In a mission to build a menstrual and sexual health positive community, Marlow launched its direct to consumer business on December 8, offering an innovative menstrual product.
Marlow’s key differentiator in the tampon market is that its product is sold in tandem with a bottle of lubricant.
The startup also recently received approval from Health Canada in October, after eight months of submitting details on Marlow’s product composition and ingredients, quality management systems, and standards of procedure.
“As menstruators ourselves, we know how ridiculous it is that periods are a subject steeped in whispers and misinformation. We’re determined to change that.” — Simone Godbout
The London-based medical device startup also raised $500,000 in a simple agreement to future equity (SAFE) in May from angel investors Chris Guillon, co-founder of StormFisher; Karen Lang; Francois Arbour, co-founder and CEO of designstripe; George Guillon; and NEXT Canada, where Marlow was a member of its 2021 cohort.
Made up of 100 percent organic cotton, Marlow’s tampons are intended to be used with its aloe-based, pH balanced, water-based lubricant. The startup said there’s currently no options to lubricate a tampon on the market other than using a drug store option.
“We went through many design iterations and this led us to create our innovative cross slit valve opening to the lubricant bottle,” Marlow said, adding that this allows the customer to coat their tampon with lubricant in one easy, mess-free dip.
The startup also positions its menstrual products as a sustainable alternative to an industry that is known for having a heavy impact on the environment.
Marlow emphasizes that its lubricant is free of fragrance, dyes, and irritants. Its tampon applicators are sugar-cane based plastic, a sustainable alternative to the traditional petroleum-based plastic applicator.
Although tampons and applicators are only used for short periods of time, their plastic materials end up in landfills for years. In an average lifetime, a person who menstruates throws away around 400 pounds of packaging from menstrual products, which often end up in landfills, sewer systems, and waterways when flushed.
Marlow’s tampons can be bought alone, or with its bottle of lubricant. Each box is sold with 18 tampons, wrapped in compostable packaging. Marlow runs on a subscription model that allows customers to get three boxes of tampons with three bottles of lubricant delivered every 90 days.
Its founders—Simone Godbout, Kiara Botha, Nadia Ladak, Harit Sohal and Natalie Diezyn—came up with the idea of the venture from a capstone course project as Western University’s Ivey Business School students.
Their planning focused on how current menstrual products were “limiting,” highlighting common issues such as using a tampon to swim, and the overly feminine branding that didn’t resonate with them.
Data has shown that 54 percent of women said they didn’t use tampons because they found them uncomfortable. Some other reasons include “I worry about Toxic Shock Syndrome,” which accounted for 40 percent of survey participants, and 27 percent of women said “I don’t know how to insert them or worry about inserting them.”
In a survey conducted by Marlow this year, the startup found that 86 percent of menstruators have experienced discomfort when inserting tampons due to anxiety, light flow, vaginal dryness, or medical conditions such as vaginismus.
“As menstruators ourselves, we know how ridiculous it is that periods are a subject steeped in whispers and misinformation,” said Godbout, CEO of Marlow. “We’re determined to change that.”
Godbout pointed to brands such as Peloton and ClassPass that lead the conversations about physical wellness, and companies such as Headspace and Calm that open discussions about mental health. “Now it’s time to look forward towards sexual wellness,” she said. “And we want Marlow to be at the forefront of this next wave of wellness.”
Image from Marlow’s website