Carleton graduate launches Ottawa-based period products company called 'Only'
However a woman refers to "that time of the month", convenience isn’t normally part of the description.
Ottawa entrepreneur Kathryn Plouffe and her team want to change that with subscription-based period products called Only.
"My goal is to make menstruation management an industry that is sustainable for our planet and good for our bodies," says Plouffe.
Plouffe and co-founder, Philippe Faubert, recently launched Only’s sustainable period products, including the first reusable tampon applicator in Canada.
The products arrive at your door.
For Plouffe, the company’s CEO, it is all about what isn’t in the package.
The venture started about six years ago, where many ideas are born—in a pub.
Plouffe had just graduated from Carleton University and thought: "I was suddenly wondering why my tampons weren’t delivered to me just like a lot of delivery subscriptions. Those services were starting to pop up."
If it made sense for any product to arrive monthly, it was tampons.
That led to research.
"I found out the tampons I’ve been using my whole life are made out of something called rayon and not cotton," explains Plouffe.
"Rayon is essentially wood pulp that is bathed in chemicals until it turns into that soft cotton-looking product," says the menstrual products entrepreneur.
"So, I figured this has got a change. So long, long story short, my business partners and I found a manufacturer making a beautiful range of organic cotton products."
Only’s products are made of organic cotton that is biodegradable.
Plouffe’s team removed all synthetics, rayon, plastics and other ingredients from pads, liners and tampons.
After receiving Health Canada approval, the products are being delivered to Canadian women.
With every subscription sold, Only donates to Period Packs, an organization working to eradicate menstrual inequity in Canada through access, advocacy and education.
What started "Only" as a convenience has turned into a mission to educate women.
Dr. Ardelle Piper, an Ottawa-based Gynecologist and Only’s medical advisor, sees open dialogue about menstruation as long overdue.
"There’s a lot of taboo and secrecy around our periods. This is historic and, of course, it’s cultural. It really is time for us to have better open conversations about menstruation overall."
Dr. Piper says conversations about normalizing cycles lead to conversations about products and options.
"Like menstrual cups and different things that are better for the environment."
"When you think about products that might be used for your period for only a couple of hours but then they are going to live in the environment for hundreds of years, I think these are really important conversations for us to have around our product choices," says Dr. Ardelle.
Only does away single-use plastics.
Plouffe is passionate what she feels the line will do for women and the environment.
"We have a whole range of organic cotton pads, tampons, liners and we also have a reusable range of menstrual cups in three sizes," Plouffe enthusiastically explains.
The company says it produced Canada’s first reusable applicator. And Only wants clients to know it will last for a decade.
"The reusable tampon applicator looks and functions just like a regular applicator but you get to reuse it. Just rinse with warm water and soap, leave it out to air dry and you’re good to go," said Plouffe.
"(It’s) approved by Health Canada for use up to 10 years with proper maintenance. The goal—to omit the single-use plastic problem with the period industry."
The Ottawa-based team says affordability is also a priority.
"They’re as low as $7 up to $9 all delivered tax-free, all of your carbon emissions are offset," says Plouffe.
Products range in price from $7.50 to $55.00.
Plouffe and Faubert may turn a monthly period into an exclamation mark with their business venture.
Plouffe says Only is the beginning. They plan to expand with other personal “bathroom-space” products.
“We want to offer eco-friendly basic necessities as a subscription-based service, while offsetting all of our commercially-related carbon emissions that it takes to get our products into customers’ hands."
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