These entrepreneurs aim to disrupt the women’s intimate and hygiene space with a range of eco-friendly products
Every woman wants the best for her children, and Anika Parashar is no exception. Her daughter was hitting puberty and she wondered whether the products available in the market were good enough for her.
A lot of questions arose in Anika’s mind. “What products are good for her? What products would be certifiably biodegradable, organic, soft, rash-free, and enable her to continue her level of normal activity even while she was on her period?”
All these thoughts gave rise to the idea of starting up in this space. And thus, in Anika’s words, The Woman’s Company was born “in trying to find solutions for lakhs of women who felt their needs were not catered to, and for those who wanted their daughters and granddaughters to have long-term, and viable solutions.”
For women, by women
The Woman’s Company was launched on International Women’s Day this year by Anika along with co-founder Roopam Gupta.
Anika has over 19 years of experience working with reputed organisations such as Fortis Healthcare, Mahindra & Mahindra, The National Childbirth Trust, BSKYB, Channel 4, and Old-World Hospitality, among others.
She had left her role as the COO for the Fortis La Femme hospitals due to personal issues, and shortly after, her mother passed away, which meant she moved into a natural sabbatical.
“Having two young kids and a brother who had his own struggles, as well as closing down my parents’ matters meant I had a full plate. As time went on in this past year, I was clear I wanted to continue my trajectory of two decades in women’s healthcare and wellness – I had ample time and experience in understanding the need gaps and the challenges that existed for women. Through RiverRock Ventures, I started looking at young businesses in the women’s health space that I might invest time and money in, and slowly some areas narrowed down,” she says.
Roopam started her career around a decade ago as a brand manager with retail brands like Marks & Spencer and Bata India before she moved to Fortis La Femme to lead the brand under Anika’s leadership.
“After having worked on other projects with Anika, she offered me partnership and the role of COO for this new venture even when she heard the news of my pregnancy! This is a very exciting phase in my life as I have just birthed my two favourites - my newborn son Riyom and The Woman's Company. My daughter Reet is a more manageable toddler,” she says.
Convenient and eco-friendly
The Woman’s Company currently offers six products in the women’s intimate and hygiene space - sanitary pads, panty liners, tampons, menstrual cup, bamboo razor, and pee stick, with a vision to disrupt the traditional hygiene and intimate products being used by women.
Roopam explains that one of their unique products is The Woman Stick – a urination device manufactured in India to help every woman stand and pee.
“The TWC urination stand and pee stick is made up of recyclable kraft paper without any use of plastic or lamination. The stick is ergonomically designed, comfortable, convenient, biodegradable, and environment friendly. Absolutely mess-free, the product’s perforated sides are customised to fit around a woman’s parts, leaving aside any fear of backsplashes and spillage and thereby reducing infections contracted by using public toilets.”
Another product is a specially designed soft ‘Teenage Pad’ for young girls who have just started their periods, and want to feel free and confident during the five days of their menstrual cycle.
The company said it will be making the products available across pharmacies, hospitals, on the TWC website soon, and will shortly be available on Amazon, Flipkart, Paytm Mall, and a number of other online aggregators. The products are competitively priced in the range of Rs 50-800.
The products are currently manufactured in India and abroad, and the packaging is done in the country.
The founders also emphasise on the sustainability of the products.
“All our products and packaging are biodegradable, sustainable, and environment-friendly. We have invested a long period of time to carefully identify the ingredients that get into our products to touch the most sensitive and intimate parts of a woman's body, and our background in healthcare gives us the experience to understand how to achieve this,” says Roopam.
The Woman’s Company has raised investments from the founders, external investors, and employee stakeholders, and is not looking for any more funding at present.
However, the startup claims its aim is not just to manufacture products, but to also have awareness sessions, especially on menstrual health and hygiene.
“Having been in the healthcare sector for so long, the connects and the network we have is phenomenal. We have a panel of expert stakeholders on board to build awareness and bring about further change in the landscape of women’s health – not just menstrual health and hygiene. We aim to be an information company alongside a product company,” says Anika.
The current downturn in the economy and the coronavirus pandemic both make this a very challenging time for the startup. “But if there is one thing I have learnt about myself, it is that it takes a lot for me to be distracted off course – I believe in The Woman’s Company, and I do believe we will make the impact that we envision,” she adds.
(Edited by Megha Reddy)