International Women's Day: A conversation with Ohne
This International Women's Day we wanted to catch up with some of the female-founders paving the way in the UK and beyond. First up, we caught up with Nikki and Leah - the Founders of Ohne, one of our new faves who are killing it on social...
This International Women's Day we wanted to catch up with some of the female-founders paving the way in the UK and beyond. First up, we caught up with Nikki and Leah - the Founders of Ohne, one of our new faves, who are killing it on social...
Hi, can you introduce yourself?We’re Nikki and Leah, the founders of ohne and BFF’s since our first day of uni back in 2010! We launched ohne in 2018, on a mission to change the way that women experienced their menstrual cycle. Today, ohne is the UK’s cycle care brand, providing the natural and eco products, support and community to ensure people that bleed thrive their entire cycle long, not just the days they’re bleeding.
Tell us about Ohne and how you’re taking on sustainability?
A huge part of starting ohne for us was creating an ethical and socially responsible business, and making ohne as sustainable as possible was therefore one of our core missions right from the start. This goes through every aspect of the business; from products boasting all the relevant certificates and created as close to home as possible, packaging 100% compostable or recyclable, to ensuring our customers don’t have a delivery of products when they’re already stocked up! With all product development, we think about every component of the item as well as its manufacturing process. As an example, ohne tampons and pads are GOTS certified, and made in a plant that runs almost entirely on hydro-electricity, whilst ohne period pants are made from modal (a sustainable, technical material) and the offcuts from them are used to make additional pairs that we gift to people who do not have access to period products. They also arrive in a mesh laundry bag made from post-consumer water bottles, ensuring the lifecycle of the garment is optimised. We’re also super pleased to announce that we’re very soon to be a B-Corp company!
Who’s your number 1 inspiration?
This is such a tough one, as we find ourselves constantly inspired by amazing people the world over. However, we’re going with a (slightly cheesy, we know) collective one that has to be the team at ohne. The team is built of 10 exceptional women, who are relentlessly passionate about doing better in our world, and creating positive change for women. It’s inspiring to see, and humbling to be a part of.
What do you think of terms like GIRLboss, SHE EO - good motivators or get in the bin?
In our opinion, it’s one that we aim to avoid. It’s amazing to see so many women taking on these roles (and rightly so) but it seems archaic and, let’s be honest, slightly patronising to have to highlight that it’s a woman holding this title! Let’s scrap the phrase SHE EO, and be the incredible CEO’s that we know we’re capable of being.
The team at Ohne is 100% female, have you noticed any positive differences from working in a female-forward team?
Due to the nature of our offering it’s been really important to us that our team can relate to our customer. We’re all women in our 20’s and 30’s, with such a passion for what we do and creating positive change for women and people that bleed, and being able to resonate with our customer has huge benefits. We also speak very loudly and openly about cycles and periods, and never shy away from time off due to period cramps! Having a team who are very close has huge perks in terms of the work environment too - it’s an incredible culture to be a part of here at ohne, and we’re so lucky to have it!
Being a strong leader in business can be tough, and expectations of being a woman can be even tougher - do you think this has been a disadvantage for you in the workplace?
When we initially entered the world of fundraising we were armoured with shocking statistics around the tiny percentage (literally 2%) of capital that’s invested in female led businesses, and knew that it’d be a challenge to raise - pair that with raising for a women focused brand centered around menstrual cycles, and we felt like the odds were against us! Yes, we definitely had a few battles and have been asked some outrageous questions (the typical one as two female founders of a similar age always fell around the concerns that, firstly, we’d both fall pregnant at the same time and, secondly, that we then could not possibly continue ohne once having children) but through the years this has definitely become easier. Women are getting more and more recognition as incredibly successful founders, and we’re loving the conversations around menstruation becoming more open with male investors too!
What is your brand doing to make its working environment more inclusive?
Having a diverse workforce ensures that we’re continuously learning from one another, and ensuring we’re making moves to always do better. Ensuring that every team member feels valued and safe in their work environment is a top priority for us, always. As such, every new team member completes a thorough onboarding programme in their first quarter at ohne, with multiple essential readings covering a range of topics including race, gender, disability, class and more, as well as completing two online courses around bias and allyship too. Internally, the entire team takes part in monthly workshops (we call these our ‘doing better’ workshops) to ensure we’re constantly learning and acting to create good in the world.
How do you communicate inclusivity with your customers?
Inclusivity is always something that is front of mind at ohne, but it isn’t something that we necessarily communicate with our customer. Instead, it’s in our day to day actions and offering, and ingrained in every action we take in the company. Whether that be working with a diverse range of models, ensuring we have products suitable for every body shape and size, using inclusive language throughout the brand and offering or ensuring we exceed our targets around working with diverse influencers and ambassadors - it’s built into the core of ohne!
Tell us about something that’s inspired you recently….
Toward the start of last week, we caught wind of some trucks going to Ukraine, organised by an individual who was asking for donations of essential products. Nidhima Kohli is the founder of My Beauty Matches (a small beauty marketplace) who, in four days, had rallied up journalists, companies and individuals alike to raise donations for those in Ukraine and rapidly managed to fill two lorries with these donations (of course, including products from ohne). Not only is it incredible to see humanity coming together, but so inspiring to witness the strength and achievement when its drive is for good.
….and finally, any tips you’d like to give your younger self that we can pass on to our followers?
It has to be one of Nikki’s favourite sayings, which we absolutely live by: every failure builds resilience, resilience builds companies. Fail hard and fast, and grow powerfully from it.
Leah and Nikki x