July 25, 2019, by Sekinah Brodie
Episode #32 of Shades of Success features Claire Coder, the proud 22-year-old founder of the menstrual movement — Aunt Flow. Claire’s unique vision of how available menstrual products can change a woman’s life compelled me to do an in-depth interview. As a woman, I support her mission — bringing menstrual products to anyone in need — and was excited to highlight her journey. In this interview, know why dropping out was the best decision Claire ever made. You can listen to the episode here.
Claire Coder sees no shame in dropping out of school. Instead of considering it a setback, she sees it as a steppingstone to do greater things unbounded by textbook rules and academic standards. At age 16, she started her first promotional products company. She nurtured the company and expanded it in a span of two years selling across the midwest and internationally online.
Claire recalls how failures have always kept her going. Every blow was an opportunity to gain an ounce of resilience. She dropped out of college, took the nude modeling path to pay the bills, and got fired from two waitressing jobs. Nonetheless, Claire didn’t consider giving up as an option.
She founded Aunt Flow while she unexpectedly had her period in public. Realizing there wasn’t any access to menstrual products, this was when she came up with her mission. She believes that if toilet paper is offered for free, then so should tampons.
Aunt Flow supplies menstrual products in over 350 business and school bathrooms with sustainability in mind. Their products are made of 100% organic cotton with no perfumes, dyes, or other synthetic chemicals. With the plastic pollution increasingly alarming the seas and marine wildlife, Aunt Flow’s flushable products are safe and environmentally-friendly.
The company also believes in the power of giving. That’s why, for every 10 menstrual products they sell, they donate one to a menstruator in need. To date, Aunt Flow has donated over 350,000 menstrual products. Claire Coder believes that there is more to Aunt Flow than just taking care of a woman’s monthly visitor. Having readily accessible menstrual products has three significant benefits for businesses and schools worldwide:
[00:06:05.46] — You talked about how you sacrifice your personal health and personally, I’m an advocate for mental wellness and mental health, especially in the workplace. What are some things that you do to keep the morale up for your team and also for yourself to get through some of those tough times?
It’s all about mental health. Our company is based in Columbus, Ohio, and there’s not that much conversation around mental health. But my mom is an art therapist, and so I have taken it upon myself to make sure that our team is cared for in unique ways. So once a month, we do something that I call the Aunt Flo fam debate. It’s an activity where we bring the team together and we do something fun. So yesterday we actually had our newest team member. She taught us all how to cross-stitch.
[00:14:50.25] — And you talked about how before you started your business, you dropped out of college. Is there any advice you can give to students who might be struggling with that decision to keep going in their college career?
I really knew that I was on an alternative path from the get-go. And when I was in fourth grade, I actually had my retinas in my eyes detached. So I experienced intermittent blindness for an entire year. And you know, I grew up and I was in a household where my mom is an art therapist and my dad is a land surveyor. I was very much in an alternative path from the get-go. And so, doing the standard path of going to high school, to college, getting a dog, getting married, having your job, all that just was not on my horizon. But for me, it was also I recognized that I learned the most through doing and failing and I learned the most through human and people interaction. I don’t learn well by sitting in a classroom and taking tests.
[00:21:42.69] — How do you measure impact in your work?
To date, we’ve donated over 350,000 tampons and pads within the last year, and we’re on track to do more over the next few months. I’m really excited about that. And that’s one KPI that we’re always tracking and then I really just love and appreciate our team. So for me, as the company has continued to grow, my biggest joy comes from building a company that is offering opportunities for people to build their personal development and growth. So I just absolutely adore working with our team every single day to do something we call — changing the world one cycle at a time.
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