Claire Coder has thousands of tampons stored at her apartment. While it’s unconventional, it signals a dream that has been a whirlwind of a year in the making.
On Thursday, October 20, Aunt Flow launches pre-sales of its subscription boxes with a party at the Women’s Business Center of Ohio, 1611 Old Leonard Ave from 6:00 – 9:00 p.m.
Coder first pitched the idea for a buy-one get-one model for tampons at Startup Weekend in November 2015. From then to now, the setup has remained largely the same. Starting October 20, subscribers will go online and customize a box of 18 pieces of pads or tampons to be delivered to their doorstep monthly. When choosing her box, a subscriber selects an organization to receive the give-one box.
Boxes ring in at $13/month (including the give one), with a 5 percent discount for committing to six months up front, and 10 percent for 12 months.
Each box will also contain information from five to seven partner businesses. It’s a way for local organizations to reach a targeted demographic of customers, and helps to offset the cost of the give-one box.
“They will talk about what they do and offer an exclusive coupon for Aunt Flow subscribers,” Coder says.
The extras will be products or services that compliment the audience and the location. Sitting Made Simple and Lucky’s Market have already signed on, with several other partnerships in the works.
“We offer zip code targeting,” Coder adds.
Which will be important as Aunt Flow has already attracted national attention before launch. Locally OSU Star House and Boys & Girls Clubs of Central Ohio have signed on as beneficiaries. Aunt Flow is also partnering with Brown Bag Food Project in Wood County Ohio, Never Go Without in Chicago, and Tiger Food Pantry, the University of Missouri’s pantry.
Coder wasn’t necessarily expecting to launch with a reach outside of Central Ohio, but is working with organizations ready and willing to make a commitment. She has a docket of about 50 groups that have reached out lined up as potential partners as things keep rolling.
Aunt Flow combines two business structures that are currently seeing a lot of popularity – social enterprise and subscription-based services. Coder’s version is the only subscription-based service offering 100 percent cotton pads and tampons, and, “We are the only subscription service that offers the buy-one give, one-component as well,” she says.
It’s a model that hasn’t always been easy to explain to investors – a predominately male crowd. Coder says that there’s often an education curve to explaining women’s needs and the huge need to supply tampons to its partners.
While being a 19-year-old with a tampon company has been challenging with investors, it has been intriguing to the media. She’s found support from local businesses, and a notable amount of interest from cities outside of Columbus – especially in Cleveland, Toledo (where Coder is from), Dallas and Columbia, MO.
“The public has been super supportive from attending events to donating to the crowdfunding campaign,” Coder adds.
As launch approaches she’s adjusting to life as an entrepreneur, looking forward to the day she can drop a side waitressing job and focus on Aunt Flow full-time.
“When you’re an entrepreneur, you’re working all of the time,” Coder says.
Until then, it’s all about finding balance – and mentorship. Coder has submitted Aunt Flow for different accelerators but has found them to be not quite the right fit.
“Right now what I really need is mentorship,” she says.
Two women have joined the team to help Aunt Flow spread the word. Linsey McEntee will head up social media and coordinate partnerships and Melory Mirashrafi will act as social media editor and creative coordinator.
More details about Thursday’s launch party can be found on the Facebook event page. Pre-sales will launch that day with Coder hoping to amass 500 subscribers by January.
Follow along at auntflow.org.