An Interview with Kali: Organic & Socially Conscious Tampons
Deciding who our first interview for The Conscious Collective would be with was tricky. When Kali presented itself to us a few weeks ago, our questions were answered. Co-Founded by Jonna Piira and Sara Shake, Kali aims to not only provide their subscribers with a beautiful, organic, eco-conscious product, but to help empower girls in less fortunate countries. The United Nations Foundation’s Girl Up campaign was launched in 2010, helping fund UN programs that, “promote the health, safety, education, and leadership of girls in developing countries.”
Kali subscribers receive a thoughtfully assembled and presented box of 14 Kali tampons, (your choice of regular, super or a variety), 10 Kali Wipettes, (paraben & sulfate free), and a natural “Period Pampering Product” that changes every month. This month’s gift was a refreshing & nourishing rosewater mist to help “Spray the Meh Away.” As if getting this gorgeous box to your doorstep every month isn’t enough, $1 from your purchase of a Kali Box goes to Girl Up. It’s about time we as women are not only given the opportunity to nurture ourselves with something special each month, but to pay it forward and help our younger generations while doing so. Beautiful, organic & socially conscious. I simply do not have enough good things to say about Kali!
1. Sara, could you please tell us a bit about yourselves. Were you raised with the obviously holistic and sensitive philosophy and lifestyle you now share?
We were both raised in households that valued health & wellness, but it wasn’t until we were both young adults that we really started making those choices for ourselves. We both subscribe to the 90/10 principle: trying to eat clean and healthy 90% of the time, while treating ourselves the other 10%.
2. How did the seed of Kali sprout & what is your motivation?
The idea occurred to me [Sara] shortly after the launch of Dollar Shave Club. I thought their concept was brilliant and knew there had to be a product that women needed as much as men needed razors. Personally, I was also an early adapter to the subscription box trend. At one time, I was getting Birchbox, Faithbox, Blue Apron, Dollar Shave Club, and a couple of other one-off boxes. Despite the trend towards everything digital, I am still a sucker for getting something in the mail. As a woman, I also literally never had a tampon when I needed one. I voiced the idea to a couple of people; one of them being my partner and Kali Co-Founder, Jonna Piira. She was looking for a new project at the time and encouraged me that this was a viable idea that we could actually pull off. We set out to make the process of buying and using tampons better, and that’s what lead us to launching Kali.
3. Do you have a motto, mantra or mission statement?
We often say “Friends don’t let friends use non-organic tampons.” This came from the need to spread awareness about switching to organic. Many women still have no idea that this option is available, so it’s up to us (as women) to educate our friends.
4. Coming up with a name for your business is one of the hardest parts. How did you settle on the name Kali?
Kali wasn’t our original name…we landed on it after a couple of different options and we both loved it. We have a close friend with the name, so she became our namesake for the company. After the fact, we began to learn more and more about the goddess Kali. She is the goddess of empowerment and is often portrayed as a “mother goddess.” We loved the association and it guided many of our design choices when it came to branding.
5. What has been the most surprising response to your product and company?
Honestly, the most surprising response has been other women that may not be on-board with the organic movement being pretty nasty about the concept. You would think as women that even if we didn’t agree with each other, we could respect each other’s entrepreneurial pursuits, but we still have some work to go to get there. For every negative comment we might get, there are hundreds of supportive women truly excited about the products and the movement towards organic feminine hygiene, but it can still be disheartening at times. (Sorry this just happened 5 minutes ago so it is on my mind!) We’re girls, and Girl Up supports girls, so we just want everyone to get along, lol.
6. What has been the most satisfying and rewarding thing about your venture?
Hands down, working with the Girl Up organization and getting to participate in their Teen Advisor Weekend. Their TA’s are so smart and cultured and truly motivated to change the world for the better. It’s very inspiring to be partnered with an organization like theirs.
7. One of the things that really sparked our interest about Kali, was your relationship with Girl Up. Can you tell us a bit about your involvement with them?
After a long process of finding a non-profit partner, we are so blessed to be working with Girl Up. We donate $1 from every box every month, and those funds go to their programs in 12 different countries of need—the places where it is the hardest to be a girl — including India, Guatemala, Ethiopia, Liberia, and more. We are looking forward to furthering this partnership this year and working with their Teen Advisors throughout the country on things like product donations and feminine hygiene product drives. We’re heading to their Leadership Summit in July and couldn’t be more excited.
8. The added gift of a “Period Pampering Product” in each box is such a thoughtful touch. How do you go about picking the products?
Each product should encourage you to take a couple minutes of “me time” per month. Whether it’s something like our Virgin Coconut Sugar Scrub or the brand new Wake Up Oil, it is a product that should make you feel beautiful and lift your mood, if even for a minute 🙂 The products are all natural, using organic ingredients whenever possible.
9. We touched on the importance of using organic tampons a few months back on The Conscious Collective. In case some of our readers missed it, they may not be aware of the dangers of conventional feminine products. Could you share some things with us that you have learned?
In our experience, and from what we hear countless other women’s experiences, we use the same product that our moms used. We got handed a certain tampon or pad brand when we were 13, and used the same thing without thinking twice about it for 20 years.
We should tell you that once you start reading about what’s in (or could be in) traditional tampons and pads, you will NEVER un-see it. So many women that we meet are like “OMG they make organic tampons, I never even thought about that…!” And that’s what we’re trying to change. We’re trying to make organic tampons a thing.
Some things that you should know are that the bleaching process for traditional feminine hygiene products produces a byproduct called Dioxin, which is a known carcinogen. They also could contain chlorine bleach, synthetic fibers, harsh chemicals and, potentially, GMOs. (Oh, and by the way, the FDA doesn’t require these big tampon companies to release their full list of ingredients.) Choosing 100% certified organic cotton tampons or pads eliminates all this scary stuff. And although we can’t say it outright (because we’re not OB/GYNs), our belief is that we will start to see studies in the near future dedicated to figuring out what the side effects of using these products are. We have tons of women that have been diagnosed with PCOS, endometriosis, etc. that are now taking a second look at the products they’ve been putting in their bodies for so many years.
AND that’s not even touching on the fact that many plastic applicators and pads aren’t biodegradable and end-up polluting our landfills. We read recently that one pad is the equivalent of 4 plastic grocery bags. Kali tampons (and applicators) are 100% biodegradable.
There’s a good article to check out on CNN.com titled “What’s in Your Pad or Tampon?”
10. Do you have any advice for people wanting to start an organic & sustainable brand?
Go for it! And understand that you need to have a strong understanding of your ingredients and pick them thoughtfully because they will be carefully looked at. Organic consumers take their products seriously and you need to be prepared for that.
11. What are some of your favorite organic brands or products?
We just participated in an amazing event called the Sacred Beauty Series and it was all about green beauty products. We discovered Jacq’s Organics facial products, and Conscious Coconut Coconut Oil. They are amazing! We are also loving LVX Nail Lacquer and One Love Organics for their Brand New Day Scrub.
12. What’s next? Any new plans or products in the works?
So many things! We are currently surveying our subscribers to see what products they’d like to see next. Our next big release will be organic pads and liners later this summer.
We learn something new everyday, right?! Don’t hesitate to take your health into your own hands….You have the choice. Choose organic!