1. Why did you found your startup, which problem do you address and how do you solve it?
My co-founder, Sinja, and I traveled to India in 2016 and realized a huge taboo around the female menstruation. When women and girls are on their periods, they are not allowed to visit holy places or go to school. Arriving back in Germany, we noticed that even in our modern society, modern women still behave weirdly around their menstruation: We hide our tampon in a fist on our way to the toilet for example. The first idea was to finally end the taboo around this topic by introducing a loud, positive and well-designed brand to the market that ends the shady feeling you get when you buy your tampons in the last corner of a drugstore.
2. What gave you the idea to found The Female Company?
As said, the idea for a “new brand” was born. But when we talked to women or “our target market”, we found that nobody really knew what’s inside the product. We were kind of shocked that nobody seemed to think about what tampons are made of. Delivering a transparent and reliable solution was key and we decided to start working with organic cotton. There was also no great D2C service yet.
3. What is special about your business-model, what are you doing differently?
What we as The Female Company currently are, is the perfect period service. What we want to become in the future: The number one online drugstore for women providing organic and sustainable solutions for our daily challenges. We’ve been the first tampon subscription in Germany and built a strong brand during the last two years. And we never stop innovation: Besides organic pads and liners, we just recently launched the first organic tampon in paper wrapper. At the same time we are a social business: With every subscription, one woman in India also receives a product.
4. Which were the biggest challenges you needed to overcome in the beginning?
Our supply chain probably. You have to imagine: It’s a products that’s regularly used and needed so manufacturers didn’t really experience any changes in the past. There was simply no need to. During our first months in business, it was even hard to find someone who is willing to produce tampons out of organic cotton. Changing the plastic wrapper to paper took as over one year.
5. What was the most valuable advice somebody gave to you during your foundation phase?
One of our former startup colleagues told us: “Being co-founders is like a marriage. But without make-up sex.” Sounds a little weird but it’s fundamentally true. A co-founder relationship can make or break the success of a company.
6. What was your greatest success so far?
That’s easy: We started fighting against the unfair tampon tax with our so-called Tampon Book. What started with a crazy marketing idea, went through press around all over the world and tripled our web traffic within days. That’s already awesome but what makes it a real highlight: We were invited to the German Bundestag one week after we launched the book, talking to several politicians. And now: The German finance minister decided to reduce the tampon tax to 7% by January 2020. It’s just awesome to have a real (political) impact with your company!
7. What is your biggest need/your next challenge?
We are currently moving to Berlin and starting in a new city with many new employees is gonna be exciting. I think we are in that stage, where we have to build a fundamental and sustainable organization that lasts. So far, many interns and young talents have been part of the company, I think 2020 is more about hiring the greatest team that really drives growth in the future.
8. What would you recommend other founders?
Choose the right co-founder and never stop following your vision.
9. Where did you meet?
We met in university. We became really close friends and so it came, that we not only travelled together and ended up becoming business partners.