Becoming an entrepreneur was the ultimate goal for Tanvi Johri after she completed her MBA from the IMI, Delhi. She went on to work with two ventures but they shut down due to lack of funding. The lessons were hard but worth the struggle. Her next start-up turned out to be completely biodegradable chemical-free sanitary napkins for Indian women who were till date exposed to synthetic plastic napkins, which accounts for 90% of the napkins available in the market, according to Johri. Rikshav Borah, a seasoned entrepreneur became her partner in this journey.
Carmesi wants to free women from the pain of rashes and chaffing caused due to synthetic napkins. This is something it has achieved by switching to ingredients such as corn starch to eliminate the risk of skin issues and a bamboo fibre core for superior absorption. The plastic back-sheet has been replaced with compostable bioplastic. Also, it offers the customer a mix of sizes to choose from for different days of the cycle.
While the product has been targeted at the premium segment – each pack of 10 pads costing 3x the regular brand pads – it might be a tricky proposition for a country where 62% of women still don’t have access to sanitary napkins. Johri says, “We first want to target the educated class of women. About 75% of our customers are working women and we are seeing a month-on-month growth of 40% at present. We are getting 5,000 new customers every month and most of them are repeat buyers, often signing up for the annual subscription which costs Rs.2,499 for 120 pads.”
So far, the product has been selling only through popular online platforms such as Amazon, Flipkart and Nykaa, apart from its own website. Johri sees no competition from the bigger players in the segment such as Whisper and Stayfree because “Their target audience is different and their focus is on increasing reach by launching cheaper variants.”
Before entering other nearby markets with high purchasing power such as Dubai and Singapore, the founders want to expand their product offering within the country. Having recently raised $500,000 from Samrath Bedi of Forest Essentials, panty liners and tampons could be next for the Delhi-based start-up.