Women-Led Start-Ups: The Black Sheep or the Trojan Horse?
Trace is a revolutionary period product company, making the world’s first Hemp fiber and Climate Beneficial (™) Cotton tampon. We believe in listening to what our bodies, our earth, and her people want. For us, that starts with changing the tampon industry for the better. We are making huge changes in period care—with the first material innovation in tampons in over 30 years! As women healthcare providers, we know first-hand what people with periods have been asking for–and we’re delivering. We’ve raised over $700,000 so far to pioneer the changes driving the industry forward, and we’re making waves.
“Wow, your product is SO needed! When can I buy it?!”
-Women and menstruators we have told about our tampons.
“The eco-friendly period care market is too saturated. Women don’t need more choices.”
- Random investors (we have a feeling they haven’t talked to anyone about periods…maybe ever).
There is a divide between conscious consumers and the sustainable tampons they want.
There seems to be a vast divide between consumers and investors when it comes to improving tampons. Why is the divide between what consumers want and what investors want to put their money into so large? Tech startups for the latest apps seem to be a dime a dozen, yet they easily generate millions of invested dollars to begin their companies just based on concepts. As people with periods, we know that we want more tampon choices–especially choices that are more eco-friendly, sustainable, and organic. Finding eco-friendly tampons shouldn’t be this hard! Yet the predominantly male field of investing in startups seems just not to get it sometimes. (Disclaimer: Our male investors are the exception–we love you! You get it! Go teach your friends!)
There is a huge gap that our women co-founders find themselves addressing over and over: Explaining to investors why sustainable period care matters and why it is an excellent investment opportunity. I mean, we use tampons every single month! Periods aren’t going anywhere! Do we really need another app? What gives?
Let's make tampons the topic of investors' conversations.
So. Here’s the thing: There simply aren’t many women in start-up land. It’s not a very fostering environment for females due to multiple reasons– traditional culture, lack of resources, expectations for work/life balance and schedules, self-imposed beliefs, minority status…the list goes on. In fact, only 2% of venture capital money goes to women founders! Due to a lack of women’s and menstruators’ voices in C-Suites, meeting tables, and bro lunches, there is a gap between female/menstruator consumers’ demands and companies products. We hear it over and over: Why can’t companies just make what we actually want?
The good news is that women, minorities, and people who bleed are starting new companies each day. They bring fresh ideas and consumer demands directly into the boardroom. And the attention is definitely there. Not a day goes by that our inboxes aren’t flooded with inspiring stories of underrepresented founders making a name for themselves (and lots of dollars) in startup land. These groups tend to found mission-focused businesses that aim to disrupt their industries. They focus more on consumers and have better customer care and customer listening. And boy, can they stretch a dollar! (Remember how your mom used to feed 3 kids with a pound of hamburger and some noodles for $5?)
We can bring better choices to the tampon aisle.
Female and minority startups have grind and they are out there doing their thing because they believe in themselves and their products. They are changing huge industries in massive ways. For example, large period care companies have lost over 5% market share to lifestyle brands over the past 2 years alone! The cash speaks for itself: and patrons are choosing to spend theirs on brands that serve them more than just a cheap plastic tampon. They DO want choices. The money flows where the heart goes, baby!
As women with a startup company, there are definitely days we feel defeated. How many times are we going to have to explain that a large percentage of people buy one box of 16ct tampons every month, on average? That we want more options when it comes to period care than when it comes to bags of chips? It seems unending. But then there are days when we can really see our work paying off. We have tons of male investors that have learned about periods and gotten more excited than we ever dreamed (can we talk about one of our partners that wanted to put on a tampon costume at our last trade show??). We see them putting dollars in smart places that others may be ignoring. Periods may not be as sexy as the next techy wristwatch, but they sure aren’t going anywhere. We will always ALWAYS need period products. And we are always searching for products better for us and the planet.
Activate superpowers for better period products...GO!
Overall, we don’t see being women founders as a difficulty; we see it as a superpower. We know our special gift sets, listening skills, relationship building, and strategic planning are all amazingly helpful in founding a successful business that will stand the test of time. We are ready to bring our unique talents and savvy intellect into every board room, and we know we have a place there–at the HEAD of the table. We will change this industry from the inside out. And we know we have enough people who believe in us to make it happen. So in the end, we are really grateful to be the black sheep of the industry–We’ll show them what we and our fellow period people really want, and we’ll make it happen.