How this NYC tampon startup is poised to take on its big brand competitors

December 13, 2016

The tampon business is a multi-billion dollar industry.

In fact, it’s an industry projected to reach $6.2 billion by 2020. For a long time, big brands like Tampax, Playtex and Kotex held reign over the market, but with an increased popular interest as to what ingredients are actually in tampons, a young New York-based startup is looking to change that.

Per the current industry standard, the FDA does not require companies to list all of the ingredients in tampons. So what is actually in tampons? Usually, a tampon is made of non-organic cotton, rayon or a combination of both, combined with synthetic fibers like rayon and polyester. There are no regulations on the type of cotton in tampons and there have been no studies on the long-term effects these artificial fibers have on women.

In response, feminine care startup Lola created a subscription-based solution that delivers a box of 100 percent organic cotton tampons to your home each month. Operating on a subscription basis, the company is shaking up the tampon business through convenience, as well as transparency, to overhaul the existing standards in feminine care.

A box of 18 Lola tampons costs $10, or two boxes go for $9 each. Customers can also mix and match their subscriptions between applicator tampons of varying absorbencies, tailored to fit their personal cycles. Earlier this month, LOLA introduced pads and liners into its product offerings, catering to the more than 75 million American women projected to use the product category by 2020. The company offers two types of pads, for both day and night, which are also made with a 100 percent organic cotton topsheet and core.

Today, the company raised a $7 million Series A round led by Spark Capital, bringing the company’s total funding to $11.2 million. Additional investors in this new round include actresses Lena Dunham, who joins her Girls costar Allison Williams as a backer. Lerer Hippeau, Brand Foundry, BBG Ventures and BoxGroup also participated in the round. Previous investors include the founders of Warby Parker, Sweetgreen, Bonobos, Insomnia Cookies and fashion model Karlie Kloss.

"I invested in LOLA because I believe their product is removing stigma from women's reproductive processes while also giving us healthy, stylish options for taking care of period business ,” said Lena Dunham in a statement. “As an advocate for women's health and a lover of female-run businesses, this relationship is just a natural fit."

Lola employs a direct-to-consumer model, with users buying a monthly customizable subscription online. The model is similar to New York-based razor startup Harry’s, which is looking to reinvent the men’s shaving market.

The company was founded in 2014 by Jordana Kier and Alexandra Friedman, after the pair met through mutual friends and began to question the feminine brands they had always used.

“On behalf of LOLA, we’re thrilled to be working with Spark Capital as we take the business to the next stage,” said co-founder and co-CEO Alex Friedman in an email. “This round of funding will enable us to grow the LOLA team and in turn, continue to deliver the best products and experiences to new and existing customers. Since launching LOLA over a year ago, we’ve seen a huge shift in the national dialogue around  transparency in feminine care, as well as destigmatizing the topic of menstruation. Our goal is to continue that conversation as the go-to brand for women’s wellness and health care.”

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