So Hannah, tell us a bit about yourself and Unfabled.
I’m Hannah Samano, the founder & CEO of Unfabled – the first e-commerce marketplace for menstrual wellbeing which launched in the UK in February.
After spending 8 years widely innovating in the consumer & e-commerce space – from launching Unilever’s first in-house DTC brand to launching African FemTech company Kasha in Kenya – my passions for brands, e-commerce, and women’s health converged, and my brainchild Unfabled was born at the start of 2021.
Unfabled was conceived and born during two months of British lockdown from January to February this year. It’s been a wild time! Now we’ve proved the product market fit we’re looking to bolster our growth to scale quickly and want to work with the right partners and investors to do so.
Within our first week of trading we had customers from all over the UK, and order requests from overseas. We sold out on many products and had to restock almost immediately. I was completely blown away. The early traction we have received is proof that menstruators have been underserved for too long and that people need and want alternatives.
As a brand what is Unfabled passionate about?
We believe that menstrual care is self-care, so we’re building the first wellness platform which centers menstruation. We curate quality, sustainable wellness brands which we sell on our online marketplace.
We want to overhaul sterile language like ‘feminine hygiene’, ‘sanitary napkins’, and ‘personal hygiene’ – all terminology which compounds period stigma. Having a menstrual cycle does not make us dirty!
At Unfabled we use Cyclecare as our all-inclusive term for menstrual wellbeing. Your period doesn’t happen in a vacuum – your lifestyle has a huge influence on your period symptoms each month.
That’s why our platform allows you to discover products not just for your period, but for your symptoms and for your self-care throughout your cycle. We want to put menstruation at the heart of how our community builds their wellness rituals, banishing shame from the consumer experience through beautiful branding and a slick digital interface.
What else is important to you as a company?
Sustainability is a huge problem in the menstrual care industry. The UK alone generates 200,000 tonnes of menstrual products each year which end up in landfills and in the ocean. Typical menstrual pads contain up to 90% plastic – they can take 1000 years to decompose and pollute wildlife with microplastics.
We’re passionate about raising awareness of this issue and we want to bring sustainable menstrual care products into the mainstream. All of the menstrual care products we sell are organic and biodegradable, so they’re kind to our bodies and to the planet. We will never sell menstrual products with toxic chemicals (most mainstream products are bleached), and unlike mainstream brands, the menstrual pads on Unfabled are all plastic-free.
What motivated you to setup Unfabled?
I used to spend the least time possible thinking about my period and period products. Mainstream menstrual brands are garish and sterile supermarket aisles labeled ‘feminine hygiene’ are usually next to the pet food aisle. They don’t make me feel good.
And it’s not just me – 58% of menstruators feel embarrassed by their period. An unacceptable statistic given we spend on average 3000 days in our lifetime menstruating.
The inadequate consumer experience for menstrual care is compounding the stigma around periods. After 8 years working in tech and e-commerce for global brands, I knew I had to channel my experience into building a platform that makes it easy – and enjoyable – for menstruators to discover quality, sustainable products for their wellness. So I built Unfabled!
Unfabled’s mission is to revolutionise the menstrual care consumer experience so menstruators reappraise what it means to meet both their physical and mental needs through each phase of their cycle.
What are your dreams for Unfabled?
I would love for Unfabled to become a mainstream consumer platform for natural, sustainable wellness products around the world.
Cyclecare will always be at the heart of what we do, and I hope that as we grow we can change the culture around periods and destigmatize them once and for all.
It goes without saying that COVID has accelerated behaviour around e-commerce. It’s a challenge to compete with Amazon when it comes to customer convenience (same-day delivery etc), but I believe there is an opportunity for brands and retailers to build more meaningful e-commerce experiences with their customers. People shop with us because they love the personal touches we add to each order and because they trust in the quality of everything we sell – not because we’re the cheapest and fastest.
What’s the most important lesson you have learned since starting your company?
In my first few weeks as a founder, I was really nervous about putting myself out there. I almost didn’t want to share Unfabled with the world because I was scared it was imperfect and still a ‘work in progress. But since I started sharing our work, I’ve learned an important lesson: 99% of people will like what you’re doing. 1% of people will not like what you’re doing. Don’t dwell on the 1%. I’ve also learned that nothing I ever do will be perfect, but it’s worth doing anyway. As a self-confessed perfectionist, that’s a huge milestone for me.
What would you tell people who say FemTech raises issues that are private matters or worries only feminists have?
Why is MenTech not a phrase? Innovations for the male half of the global population are unquestioningly seen as the mainstream. It’s just ‘Tech’. While for the other half of the population we have to coin a new phrase to legitimise women’s health!
Femtech affects everyone. Cycle health affects everyone. Daughters, sisters, wives, partners, mothers, friends. By maintaining that menstrual health is a niche topic only for women, we prevent boys and men from understanding menstruation which maintains stigma. The more we dismantle the stigma around women’s health, the healthier and happier society will be as a whole.
What are you predictions for FemTech in 2021?
I can already see innovation and conversation relating to perimenopause and menopause bubble up which is very exciting. There is a lot of stigma surrounding menopause which is preventing women from getting the support and information they might need when experiencing menopausal symptoms. One in four women considers leaving their jobs because of the impact of their menopausal symptoms in the workplace. Moving the needle on this can’t come quickly enough.
Hannah Samano is the founder & CEO of Unfabled – the first e-commerce marketplace for menstrual wellbeing which launched in the UK in February.