Celia Pool is the co-founder of DAME, who launched D the world’s first reusable tampon applicator earlier this year. DAME is tackling the massive problem of plastic waste caused by the feminine hygiene industry by creating a reusable alternative to a product women were already comfortable using, the tampon. DAME also sells it’s own organic cotton tampons which are biodegradable and do not contain harsh chemicals.
Describe a typical day for you?
Woken up by two little people shouting at me. Give said little people breakfast whilst getting all requested cereal combinations and toast presentation styles wrong (triangles, squares… or the new option of squiggles). Get shouted at a little bit more, then get some pretty massive hugs. Either walk or bike to work on DAME whilst catching up on the Desert Island Disc back catalogue.
DAME is coming off the back of our successful crowdfunding campaign on Kickstarter. We launched our flagship product, the world’s first reusable tampon applicator, designed to stop the billions of single-use plastic applicators that are thrown away every year. Things have been pretty nuts since the campaign ended. We trended on Twitter, had viral videos made about us which were viewed million of times and have had people from over 50 countries around the world buying our product. The reaction has been great as it shows that women don’t have to choose between the products they are comfortable using and the environment.
There is no typical day when you are running a start up. I have to do anything and everything from financial modelling, to product design, from speaking to individual customers to pitching the business to an audience of 100 people. Everyday is different. I try to head home as soon as work is done. I generally get shouted at a little more, and a lot of hugs, and hear incredibly random facts shouted over the top of a bunk bed whilst I’m tucking them in, such as that an octopus actually has 9 brains. Big stuff.
What do you feel are your biggest achievements?
Creating a product which helps women have a more sustainable period by offering them an easy swap. There have been other great reusable menstrual products on the market for decades, but only a tiny percentage of women use them. You only need to look at Blue Planet 2 to see that the changes we need to make in our plastic consumption need to be made fast. We felt it was key not to make a product which was too different from what women were already comfortable using. It’s why we decided to redesign the tampon. The only difference between D, our reusable tampon applicator, and a normal one, is you just don’t through it away. A quick rinse and you’re good to go. D has been designed with medical engineers and is made of anti-microbial material to keep it hygienic. It’s not been easy, but if we can cut down on all the needless plastic waste, then it is worth it. For every D used, that saves on average 12,000 plastic applicators, which are single-use and cant be recycled.
What’s in your handbag/ satchel?
D, the world’s first reusable tampon applicator, obviously. Sitting inside the beautiful cotton pouch we’ve designed for it, alongside our DAME organic cotton tampons which are biodegradable, non-synthetic and contain no harsh chemicals. Shameless plug.
What are your ambitions in life?
To keep trying. It sounds a pretty weak ambition, but when I am pushing myself out of my comfort zone, I know I am doing something right. In the past I have found indecision and fear of action very debilitating, especially after having children. Also to have a tampon-shaped pool. Just for sh**s and giggles.
What do you wish you’d known at the start of your career you now know?
How easy it was to start my own business and how much I would learn from it. The learning curve is steep but it is incredibly rewarding. When you are running a business there are definite highs, and a lot of lows, but you own all of them and that is pretty cool. Also I wish I had known that Bitcoin wasn’t a joke. I would’ve become a demon Bitcoin miner. If that failed, plan B would have been to buy up all the first Bitcoins out there, then sit back and have a laugh at all the naysayers (including my future self).
What do you wish you’d known about motherhood before having kids?
That the first one is like the first pancake… No, actually I’m pretty glad I didn’t know that much. You cant really prepare for motherhood, and anything you try to do (like a birthplan) usually ends up going in completely the opposite direction. I think ignorance is bliss. I’m glad I didn’t know how addicted I would be to my children; watching them while they sleep, looking at the 10,000 photos I have of them on my phone whilst I’m at work. I think my pre-mother self would have found that slightly lame.
Where do you see yourself in 5 years time?
Standing in my bathroom, surrounded by our range of DAME products which all have the core values of beautiful, effective and sustainable, and realising I haven’t needed to empty my bin in months.
What advice would you give a founder?
Get a co-founder, and do it quickly. Starting a business is hard enough, but doing it alone makes that mountain much harder to climb. During the low points you’ll need someone to strap a rope on you and drag you up it! The downs are so much easier to take when someone is by your side, and when you get the ups you have someone to celebrate with who totally gets it. When deciding who to work with your core values need to be aligned completely but it’s important to find someone who brings opposing skills and ideas to the table – don’t just get a clone of yourself.
Finally, happiness is…
Swimming in a tampon-shaped pool.