Over the past few years, the femtech sector has given rise to all sorts of female-related products. From ovulation-tracking bracelets to period-tracking apps, artificial intelligence (AI) is helping women track and predict their menstrual cycles. But when that time of the month comes, it’s not data you need — it’s period products. Freda, which sells organic tampons and pads through an online subscription, is trying to deliver these products in a timely manner, and announced today that it is launching out of beta.
“When people talk about femtech, they think about fertility apps,” said Freda founder Affi Parvizi-Wayne, in an interview with VentureBeat. “The actual period, pads, and tampons aspect is just not sexy enough.”
In her view, women have been on “autopilot” until now, buying femcare products passively. The London-based founder is trying to change that by encouraging women to think about their periods the way they think about what they eat, or how much they sleep.
When users create a profile on Freda’s website, they input information about their last menstrual cycle (the first and last day of their period, duration of the cycle, heaviness of flow) and keep adding data along the way. The algorithm gets to know each user’s period cycles over time, which makes even irregular periods more predictable. Based on this tracker, Freda is able to sync the delivery of the products to ensure they arrive a few days before the period starts.
Parvizi-Wayne, who is married to a gynecologist, works with a group of consultant gynecologists to help with the science, and also works with engineers to help on the tech side.
Freda charges customers £6.99 ($9.70) per month for shipping to the United Kingdom and Europe, and £9.99 ($13.99) per month for the U.S. Women can either order a premade box or customize it themselves to include tampons, day pads, night pads, and panty liners. If a woman is on the contraceptive pill and knows when her period starts each month, she can override the AI tracker and place orders manually.
Like many other startups in the period care sector, such as L., Lola, and Cora, Freda provides tampons made of 100 percent certified organic cotton that the company claims are biodegradable, hypoallergenic, and free from chemicals and synthetic fibres. The pads are made of sustainable wood pulp, as it is “much more absorbent than cotton,” Parvizi-Wayne said.
It is widely known that big corporate brands don’t typically disclose what is in their pads and tampons, leading many to argue that they likely contain toxic chemicals and dyes. This concern makes brands like Freda a very welcome alternative for women.
What’s more, these newish femcare startups aren’t only organic-minded and ecological, they are also socially responsible. According to Parvizi-Wayne, a portion of every subscription to Freda goes to worldwide initiatives tackling period poverty. The startup currently works with three charities: A Bloody Good Cause, a U.K. initiative that provides pads to refugees and the homeless; Bloody Good Period, which provides asylum-seekers with better access to period care; and KiliPads, a micro enterprise in Tanzania that produces reusable cloth pads with locally sourced materials for local school girls.
Parvizi-Wayne is also trying to dispel the taboo around periods by normalizing period products in society. “I don’t want women to shove tampons up their sleeves anymore,” she said. “After all, we’re not expected to carry around our own toilet paper.” Freda is therefore trying to get offices, hotels, gyms, and schools to stock period care products freely and conveniently. Think about it: Why do most hotels offer sewing kits in the bathroom but not tampons?
Freda also has retail plans to make its period care products available in physical shops. So the startup, which was named after Freyja — a goddess associated with love, sex, beauty, and fertility in Norse mythology — has a purpose and a mission. But will it succeed? With under a thousand customers in beta and no major funding to date, it’s too early to tell. But the concept is great — period.