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Aunt Flow Is Social Entrepreneurship At Its Finest: An Interview with Claire Coder

Starting a business can be tricky – where do you even start? The foundation of a prosperous business begins with a passionate idea. But after that, it becomes a bit more difficult.

For a business to thrive, it needs a committed entrepreneur at the helm making smart decisions, one who is willing to do whatever it takes to turn that passionate idea into a profitable reality.

More and more, young entrepreneurs aren’t simply happy with creating large revenue streams, but want to also integrate an aspect of social good into their models. Companies like Warby Parker, who will donate one of their goods for every one sold, are both innovative and allow customers to help benefit greater others by consuming their products. And these young business leaders are continuing to expand on what it means to give back to society.

The Interview

For Columbus native, Claire Coder, that passion struck at 19-years-old. Her company, Aunt Flow, is a buy-one, give-one subscription box service for one hundred percent cotton tampons and pads for those in need. Visitors to the site can select a box of 18 feminine products and have it delivered to their doors while simultaneously helping someone else.

“Each monthly box includes a surprise gift from a girl-boss. For every purchase, a box is delivered to an organization that supports women in need. People helping people. Period,” said Coder, expressing not just her mindset, but also the company’s clever slogan.

“My parents believed it was imperative to get a college degree, thus I was shipped off to The Ohio State University.”

She dropped out after finishing one semester.

“At that point, I did not have a job lined up; I didn’t have Aunt Flow yet; I didn’t know where I was going to live. That being said, January 2016 was the hardest time of my life. January-March 2016 I was struggling to afford tampons and that is where the real passion behind the business grew.”

Coder then researched the realities of those who live at or under the poverty line around the world.

“Unfortunately, considering menstrual products are not covered by WIC or food stamps, many women go without tampons and pads. No one should EVER have to go without these. I knew I needed to create a sustainable solution. Thus, I pitched the idea for what is now known as Aunt Flow.”

Starting a business certainly has its challenges. Coder faced struggles of her own in building funds to start up her company.

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“Funding Aunt Flow has been a wild journey. In May 2016, I launched a crowd-funding campaign to raise $25,000. After 3 months of begging, calling and pleading, I reached my goal of $40,000. But, money is still a challenge, considering we are not backed with equity capital. We have a shoe-string budget for everything. We are still overcoming this struggle,” said Coder.

However, Coder stays dedicated to her mission despite such troubles. When talking to her, her care for this cause became immediately apparent. She dreams of a future where each and every bathroom in the United States will provide tampons and pads for those in need of them. Within the scope of her business, she hopes for the day women won’t have to use unsanitary items, such as dirty socks, to cover a natural human process.

When faced with obstacles, Coder said, “we can remember to reflect on how many ‘menstruators’ we are supporting. To date, we have donated over 25,000 tampons and pads!”

Businesses require additional hands. “When adding a person to our Aunt Flow team, the biggest things I look for is passion and grit. Entrepreneurship cannot be taught. Degrees and experience are great, but what takes us through the hard times are our shared mission of having tampon and pads in every bathroom.”

Coder offered some advice: “Start with passion. Building a business gets extremely tough, and if it is not built on passion, it will be astronomically easier to give up when times are tough. Once you find something you are passionate about, determine how you can monetize the passion— is it a product? Is it a mobile app? Is it a service? From there, you can begin to research, research, and research.”

Our take

Anyone can create a business, but only those willing to commit to its purpose will succeed. Aside from establishing a desired customer base, creating a solid financial plan and accounting for possible obstacles, a great idea means nothing if entrepreneurs don’t work with passion to create an overall flourishing business.

Coder’s societal awareness is just another way of showing her commitment to both her customers and those in need. Businesses like Aunt Flow are the ones that leave a lasting, physical impact for its customers to latch onto.

 

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Header image: Adobe Stock

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