Non-organic tampons are so 2015.
Our mission at tabú is to connect young adults with relevant and informative content, as well as some kick a$$ brands in the sexual health and wellness space. We seek to highlight innovators and thought leaders doing incredible, meaningful work that empowers consumers to take control of their sexual health. One such company that embodies this objective is LOLA tampons. We talked to Alex Friedman and Jordana Kier, the founders of LOLA, about the landscape for menstruation innovation and what we all need to know about mainstream tampons.
What inspired you to create LOLA?
We’re both tampon users (have been for decades!), and we started off thinking about how inconvenient it was every time we got our periods and didn’t have tampons on hand. So the original concept for LOLA was all about convenience, but as we started doing research into the tampon industry, we realized we didn’t know what was in the products that we’d been using for years. The companies we were buying from weren’t required to disclose a complete list of ingredients, so they didn’t. That was so crazy to us! This is a product that we put inside the most absorbent part of our bodies. So, we decided to create a natural product, a more convenient way to get it, and a brand that was totally transparent. Thus, LOLA was born.
Why did you choose to focus on tampons (vs. other menstrual products)?
We’re both tampon users, and it made sense for us to start with a product that we use. We also thought that, of all the menstrual products, this one would really resonate with women because you’re actually putting it inside your body — so you should know what’s in it. And it wasn’t just us: tampons are the most popular menstrual product for women under the age of 41. That being said, we’re definitely planning on expanding to other products in the near future!
Who would you describe as your target customer?
She’s generally healthy and cares about exercising, eating right, and being informed about what’s in her products. But, like most women, she’s never stopped to think about what is in her tampons. After all, if she cares about the ingredients in the food she eats and the beauty products she uses, why shouldn’t she care about what’s in her tampons?
A key differentiator for you guys is that your tampons are 100% cotton. What are some common misconceptions about the majority of tampons on the market, and what can women do to better inform themselves about the products they are using?
A lot of people assume that the tampons they’re using are cotton (because tampons are typically white), which isn’t necessarily the case. The FDA doesn’t require companies to disclose their ingredients, so most don’t. If you look at tampon boxes in the drug store, you’ll commonly see ingredients listed using language like “This product may contain…” which doesn’t exactly answer any questions! The biggest thing women can do to better inform themselves is start looking at the ingredients panels on their current feminine care products the same they would a food or beauty product. If you don’t understand the list, don’t feel like you know what’s in there, or can’t get comprehensive answers from the brand, time to pick another product!
What are the greatest challenges you have faced in building the company? What advice do you have for budding entrepreneurs?
Hiring is always a challenge! Finding the right people to do the jobs you need now and in the long-term while making sure you’re building a positive culture is definitely challenging.
Some of the best advice we’ve received (and now always give) is to remember to take it one day at a time. In order to hit your 12 month goals, you need to break it down into smaller, digestible goals. Also, use your network! Make sure you’re talking to people who are building similar (and dissimilar) companies about what worked and didn’t — we frequently find learnings from other companies that can apply to our own challenges at LOLA.
Where do you see menstruation innovation heading? How do you think the ongoing conversation around period taboos will shape the future of the industry?
It feels like periods are having a real moment — NPR actually dubbed 2015 “The Year of the Period,” and we completely agree. Every day, we see women engaging in more open and honest conversations about their experiences with menstruation than we saw when we started building the business two years ago. And this openness is really paving the way for women to expect more from the brands and products in their lives.
When you think about it, this is a category where there has been little to no innovation for the past 80 years. The last major innovation in menstrual care was the applicator tampon in 1931. Since most (if not all) of the big brands are run by men, and menstruation isn’t a experience men have, they aren’t looking to improve the category. In recent years, it’s been exciting to see female business leaders step up to the plate, identify the opportunities for innovation, and work passionately to make these products better for themselves and for other women.
What is your vision for LOLA?
Our vision is the be a wellness brand that every woman can look to for information and products she needs through every stage of her reproductive life: from the moment she gets her first period through menopause and beyond, and everything in between. We’re so thrilled to be part of the conversation around feminine care and reproductive health over the past two years, and can’t wait for what’s to come.
tabú connects young adults with trustworthy and engaging answers to their sex ed questions by connecting them to certified health experts and peer to peer support.