For the next profile in our series of interviews with Hoyapreneurs, we chatted with Tampon Tribe co- founder Giana Korth. After reading her interview you'll see why so many people are signing up to be part of the tribe. Giana's infectious positivity and do-gooder spirit has helped Tampon Tribe take the female hygiene world by storm while her commitment to the triple-bottom line is very much in keeping with Georgetown's motto of Cura Personalis. Read the interview to see how Giana is doing well by doing good. If you're as psyched as we are about her mission to make tampons eco-friendly, healthy and affordable, then sign up and join the tribe!
1. Tampon Tribe is about promoting women's heath, sustainability and giving back. What was the inspiration behind it?
The idea was born from both a personal health and a convenience point of view. All women run out of tampons each month, which is kind of funny considering we have plenty of experience in this area…but, it just happens! At Tampon Tribe, we want to be the solution for all women rushing to the store under stress, or even worse, having to ask their partner to run the errand.
Our first idea was to simply create the ‘Dollar Shave Club’ for tampons. Tampons are an essential item for 70% of women in the U.S. We thought, “Wouldn’t it be a dream if tampons arrived at our front door every month?”
The more reading we did, the more we realized there were other issues to be addressed, like toxic shock syndrome, cervical cancer and environmental impact. Our search for materials changed as we segued over to the organic components, especially certified organic cotton. The next thought became, “Wouldn’t it be great if we could do this with organic AND sustainable products, and still keep the price low enough?” We’re still looking at a 55% profit margin relative to our costs, and that’s only at low purchasing levels.
Then we thought, “How can we create a business that is more inclusive?” We wanted to create a great ecosphere of people who want to get involved with our charitable endeavors. In this way, we hoped to create this great tribe of people who want to give back — and we have. We’re quite different from anyone else in the market, in that aspect as well. People want to get on board to become a part of Tampon Tribe. They want to wear the t-shirt. They want people to talk about tampons. They don’t want this common feminine product to be a taboo anymore. They want to help other women in need that don’t have access to any feminine hygiene products at all. They want to empower young girls that they too can make a difference and achieve anything they put their mind too, and on and on… Hence our motto of “changing the world, one delightfully organic and plastic-free tampon at a time!”
2. You are running Tampon Tribe while still working at Meltwater. What's it like juggling a full time job with your startup? How have you managed to keep your sanity?
Oh man, the million dollar question! I feel very blessed because I genuinely love what I do at both Tampon Tribe and Meltwater, so my passion definitely fuels me day in and day out. No doubt it’s a lot, and there are countless times where I need to be in two places at once, but I’ve learned to become much better at prioritizing and delegating. Every day I work on becoming more efficient, and really try to focus on things that are going to “move the needle” the most. I’m also not someone that needs an abundance of sleep. I’ll admit I need a lot more sleep than I used to in my college days, but I’m thankful not to be a prisoner to 8 hours+
Surfing and that So Cal vitamin D also play a big role in keeping me sane ☺
3. Did you take any classes that really shaped your thinking for Tampon Tribe while at Georgetown? If, so which ones.
Professor Finnerty’s Entrepreneurship class and my Sports Marketing class with Jimmy Lynn are the top two that come to mind. Sports Marketing taught me the importance of honing in on the consumer, especially understanding the psychology and practicality of purchasing decisions. My Entrepreneurship class opened my eyes in so many ways. Of course the technical experience of coming up with a new business venture idea, writing and presenting my first business plan, and learning how to forecast financials, etc. was invaluable. But more importantly, I learned that the most successful and happy entrepreneurs are the ones that are able to combine their personal “pillars” (or values) with solving a problem. That’s really where much of the inspiration for Tampon Tribe came from.
4. You are a true triple bottom line company. Why was starting a socially good company important and since launching your buy-one-give-one how many period packs have you given away?
Without sounding too cliché, Pay It Forward has always been one of those movies that stuck with me. Whether it’s opening a door for someone, giving your future snack to the homeless man on the corner, complimenting a friend, or starting a socially good company – we can all do something, however large or small, to make a difference in someone else’s life each and every day.
