Celia is Co-Founder of DAME, the sustainable period care brand behind the world’s first reusable tampon applicator and DAME organic tampons. After setting up her own menstrual product subscription service delivering popular products to women across the UK, Celia saw first-hand the plastic and chemicals that go into tampons. Believing that women and the planet deserve better, she launched DAME in January 2019 and has so far saved over 350 million pieces of single-use plastic from landfill and our oceans. We chat to Celia about running a B Corp business, positive periods, and shopping second hand to help reduce waste.
What led you to start your business?
Working in the industry for years, my co-founder Alec and I saw the enormous waste that came from period products. 100 billion period products are thrown away every year, and the majority of these are single-use and contain a disgusting amount of plastic. However it was when we dug deeper and discovered that these products aren't regulated in the EU, and are not required to verify or list their ingredients, that was the torch-paper. These are necessity products for half the global population, and we wanted to make sure they were the best they could be. So DAME was born in 2019 with our launch of the world's first reusable tampon applicator and our organic cotton tampons. We're now sold in major retailers like Sainsbury's, Waitrose, Boots, Ocado and ASOS, and have continued to innovate with our patent-pending reusable pads and period pants, all with the end goal to make sure that everyone can have access to a positive period.
What steps have you taken to be more sustainable as a business?
Products aside, quite early on in 2018, before we'd even launched, we decided to become a B Corp. We believed that we needed to hold ourselves accountable and build a business with profit and purpose at its core. So we aim to make sure the decisions we make on a day to day can be the best they can be. It's not easy - quite frankly as a small business who's trying to burst out onto the scene, it’s pretty tough. And we don't always get it right. But having that set of values written into our business was important. For example it led us to take the decision to track our carbon footprint, which for a start-up is a lengthy and detailed process. Yes, knowing the life cycle of our products enables us to constantly iterate and improve them.
How would you describe your day-to-day?
It's a double cliche but no two days are the same, and there are a lot of plates to be spun. It can be anything from going through the designs for our new packaging, testing out improvements to our applicator, running through budgets for the year to pitching to hundreds of investors. We're lucky we have an awesome team who are driven and passionate to help bring our vision of changing periods for good into reality.
What does home mean to you?
Wherever my family is. I've got 3 young kids, so every moment spent hearing their squeals of laughter is pretty much heaven. In reality, home is currently a dilapidated house in rural Dorset with single pane windows and what feels like gaping holes in the walls. Home means cold at the moment!
What’s your top tip for living more sustainably?
Insulate your house! Actually, just be more considerate with your non-essential purchases if you can. As a consumer we're up against it, being sold to at every possible waking moment, and being led to believe that this is what will make us truly happy. Rather than thinking "that's a bargain, I'll get 3", think do I really need it? Or better can I find it somewhere on the secondary market (Ebay, Gumtree, etc.) and reduce another waste-cycle. The less we buy, the more signals we send to the market for them to rethink their business models. It's not an easy process, and I definitely fall prey to the constant advertising. But we all need to be more conscious of it, both the blatant in your face (billboards) and the more sneaky insidious kind (TV shows, movies, magazines, influencers).
Name a forever item of clothing or accessory that you couldn’t live without?
It's cringingly on-brand, and a bit of a cheat, but it's my DAME storage pouch, purely for the reason that it contains my applicator, tampons, pads and pants - everything I need for my period. And all which are built to last for years. Personally it's been a game changer using these products. Yes, I get to be sustainable and know I'm helping the planet. But quite selfishly I get to have a less painful, comfier period which is incredible. Plus I save money because they're reusable. I can't live without period products, I need them every month. So I want to make sure that that week every month is the best it can be.