MEET THE FOUNDERS OF FLO: SUSAN AND TARA
How would you describe your brand in one sentence?
We’re here for all the messy-exhausting-sexy-joyful-hormotional-enraging-amazing bits of the human body.
How did your brand come about?
It all started in December 2013, when Susan, my co-founder, and I were chatting in the London School of Economics bathroom between classes. We often talked about how we wanted to start a socially impactful business. I had studied economics at Columbia and Susan, who loved well-designed, eye-catching branding, was working for a major philanthropic organisation. Combined with my observation that “I can’t find organic tampons anywhere in London”, was the ‘aha’ moment behind our decision to start FLO.
What is the biggest challenge you have faced as a brand?
We’ve always felt a strong responsibility to make our brand a success through our execution as well as through our ideas, so there was a lot of effort on our side to create products that were truly healthier and more environmentally friendly than the mainstream. We also wanted them to be affordable because we’re very committed to doing our part in giving back. This is why we donate 5% of our profits to Orchid Project (who are fighting tirelessly against female genital mutilation) as well as products to Bloody Good Period (who supply asylums, refugee centres and homeless shelters with menstrual and personal care products) and other non-profit organisations dealing with period poverty.
What are you most proud of as a brand?
As a young company, getting to the stage of being able to hire more people feels incredible. Sharing our vision with new team members and collaborating on achieving shared goals makes all the work we do even more rewarding. Launching in Boots last year was also an incredible milestone for us. Being able to see our products on the shelves of such a big retailer reminded us of why we started FLO in the first place: to bring affordable, healthier, eco-friendlier products to as many people who need them as possible.
What sets you apart from other brands in your category?
Consumers are now really taking the initiative to educate themselves and make more conscious purchasing decisions, especially when it comes to our health and the planet. Mass-market products period products are typically made of 90% plastic materials – and come wrapped in plastic bags! In terms of ingredients, conventional cotton is the heaviest pesticide-sprayed crop. It’s bleached with harsh chemicals and has been found with chemical residues. Moreover, traditional tampons that are made of synthetic materials can shed fibres that then remain inside the body, causing irritation. We want none of that in our FLO!
Often, our customers (whom we dearly call the ‘FLO babes’) have learned about the effects of these products on the environment and on their health and find FLO a great alternative. We also created a vibrant, cheeky brand voice, including the signature ice-cream tub designs of our tampons - a nod to period cravings, obvs! - to make us really hard to miss when we’re on the shelf next to our competitors. Plus, we never take ourselves seriously (no, seriously!) and our tongue-in-cheek, unapologetically feminist approach seems to relate to everyone who discovers the brand.
What is your best beauty hack?
Mine is pre-conditioning - it makes detangling in the 'conditioner phase' so much easier, especially when you have very curly hair like I do! Susan leaves a lipstick in all her favourite purses. She says it’s saved her life on more than one occasion.
Could you pick one small change for everyone to make to live more sustainably?
Since we’re in the business of menstruation and personal care, switching to less wasteful products could be a great place to start. For example, we each use about 11,000 tampons or pads every year, and mainstream products are made of over 90% plastic and synthetic materials that take hundreds of years to biodegrade. Choosing eco-friendlier alternatives reduces the impact we have on the environment – FLO pads and liners, for example, are made of organic, biodegradable and compostable bamboo that contributes to material diversity. They are also wrapped in biodegradable plant cellulose, and take under a year to decompose if composted, and under 5 years if simply disposed of in the general waste bin!
What is your LITTLE FIND?
T: Slip Scrunchies are a game-changer! And I know this isn't a beauty thing but it's definitely Bee's Wrap! I'm obsessed and never use cling-film anymore. Plus, the Bees & Bears Print is adorable.
Tell us your favourite quote, mantra or best piece of advice
T: ‘The two things in life you can control are your attitude and your effort!’
S: ‘Feel the fear and do it anyway!’
What do you wish you had invented?
T: I wish I had invented the Tangle Teezer.
S: The Post It! Im hyper organised, obsessed with all things stationery and post its are life, obvz.
Now, let’s have a little fun and FIND out about you...