Molly Hayward of Cora is On a Mission to Create a World Where Every Woman has the Products and Information She Needs to Manage her Period and Her Health Safely

Entrepreneur Molly Howard has come up with a new way of looking at feminine hygiene products as well as new ways to access them. Her company Cora address some of the limitations we’ve been living with, which include both the lack of awareness around the ingredients in tampons, as well as lack of access to menstrual products in developing countries.

Cora sells safely manufactured organic tampons with BPA-free plastic applicators that are free of fragrances, deodorants, rayon, and synthetics. Their products are designed to be comfortable as well as high functioning, and they even have chic looking tampon boxes and cases that don’t scream “period.” A convenient delivery service that sends tampons to your door every three months means you’ll always be stocked.

In addition to providing a revolutionary product, Cora also provides all-natural, sustainable, and biodegradable pads to women who wouldn’t otherwise have access to menstrual products. The company adds up their monthly sales in tampons domestically and matches that amount in the purchase of pads for women in India, where one in four girls drops out of school when they get their first period. This initiative provides local jobs to women in the area, as well as provides feminine hygiene products for some of the 88 percent of women who do not have regular access to them.

Where did the inspiration to start an organic tampon company originate? Were you already committed to organic living?

I found myself traveling as a volunteer in Kenya and learned girls there often stayed home during their periods. After learning this, I knew I wanted to create a brand that could represent the smart, modern, sophisticated woman while helping to provide products to girls in need around the world. I have always had a personal interest in sustainability and organic living.

The importance of organic for Cora came after I did some research on the feminine hygiene industry. I learned the FDA doesn’t require feminine care brands to fully disclose the ingredients in their tampons, meaning the industry lacks transparency and any sort of regulation. Having an entire industry of personal products minimally regulated by the FDA allows many chemicals, and toxins to fly under the radar, many women literally have no idea what they are putting in their bodies, or the long term effects.

Cotton is widely known as a very dirty cropped usually sprayed with chemicals. Organic cotton, on the other hand, contains only premium, safe-for-you cotton that is never bleached or treated with chemicals. I created Cora to improve women’s lives while they are on their periods by offering a product with 100% transparency.

How did the work you were doing before Cora prepare you for creating a brand of your own?

I spent much of my early career working at startups. I began with a socially responsible e-commerce company, which I joined right out of college, to then starting my own sustainable clothing brand in the UK. My focus and passion for economic development and social impact through business is the backbone of Cora.

How is your product different than other alternatives on the market?

Currently, organic tampons and feminine care products truly are taking the spotlight. I am thrilled Cora exists at a time when there are other similar products on the shelves and the period stigma is slowly dissolving. Unlike many conventional tampon brands that have not seen innovation in decades, Cora is raising the bar domestically and has created 100% certified organic cotton tampons in modern and chic packaging.

Our mission at Cora is to revolutionize the period experience for women everywhere both domestically and internationally. Cora’s social mission was the reason I created the business — it was not just an add-on. Our social change is scalable and allows our customers to know that they are helping someone else. For every Cora box purchased domestically, Cora donates a month’s worth of sustainable, plant-based pads to girls in India and Kenya.

Our mission at Cora is to revolutionize the period experience for women everywhere both domestically and internationally. Cora’s social mission was the reason I created the business — it was not just an add-on. Our social change is scalable and allows our customers to know that they are helping someone else. For every Cora box purchased domestically, Cora donates a month’s worth of sustainable, plant-based pads to girls in India and Kenya.

Tell me about Cora’s give back mission and why you felt compelled to start that.

While traveling throughout developing countries, I saw firsthand that periods were preventing girls from attending school. Many women in these countries are unable to afford menstrual products and resort to using old rags, newspapers, animal dung and tree bark — all of which can cause infections and reproductive health problems.

On a global scale, we seek to help girls stay in school when they get their period by providing healthy solutions in the form of sanitary pads. With access to these pads, many girls in places like India and Africa will be able to increase their school attendance by as much as 90 percent. We also work with domestic partners to donate tampons to women’s homeless shelters around the United States. We’ve given thousands of products to multiple women’s shelters and organizations that provide products to women in need, including Period.org, The Bowery Mission, NY Rescue Mission, and Simply the Basics.

What’s next?

Cora is on a mission to create a world where every woman has the products and information she needs to manage her period and her health safely. This year, our goal is to give over 1 million products to girls and women in need both here in the U.S. and overseas.

 

Want to try Cora? Start a free trial HERE

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Kate Ferguson is a Los Angeles local and freelance writer for a variety of genres. Her experience spans blogging, creative writing, screenwriting, and journalism for digital and print magazines. When she's not writing, the UC Davis graduate is focused on pursuits of the entertainment industry, spin class, and hot sauce. Find her on social media @KateFerg
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