There was never a question of whether or not social impact would be at the core of Tampon Tribe. That is the mission. We often say, “we are not a company, we are an energetic social impact project”. From the products we sell to the period packs we donate, we believe that we are making a difference. Also, when you have been as incredibly blessed in your life as I have; the only thing that feels right is to give back, and to try to make as positive an impact on the world as possible before we leave it. We’ve already given away hundreds of period packs in our first year, and the most exciting thing is that this is just the beginning! The main reason our team is so dedicated to making Tampon Tribe a HUGE success, is because we know that our continued growth means helping exponentially more women (and men!) around the world.
5. Have there been any special moments with your give back program? How have you changed women's lives since starting it?
A plethora, that’s for sure! One of my favorites happened just this week – We have partnered with a fantastic organization, Girls Health Ed (based out of DC!), who run an amazing after school program for girls in inner city middle schools and high schools. They offer a safe and private place for girls to learn and talk about everything from nutrition and body image, to mental health. I am thrilled to be a newly trained fellow for GHE (and can’t wait to help them launch it here in LA in 2018). I was particularly touched and inspired to see the great pictures below that were taken at one of the sessions on Feminine Hygiene, where we donated Period Kits.
I have special moments on a daily basis when we receive emails from our customers and supporters around the world. They are so ecstatic and grateful to Tampon Tribe for providing them with an affordable and accessible option for fem hygiene products that are healthy for their bodies AND the earth, which is truly the BEST feeling.
6. Organic tampons and hygiene products seem so obvious. How come there are so few products like yours that are on the market and how else, besides your commitments to sustainability, are your products different?
Well, it wouldn’t be the first time that a women’s health topic was under studied, under funded, under discussed, etc! Luckily, over the past few years some amazing individuals have led the charge in bringing feminine hygiene to the forefront of women’s health conversations, primarily through research and activism. As with everything, it’s all about information. The more informed we are, the better decisions we can make, and this really hits home when talking about purchasing decisions, and the products that we are putting in our bodies. I personally had no idea about the harmful chemicals and toxins that were in the tampons I was using for over 14 years, and I trust many women would say the same. I also didn’t realize the impact I was having on our planet (and our precious oceans!) by using plastic applicators that go straight into oceans and landfills. Once I became informed on these two key issues, I became passionate about choosing products that are healthy for my body and the earth, and supporting companies that have this shared mission.
With respect to our products, there are several key things that differentiate us:
Certified Organic, GOTS, ICEA - Our cotton is grown with extreme care and to the best natural international certified organic standards, which means everything from the soil, to water use, and of course chemicals (of which there are none), is strictly monitored and regulated. It also means that all stages of production are carefully monitored as well. (GOTS: Global Organic Textile Standard, ICEA: European Eco/Bio Standard)
Toxin Free. Hypoallergenic, chemical free, and 100% organic cotton - Our tampons are encased in fine a 100% organic cotton veil to avoid fibers staying in our bodies. Our pads and pantyliners have the 100% organic cotton cover woven into the organic padding, so nothing comes loose or gets messy. We are chlorine bleach and dioxin free. There are no glues, synthetics, perfumes, bleaches or dyes used in our products.
Plastic Free and Completely Compostable - Our “twist” applicators are a smooth biodegradable, comfortable, and compostable cardboard, our wrappers are paper, and our packaging is burlap and recycled paper. Our pads and pantyliners are wrapped in a compostable starch film, and a biodegradable polymer adhesive makes them stay in place.
7. What has been the hardest aspect of launching a social enterprise and how has the Georgetown alumni community helped in this endeavor?
We are just getting started! Really looking forward to the support of the Georgetown alumni community as they learn about Tampon Tribe and our mission. Please reach out to me if you are reading this and compelled to help, partner, invest, join our team, subscribe, collaborate, be a Tampon Tribe Affiliate, etc.!!
8. What areas in particular are you focused on where the Georgetown alumni community can be helpful to you and your mission at Tampon Tribe moving forward?
Any and all of the above! Most on my radar would be spreading the word about Tampon Tribe, collaborating with us if you have a shared demographic, partnering with us if you have a shared mission. We are extremely focused on our growth stage right now, so the next 6-12 months are sure to be very exciting. I’d love nothing more than to have fellow Hoyas helping us crush our goals ☺
9. On the Hilltop, what was your favorite class and professor?
The two I mentioned above, and then Professor Schiwietz who taught Sociology: Women and Gender Studies. BEST CLASS AND PROFESSOR EVER!!!