11 October 2016

Students launch reusable sanitary pad business despite online haters

Thanks to some initial government funding, a couple from Wales have started rolling out their reusable sanitary product business – despite abuse from trolls.
house of callawayCredit: Sarah Callaway
Sarah Callaway and her partner Mike began building out their own online business after being awarded starter funding as part of a Youth Entrepreneurship program organised by the Welsh government.

They were given £500 in order to facilitate their bright idea of a reusable sanitary product business – aiming to save women cash every month as well as being kinder to the environment.

However, the couple weren’t prepared for the tirade of abuse they’d receive from trolls, and were shocked to find even local listings in South Wales were rejecting them due to the products they were selling.

We spoke to one student in Hampshire who funds extra uni costs by selling her knickers online! Read more here.

Why reusable sanitary products?

sanitary productsAccording to Sarah, the average woman goes through 9,600 tampons in her lifetime, and a recent survey found that women spend around £114 every year on tampons alone.

And did you know you pay 5% tax on sanitary products like pads and tampons (downgraded from 17.5% in 2001!), whereas Jaffa Cakes are tax-free (believe it or not, McVities actually took this to court – try googling ‘Jaffa Cake case’ if you don’t believe us)!

Shockingly, sanitary products are still considered a luxury item in the eyes of the taxman, whereas cakes are tax free (but are Jaffa Cakes really cakes, or are they biscuits disguised as cakes?).

With tampon taxes in mind, it’s not surprising that a growing number of women are considering alternative reusable sanitary products instead.

The product

reusable padsSarah and Mike’s products at House of Callaway, are made from terry towelling, which is the same material typically used for reusable nappies. The towelling pads are sewn up in some fancy bright material, with popper buttons to keep the pads in place.

Rather than dispose of used products that will eventually end up in ever-growing landfills, you can pop these pads in the washing machine on a warm wash and they’ll come out good as new.

Sarah and Mike are also keen to clarify that they’re not the first to be promoting handmade reusable pads like the ones they’re making. Just a few months ago, a teenager from Malawi began making her own washable pads, as sanitary products cost as much as an entire day’s wages there – which was even preventing young women from going to school on days where they had a period and couldn’t afford pads.

As well as being kind to the environment, reusable pads would save you a lot of money in the long run. Whereas a single cycle could see you spending between £1.50-£8 on tampons, Sarah’s reusable pads cost as little as £3.50 each.

Despite the positive impact their product could have, Sarah and Mike have had a few troll-shaped hurdles to overcome – including being called “sick and disgusting”, suggesting unfortunately some still struggle with the concept of the business.

However, since spreading the word nationwide, things are starting to look brighter for the couple and their new business as orders have been coming in from across the UK. Keen to get your order in?

Fancy yourself a bit of an entrepreneur? Check out our awesome guide on business ideas you can start at uni!

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