Jun 28, 2018
In today’s world, getting a degree isn’t the only way to making
your entrepreneurial dream a reality. Jennifer talks with Claire Coder, a
21-year-old college dropout and founder/CEO of the wildly
successful Aunt Flow. Her
company provides high-quality menstrual products to a variety of
schools, businesses, and organizations, and donates thousands more
to women in need across the country.
- So, where did it all start? Claire takes us back to her high
school days and tells Jennifer about the beginning of her
entrepreneurial journey: starting a promotional products company at
the age of 16.
- Claire was destined for sales. After becoming a top seller on
Etsy and having a blast running her modest company, she realized
her passion lay in the entrepreneurial world.
- The ultimate question for a young mind: where are you going
after high school? For Claire, that question has always meant
college. But knowing academia wasn’t where she would thrive, Claire
kept her eyes on the horizon for any new opportunity.
- Sometimes inspiration can come from those day-to-day
experiences that throw a wrench in your gears. While attending a
54-hour entrepreneur hackathon weekend and realizing that the
bathroom had no menstrual products whatsoever, Claire knew
something could be done. And thus, Aunt Flow was born.
- Why is better access to menstrual products so important? Claire
drops the facts: in the United States, menstrual products are not
covered by food stamps or by the
SNAP and WIC
programs and as a consequence 16 million women living at or below
the poverty line don’t have dependable access to tampons and pads.
In a woman’s lifetime, she will spend an average of $3000 dollars
on tampons and pads, many of them subpar and overpriced.
- After learning about how menstrual products are made with
highly dangerous ingredients like chlorine bleaches, synthetic
fabrics, and dyes, Claire was driven to create a sustainable and
accessible alternative. Aunt Flow now manufactures 100% organic
cotton tampons and pads, and sells them to businesses and
companies, which they then provide to their students, guests and
employees in their bathrooms and restrooms.
- Every new endeavor requires sacrifices and compromise. Claire
describes the contentious choice to drop out of school to start
Aunt Flow, and what the first months and years of her business were
like. From product sourcing, to building a website, to learning how
to become an adult, Claire built up her business over two years
before finally launching sales.
- In 2016, where does a college dropout working 3 waitressing
jobs get the kind of funding to start a company? The answer was,
naturally: crowdfunding. Using her experience running crowdfunding
campaigns at her marketing day job, Claire raised $25,000 to
purchase Aunt Flow’s first product run.
- So where did the name Aunt Flow come from? Jennifer asks Claire
about the origin story of the name and how she turned an
old-fashioned euphemism into a winning brand identity.
- For ridiculous reasons, most people don’t like talking about
menstruation, bu Claire is all about speaking frankly. Jennifer
asks Claire about her outspoken nature and how that has played into
her life’s journey so far. Claire talks about her work as a nude
model for artists, and how that experience has helped her embrace
both her body and her self going forward.
- Today, Aunt Flow currently serves over a hundred businesses and
organizations but it's beginnings were more humble. Claire talks
about Aunt Flow’s early individual subscription model and how it
eventually enabled the business to transition into the B2B space.
Claire also describes the values that she held onto from the very
beginning, when the company still operated on the subscription
model: for every Aunt Flow box purchased, one was donated to a
person in need in the United States.
- Aunt Flow now serves some very large organizations and
companies, from Fortune 500’s to major universities. Jennifer asks
Claire about how she secured her biggest clients and how these
large accounts enable Aunt Flow to donate tens of thousands of
menstrual products a year. Last year, Aunt Flow donated 100,000
menstrual products. This year, Claire is shooting to donate half a
- As a young woman in the business world, asking for what you
want, riding out the no, and learning when and how to ask again is
the not-so-secret to success. Claire fills us in on her philosophy
of business and how it has enabled her company to secure great
clients, as well as high-profile media attention.
- When it comes to their brand, Claire is the charismatic face
and voice of Aunt Flow. Claire discusses the decision to use her
personal profile to push conversations about menstruation into the
mainstream via CEO-focused media coverage. She also talks about the
more challenging aspects of being a young business woman, and how
sometimes both a combination of ageism and sexism can rear its head
in both client and investor interactions.
- As a young entrepreneur, what advice does Claire have for other
young change makers trying to make the world a better place? Here’s
her 2-part breakdown:
- Just Google it! Use the power of the information age to your
advantage and don't be afraid to research.
- Make a Big Ask. If you can’t find the right answer or person
for your problem, don’t be afraid to get straight to the
- Everyone has role models or trailblazers they look to for
inspiration. Claire talks about the success of Jeni Britton Bauer of
Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams, as well as her advisors at Aunt
- How does Claire feel about not finishing college? Despite some
mild FOMO about
dormitory experiences or collective school pride, Claire has no
regrets. Would she recommend her path to others? Well, figuring out
whether or not college is for you is a lot cheaper if you’re
not in college.
Resources & Links:
Claire Coder LinkedIn
Claire Coder Instagram
Claire Coder Twitter
Go Aunt Flow Facebook
Go Aunt Flow Instagram
Go Aunt Flow Twitter
Jeni Britton Bauer | Jeni's Splendid Ice
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