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Molly Hayward has traveled to 13 countries in 5 continents over the last 10 years.  During her travels, she saw how menstruation can negatively impact health and access to education for women and girls who are poor.  Back home, Molly learned of the potentially harmful substances contained in feminine products sold in the U.S. linked to endocrine disruption, cancer, and other devastating illness.  With a mission for providing a modern method of period management, Molly created Cora to offer body-conscious organic tampons, an elegant users experience, and period products for girls in developing countries who often drop out of school by age 14 due to inadequate menstrual products.  Named ‘Female Entrepreneur of the Year Under 40’ by the National Association of Women Business Owners and awarded ‘Start-up of the Year’ by Geekadelphia, Cora is committed to ensuring every woman and girl on the planet has a safe and effective way to manage her period.  Learn the long term effects of tampons on women’s health, how to modernize your period management, how you can provide period products to women around the world, and the future of feminine care. 

Click here to start your subscription and receive your first box of Cora organic tampons.

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Our vision for the future is one in which no woman is disempowered by her biology.

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Modern Menstruation

What are the potential long-term effects of tampons on women’s health?

Half of the population menstruates, on average, for 40 years, using over 10,000 tampons.  What many people don’t know, is that 90% of those tampons contain materials and chemicals that are potentially harmful to a woman’s health.  The typical tampon is made with viscose rayon, a highly absorbent synthetic created through a chemically-heavy process.  The material is then bleached to achieve a bright white cotton-y appearance.  Also, conventional (non-organic) cotton is considered to be one of the dirtiest crops in the world due to the heavy use of pesticides.

Since tampons are classified as a Class 2 Medical Device, the FDA does not require tampon manufacturers to conduct studies or disclose the ingredients in their products.  In other words, you have no idea what’s being put directly inside your body.  The FDA doesn’t do any testing themselves, rathery they rely on manufacturers to report them.  

Toxic Shock Syndrome (TSS), can be caused by highly absorbent tampons because they can create an environment that feeds the bacteria that causes TSS.  The synthetic fibers that get left behind when you remove a tampon can cause irritation that leads to endometriosis and chronic inflammation, which can also cause infertility.

How does the Cora experience improve and modernize period management?

The Cora tampon is a high-performing, premium, organic cotton tampon, made with GOTS certified organic cotton.  Our Fearless Fit technology includes a width-wise expansion and an octagonal design for maximum absorbency and leak protection.  Cora tampons also have BPA-free compact plastic applicators for comfortable insertion and discretion, coupled with soft, quiet wrappers.

Cora tampons also come with several accessories that are as sophisticated and chic as you are:

The little Black Box: It’s sophisticated yet sleek and doesn’t need a hiding place!

The Little Black Clutch: The little black clutch holds up to four tampons to get you through the day.  It’s also made from chic, vegan leather.

Cora Stowaways: These are individually packaged tampons you can give to a friend in need.  Each tampon includes a unique referral code, so if a friend signs up, you both get free product!

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90% of non-organic tampons contain materials and chemicals that are potentially harmful to a woman’s health.

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How can bSmart members get started using Cora tampons today?

As a tailored subscription service, Cora is delivered quarterly, so you never have to make a tampon run again.  The first shipment includes your tampon selection (based on quantity and absorbency mix) plus Cora’s Signature Kit for free (Little Black Box + Little Black Clutch = a $70 value).  By paying ahead (annually), you can save over 20%.  Otherwise, users can pay monthly or quarterly.

Our tampons aim to fit your lifestyle, so there’s no need to run out last minute or use tampons that come from a cheap cardboard box with noisy wrappers.

How does Cora provide period products for women around the world?

Over 100 million girls around the world lack access to adequate menstrual products.  For every month’s supply of Cora our customers receive, we give a full month’s supply of sustainable pads to a girl in a developing country.  We do this by partnering with organizations in India that support adolescent girls' education, and produce an innovative, affordable, and biodegradable brand of high-quality sanitary pads.  Produced in small mini-factories owned and operated by women, the organizations create jobs for women and a sustainable, affordable, local source of biodegradable pads for the community.

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Over 100 million girls around the world lack access to adequate menstrual products.

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What is your vision for the future of the feminine care industry?

