Moon time. In the red tent. On the rag. Riding the crimson tide. That time of the month. No matter what you want to call it, the facts remain the same: Half of the world's population menstruates, and if you do, too, you'd probably agree that getting your period doesn't usually feel like a luxury. And yet, feminine hygiene products are taxed as "luxury items." This means that in addition to being paid less to the dollar than men make, women are required to pay more for necessities like pads and tampons.
In fact, according to a study by HuffPost, women spend, on average, over $18,000 on period-related products in their lifetime. That's where Athena Club comes in. When co-founders Allie Griswold and Maria Markina saw an opportunity, they went for it — creating Athena Club, which essentially functions as a premium organic tampon subscription service that delivers them straight to your door, at a fraction of the drugstore price.
Yes, this service eliminates the need for that mad and often times embarrassing dash to the store to buy overly priced products — especially when you get your period a day early and suddenly realize you're out. And, starting at $6.50 per box, it also helps ax the pink tax. Unfamiliar with the phrase? The pink tax is a gender-based price discrimination on "pink" products, or ones directly marketed to girls and women — often the same as products intended for men, other than their color. Pads and tampons, of course, are an exception. (Learn more about the pink tax here.)
Read on to discover the vision behind the female-founded and ultra-empowering Athena Club, and what they're doing to effect change when it comes to menstrual products across the world.
livingly: Can you tell us why you wanted to start Athena Club, and what the process of starting the brand was like?
ATHENA CLUB: It all started with a simple question: Why are feminine care subscriptions so expensive? We loved the idea getting tampons straight to your door, but we were frustrated by the high price tag. After several years as consultants at McKinsey & Company, learning the ropes of lean operations, we knew there had to be a better way.
We spent over a year researching products and dissecting the value chain to offer women higher quality products than what was out there. We noticed that many organic tampons on the market break apart when used (a risk for TSS).
To protect women, we added a new design feature: a woven protective mesh around our organic tampons. We also learned that over 50% of women were embarrassed to talk about their periods. We want to build a brand that sparks open and honest conversations about periods, and everything that comes along with it. Our blog, the Owl Periodical, shares relevant and interesting information about topics from soothing menstrual cramps to getting period stains out of white jeans.
Through our research process we realized that better didn’t have to cost more. We are excited to offer women a new solution: high quality feminine care products at a fair price, delivered to your door.
You’ve been donating to charities in order to help girls who don’t have access to sanitary products since before you launched Athena Club. So cool! Can you share more about that?
AC: Of course! At Athena Club, we’re very committed to empowering women abroad. Over 100 million girls across the world do not have access to the menstrual care products they need. We are determined to change that number both through donations and through our referral program. When you refer a friend to Athena Club, you have the option to donate the free month you receive to one of our charity partners. To date, we have donated over 10K tampons to women in need.
Right now, Athena Club offers organic tampons. Do you have plans to introduce more feminine hygiene products?
AC: Currently, we offer two different types of tampons: 100% organic and premium. We go with the flow, offering women options to customize their size assortment, delivery frequency, and type of tampon. All of our products are made with everything women need and nothing that they don’t, always free of harsh chemicals and bad additives. Going forward, we plan to expand our product offering to offer women even greater options to choose what’s right for their bodies.
Do you have any advice you’d like to share for female entrepreneurs who are just starting out?
AC: Don’t be afraid to bring all the different and incredible sides of you to the business. As women entrepreneurs, we don’t have to mimic the leadership qualities of men to be successful. Women are already strong and capable — just the way they are. There are so many different sides to each of us — strong, insightful, resilient, fun: the list goes on and on — and you should incorporate all of these strengths into building a company.
When it comes to self-care, what’s your go-to practice for when life feels overwhelming or stressful?
AC: For us, our goal is to make it as simple as possible! When our lives get busy (which they often do!) we love getting subscriptions for the products we use often so we don’t even have to think about it.
We also make sure we always make time to take care of ourselves, even when things get crazy. It’s amazing how much taking just a few minutes to invest in taking care of your body can end up making you feel a whole lot better.
At Livingly, we strive to “live life beautifully.” What does living beautifully mean to you?
AC: To us, living beautifully means living in the present, and appreciating all the amazing things happening around us. It’s easy to get lost in the day-to-day grind and ignore the hundreds of amazing things that happen each day. We make a conscious effort each day to step away from our phones, and connect with the people and environment that surround us.