Menstruation, Hygiene and Environment The Story Of Lemme Be
Menstrual products, used by females during their periods are a one-time use hygiene products that turn into waste after every use. These products mostly include various types of sanitary pads and tampons.
Menstrual products come under female hygiene products. The feminine hygiene products market of India stood at INR 32.66 Billion in 2020. The market size is further projected to grow with a Compound Annual Growth Rate (CAGR) of 16.87 percent and will soon reach INR 70.20 Billion, during the forecast period of 2021 to 2025.
In 2020, the global feminine hygiene products market was at USD 37.20 Billion. The market is expected to reach 54.02 billion in 2028 from USD 38.18 Billion in 2021.
Every woman uses around 5000 or more tampons or pads in her menstrual lifespan. Consequently, billions of tampons and pads land into the dumping grounds, sewers and rivers every year. The chemicals like Super Absorbent Polymers (SAP) and synthetic materials such as plastic do not decompose and stay on earth for thousands of years, polluting the environment.
To conquer this waste problem, a brand, Lemme Be, came up with a solution. Eco-friendly menstrual (period) products are those products, which can be reused. These include cotton clothing pads, period underwear and menstrual cups. With their help, not only will the health of women be safe, but there will also be less damage to the earth.
The brand got recognition as ‘E-Commerce Business of the Year’ in Small Business Awards 2022, Hyderabad, organised by Franchise India. Let us know more about the brand from Devidutta Dash, Founder of Lemme Be, who shared her experience during an exclusive interview with Franchise India.
Q. How does it feel to achieve the small business award?
A. It feels really good. Lemme Be is honoured with the Small Business Awards 2022 Hyderabad. We owe our success to our varied products, strong team, and amazing customers. We are proud, not just for receiving the award but for the fact that we are becoming pioneers in creating awareness of the most stigmatised topic of all - Menstruation.
Q. When did your business begin?
A. We started Lemme Be in November 2020.
Q. Why did you decide to start your own business?
A. Menstruation, over the ages, has been so influenced by different cultural stigmas, myths, and taboos. Simple and open conversations about it, even within the household, are still growled and frowned by most of the families. This is a major reason why females are deprived of the knowledge and facts about menstruation, and its hygiene, and are exposed to severe health diseases.
To address this major issue of period care, we decided to stand up for ourselves and work on it. By supporting and helping marginalized females, those who suffer silently, we are instilling the idea of reclaiming the autonomy of our uterus and bleeding freely, from the ground up. Lemme Be envisions empowering all females globally. All females deserve to live a life free from old-age taboos and outdated myths. They deserve dignified, sustainable, and stress-free periods. We at Lemme Be are empowering females to converse about periods openly and live their period their way.
While focusing on the evolving needs of females, we cannot turn a blind-eye towards how period products negatively affect the environment. At Lemme Be, our concern is not just to make period-care more accessible, but entirely sustainable as well. We are building a comfortable and safe space for both females and mother earth.
Q. What was your first objective when you founded your business?
A. The Initial objective was to provide inclusive period care for all. Being a voice of this highly aware, sassy, and never yielding generation, our objective is to unlearn the stigmatised stereotypes and relearn the fact that menstruation has nothing to do with gendered constraints. With this prime objective, we are on our way to building inclusive period care for all. We want to spread the importance of menstruation and amplify the awareness of menstrual hygiene. Periods are natural, healthy, but due to a lack of awareness about proper menstrual care, many females suffer from problems like rashes, leaks, stains, odour, and discomfort. We have been focusing on research to design and bring forward varied menstrual products that can bring absolute comfort with ample options that suit every individual’s choice.
Q. How many people work for your company?
A. Lemme Be is backed by a workforce of 45 smart individuals who are bursting with ideas. Out of the total workforce spanning in various departments, 95 percent are females. We are on our way to becoming a community that is breaking barriers of stereotype, stigma, and taboos around an open conversation on menstruation. We look forward to initiating better dialogue among females to educate, communicate and evolve.
Q. What products or services do you offer?
A. Lemme Be is a period care brand that focuses on the variety and individuality of every product as per the needs of both young and adult females. Lemme Be products are different from those available in the market; they are elongated with increased capacity and absorbency. They are organic, sustainable, and affordable. Products like menstrual pads, tampons, and panty liners are certified with Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS). They also ensure smooth, rash and stain-free periods.
To promote comfortable and sustainable menstruation, we have introduced two revolutionary period products - Z Disc and the Angular Z Cup, both of them are made from medical grade silicone, and are reusable for up to five years. The menstrual disc is the first-of-its-kind in the Indian market. This is a one and only period product so far that allows intimacy during periods. Our products have enhanced capacity; they are eco-friendly and have a unique shape and design. We have also launched Z Drip, four-layered breathable period underwear, usable for any sort of discomfort. Our motive is, to be honest, free and open about periods instead of smothering them in a black plastic bag of shame.
