Recently we’ve been chatting with Here We Flo founders Tara and Susan, talking all things female empowerment when running a business. Here We Flo believes that what we put in our bodies should be as natural as possible whilst not being horrible for the planet. After a classic bathroom convo, lots of research and a masters dissertation... FLO was born! They offer organic period care and much much more, alongside educational content that is real transparent.
1. What motivated you to start FLO? And how do you stay motivated?
Tara Chandra: My bestie and co-founder, Susan, and I met at the London School of Economics. We were chatting in the uni toilets in between classes one day, as we often did, and were joking about starting a social-impact business together. We didn't come from business backgrounds - she worked for a non-profit and I was a musician - so we weren't totally serious. But suddenly I said, "Hey, what about organic tampons? They're not easy to find but I think they're really important."
Susan was like, 'Organic tampons? Why do you even need those?" We then had a long chat about the synthetic fibres, pesticide and harsh chemical residues and negative environmental impact of conventional period products. I actually ended up doing my dissertation at LSE on the medical, environmental and business case for organic menstrual products! Then there was the pre-launch year of late night calls and Pinterest rabbit holes to put together the brand, teaching ourselves design software, going shop to shop in my neighbourhood of Hackney with a product prototype to convince them to buy it, raising £14K on Kickstarter, launching in Planet Organic (our first big win!) and, two years later, launching in Boots.
We stayed motivated because we knew we needed to educate people about how beneficial it can be for your body and the planet to swap to organic, sustainable femcare. Plus, we always pledged to donate 5% of all our profits to charities that support women, so we weren’t about to give up on that mission.
2. Were you ever told that you or FLO wouldn't be successful?
Susan Allen: Yes, we’ve definitely faced our fair share of setbacks! Menstrual care brands have always been built around being ‘discrete’ and almost denying the fact that we bleed – when we started the brand, some found it radical that we were speaking so openly about periods. We’ve had to cut through a lot of cultural shame and embarrassment around menstruating, and as a result we now have a dedicated fanbase of people who are proud to say their uteruses shed each month.
3. How did you overcome criticism of your leadership/brand?
Tara Chandra: We’ve been fortunate enough to be met with a huge amount of love and support from customers. The FLO team is full of funny, fierce women, so we tend to laugh off any criticism and let it better our brand. You can be the juiciest peach in the world, but you’ll still find someone who doesn’t like peaches!
4. How did you become successful despite gender inequalities?
Susan Allen: We really owe our success to the amazing relationships we've been able to build across so many areas of the business - from other female founders who taught us the ropes in setting up the infrastructure of our supply chain, to the amazing team at LSE Generate who have supported us from very beginning through the resources the program provides to encourage LSE students to pursue entrepreneurship. Lack of access is one of the biggest challenges of gender inequity, and through these relationships, we were able to get around many of the barriers we've faced as female founders of colour.
5. What are you most proud of to date?
Tara Chandra: At the end of 2021 we were delighted to have won the Sky Zero Footprint Fun, which recognises brands that are committed to driving positive behaviour change and tangible impact towards a more sustainable future.
We were tasked with making a 30 second ad-break, which we approached in our funny, challenging and memorable way. We were extremely proud to have been named the winner, securing £1 million worth of ad spend with Sky. Keep your eyes peeled for more on this in 2022!
6. What struggles have you faced?
What barriers have you come across? Susan Allen: A common challenge for female founders, and we are no exception, if finding funding. Venture Capital is obsessed with tech, and it leaves the institutional funding environment for consumer products limited. We've been fortunate to have built a network of amazing angel investors that have supported us as we've grown. We also have had to be very strategic in the way we've used our resources, but that has made us stronger as a team and as a business overall, and has allowed us to achieve as much as we have in such a short time.
7. What advice would you give your 15 year old self?
Tara Chandra: Keep going, work hard and don’t let anyone tell you that it can’t be done!
8. How do you stay sane!?
Susan Allen: Both Tara and I have now had babies, so a lot of our downtime is spent soaking up as much of that newborn goodness as possible. We’re both big fans of Netflix too – we love Sex Education, a show we were lucky enough to collaborate with on a range of funny, cheeky themed FLO goodies.
9. Who do you turn to for support?
Tara Chandra: We’re fortunate to have the most amazing team of funny, intelligent women whom we lean on a lot. Food is an important perk at Here We Flo, so we love having lunches and dinners together when we can meet in person!
Head over to their IG @hereweflo to find out more!