When Claire Coder recognized there was a need in certain communities for tampons and other period products, she stepped up to fill it. She is truly a Millennial with a mission, and she has some great advice to share with us!'As I continue to learn more about the struggles of menstruators, I just can’t give up.' -Claire CoderClick To Tweet
1. Hi, Claire! Tell us a bit about yourself.
Hi, Miss Millennia! Well, I am the 19-year-old founder and CEO of Aunt Flow. Aunt Flow is a buy-one, give-one subscription box for 100% cotton tampons and pads. Whoops, sometimes it’s hard not to think of me and the business as one in the same. A bit more about me…I got my first pair of overalls at age 19 and it is my second favorite outfit after my Aunt Flow t-shirt, jeans, and grey converse. If I am not responding to emails, you can find me breaking it down to Macklemore, pretending I understand Google ads, and eating cookies.
2. We love how passionate you are about the movement to normalize menstruation. Can you tell us a bit about how you’ve come to care so much for this cause?
My mother, an art therapist, frequently dealt with menstruating clients struggling with basic needs. She never shied away from sharing with me the realities of life, and would explain to me that the women she served often wore plastic bags and multiple layers of clothing when on their periods; it was easier to soil garments than to get a tampon. I didn’t understand why. I always had an awareness of this issue, but it wasn’t until I started work full time on Aunt Flow did I realize that tampons and pads aren’t covered by food stamps or WIC, and in most states, they are taxed as a luxury item. As I continue to learn more about the struggles of menstruators, I just can’t give up.
3. How did you get from this idea of supporting others who also menstruate to starting Aunt Flow?
Honestly, it all happened quite quickly. I was at a Startup Weekend in 2015, during my first semester of college. The energy was high, but the only thing I could think about were the cramps I had from my period. I knew I could go home and grab a tampon later that night, but it got me thinking about those that couldn’t, and from there I ran with the idea of ensuring all menstruators had access to the products they need. Following Startup Weekend, I dropped out of college, picked up a few waitressing jobs, and went full time on my startup, Aunt Flow.
4. Can you tell us a bit more about Aunt Flow’s mission?
As I mentioned, Aunt Flow is a buy-one, give-one subscription box for 100% cotton tampons and pads. Menstruators (or anyone) can go to Aunt Flow’s Website, customize a box of 18 pieces, and have it delivered to their doorstep each month. For every box they purchase, we donate one to people without access to menstrual products in the US. First and foremost, Aunt Flow is built on a foundation of inclusivity. We believe everyone should have access to menstrual products, regardless of economic status, gender, or location. Aunt Flow is much larger than a product company – it’s a movement. We’re breaking the taboo on menstruation, because the sooner we aren’t afraid to say the word “period,” the sooner we can get menstrual products into the hands of those that need them.'We believe everyone should have access to menstrual products' -Claire CoderClick To Tweet
5. What kinds of obstacles have you faced as you have worked to start your own business?
In Aunt Flow’s first year of business, I have raised $47,000 via crowdfunding, taken on an employee, been featured in Forbes & Teen Vogue, named best startup in Columbus, gathered over 10,000 pieces to donate, and I am selling 100% cotton tampons and pads all across the United States. Sounds great, right? Aunt Flow has been fortunate enough to have some big successes within the last year, but it looks far more glamorous on paper than when I think about my everyday life. That list of accomplishments doesn’t include the all-nighters, weight gain, unpaid hours, and all the time trying to pretend everything was “okay.” Being 19 has been great for media angles, but it can be difficult for investors to take me seriously. You have to get a bit scrappy.
6. Did you ever imagine you’d be a business owner at the age of 19?
Actually, I was a business owner at age 16. I owned a promotional products company that successfully employed eight independent distributors. I was able to exit the business before I started college. Speaking of which – I never wanted to go to college, I went because my it was what my parents expected of me. I blew through one semester, skipping classes for networking events and to see what Columbus had to offer. So while I wasn’t always sure I’d end up a business owner again at 19, it definitely feels right.
7. Do you have any advice for other Millennial women who want to start a business?
I tell all new entrepreneurs, “Starting a company is hard. Starting a company that only half the population can truly relate to is even harder. Starting a company surrounding something that no one wants to talk about is f*cking difficult.” But it’s worth it when you have a meaningful drive. Also, Google. I wanted to know how to raise money, so I Googled it. I ended up with a successful Crowdrise campaign that raised $25,000.
8. How can readers of Miss Millennia Magazine help you reach your goals?
Menstruators, FlowBros, and ANYONE can go to Aunt Flow’s website and subscribe for $13/month. For every box you purchase, one will be donated to our beneficiary organizations. On Team NoFlow? Just a $5 donation can support a menstruator for an entire month.
Thank you, Claire!
You can follow Aunt flow on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram! @goauntflow on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram!