Not all men are aware of women’s menstrual cycles and the importance of having menstrual products at a reachable distance. In addition, there is a stigma about menstruation that needs to be dismantled. Coder and her team at Aunt Flow work to #ShedTheStigma and educate the public about menstruation.
During a Columbus Startup event, Coder unexpectedly got her period without the supplies she needed. So, she had to leave the event filled with majority male participants to go buy tampons.
To address the inequity with a sustainable solution, at age 18, Coder founded Aunt Flow. Since its establishment in 2016, the business works towards its mission to ensure that “everyone has access to quality menstrual products.”
To accomplish its mission, the team at Aunt Flow provides 100% organic cotton tampons and pads to companies and organizations at no charge. Requests for menstrual products can be made on the Aunt Flow website. Coder believes that menstrual products should be made readily available for free since it is a necessity.
“Toilet paper is offered for free, why aren’t tampons and pads?” Claire states.
Launching a start-up is no easy work. She worked odd jobs to raise $1.5 million in order to stock and fund over 350 businesses and schools.
When the business was launched, what were some of the greatest fears? How and when were the fears overcome?
One obstacle with a B2B [business to business] menstrual product business is that some decision-makers—primarily men—don’t always see the need for products in their bathrooms. Because they’ve never personally had a period, they don’t always view tampons and pads as bathroom necessities, like toilet paper. However, the large majority of the operations and facilities, people, office managers and other business owners we’ve worked with are certified FLOW BROS. They get why freely-accessible products matter: they support menstruators AND help business’ bottom lines.
Aunt flow provides women with organic tampons and pads, which is quite different from major menstrual product brands. What is the importance of using organic ingredients?
Transparency is key when it comes to what we put in our bodies. Unfortunately, the FDA currently classifies tampons as ‘medical devices,’ and major menstrual product brands are not required to disclose their ingredients. If we take the extra time to go for an organic apple, why would menstruators want to put chemicals (including rayons, dyes, and toxins!) into their bodies? Our tampons and pads are made from 100% organic cotton and contain no dyes, perfumes, or other WEIRD stuff.
What advice do you have for aspiring female entrepreneurs?
Always believe in yourself and Google something when you’re not sure!
One of your accomplishments is being an advocate for making people comfortable when talking about menstruation. What are some initiatives that you have taken to advocate for this cause?
From the beginning, Aunt Flow has aimed to get people talking about menstruation and why menstrual stigma sucks. To #ShedTheStigma, we refer to our products as ‘menstrual products’ and ditched the term ‘feminine hygiene products.’ The latter implies that getting your period is somehow dirty or gross, when it’s just another normal bodily function. This verbiage is also inclusive of everyone who gets a flow, not just cisgender women. We use this same inclusive language on our social media to make people comfortable when talking about menstruation.
You have also stated that you are a “proud college drop-out.” How did you make this decision? What influenced your determination?
I have always had an entrepreneurial instinct, and I didn’t feel like college was giving me the tools needed for genuine social impact. I dropped out of college after one semester to fight for menstrual equity, and the rest is history!
What is a fun fact about you that not many people know?
I owned a company in high school called, “There’s a Badge For That” where I made trendy buttons, magnets and compact mirrors with different designs on them. I was a top seller on Etsy as a sixteen-year-old!
What are the future goals for the company?
Our team wants to ensure EVERYONE has access to quality menstrual products. Soon, we want to see our products supporting people in 1,000 businesses and schools.
Coder exhibited her entrepreneurial instincts early on. Her experience enhanced her career as a successful entrepreneur, who sheds the stigma on menstruation.