Our vision for the future is one in which no woman is disempowered by her biology.  We imagine a world where all women have a fundamental understanding and appreciation for the awesome power of their female bodies, and have access to products that allow them to manage their periods with dignity and health.

We want our government and regulatory authorities to respect women’s bodies by investing in research on the long term effects of conventional, non-organic feminine products, as well as eliminating policies like the tampon tax that are clearly sexist.

The day we’re successful will be the day when every woman is consciously aware of the health and environmental implications of the feminine products she uses, and there’s no longer a need for our giving program, because all women have access to safe and healthy affordable menstrual products.

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We believe everyone on the planet should have access to a safe and effective way to manage their period.

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Wellness Work

How do you create wellness in your life as a busy woman and entrepreneur?

I’m terrible at work/life balance!  I work a ton, often to the detriment of my own health and wellbeing, as well as relationships.  One thing I try to do is be completely offline for at least one day each week.  I find that after I take that day, I enter back into work with far more energy and zeal for the mountain of tasks at hand.

I also try to run in nature or take a yoga class at least 1-2 times per week.  I’d like to prioritize meditating again, as I’ve experienced profound benefits from that practice.  Like all of us, I’m trying to do the best I can to take care of my own needs, while balancing the demands of my work and personal life.  It’s not easy, and I applaud every person who makes an effort to do it!

What has been your biggest lesson learned as a feminine care entrepreneur?

I’ve learned to lead with your story and your mission—this is what forges the emotional connections that are the most rewarding and fulfilling in business and in life.  I’ve also learned to not give up.  If you have a dream, don’t worry about how long it will take to fulfill it.  

I began dreaming of Cora well before it ever had legs as a scalable business.  It took time, perseverance through some really rough times, and building a team over the course of years.  If you really believe in what you’re doing and it makes you happy, just keep building.  Be grateful for every ounce of progress and stay the course, no matter how long the path feels at times.

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If you really believe in what you’re doing and it makes you happy, just keep building.

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How do you ensure quality manufacturing and delivery for period products?

We ensure the highest quality in two ways.  First, we build real relationships with all of our partners and suppliers so there’s constant open communication concerning every decision.  Second, we’re obsessive about end-to-end design and quality.  We put a lot of care into thinking about our customer—who she is, what she values, and how she would feel receiving and using Cora.  When we think that way, we can’t help but produce amazing things because the Cora woman is AMAZING.  

Can you share a success story for partnering to gives pads with purpose?

We believe everyone on the planet should have access to a safe and effective way to manage their period.  In rural India, one in four adolescent girls, ages 12 to 18 years old, drop out of school after they begin menstruating because they don’t have access to proper feminine care products.  Those who stay in school are often absent approximately five days each month.  When girls are given access to proper products, the dropout rate goes down by 90%.

We recently profiled a girl in India named Ankita who has benefited from Cora’s giving program.  She talked to us about feeling confident, going to school, seeing her friends, and having the opportunity to get a job after she graduates.

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When girls are given access to proper products, the dropout rate goes down by 90%.

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How can we be smart with our bodies and menstruation management?

Knowledge is power.  It’s so important to know about what you’re putting into your own body, especially from a young age.  I know many women who are conscious of the food they eat (i.e. organic), but don’t apply the same mindset to the tampons they put in their bodies.  Stay educated!  Do your research, know the facts, and always use organic tampons whenever possible.

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We imagine a world where all women have access to products that allow them to manage their periods with dignity and health.

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Meet Molly Hayward

Neighborhood: SOMA, San Francisco

Occupation: Fearless Female Founder

Twitter: @corawomen

Instagram: @corawomen

Women I Admire: The girls in India that Cora gives pads to so they can stay in school during their periods

Dream Mentor: So cliché—but Angelina Jolie

Ultimate Accessory: The (all natural) white streak in my hair

Favorite Store: Kit + Ace

Go-to Outfit: Black on black

Must-have Shoes: Madewell Billie Bootie

Can't Live Without Product: Rose Water

Signature Scent: Lavender

Beauty Essential: Clarisonic Facial Brush

Cocktail of Choice: Bombay Sapphire and tonic with lemon and lime

Travel Destination: South Africa

Current Craving: More travel

Best Advice: Stop worrying—you can’t do life wrong

De-Stress Technique: Hot yoga, hot bath, hot beverage

On My Playlist: ANOHNI

College: Connecticut College 

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