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When children and seniors pee in their pants, it’s considered normal. When a woman in her thirties does so after giving birth, it’s embarrassing. Cora, which manufactures organic period care products, is trying to put an end to this social stigma and announced today that it is launching a new kind of product: sleek, natural pads and liners for bladder leaks.
“These types of products aren’t being marketed to the 30-year-old woman,” said Cora co-founder Molly Hayward, when I interviewed her. “Most women don’t know that products exist for that issue as incontinence is only being marketed to seniors. And you don’t want to have to go to the diaper aisle.”
Hayward says this issue popped up on Cora’s radar about a year and a half ago when customers said they were using period pads for bladder leakage. So Cora asked the question: Is this a widespread issue for younger women?
Need For Data
The startup issued a survey earlier this year, asking 1,000 U.S.-based women between the ages of 30 and 50 about their experience with light bladder leaks. The survey revealed several things, but one statistic that stood out is that 41% of women in their thirties experience bladder leaks at least once a week.
Other notable results include:
No one’s talking about it: 89% of women are more likely to share relationship issues, body image fears and taboo lifestyle habits like drinking or drug use than talk about bladder leakage.
It’s a daunting postnatal issue: 45% of women said that having bladder leakage was worse for them after having a baby than healing from childbirth.
Misconception that the only option is period pads: Two thirds of women think traditional period pads are the best bet for protection against light bladder leaks, and almost one third of women are too embarrassed to seek out more appropriate incontinence products.
A New Wave
Things are starting to change, however. Celebrities like Chrissy Teigen are paving the way to a more open and honest conversation about the physical challenges mothers can face after giving birth. The model and star cook is known for her explicit candor, talking about “How Having a Baby Tears Up Your Vagina”.
But even though the conversation is flowing (pun intended), the industry needs to catch up, and fast.
Pads And Liners 2.0
“Current designs are all wrong,” said Hayward. “There’s too much bulk in the back with a traditional pad. Even though women aren’t looking for a high-tech solution, they still want a better pad.”
And so Hayward and her team started from scratch to design the perfect product for the modern woman. Contrary to the thick, diaper-like period pad, Cora’s bladder pad is a thin, fan-shaped liner with an ultra-absorbent pod at the top to catch leaks at their source.
“We create proprietary products so we were able to make the perfect liner and add additional material where the urine hits the liner from the urethra,” said Hayward.
The startup has developed a patent pending channel technology that rapidly pulls urine down into the absorbent layer, which converts liquid to a gel and helps prevent bad odours. All of this made with a 100% organic top sheet and hypoallergenic materials.
There are other players in the space that also sell incontinence pads for women, such as Tena, Always and Natracare. But Hayward argues that Cora utilizes a woman-led design process in order to create a first-of-its kind shape that fits to a woman’s body and catches bladder leaks where they actually happen. She adds that many conventional players offer pads that don’t use health-conscious materials during the manufacturing process.
Changing The World One Pad At A Time
In addition to the organic component of the products, Cora also strives to have a global impact. Hayward has a long history of working for women’s rights and socio-economic empowerment in developing countries, which she ingrained into Cora’s DNA from the start. The startup provides pads to girls in need, working with local non-profits in Kenya and India to elevate education around menstruation.
The young female entrepreneur co-founded Cora in 2015 with Morgen Newman, who handles finances and operations. Newman got curious when his wife, Kayti, kept forgetting to buy tampons. And so, between his pragmatism and Hayward’s social mission, Cora was born. It initially began as an online subscription service, allowing women to order period products via the website and have them delivered at their door each month. Cora has now expanded into retail and recently partnered with Target.
The San Francisco-based startup also recently announced a new round of funding, locking in an additional $7.5 million to further its mission. Harbinger Ventures led the round, with participation from existing investors. This brings Cora’s total funding to about $15 million. The fresh injection of capital will be used to continue product development and invest heavily in R&D, says Hayward. The startup will also focus on brick-and-mortar expansion at all Target locations, including broader in-store product offerings.
April 24, 2019 at 11:20AM
Forbes – Entrepreneurs