As International Women’s Week comes to a close, my topic tonight on the blog affects all women at some point in their lives – periods. Fed up with period inequality, my guest this week Mhairi, co founder of Floco, explains her products and why it is important to increase access to period products in countries where availability isn’t wonderful as well as to introduce an education programme closer to home to help young people tear apart the stigma surrounding periods and learn the facts. Sounds good to me! Welcome Mhairi!
Hi! My name is Mhairi. I am one of the co-founders of Floco. I am passionate about using innovation and education with compassion to try and make the world more equal and kind. I love dogs, going for a pint with friends and eating tasty food.
What inspired the setting up of your company, Floco?
We set up Floco after Alison (my co-founder) conducted her dissertation research in rural Kenya. This revealed the devastating impact of period poverty on young students. The fact young students were being forced to give up school, risk their wellbeing and even their lives just to access period products completely horrified and angered us. We became committed to finding a solution that would actually work for these students and help increase access to period products for the long term. After both visiting Kenya we set up Floco (previously Lilypads). We trained local women to run their own “pad projects” increasing access to safe and affordable period products. Returning to the UK we recognised that the scale and complexity of period poverty meant we would need to create something that could expand and be flexible. We started brainstorming solutions and recognised an opportunity to start designing and selling high quality and innovative reusable period products that would help support and fund the international organisation to keep operating as effectively as possible.
Our UK business stemmed from our social mission to help fight period poverty and it remains at the heart of our organisation.
Floco is on a mission to help everyone have the best period they can. We do this in 3 ways. First we design revolutionary reusable pads that are more discreet and comfy to help people who flow live sustainably without having to compromise on quality. Next, we are fighting period poverty with every pack sold by increasing access to period products in communities around the globe that don’t have access. Finally, we deliver fun and inclusive educational workshops across UK schools that is smashing stereotypes and inequalities.
I love that the reusable pads come in 6 different styles – What are your most popular sellers?
I love the 6 styles too (keep your eyes peeled as we increase this even further soon!).
Floco’s best sellers are the Superstar. The Superstar is named after what it will make you feel like. It is our standard day pad but there is nothing standard about it. The technical materials we use have allowed us to create a pad that is ultra-absorbent yet thin. It feels as soft as your undies and looks great in them! Whether you use it as your sole product or as a backup to something else we know it will make you feel confident and secure- because let’s be honest, periods are hard enough without a pad that feels like crap!
The Sleepy Pad is our next best seller. This is our night pad. It is soft and comfy and provides you with full coverage to save your sheets and give you a great night sleep.
What are the key benefits of Floco reusable pads compared to disposable pads?
A key benefit of reusable pads is environmental impact. As it says in the name, reusable pads are reusable! The average person who flows can use more than 11000 disposable products in their lifetime, these can be made of up to 90% plastic taking hundreds of years to degrade in landfills or washing up on beaches across the world. Swapping to reusable pads can save you 64kg of plastic and 316kg of CO₂E.
Reusable pads have other benefits too, they feel super soft so tend to be more comfortable than disposables. They can save you money in the long run (our pads last between 2 and 5 years). Some other slightly more specific benefits; the toilet bin will fill up slower so less emptying! They are always in your room so no more running to the shops last minute if you forget!
As you are based in the UK, are your products available to purchase internationally?
Currently we are only able to ship to the UK. However, our not for profit organisation works internationally across 8 different communities including in Kenya, Uganda, Zimbabwe and Cambodia.
As a brand, Floco, is committed to stopping period inequality and to encourage education surrounding periods and puberty. What does that entail?
Every pack of pads we sell supports our not for profit organisation.
This organisation partners with communities around the globe either to donate products or to support women to set up pad projects increasing access to pads to the entire community. We have donated thousands of pads in the past year and have big targets for 2022.
As well as increasing access to period products we have developed an education programme of workshops that is delivered to people across the UK. Our workshops range from topics such as periods and puberty to gender stereotypes and sexual harassment. There are different workshops aimed at school students, young adults and parents. The aim of our workshops is to combat the stigma and inequality that often surrounds these topics. We focus in on the social side of these topics and deliver them to all genders in a fun, inclusive and interactive environment. By creating environments of laughter we believe we can combat the misconceptions, shame and stereotypes that can often surround them.
Changing habits of a lifetime to have a low impact on the environment isn’t easy but it is possible – for example, through changing to reusable period pads. What other changes do you recommend or have undertaken yourselves?
I think making small changes can often be the best way for people to stick with them. Personally I have focussed on understanding the environmental impact of fashion and clothing. I have focussed on learning more about the environmental impact of fast fashion which has prompted me to start questioning my consumption habits (asking do I actually need something new?). I now try to shop second hand at stores and using apps such as Vinted and Depop and using rental apps for big occasions such as By rotation.
Personal now – what outfits and shoes would you normally be found wearing?
A usual day for me will look like me in either my second hand dungarees with a comfy jumper or top underneath or my staple long black skirt with a fun button up cardigan. (I love a cardigan!) I live in my Vegan Platform Doc Martens so I will most definitely be wearing them! I love accessories, in particular chunky colourful resin rings.
Do you have any favourite shops or online sites? (Apart from your own!)
By rotation is a super cool App that allows you to rent designer clothing. I love fashion and so I think it is fab to think I can still shop for something exciting and nice to wear to big occasions without relying on fast fashion or feeling guilty for only wearing it once!
What’s next on your clothes/shoe wish list?
I would love a new mid length skirt or a new denim oversized jacket as we head into spring!
Boots or Shoes?
Boots! I love a chunky platform boot. Doc Martens are my absolute favourite. I think they are just so comfy, they are appropriate for all seasons (vital when we live in Scotland) – perfect for cold winters but also look so cute with summery dresses. I love that they give me a bit more height without having to wear heels.
Links you would like to share e.g. website/facebook/twitter etc so that readers can find out more about Floco
@floco.period https://www.instagram.com/floco.period/ = Instagram
@floco.period www.facebook.com/floco.period = Facebook
Thank you for chatting to us Mhairi. I love Doc Martens too – height without heels – love it! Seriously though, I love your product and your determination to spread period equality and to educate young women on the facts. Let’s break the stigma! 😊
All photographs have been published with kind permission of Floco.