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Does your sanitary pad give you rashes? Do you worry about where it goes once it is discarded? With biodegradable Carmesi pads, Tanvi Johri is trying to make a difference.
“We’re still very, very young”, Tanvi said when asked if Carmesi has turned out the way she envisioned it. It’s clear that she has big dreams with regard to menstrual hygiene and empowering women. She thinks that success in the long run is relative and that Carmesi still has a long way to go. She reminded me a little of Robert Frost’s famous line, ‘And miles to go before I sleep’.
But just because she is thinking of the future it doesn’t mean that Tanvi is not delighted with the short-term successes that Carmesi has had. She says that many women who have used Carmesi products, have completely switched from other brands that they’ve been using for years, and they’ve also been leaving great reviews for the brand.
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Tanvi adds that they have a completely different approach towards periods compared to other Indian producers of sanitary napkins. An example of this is the name of their brand – ‘Carmesi’ which is the Spanish word for ‘crimson’. This is in sharp contrast to other brands who don’t even show the colour red in their advertisements, choosing instead, to represent periods with a blue liquid. We talked of the ‘blue liquid’ with the sort of mutual understanding that only comes after a long period (pun unintended!) of being fed up that I’m sure most women can relate to.
The name Carmesi is not the only way that the brand is trying to get rid of the bad cultural connotation people associate with words like ‘menstruation’ or ‘periods’. They also make the packaging really elegant and attractive so that people don’t feel like hiding away their packages of sanitary napkins.
Tanvi strongly feels that if we just change our habits, we can get us far. Case in point, something as simple as not asking for sanitary napkins in hushed voices can help in demystifying periods and making the subject a normal thing to discuss about. She thinks that the core of the problem is that we are hesitant to change these habits and she advises women to stop being hesitant to make changes in their personal lives.
After all, if Tanvi hadn’t decided to make a change, then we wouldn’t have had Carmesi. It all started with her finding commercial sanitary pads harsh and uncomfortable, especially in the Delhi heat. They made her develop rashes and she realised that this was due to all the synthetic materials that were used to make them. Another inadequacy she found was that they were hard to dispose because used sanitary pads were larger than the unused ones. So the packaging they came in was not big enough to fit them back in before throwing them away. This issue is what that leads to sanitary napkins lying open and exposed in places, in an unhygienic manner.
Carmesi has attempted to solve both these problems by producing sanitary napkins made out of non-harmful natural materials like bamboo fibers, providing them with biodegradable and resealable bags. Tanvi is extremely proud of the fact that they are the first in India to provide biodegradable resealable bags along with sanitary pads. Another thing she takes pride in, are the customers who say that they no longer get rashes after switching to Carmesi’s all-natural sanitary pads.
So many achievements didn’t come without facing obstacles all along the way. Tanvi’s main roadblock was that she was new to the whole business and had very little experience. She overcame this issue by taking criticism in a constructive way. That’s her tip for aspiring entrepreneurs – take bad feedback positively and try to improve yourself constantly. Tanvi takes customer feedback very seriously and they keep trying to improve their brand based on it.
She is hopeful about reducing the price of their sanitary pads and making them more affordable to everyone. She acknowledges that at the moment, they do cost more than commercial ones simply because the natural materials used are harder to procure and is more expensive.
She also emphasizes on how useful it is to have people on board who realise the magnitude of things they are working on. Her biggest support system has been her team – that’s why she think it’s crucial to have a good team when starting something brand new.
Tanvi had yet another Robert Frost-like moment, the line being ‘I took the one less travelled by/And that has made all the difference’. It quite accurately describe how she feels about her decision to co-found Carmesi, except she wants them to make more difference and prove themselves to people. She is truly an inspiration to all of us in more than one way, be it entrepreneurship, women empowerment or dreaming big!
You can find their products at the Carmesi website, and follow them on Instagram!
Carmesi is a gifting partner at Breaking Barriers 2018, the Women’s Web flagship event for women in business.
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