Two young women, Nikki and Leah, went up against mainstream brands to drive change in the period industry and re-shape the way people shop for their period products with OHNE tampons – their game-changing offering to women.
OHNE is a bespoke, organic tampon subscription service. Everyone’s body is different. So is every period. “I really don’t care what goes into my vagina” – said no one ever. Most people who use mainstream tampons have absolutely no idea what kind of stomach-churning cocktail of toxins and nasty chemicals (think plastic, bleach, dioxin…) go into them. At OHNE, we’re on a mission for transparency in the menstrual health industry, because it makes us pretty mad that there are stricter regulations on the labelling of hamster food than there are on tampons.
Made from 100% organic cotton, certified by both the Soil Association and GOTS (Global Organic Textile Standard), and socially conscious. They have partnered with School Club Zambia , and for every box of OHNE tampons you buy, you’re helping to build brand new toilet blocks in rural Zambian schools and provide schoolgirls with menstrual education – including giving them the skills to make their own reusable pads from local resources.
What inspired you both to launch OHNE?
We both were organic tampon users already – but we also both fit into the 69% of women that are always unprepared for their period when it comes! Unfortunately, this meant a lot of dashing to the shops, not being able to find organic tampons and having to use conventional ones instead. We realised that there must be a better way – despite all the technology we have there still wasn’t a service that actually catered to the fact that we don’t love shopping for tampons. So we decide to launch our bespoke subscription service to address this – and to do it in a way that caters to the most women possible. Not every woman has a 5 day cycle that lasts 28 days and our service reflects this.
How did you get the business off the ground?
We started working on OHNE about a year before we launched and spent the majority of that year conceptualising the brand, sourcing our products, and building the website. A huge part of launching OHNE was creating an ethical and socially responsible business so we spent a lot of time working through our supply chain to ensure that women could trust our products. Once this was all ready we had to raise money to launch the company… which took a lot longer than we thought it would! Pitching our tampon company to a room full of male investors definitely had its challenges. However, we found some really passionate investors and this enabled us to launch OHNE in February of this year (2018).
Tell us a bit about the brand’s mission and your efforts to tackle period poverty?
Before we launched OHNE we spent a long time on branding because we wanted to create something that really matters and makes a difference. We were tired of companies putting out period product advertising which claimed to de-stigmatise menstruation but never actually discussed it. They were using the buzzwords of period activism while still profiting off the shame and secrecy surrounding menstruation (tampons wrapped like sweets, anyone?)
The stigma around periods affects women’s menstrual health as the lack of conversation leads to miseducation. We wanted to challenge this, but do it in a way that was authentic and relatable – dealing with real issues around periods. There’s a real lack of transparency in the period product industry. Women don’t know what’s in the products they’re using because we’re not talking about it! So OHNE is about more than making it easy for people to access organic tampons, it’s about starting these conversations we need to be having, educating people, and giving them the freedom of choice they deserve to have when it comes to how to manage their periods.
Our mission to improve menstrual health doesn’t have to stop in the UK. We’ve partnered with School Club Zambia, a grassroots social enterprise, whose Girl’s Programme was set up to improve the lives and education of young girls living in rural Zambia. Rather than donating single-use, disposable period products, for every box of OHNE tampons bought, customers are directly contributing to the long-term change in rural schools. The School Club Zambia are building brand new, clean toilet blocks in every school they work with, educating the students about menstruation, and equipping the girls with the skills they need to make their own reusable, sustainable sanitary pads from local resources. We’re incredibly passionate about this aspect of our business. Nikki has personally worked with the organisation in Zambia and seen first hand the incredible work that they do. Being able to support the community in an authentic way means a huge amount to us. We believe that every woman has the right to manage her period without shame and with dignity, which is why we’re committed to supporting efforts to eradicate period poverty in low-income areas.
What drew you to the organic space?
Organic is a lot more in demand today than it ever has been, which is great because people are becoming more and more aware of the types of products they are consuming and buying into. What’s not so great is that the lack of regulation on menstrual products means women and people who have periods have no idea what’s in the products they’re using.
We’d never judge anyone for choosing not to use organic tampons – but we think everyone has the right to know what is in the products they’re using so that they can make an informed decision. A big part of our mission at OHNE is raising awareness about the lack of regulation in this industry!
What are the biggest misconceptions about the current menstrual marketplace, that women should be mindful of?
Unfortunately, there are actually stricter regulations for the labelling of hamster food than there are for tampons in the UK (and Europe). The ingredients list of a tampon makes for a pretty disturbing read, and tampons are basically a chemical soup with contaminants linked to hormonal disruption, cancer, birth defects, dryness and infertility. When all of this comes into close contact with the skin of the vulva – the thinnest area of skin on the body – it moves straight into the bloodstream, making its toxic way directly to our delicate organs. Women will use up to 11,000 tampons over the course of their lifetime in the most sensitive and absorbent part of their bodies – this is pretty much as serious as a product relationship gets! With the rise of wellness and organic, we want women to know that the choices they make around their menstrual products are important too!
What’s next for OHNE?
We’ve only been launching for 6 months so we’re just getting started! We’ve got big things planned for the brand, but as a starting point, we’ll definitely be expanding our product range. Watch this space!
Aside from OHNE tampons (of course) what’s your next most important suitcase item?
Not very exciting but our laptops & passports are definitely our most important items! We work remotely so we bring work with us wherever we go (and never know where we might be needed!).
Where do the OHNE girls like to travel?
As our team is remote, we spend a lot of our time travelling. We’ve got the OHNE team spread across Australia, Spain, Portugal, Indonesia, Denmark and of course the UK! We try to spend as much time as we can catching up with our team, and trying to get everyone together as much as possible.