Many of us don't think of our feminine care products unless it's that time of the month or you're in the midst of purchasing them. In the past, we have purchased a number of pink, blue and white boxes and quickly store them in whatever cubbies only to reach out for them when needed. There was no thought given to its aesthetic nature, how one can give a tampon at work (clutch) without feeling awkward, or simply being able to have it packaged better when sitting on your vanity (in a clean and minimal refillable box).
The fact is that on average, women spend nearly 40 years of their life menstruating (that breaks out to seven years cumulatively) , we use over 10,000 tampons, and 90% of them contain materials that are harmful to our bodies. The need to ensure that care and attention is given to all of our bodies and not just what you see on the outside is an essential!
We sat down with Molly Hayward, co-founder of Cora which is revolutionizing feminine care products that not only allow us to customize them for our needs and to purchase them within a subscription; moreover, they assist girls and women in third world countries as well.
ATHLEISURE MAG: Before we can get to the packaging of Cora, we were struck how a woman is truly able to customize her membership and quantity - how did this take place?
MOLLY HAYWARD: That was something that I was very adamant about when I was first talking with the brand. You have to be customizable. You go on Lola – they have a standard 18 pack and when you’re talking about a subscription that is coming every month or 3 months or whatever it may be, this is one product where one size definitely does not fit all. Every woman is totally different and the customization piece is really important. Sometimes I wish we could allow women to do so even further, but what we offer now seems to adequately serve almost everyone. We almost never have women reaching out to request 8 instead of 6. We’ve broken it down to categories that pretty much cover everyone.
AM: Are there going to be extensions of this brand?
MH: We know that we can’t fully serve women without expanding our product offerings – it’s a given. The rationale for offering tampons as our initial product is just because when it comes to organic and the health element, that is the product that you are most directly exposing yourself to any chemicals, synthetics, etc. We felt that if there is one that should be organic – it should be the tampon and the one that women should switch from. We also want to be a full service one stop shop when it comes to women and their periods. We realize the need for a line extension in the not too distant future.
AM: Would you ever have curated boxes by celebrities/personalities?
MH: A: We haven’t really thought of any collaborations in terms of additional brands and products. We think of collaborations and products in terms of the components in our signature kit – clutch and box. There are definite opportunities for us to partner with creatives and other individuals to do one off takeovers. I think it would be really cool.
AM: In terms of packaging, did you have to go through all of the color assortments before selecting the black and white one?
MH: We went through a whole gamut of design inspirations. We created 6 or 7 moodboards of directions that we could go. Really the first step was just pulling together brands and design and everything across the spectrum of the lifestyle of our woman our target consumer. We pulled everything we could from color design, to products, fashion, makeup to where she vacations and what kind of car she drives and we really kind of created 7 different themes. Then we narrowed it down from there. We thought long and hard about the vision that embodied what we wanted to convey. The simplification, clean, simple and in certain ways basic – more mature feeling that we feel is a part of our value proposition. This identity captured all those things. It was very deliberate and really an intensive process and to see which one spoke to what we are trying to represent as a brand.
AM: Is Cora doing in-person events, Fashion Week plan etc?
MH: We are doing a few things right now. We don’t have anything solid at this point in terms of Fashion Week although we have talked with some people who have expressed an interest in having our presence there. As far as in person – we have a few things coming up. Most notably, is a couple of collaborations we’re doing with colleges and universities (this will be a growing list). We’ll be on campus with Vasser College as well as Stanford University in the fall providing Cora products in all the women’s public bathrooms on campus. This is a direct interaction with our customer. We are building out some events around that in the fall. It includes me coming to do a speaking event and then rallying the campus around those. We do have a campaign we are working on as well with a non-profit here in the US in order to provide menstrual products to women in homeless shelters here in the US. We’re working with them on a campaign to help them raise awareness and to provide Cora products for them to distribute. We'll have an event for that campaign in late Aug as well. We’re primarily digital at the moment.
Also worth noting, we are also present in Jessica Biel’s restaurant, Oh Fudge in West Hollywood. We stock their women’s rooms with products as an amenity. That’s been a really cool spot for us. She posted on her IG over the summer and she is actually a customer who reached out to us and loved what we were doing and asked if we would stock her bathrooms. That has been a very cool project to work on with her.
AM: How does Cora assist women around the world in underdeveloped countries?
MH: We have partnered with organizations in India that support adolescent girls education and produce an innovative, affordable, and biodegradable brand of high-quality sanitary pads, They are produced in small women owned and operated mini factories that can be set up in villages and slums. The mini factories create jobs for women and a sustainable, affordable, local source of biodegradable pads for all girls and women in the community.
Cora purchases pads from the mini factories, generating revenue for them, and then provides those at no cost to girls in local schools who otherwise couldn't afford them and would stay home during their periods.
Imported sanitary pads in developing countries are inaccessible or are too expensive for most women and girls. Gender inequality is reinforced as women are forced to stay home from school and work for days each month. In rural India, one in four adolescent girls drop out of school after their menstruating because of the inadequate menstrual protection like sanitary pads. Those who stay in school are absent about five days each month. Among girls that are given pads, the dropout rate goes down by 90%.
Read more from the Jul issue