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19-Year-Old Creates All-Natural Tampon Line That Gives Back to Women in Need

Image Source: Aunt Flow
Image Source: Aunt Flow

In theory, everyone should praise periods. After all, without them, none of us would be here. If that’s not enough for a standing ovulation ovation, then what is?

And yet, to the millions upon millions of humans that have to deal with periods each month, it can feel less like a blessing and more of a bloody hell. Between the cramps, the stains, the tampon dispensers that charge a quarter in public restrooms (who carries quarters around anymore, anyway?), and worrying about attracting sharks, it can feel as if women are being punished for continuing to enable the existence of humanity.

While hot water bottles or heating pads are possible solutions to the pain, if you really want to feel warm and fuzzy all the time, then you need to know about Aunt Flow. Founded by 19-year-old Claire Coder, the company offers monthly subscriptions to a variety of tampons and pads. But here’s the best part: For each box purchased, another is donated for free to a non-profit, so it can go to another woman in need.

Since menstrual products cannot be purchased using food stamps or WIC, the donations go a long way.

According to Aunt Flow’s website, many of the 16.9 million women who live in poverty in the United States have to choose between tampons and food each month. Even worse, the website notes that “when money is tight, people resort to using plastic bags and dirty socks to stop the flow.” And that’s precisely why the company is so committed to making tampons and pads easily accessible, by selecting about five new nonprofits each month as the beneficiaries of its buy-one-give-one initiative.

Earlier this week, Coder told HelloGiggles that getting Aunt Flow off the ground was about as difficult as learning how to correctly insert a tampon the very first time. (Which is to say: Nearly impossible.) But it’s safe to say she succeeded.

“Launching a business as a female is hard,” noted Coder. “Launching a business as a teenage female is wicked-hard. Launching a business as a teenage female who only half the population understands is nearly impossible! The fact that I am a teenager is GREAT for PR and publicity, but when it comes to credibility and investment, no one takes me seriously.”
Except she is serious — dead serious. In fact, Coder dropped out of college in order to start Aunt Flow, all while knowing her potential for success was dwarfed by the high-risk of failure for small businesses. Still, Coder’s belief in supporting women in need is strong, as is her commitment to 100% cotton pads and tampons that are unbleached, FDA-regulated, hypoallergenic, and biodegradable — with BPA-free applicators.
Also critical to Coder is the fact that Aunt Flow is a gender-neutral company, because as she says “there are humans who identify as male, but still menstruate . . . we don’t want our menstruators shoving tampons up their sleeves to hide that they are on their period. Menstruation is a fact of life and it should not be shameful!” As she’s become more secure in herself, she says she’s also stopped “picking apart” other women. “[Now] I focus on my personal growth,” she says, “not minimizing others.”
She also sees access to tampons as “just one layer of added security” that can also help make the world a better place. And she’s doing her part by making it affordable; an Aunt Flow subscription is $13 a month and includes Veeda USA products. Plus, each order can be custom-designed with a combination of 18 tampons and pads for light and heavy flows. Nowhere on the Aunt flow site, though, will you see mention of the word “hygiene,” because as Coder told HelloGiggles, “adding ‘hygiene’ inherently creates this idea that we are cleaning up something that is dirty,” when, in fact, menstruation is a cleansing process.

Current recipients of Aunt Flow’s generosity include the University of Missouri’s Tiger Pantry, which provides produce and non-food essentials to all students and staff in need; Ohio’s Brown Bag Food Project, which provides 3-5 days worth of food and hygiene products to families in “urgent need”; and Never Go Without, which acts as a conduit to provide pads, tampons, and incontinence supplies to women and girls in need in Chicago-area homeless shelters and food pantries.

And to ensure the business of periods isn’t all talk of unpleasant stuff, Aunt Flow’s website has a Periodical section where you can learn more about the company’s staff (and their nieces, apparently), read important info on the absurd tax placed on menstruation products, and look at photos of things that look like vaginas.

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