Q. What methods do you use to promote your business?
A. The primary method for promoting our business is Digital marketing. Our target audience is digital, smart, sassy. They are aware enough and hence know what they want. We are currently a complete digital brand. Our website contains the entire range of products along with the specifications of each and a comparison between them.
Besides the website, our products are also listed on our social media platforms for direct purchase. Our purchases are also driven by Instagram and Facebook. We are also listed on various E-commerce platforms such as Amazon, Flipkart, Swiggy Instamart, big basket, Shopclues, Snapdeal, Myntra, Nykaa, Meesho, Woovly, and are expanding to more platforms every day.
Q. How difficult was the start, what was the motivation and what was the reason for starting the business?
A. I was a volunteer in the Red Cross working in women's health and hygiene management at a young age in tribal India. At that time, I experienced the unavailability of clean sanitation for females and good quality period-care products. I returned to India from Melbourne after completing my Master's of Business Administration (MBA) in Design with a thought of addressing the issue of period care in India. I noticed there is no joy and lustre in period care in India. Instead, there is ample stigma associated with periods that are widely hushed. Stigmatising something as natural as periods should is not correct at least in today’s era. The discreet buying and wrapping of the period products in a plastic bag or newspaper, brings in a feeling of shame. At Lemme Be, we want to make period special by eliminating the normalised pain, rashes, and monochromes from the use of conventional period products. We are always striving to package our products vibrantly so that they do not bring any stigma whatsoever. Instead of limiting ourselves to monotonous pastel, we are a rainbow!
Moreover, the language surrounding periods need to be relearned, hence through Lemme Be we are trying to make an equal space for all females. The fact that with science and tech surpassing in every field on one side, menstruation being the most essential part of human lives is so conveniently neglected, and knowing that little to nil innovation has been done towards the betterment of it is quite flabbergasting. This is what motivates us to bring around safe, comfortable, and innovative change for females and their menstrual health and hygiene.
Q. Please tell us what is the current industry trend of your sector.
A. Lemme Be has started the trend of bringing vibrant colours, inclusive content, and innovative design to the period care sector especially for the young females. We see many brands catching up.
Q. If you were not a businessman. What else would you have been?
A. If I were not a businessperson, I would have been a part of rehabilitation and sustenance for the differently able.
Q. Do and don't for aspiring entrepreneurs?
A. Don’t aspire, execute!
Don’t wait for an opportunity, create your own!
Focus on collaboration, up-skilling and building a fabulous team!
Q. What motivates you the most?
A. Customer delight is what keeps me going. Our vision is to build a safe and empowered community of females by providing them comfortable and sustainable period care products. With every passing day, we add more members to this community and that is my biggest motivation.
Q. How do you handle your competitors in the market?
A. Market is huge and there are 3.5 Billion females globally. If each of them spends 2000 rupees per annum on period care, it leads to a total addressable market of 70 Trillion.
Q. Business is another name for taking risks, before starting any new things, how do you overcome your fear?
A. I do not look at business as a risk if we are equipped to fight the challenges that come our way. We have a set process in place, entailing the following:
1. There is a well defined TAM (Total Addressable Market)
2. Detailed Business planning and investment milestones
3. Motivated and efficient workforce
4. Roadmap for new products and design
Q. Who were your Business gurus?
A. Steve Jobs and Jony Ive; together they have designed beautiful, user-friendly and unique products.
Q. Where do you see your company after 5 years?
A. In the next five years, we want to be a brand from India that is accessible in the Middle East, Australia, Europe, and the South East Asian markets. We aim to become an established hygiene brand from India setting a global footprint. Our vision is to support and reach out to the 35 Cr Indian females through community outreach programs.
Q. What has been the role of stakeholders in your business in terms of support from the government?
A. We are being registered under start-up India Department for Promotion of Industry and Internal Trade (DPIIT). Thereafter, we would like to apply for the various schemes available for women entrepreneurs.
Q. How was the initial seed fund taken care of?
A. Our initial seed fund was INR 50 Million. Some of our marquee investors were Multiply Ventures and Nikhil Vora from Sixth Sense.
Q. Which is the area of opportunity for small businesses today?
A. Consumer segment is booming, Indian consumers are looking for sustainable and better alternatives at competitive prices. The improvement in manufacturing, new product development and their technology to improve health and wellness is definitely a growth area for India.
What Is The Learning For Small Businesses And Start-ups?
Lemme Be has made the female community aware of the colossal destruction that menstrual products do to nature. The brand spoke about the problem openly but also provided the solution by enabling females to access the safe and eco-friendly period products.
The story of Lemme Be is an example that an entrepreneur needs nothing but the idea to do the business. Gender is also no bar if you have a correct vision of serving the people. Attaining sustainability, along with innovation, is another thing that Lemme Be tells.