush, My Food Bag etc.) we think there is great potential for us. We’re also excited at the prospect of helping all ladies out by hopefully making sure they never have to make a mad dash to the supermarket when caught short again.
10. If there was one message you could give to the people around New Zealand buying your tampons, what would you like to say?
We think it’s high time that people realise their purchasing power and look to spend their money with small businesses, or businesses making a conscious effort to do social/environmental good! To all those who supported us in our crowdfunding campaign, we want to thank you. We’re over the moon about being able to create The Monthly Co. and support women in New Zealand.
Check them out here for more information and show them and the women of New Zealand your support – www.themonthly.co.nz