#95 TRENDING IN Mental Health & Self Love 🔥
PHOTO BY HERE WE FLOW

Fun, Feminist, and Fierce: Here We Flo's Susan Allen on Making Waves in Period Wellness

Mental Health & Self Love

July 20, 2023

All those who menstruate know what a natural, defining aspect of life "that time of the month" is, yet time and time again, periods have been presented by the media as something inherently embarrassing, dirty, confusing, or terrifying. It had Jonah Hill's Seth violently gagging in Superbad, Ty Burrell's Phil cringing and cowering in Modern Family, and Adam Sandler's Jim squirming in discomfort in Blended.

Needless to say, it’s time to change the narrative.

And that’s where Here We Flo comes in.

Here We Flo is a “women-of-colour owned and sustainably built” business dedicated to providing organic, high-quality, and eco-friendly period, bladder, and sexual wellness products to all who need them, in the process shaping how periods as a whole are viewed and experienced.

It's in this TTM x Here We Flo feature, then, that co-founder and Chief Brand Officer Susan Allen Augustin talks entrepreneurship, growth, and bringing confidence back to periods, and it's everything you'd expect from the leader of the "fempire" herself.

Woman Up: The Beginnings

“I can’t find organic tampons anywhere in London.”

Almost anyone can attest to the amazing (and often ludicrous) places the classic bathroom conversation can take you. At one point, men in suits and ties agree to start a band, while at another, a pack of upperclassmen lays out extravagant plans for prom. Parents dream up Cancun getaways. Sisters ponder intricate escape routes.

For best friends Susan Allen Augustin and Tara Chandra, however, such a casual remark got serious gears spinning— and they haven’t stopped since.

“At the time, there weren’t enough products that were safe for your body,” Susan shares. “We were also aware of how damaging these… were to the environment. We really wanted to create a brand that would address both.”

It was then that Here We Flo— what the two mothers lightheartedly refer to as their first baby— was born, turning a rather tedious day tucked inconspicuously in the winter of 2013 into the origin story of a now decade-old fusion of passion, practicality, and purpose.

The Fempire: The Product

“Here We Flo makes products that make you smile, are better for your body and the planet, and support charities that support the same; it’s a win-win-win!”

From Eco-Applicator Tampons and Bamboo Period Pads to reusable period pants and vegan contraception, Here We Flo’s got it all. However, besides their adorably discreet ice cream cart packaging that ensures no one ever has to feel ashamed of holding tampons, what truly sets them apart is their unwavering commitment to environmental sustainability.

And they've got quite the track record to prove it. For example...

  • All Here We Flo packaging— both inner and outer— is compostable or recyclable.
  • The XO! Eco-Friendly Condoms are carbon neutral and processed in a solar-powered factory.
  • All products are vegan and free of animal cruelty, fragrances, dyes, allergens, and chlorine bleach.
  • A majority of products are delivered via sea to limit carbon emissions.

And as if that weren’t enough, 5% of the company’s profits are donated to The Orchid Project, fighting against Female Genital Cutting; Bloody Good Period, combatting period poverty; and Akt, assisting "young LGBTQ+ folks who are facing homelessness.”

*That* Girl: The Process

“Building a business through what has been some of the most turbulent years in recent history has taught us to be nimble and creative in our problem-solving.”

1. The Dissertation

As both Susan and Tara took on the Executive Global Master’s in Management at the London School of Economics, the latter’s dissertation was instrumental in shifting Flo from an idyllic fantasy to a viable, marketable reality.

Throughout their time at the university, the women “used focus groups and surveys to discover Flo’s target demographic and ideal branding,” giving the company the quantifiable roots it needed to survive and grow.

2. Initial Funding

“We did a Kickstarter and raised around $20,000 to cover the first batch of our products, the Flo Applicator Tampons,” Susan details.

It was through seed money like this that the business survived its first year, as a desire to keep the business personal kept the women from accepting investments from those who hoped to share in a considerable portion of the company.

3. Network

A true turning point, Susan notes, was when the two were able to meet a founder of United Kingdom-based snack retailer Graze.

“He loved what we were doing and offered to invest a small amount of money, but we got incredible value from his expertise and network.”

It was this encounter that, when fundraising in 2020, connected them with many “passionate and knowledgeable people who then came on as investors.”

4. Teamwork

Naturally, as Here We Flo’s mission and reach grew, so did its team.

“Tara and I have complementary skill sets, but we were also aware of the gaps in our collective knowledge,” Susan explains. “Our approach to recruitment has always been to hire for our weaknesses.”

In doing so, the women successfully brought together a group that serves as a true manifestation of the well-worn phrase, “The whole is greater than the sum of its parts.”

“We are [now] so proud to lead the funny, feminist, and fierce team of 14 phenomenal women that have allowed the ‘fempire’ to achieve as much as it has in such a short period of time.”

5. Expansion

From meetings with several large supermarket chains regarding launches that never came to be to now sporting their products at big names like Target, Whole Foods Market, Sprouts, and more, it is clear not only that Here We Flo has come a long way, but that it still has a lot more potential to live out.

“We hope to see Here We Flo everywhere that period, sensitive bladder, or sexual wellness products are sold so that everyone has a convenient, sustainable option when choosing a personal care [provider] for their intimate health.”

Oh, How I Love Being a Woman: The Reflections

Although Here We Flo continues to make strides in menstrual and sexual wellness, the company’s mission and demonstrable growth have not only shaped the world, but the founders themselves, as well.

“Building Here We Flo from a conversation between best friends in a university bathroom to an international personal care brand has given Tara and me so much confidence in our own abilities,” Susan contemplates, “and we are so grateful that our careers led us to this point.”

Since its beginnings in 2013, the company has stayed true to its roots, its relaxed, lighthearted, and endearing nature serving as a reflection of the simple discussion that started it all. It has also undoubtedly become a vital aspect of the founders’ personal lives, inextricable from the “mishmash of balancing caring for all [their] children while finding time for [their] supportive husbands and [their] network of childcare providers who make it all possible.”

Susan's Top Three...

Milestones in Here We Flo's Journey

1. Seeing our products on shelves at Boots, our first national retailer in the United Kingdom

2. Partnering with Netflix's [censored] Education, despite the fact that we were only a tiny brand

3. Our #NoMorePeriodDramas campaign being chosen as one of the best television ads in 2022

Pieces of Advice to Future Feminist Entrepreneurs

1. Do Your Research — Having a clear understanding of your customer, the problem you are solving for them, and what makes you unique in comparison to what's already on the market will give you the confidence you need to push through the many challenges you'll face as you bring your vision to life.

2. Pilot and Iterate — Make the best version of your idea possible and test the market, talk to customers, consider the feedback, and improve your products before developing a bigger vision. Starting small makes things feel more achievable, allowing you to make the inevitable mistakes necessary to get to the best version of what you are creating.

3. Find Your People and Listen to Them — Identifying and connecting with people that are a few steps ahead of where you want to be and building relationships with them will allow you to create a network and learning community that will support you throughout your journey.

Stay a While

Here We Flo's journey is far from over! Don't forget to keep up with the latest this passion-driven, groundbreaking business has to offer:

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Meg P.
50k+ pageviews

Meg is a student who loves anything to do with the social and natural sciences. In the free time she doesn't spend rewatching or rereading comfort works instead of starting new ones, she enjoys daydreaming about the future and ordering takeout.

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