Aunt Flow’s Claire Coder Inspires Students
As part of the Red Frame Lab’s Imagine Series, the dynamic, super smart, and tenacious entrepreneur Claire Coder spoke to students about entrepreneurship, startups, resilience, and networking. Coder is CEO of Aunt Flow, a company that provides menstrual products to businesses and colleges. She brought her bright and vibrant personality to the table with storytelling abilities, beginning her talk by asking, “Who menstruates? And who’s excited to talk about tampons?”
Originally from Toledo, Ohio, Claire left college to start her own business. Why menstrual products? Claire shared her story. While at a networking event, she unexpectedly started her period and went to the bathroom to find lotion and hairspray, but no pads or tampons. She asked herself, “If toilet paper is free in bathrooms, why aren’t tampons or pads? They are both essential items for personal care.”
Coder started Aunt Flow, a company whose focus is to place free and 100% natural menstrual products in all women’s restrooms. “My full mission is to ensure that every woman has access to tampons, pads and menstrual products.”
Through her stories, Coder wove in many important lessons of entrepreneurship. She discussed target marketing, which focuses business outreach to customers by knowing the audience for your product. Her strategy? Using humor to talk about menstruation gets a customer’s attention.
“Life revolves around sales,” says Coder. “You sell yourself to potential employers or to a university in an interview, and you sell your product to customers if you’re a business owner.”
From her first business selling buttons online on Etsy during high school to becoming the founder of Aunt Flow, Coder’s come a long way in building her skill set: “My primary role is to fix stuff when it goes wrong. Is a customer not satisfied? Bring them to me,” says Coder.
Aunt Flow targets individual businesses with its product. Now, the company stocks universities and schools such as Stanford and NYC Public City schools. Coder says they “have helped raise attendance rates of girls by 2.4% just from offering free menstrual products alone.” In 2019, Aunt Flow products will be in over 1,000 businesses and schools. For every nine tampons or pads sold, Aunt Flow donates one to a woman in need. To date, Aunt Flow has donated more than 350,000 pads and tampons.
How can Coder make her products free to women? Her main marketing strategy: telling businesses they can eradicate the labor costs of refilling their product dispensers. It takes two workers to refill coin-operated dispensers: one to refill the coins and the other to refill the tampons, which fit only 10-12 tampons or pads at a time. Aunt Flow came up with a new solution: their own patented dispenser tailored to their products.
“No one carries around coins anymore,” says Coder. “Also, the dispensers don’t work most of the time, leaving 90 percent of women without a pad or tampon during an emergency.”
Coder hopes to inspire Denison students to advocate for their dreams.
“When you know what you want, you can get there,” says Coder. “It can be a mixture of luck and grit, but you’ll get there.”