Tara Chandra grew up in Silicon Valley, California and studied Economics at Columbia, where she graduated two years early to pursue a singing/songwriting career. Here’s her journey from a musician turned social entrepreneur, taking a stand for women’s periods and making toxic-free tampons the norm.
Why organic tampons?
I moved to LA to pursue my music and signed a couple of indie record deals, and I spent most of my time abroad touring around Europe and Asia.
The OMG moment was during a photoshoot, when the male photographer started to tell me about why I shouldn’t be using mainstream tampons like Tampax because they are covered in bleach and chemicals. A lightbulb went off – of course, how could I have not known? That’s when I started using organic tampons.
How did you get your idea for Flo?
I wanted to have more control over the business side of my music career, so I moved to London to continue with my music and attended the Executive Global Master’s in Management program at the London School of Economics.
I was going to do my master’s thesis on the music industry – it all changed one day in the LSE bathrooms. Between classes, one of my classmates, who is now one of my best friends and the FLO co-founder, and I were chatting about wanting to start a social-impact business. I asked her, “Why can’t I find organic tampons & pads in the major supermarkets and corner shops, the usual places I shop? They carry the big brands, lots of other organic products, but not organic menstrual products.” I thought it had to do with branding and marketing. Many of the organic feminine hygiene care products look stuck in the 80’s, with daisies and clouds. Flo is bright, playful and fun with a cheerful, cheeky attitude.
So I used my thesis as the consumer market research for Flo.
What’s different about Flo to mainstream tampon products?
It’s time companies care about women’s vaginas, not just profits!
At Flo, we want to be everywhere women go running when they need a period product. The more I talked to women, the more I found that women don’t plan for their periods. Often caught by surprise, they think “oh God, it’s here!”. (And I thought I was the only one who was never prepared!)
We’re all about keeping it “100”, using 100% organic cotton free of pesticides and 100% BPA-free silky-smooth applicators, and we’re committed to being a socially-conscious business. The assembly and packing will be done in London at CLARITY – Employment for Blind People, the UK’s oldest social enterprise. 5% of the profits from each Flo pack goes to Days for Girls International, a charity providing sustainable menstrual products, educational workshops & economic support to girls & women in need.
What stage is your business in?
We have a prototype “Get Set Pack”, and everything in the supply chain is set up. About 20 shops, from independent organic and corner shops to bigger grocery stores and pharmacies, have agreed to stock Flo, and we’re talking with more. The amazing thing about Flo is that I rarely have a sales conversation that is longer than 3 minutes; retailers see it, hear a bit about it and go “Great! When can you get it to me?” To help us get the product in stores and fund the first round of production, we have a Kickstarter campaign which ends in 14 days.
What advice would you give to another would-be entrepreneur?
I would say…seek advice! I am gratefully indebted to the people who have helped me and try to pay it forward. Ask for help and offer help! Think, “Who do I know who can help that person?” even when you think you have nothing to give. It can make a huge difference.