If you haven’t heard of the feminine hygiene company, LOLA yet, let us be the first to introduce you. Founders Jordana Kier and Alex Friedman are the two ladies behind the tampon subscription service that is revolutionizing women’s periods one tampon at a time. These trailblazers are transforming the process entirely, opening up a dialogue about our periods and bringing full transparency to the quality of the products we use monthly for one of the most absorbent parts of our bodies.
Little did we know most tampons and feminine hygiene products are made using artificial fibers, polyester, rayon, not to mention the additional chemicals involved in the manufacturing process. Used every month, these less than natural ingredients could have some serious side effects. Not LOLA, sourced from 100% natural cotton, this company has our health at heart. We sat down with Jordana and Alex to gain some perspective on the whole matter and the way it should be done, LOLA style. Here they are to enlighten us on the must knows of tampons and period health…
The Chalkboard Mag: So, what made you ladies start a tampon company?
Lola’s Jordana Kier and Alex Friedman: We founded LOLA together with a simple and seemingly obvious idea: You shouldn’t have to compromise when it comes to tampons.
Our initial idea was to build just a subscription service, but when we started looking into existing tampons on the market, we found out that feminine care brands aren’t required to disclose exactly what’s in their products. Like most women, we’d been using the same feminine care products since we were teenagers. It made us wonder: What’s in a tampon?
We set out to create LOLA, a modern approach to feminine care. Made from 100% cotton certified by Cotton Inc., our products are hypoallergenic and don’t contain any synthetics, chemicals, or dyes. LOLA tampons are wrapped in BPA-free compact plastic applicators so you don’t have to compromise simple and natural ingredients for comfort. In addition to full ingredient transparency, we provide women the freedom to easily tailor the absorbency assortment and frequency of deliveries to fit their schedules.
TCM: Why should we care what tampons we use?
JK and AF: For us, it was something that hadn’t ever crossed our minds, but once we were made aware that we didn’t know what was in our tampons (and that we couldn’t even get a straight answer from the brands we had been using for years), we couldn’t stop thinking that there had to be a better way. We think about what’s in the food we eat, the beauty products we use, and the diapers we put on our babies, so why not apply the same level of scrutiny to tampons, a product used in one of the most absorbent parts of our bodies?
We soon knew that we weren’t alone. In the months prior to launching LOLA, we talked to women all over the country and found that a majority of women had never given their tampon ingredients a second thought. But once they thought about it, they cared a great deal!
We hope that same awakening is the experience for every LOLA customer. We want to start a conversation about the importance of knowing what’s in your products and making conscious, deliberate purchase decisions in this very important product category.
TCM: You had mentioned that after focus testing your product, many women from all over the country all had the same reaction – they never stopped to question what was in their tampons? Why do you think this is?
JK AND AF: Since launching LOLA more than six months ago (time flies!), we’ve been both surprised and flattered by the overwhelming amount of women willing to share their own personal stories and engage in a larger conversation about transparency in the industry. A lot seem to say they just kept using the same feminine care brand their mother supplied them after their first period and never looked back. Part of this is clearly due to the fact that tampons have never been a hot topic of conversation.
We’re proud to have opened up a dialogue on a topic that, for a lot of reasons, has flown under the radar for too many years. For us, LOLA is an easy and attainable solution for a woman who wants to make a small but important tweak to her life. We feel confident that, while most women don’t necessarily enjoy their periods, LOLA can offer one less thing to worry about.
TCM: Traditional tampons and feminine hygiene products contain chemicals that can lead to many women’s health issues. Can you educate us a bit on some of these additives and their potential health risks?
JK AND AF: Feminine care as a product category has actually been very under-researched, which is a little scary to think about. Without the appropriate research or transparency around ingredient breakdown, how can you make informed decisions?
In the absence of data, LOLA’s stance is that if we have the choice between 100% cotton (a material we understand and use close to our skin daily) vs. synthetic materials, we would choose cotton every time! We’re not making any claims that our product is better for you when it comes to your health (because there is not a lot of data from the scientific community that provides an answer one way or the other), but it’s personally what we’re more comfortable using as women. And that’s what we really considered when we started LOLA. Everything from the easy subscription model, to ingredient transparency, to the design and look of the box is what we would want from a feminine care company. It’s by women, for women.
TCM: What are the standing regulations when it comes to disclosing what is in feminine hygiene products and any insight as to why?
JK AND AF: The FDA regulates feminine care, but doesn’t require companies to list all the ingredients in their products. So the big brands do the bare minimum and rarely disclose the ratio of ingredients in their tampons, which is typically a blend of the artificial fibers, rayon and polyester, among others. LOLA’s mission is to provide a simple and natural alternative to what’s on the market today and give women peace of mind about what they’re putting in their bodies each month.
TCM: A woman’s period has always been a topic that’s been a little neglected. Today there seems to be a trend of merchandise surrounding better comfort and health for women and their periods. From special period-specific underwear to moon cups and now the focus of why it is important to know the ingredients of these items. Why do you think there is so little information on this subject and why do you think it has taken this long?
