CEO of a start-up basically means jack of all trades! We clean floors, pack product, navigate import licenses and suppliers, work with a fabulous team of freelancers, determine strategy and learn every step of the way. Sometimes when you’re stacking boxes in the warehouse you think “What am I doing??!!” but we love every minute of it.
I had the pleasure to interview Jennifer Eden and Gabriela Alves the founders of Tampon Tribe. They started the company about two years ago to enable all women access to fabulous organic feminine hygiene that is great for bodies and the environment (they’re totally plastic-free) and is delivered wherever you are! They’re one Australian and one Brazilian both crazy about the beach, Southern California and life itself!
Thank you so much for doing this with us! What is your “backstory”?
We started working together in Beijing, China, ten years ago, and had such a great dynamic that when we landed in sunny Santa Monica, we decided to create a brilliant, fun and enigmatic company that had a true impact at its core. We were searching for organic tampons and liners and found very little in existence — so we got to thinking about the millions of women who don’t have access to organic products and are forced to use potentially toxic and chemical-laden tampons and pads. We are also super passionate about the environment and are keen travelers — the amount of plastics in our oceans and landfills that we have seen firsthand across the globe is abominable — so we set about creating organic and plastic-free tampons, pads and pantyliners that could reach women everywhere!
Can you share the funniest or most interesting story that happened to you since you began leading your company?
One of the coolest things was when we had a booth at the Abbot Kinney Festival in Venice, CA, last year. The street party is one of the biggest of the year, and we were super busy the whole day when a young guy sincerely came up to us to ask about how he could help his girlfriend have the best menstrual health possible and how he could help make each month easier for her.
So how exactly does your company help people?
We sell fabulous certified organic cotton tampons, pantyliners and pads via subscription and at select retail outlets. We also support underserved girls and homeless youth and women — as we grow, we also have a strong employment mission to engage people who perhaps need a second or third chance in life. Our subscriptions are also entirely customizable so people can go in and mix and match whatever products they need.
What do you think makes your company stand out? Can you share a story?
We believe in a plastic-free life, giving back, and changing the world one tampon at time. Basically, we are all about making periods cool and easy. All of our products have been designed to be seen — no hiding in the bathroom closet. We love making plastic-free periods part of people’s lifestyle. Tampon Tribe is at the intersection of fashion and wellness; we believe in flipping any taboos surrounding periods upside down — why hide something that is natural and happens to almost 50% of the world’s population?! Insane. Let’s nurture our bodies, have fun while we do it, embrace the Earth and nature and live sustainably.
None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are?
We are both really close to our families — they have always encouraged us to achieve above and beyond what we ever dreamed. And we are also really grateful for each other — we have managed to get through a lot of obstacles by supporting each other and recognizing how to balance each other in the workplace.
How have you used your success to bring goodness to the world?
Yes!! Totally. We already support homeless women on our streets with a strong giveback program — we donate a day pack of products for every bag of products that we sell. We also support a fabulous education campaign — Girls Health Ed. They empower underserved teens with a great program. We give to homeless youth via Happy Hippie’s Holiday Party and recently ran a campaign for Veterans’ families. To be honest, this is a major driver for us — we live and breathe to help make the world a better place.
What are your “5 Things I Wish Someone Told Me Before I Became CEO/COO” and why. (Please share a story or example for each.)
1.That we would trade in our 45-hour work weeks for 70! Ha — just joking — while we are currently putting in the heavy lifting as Tampon Tribe grows, we are also designing a “balanced” company culture, but you will often find us in the office burning the midnight oil.
2. That CEO of a start-up basically means jack of all trades! We clean floors, pack product, navigate import licenses and suppliers, work with a fabulous team of freelancers, determine strategy and learn every step of the way. Sometimes when you’re stacking boxes in the warehouse you think “What am I doing??!!” but we love every minute of it.
3. That working with people from all generations and nationalities would require a complete mindset overhaul! You get so stuck in your ways, and the way you communicate with people around you, that you forget what means one thing to someone means something entirely different for someone else. People have different speeds at processing thoughts and delivering
4. That there is no switching “off” — you will think business in the shower, at the gym, and in your sleep — it will become your life — which isn’t a bad thing, you just become one with everything in your life, rather than compartmentalizing “work” and “life.” Oh, and focus on solving today’s problems today — tomorrow’s may never even happen.
5. Rather than think about how to bargain and negotiate pennies all the time, figure out how to make more money! Look at the big picture.
Is there a person in the world, or in the US whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why?
Jane Goodall. Jane embodies so much that we believe in — the tenacity to go in the direction of her dreams when no-one thought it possible; the ability to see far beyond limits; faith in her process; creating true impact — particularly through her Roots and Shoots education program; and just being a strong role model in a somewhat chaotic world.