This was the year that I began to research my feminine hygiene products. Admittedly, I am not a woman who enjoys her period. When I am doubled over with cramps, irritable, and exhausted for up to 6 days at a time, I do not feel connected to my womanhood. Honestly, I feel annoyed and am waiting for the time to pass.
As an attempt to bypass these emotions of annoyance and frustration, I opted to use only organic cotton products and try a period product subscription service. Gone are the days of going to Whole Foods in my sweatpants at 9pm on a Wednesday night only to fill my shopping basket with organic cotton pads, tampons, and overpriced chocolate.
Upon discovering Cora, I was immediately intrigued by their model that gives back to women in need. Functioning as a subscription service, Cora gives a supply of pads to a girl in need for every monthly supply purchased. Furthermore, their tampon design is sleek and modern – unlike some organic tampons that can feel overly flowery. Inspired by this company that has created an experience for the modern menstruating woman, I reached out to founder Molly Hayward to chat about feminism, philanthropy, and more!
LF: Molly, as the founder of a tampon company, what is the greatest misconception you hear about feminine hygiene products?
MG: The greatest misconception women have is that all tampons are created equal, but the truth is that though they look like cotton, many conventional brands use synthetics like rayon and polyester in their products, as well as conventional cotton produced with pesticides and chemicals that are harmful to both humans and the environment. This was one of the driving forces behind Cora: Create period care products that are both better for women’s bodies, and better for the environment and the people producing them.
The other misconception is that all women have the products they need to manage their periods, but in fact millions of women and girls globally are unable to access and afford the period products they need, and will stay home from work or school during their periods, or use unsanitary materials like newspaper or rags to absorb their flow. That’s why with every Cora product purchased, we provide period care products and reproductive health education to a girl in need in a developing country. By 2018 we will have given over a million pads to girls in India and Kenya.
We also periodically give products domestically to women’s shelters and for disaster relief efforts. We’ve given close to 100,000 products to women in need in the U.S. so far.
LF: Tell us a bit about your journey working for women’s human rights and socio-economic empowerment. How did it begin? What sparked this passion?
MH: My desire to work on behalf of women and girls in need started in college when I had the opportunity to travel and study in Cambodia and Vietnam. Seeing the devastation of extreme poverty, and knowing that women’s education is paramount to poverty alleviation and peace throughout the world, I was inspired to devote my life to supporting businesses, social enterprises, and organizations that work to ensure every girl and woman has the chance to go to school and pursue her dreams.
LF: Who are your top 5 inspirations?
MH: 1. The girls we support in India and Kenya with products and reproductive health education
3. The community of Cora women who are making better, more conscious, empowered choices when it comes to their bodies, while also helping a girl on the other side of the world. Our tribe is amazing.
4. The awakened, powerful women in my life who I am blessed to call friends, teachers, teammates, and family. They have shown me what’s possible when women can experience their full power.
5. The woke men who have shown up to support me and Cora, because they know that it’s not just a women’s issue – it’s a human one.
LF: What does self-care look like for you?
MH: Meditation, breath work, yoga, spinning, hikes, time with my soul friends, long hot baths, long mornings in bed dreaming.
LF: How have you seen your own perspective on feminism evolve since starting Cora?
MH: In the years since starting Cora, I have begun to understand the depth of the social and cultural illness that allows women – particularly women of color and minority women – to continue to have to fight for their fullest rights and equality. While it can feel painful and overwhelming, it gives even greater purpose to the work I do. I now see it from the perspective of all humanity. The rise of the feminine will heal all people everywhere.
LF: Where do you see yourself in five years?
MH: I see myself continuing to spend the majority of my time advocating for women and raising consciousness of the issues that affect them, and therefore all of society.
LF: How did you choose Cora’s charity partners?
MH: I spent a lot of time before launching Cora researching and meeting potential partner organizations. I chose to work with Aakar Innovations and Zana Africa because of their holistic and comprehensive approach to girls education and reproductive health and their deep connections to the communities in which they work.
LF: What plans does Cora have in the pipeline for 2018?
MH: In 2018 Cora will continue to expand its offerings to women who want to build a more positive relationship with their bodies while helping a girl in need – including innovative new products, content, and collaborations to further our social impact globally.
LF: How fast do you live?
MH: Only as fast as I have to! While Cora as a business runs at warp speed, my favorite pace is one that allows for reflection, visioning, and making the big plans. That’s the place where I connect to the greatest source of insight and inspiration.