Spotlight on a Cause + Interview with Molly Hayward – Founder of Cora

12/6/2014

I’m so thrilled to be able to introduce Molly and her fantastic venture Cora to you all today. Molly and I first met years ago when she interned at the Foundation for Development Cooperation, where I worked for just over four years. Molly added so much wisdom and value to a project I was running on women’s leadership in the Pacific, she absolutely blew me away with her capabilities.

And now just a few short years later it’s no surprise to me that this amazing lady has kick-started her own venture, Cora, which has a mission and vision so very close to my heart. I’m sure you’ll love what she’s doing just as much as I do!

Molly

Let’s dive in:

Let’s begin with Cora’s main message, distilled down to its essentials?

At Cora, we believe that every woman and girl, in every part of the world, has the right to safe, healthy, and positive experience of womanhood and menstruation.

In developed economies, women use products that are made with cotton and synthetics that are contaminated with toxic chemical residues, posing serious health risks. In developing economies, many girls and women who are poor are unable to access affordable menstrual products, so they resort to using old rags, mud, ash, and other materials that are ineffective and can cause serious infections. For this reason, many girls stay home from school for days each month during their periods, causing them to fall behind and often drop out completely.

Cora provides women in the U.S. with safe and healthy organic feminine hygiene products in a convenient and customizable monthly box. For every box shipped, a girl in a developing country is given a month’s supply of sustainable sanitary pads so she can stay in school, play with her friends, and be her radiant self, every day of the month.

What inspired you to embark on this journey with Cora?

Menstruation is as universal to women as breathing, yet it a largely negative and disempowering experience for most girls and women. When I learned that girls miss school for days each month because they can’t afford sanitary pads, and that the products used by women in my society were making us sick, I knew that I wanted to create a way to provide both groups with something better, and tie them to one another. I wanted to make our inherent interconnection tangible.

How do you integrate good development practices in to Cora’s activities?

Our model addresses safe and healthy menstrual management holistically on a global scale.We partner with organizations on the ground in developing countries to establish women-owned and operated manufacturing units to create sustainable, plant-based sanitary pads, which create jobs for women and support the local economy. Cora then purchases the pads from these units, creating a strong revenue stream, and provides the pads to a girl who would otherwise miss days of school during her period.

Cora image

Any particular achievements you’ve gained so far you’d like to tell us about?

We are currently crowdfunding to raise $28,000. Running the campaign has been very challenging, so it will be a great achievement to meet and hopefully surpass our goal so that we can launch our operations and our giving initiative in India.

How do you measure success in your venture?

By the number of lives we touch! I don’t think we’ll consider ourselves truly successful until the stigma around menstruation is history and no girl or woman is ever disempowered by her period.

Let’s get personal:

What are the top three best pieces of advice you’ve received?

  1. Start small and grow with your business
  2. Don’t wait for your product/service/offering to be perfect—just get it out there and course correct as you go
  3. Ask for what you need

Who are your five biggest heroes and give us a little insight as to why they’re so great:

  1. The young women I recently met at the New Light Soma Memorial Home for Girls in Kolkata —many of the girls are the children of sex workers in Kolkata’s red light district. In spite of being born into unthinkable circumstances, they are thoughtful, ambitious, warm and full of hope and love. They will be the first recipients of Cora’s pad-giving initiative in India.
  2. Simone DeBeauvoir – She looked womanhood from every angle of experience and asked questions that no one had asked before about what it means to be a woman.
  3. Danielle LaPorte — she is my high priestess of consciousness and soul-driven business and living.
  4. A two-way tie between Anita Roddick, Founder of The Body Shop, and Yvon Choinard, Founder of Patagonia. Both were among the first entrepreneurs to prove that for-profit companies can be used to solve environmental and social problems.
  5. Richard Branson — fearless entrepreneur who is constantly pushing the boundaries of what seems possible, and has fun in the process!

What books are on your bedside table at the moment?

  • Women Who Run with the Wolves (Pinkola Estes) (Oooh – this is on my list! – C xx)
  • Total Freedom (Krishnamurti)
  • Her Blood is Gold (Owens)

How do you cultivate peace in your daily life?

Prayer, meditation, time in nature, and long talks with great friends.

Please let us know how we can connect with Cora:

Website: www.corawomen.com

Twitter: @corawomen

Facebook: facebook.com/CoraWomen

 Support Cora’s crowd-funding campaign

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