A woman can use more than 10,000 tampons in her lifetime, yet the U.S. Food & Drug Administration does not require companies to list product ingredients on the packaging. Lola, the organic cotton feminine care company Friedman and Kier founded in June 2015, brings transparency to the materials and processes that go into the toiletry staple.
The pair first met in 2014, when Friedman was at a tech startup and Kier had just graduated from Columbia Business School. “I asked Alex—this stranger!—if she’d ever thought about what was in her tampons. She was actually intrigued,” says Kier. After that first meeting, the pair spent months conducting consumer research to understand whether women even cared about the materials in tampons—most are a combination of cotton, rayon and polyester—and whether they’d be willing to switch to organic materials. “The lightbulb would go on for so many women: ‘Huh! I’ve never thought about what’s in my tampon.’ It was at that moment we realized there was a massive opportunity for a new brand, product and experience,” Kier says.
Since its launch, the company has raised $11 million and attracted customers in all 50 states. Lola is sold direct to consumers online and can be found in bathrooms at high-end fitness clubs and numerous businesses. Last spring the pair launched period kits for young girls. One box of 18 Lola tampons costs $10 (about double what a typical mixed box costs) and can be customized to the amount of light, regular and super-absorbency tampons. “Only a woman could have thought about that,” says Kier. “Women are becoming informed and empowered to share, telling friends about ingredient transparency.”