JK AND AF: Given that menstruation has never been the sexiest topic, women just didn’t tend to think about or discuss their feminine care habits or products with other women. But that’s changing and 2015 was no doubt the year of the period. A lot of important things are happening to help change the stigma of menstruation and get women talking.
For one, the existence of social media makes it so easy for women to team up and start a movement, which helps to speed things up. From what we’ve seen on our Instagram page, women comment and engage on the topic because periods are just something that we all can relate to. We’ve loved creating and contributing to that community and actually just hit 10,000 followers, which we feel so grateful for! To celebrate, we donated 10,000 tampons to charity.
The menstruation topic is becoming harder and harder for people to ignore as the topic snowballs and more women are comfortable talking about the topic publicly. Last June, women starting using a dedicated hashtag to live tweet their periods – search Twitter today and you’ll see it’s still used all the time. News quickly spread about badass marathon runner Kiran Gandhi as she free bled during the race in London. Was “free bleed” even a term before last year?! We also saw outcry around the tampon tax (any female knows it’s definitely not a luxury item). Here in New York City, councilwoman Julissa Ferreras has been making important strides advocating for free tampons in NYC high schools. The more we talk about it, the less of a hush-hush topic it becomes and the more we can do to enact change. We’re excited to see what happens next and can’t wait to be a part of the force that’s driving change!
TCM: As women, I’m sure you are aware of the sex tax associated with women’s feminine hygiene products, pink razors and other female driven products. What are your thoughts on this tax and what can we do to remedy this situation?
JK AND AF: We think President Obama put it best: There is no good reason why these products are taxed as luxury items. And it was even more fascinating that he had no idea tampons were even taxed! By continuing to raise awareness around these issues that have been marginalized for so many years, we’re confident we’ll see a change here.
TCM: Studies have shown that estrogens, toxins and chemicals are absorbed at rates 10-80% greater vaginally than orally making it all the more important to really care about the products we use every month. Do you have any thoughts on eh-em any other female concerns?
JK AND AF: That was definitely one of our first concerns when we couldn’t figure out what was in our tampons. We just had no idea what we were putting in our bodies, and that spurred us to found LOLA. We feel much more comfortable using tampons made from 100% cotton, a material we understand, rather than synthetics like rayon and polyester. When you stop and consider that the typical woman uses an average of 11,000 tampons in her lifetime, it seems like a pretty easy decision.
TCM: What about any feminine product trends, or natural products to be on the lookout for?
JK AND AF: When it comes to tips and tricks for periods, we love sharing them with our followers, from apple cider vinegar helping to cure cramps to the way certain yoga poses can relieve bloating. You can read about them on our blog! We also find that getting extra rest and staying hydrated also makes us feel better. If nothing seems to help and your period just feels like the worst, we have a saying around the office (also found inside every LOLA box) to keep in mind: “This too shall pass.”
At LOLA, we’re excited about what’s to come later this year. Long-term, our vision is to provide her with products she’ll need throughout their entire reproductive cycle, and beyond. We want to empower women to make proactive and informed decisions about what they’re putting in their bodies.
TCM: Obviously you both use and love LOLA! Do you have any other suggestions for women during their periods?
JK AND AF: We both love exercise, which definitely plays an even more important role during our periods! Jordana likes to spin and Alex likes core strengthening. Though every now and then (and especially during the winter), we definitely hit the snooze button.
TCM: As someone who has recently switched to using all natural tampons (as well as the moon cup) I have seen firsthand that my periods have gotten better, even from the stance of cramping and PMS. Have you also found this to be true, or has this issue come up in some of your focus testing?
JK AND AF: You name a feminine care products out there, one of us has already tried it – it comes with the territory! In terms of experience, every woman’s product preferences are different, but we’ve definitely heard that same response from other customers. To us, it’s about being informed, and therefore feeling confident and comfortable, about the products we’re using. Having peace of mind creates positive experiences.
TCM: Lola has really taken all the planning and prepping out of our periods it seems. Can you explain how your membership works?
JK AND AF: One of our goals was to eliminate those annoying runs to the drugstore each month when you realize you’re out of tampons, so we built our subscription model with the utmost flexibility: first, customize your box of 18 tampons with your preferred mix of light, regular, and super tampons; next, choose if you’d like to receive one or two boxes (1 box for $10 or 2 boxes for $18); last, choose your delivery cadence and how often you’d like to receive boxes. You can adjust the assortment, quantity, or delivery anytime, and it’s easy to skip or cancel at anytime as well. You’ll always receive an email before your next box ships in case you need to make changes.
LOLA is a convenient way for women to receive what they need, when they need it, but we want to build more than just a great delivery mechanism. We’re trying to change the mindset of how women think about their reproductive health. And you can’t put a price on that peace of mind.
TCM: Many 100% cotton tampons use chlorine bleach or other processes to clean and sterilize raw cotton. What is Lola’s process?
JK AND AF: We use a non-bleach based cleansing process that uses oxygen instead of chlorine.