Ladderworks is a publishing platform of diverse picture books and online curriculum with the mission to empower over a million kids to become social entrepreneurs. Our current series features interviews by our interplanetary journalist Spiffy with inspiring Social Entrepreneurs and Entrepreneurship Ecosystem Builders, who are advancing the UN SDGs.
Hey, friends! It's Spiffy, back again on Planet Earth with an eye on entrepreneurs making the world a more equitable place! I have another great interview for you this week. Today, I’m excited to cruise around with Claire Coder, the founder and CEO of Aunt Flow. Let’s see what she’s been up to!
Spiffy: Thanks for joining me, Claire! Tell me, what challenge are you addressing through your startup?
Claire: Glad to be with you, Spiffy! Aunt Flow is on a mission to ensure every person has access to free, high-quality period products. It’s safe to say that most menstruators have had the experience of getting their period in public unexpectedly without a tampon or pad on hand. We shouldn’t have to rely on those clunky, coin-operated dispensers because let’s face it: who carries a quarter around these days? Pads and tampons should be offered for free anyways, just like toilet paper is. BOTH are necessities. I want to ensure that no one ever has to worry about having access to period products, and that’s the challenge we’re addressing at Aunt Flow.
Spiffy: That’s awesome! What motivated you to tackle this challenge?
Claire: When I got my period at an event without the supplies I needed, I thought to myself, “Toilet paper is offered for free; why aren’t tampons and pads?” This question just kept coming back to me. After doing some research, I found that nobody else had solved this problem. So, I decided to start what is now known as Aunt Flow! Ever since, I’ve dedicated my life to developing a solution to ensure businesses and schools could sustainably provide free period products in bathrooms.
Spiffy: How would you say you and your team are working towards a more equitable world?
Claire: Aunt Flow is committed to ensuring EVERYONE has access to period products, and we do so through a number of initiatives. From the get-go, we implemented a donation program so that for every ten tampons or pads sold, one would be donated to a menstruator in need. Not only are we committed to menstrual equity, but we choose to be inclusive with our language to create a gender-inclusive community. Instead of “feminine hygiene products,” we refer to all period products as “period products.” Aunt Flow is also committed to sustainability with our organic cotton period products.
Spiffy: Tell me about a recent organizational milestone or initiative. What impact does that make on your audience?
Claire: Recently, Utah passed HB 162, a bill that requires K-12 schools in Utah to provide free period products in their bathrooms. As a result of this legislation, K-12 schools across the state now have access to free period products. Aunt Flow is so excited to be the company selected to provide free-vend dispensers and organic cotton period products for Utah students. How did we celebrate this INSANE effort? A Period Party®! Members of the Aunt Flow team and myself traveled to Salt Lake City, where we spent an evening packing 3,000 period kits for those in need across the state. We hope to inspire other states to follow in Utah’s footsteps by advocating for menstrual equity at their own schools.
Spiffy: Please share an experience when you faced failure and didn't give up. What did you learn from it?
Claire: 2020 was a year many startups faced failure. Although periods don’t stop for a pandemic, Aunt Flow relies on people menstruating outside of the home. I knew Aunt Flow needed to do something and fast. So, I thought about what Aunt Flow is truly GREAT at and used it to build a strategy and pivot the business. We began retooling our pad production to make FDA Approved 3-PLY masks. My team linked arms, and we started building Work Flow. While Work Flow has since discontinued, we were able to donate over 1 million masks to people in need and continue to make a difference!
Spiffy: Thanks for speaking with me today, Claire—it’s been an honor!
Claire Coder is the founder and CEO of Aunt Flow. On a mission to ensure everyone has access to period products, Aunt Flow stocks thousands of companies across the USA with their organic cotton tampons and pads. (First published on the Ladderworks website on December 8, 2022.)
© 2022 Ladderworks LLC. Edited by George Romar. Spiffy’s illustration by Shreyas Navare. For the Ladderworks digital curriculum to help K-3 kids advance the UN SDGs, visit Spiffy's Launchpad: Creative Entrepreneurship Workshops for K-3 Kids and their caregivers here.