Chatting with Eco-Friendly Feminine Care Brand Natracare
Founded by Susie Hewson in 1989, Bristol, UK-based Natracare, the eco-friendly feminine care brand is a leader and early innovator of organic and natural period products. Natracare’s product line includes tampons, pads, liners, wipes, maternity, and incontinence pads. As part of a series on vegan and eco-friendly menstrual products, Raise Vegan chatted with Natalie Lam, Natracare’s Social Media Manager and Digital Marketing about the brand’s history, social and advocacy work and more.
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Chatting with Eco-Friendly Feminine Care Brand Natracare
Here are the excerpts from the chat.
Were there any challenges in developing the first products? How was it to bring an eco-friendly period product to the market space for feminine hygiene in the late ’80s & early ’90s?
Natalie: It was very tough, to say the least – Susie Hewson, Natracare’s owner & founder, had to forge her own path with resilience and self-confidence. She was trying to introduce and develop something entirely new – there was nothing similar on the market at the time. And she did so because she wanted to protect women and the environment from the dangerous chemicals she saw being used across the industry.
Susie worked tirelessly to change the game. This effort was, of course, met with adversity and lawsuits. In 2000, Susie helped to write, submit, and lobby for the Soil Association’s organic standard for personal care products, because there wasn’t one. 30 years later and this is the standard that Susie’s competitors are certified to. She truly laid the foundations for the global organic menstrual care industry.
Natracare now sells products in 80 countries. So you can see just how in demand our trusted organic and plastic-free menstrual products are!
What is Natracare doing in terms of innovative period products and also social causes?
Natalie: Natracare’s products protect women’s health at all stages of life – we sell organic, natural, plastic-free and eco-conscious products for women on their periods, for mothers and new babies, pads for incontinence and wipes for the whole family. These products are free from dioxins and nasty pesticide residues. We have been driven by protecting women’s health since our conception in 1989.
Cotton accounts for almost 40% of global textile production and an estimated 250 million livelihoods. Many of these cotton farmers are women. Buying organic cotton supports farming families to earn a living without exposing themselves to dangerous pesticides.
On a more local level, we are very conscious that there are women and girls who don’t have the option of buying organic menstrual care products every month. We send product donations to organizations that work to eradicate period poverty and to food banks.
The market for eco-friendly feminine products & hygiene is currently in a stage of really dynamic growth & innovation. Where do you see Natracare in this global network of brands for eco-feminine products?
Natalie: Natracare has been around for the longest, and so we feel proud to be looked up to by others in the industry as the forerunners in the market. We admire brands that are selling reusable products, such as menstrual cups and reusable pads. They are our allies in the fight against plastic periods and reusables are good news for people across the world who can’t afford to buy period products every single month.
Reusables aren’t for everybody, though – and we know this because we hear this from our customers all the time. There are so many different cultural trends and sensitivities across the 80 countries we sell products in.
We are going to continue doing what we’ve always done. Backing up our work with facts, research, and providing the best products possible for women’s health.
What is your brand’s favorite social media platform and in general what does your brand utilize social media for?
Natalie: Our favorite platform is Instagram. We love being able to visually share news pieces, stories and knowledge related to periods and the environment, and being able to relate to our followers through everyday experiences, in hopes to entertain and educate. Our social media efforts ultimately help with pursuing our wider mission; to end the stigma around periods, protect women’s bodies, and protect our planet.
What is the eco-friendly beauty and feminine care community like in the UK (or more broadly Europe- in your perspective)?
Natalie: The eco-friendly beauty & feminine care community is very supportive, especially when it comes to products that protect the environment. There is a real and global shift towards plastic-free products in general, and beauty and feminine care is no exception to that rule.
What is Natracare doing on a local, community-based level in terms of brand awareness?
Natalie: Natracare is a Bristol brand, through and through – we’ve been doing business here for 30 years! Bristolians are very proud of their city and we are no exception. Natracare donates money and time to local charities, across all sorts of areas of work.
We’re not driven to do this by a wish to look charitable, but because we want to share our slice of the pie with causes that matter to us.
Two local examples are the Community Farm– which is a community-owned social enterprise, growing and selling organic food through a box delivery service.
Another is the Wallace and Gromit’s Grand Appeal (the Wallace and Gromit cartoons were made in Bristol). The proceeds from the Grand Appeal go to the children’s hospital.
How do you think that providing accessible and sustainable feminine care products to women could change our girls of tomorrow’s lives in this day and age and beyond?
Natalie: Period products are the sort of thing that is handed to you by a trusted adult when you get your first period (for those who are lucky enough to have a trusted adult to do this for them – shout out to the millions of girls who don’t, and who live in period poverty). When it comes to period products, girls tend to trust the first products they encounter.
If young girls are provided with sustainable products from the very beginning, then sustainable products become the norm. And we believe they should be the norm, too! Who really wants to use a pad that takes 500 years to break down because of its plastic content?
Any new products coming soon to Natracare?
Natalie: We’ve recently worked with Water UK to develop Europe’s first truly flushable wipe – and we’ve been blown away by how popular it’s been!
This product is unlike any other product on the market because it’s been certified to rigorous standards and has stood up to the ultimate test – degrading in the sewer after you flush it. This is unlike other wipes that claim to be flushable but aren’t because they are made with plastic or cellulose.
It’s currently available to buy in the UK, and considerable interest is being sparked overseas, too.
We’re also redesigning our packaging to celebrate our 30th anniversary. We’re very excited to be refreshing our look! Watch this space for the finished result.
What is it like working at Natracare?
Natalie: It’s great working at Natracare! There are 20 people and everyone is friendly and hard-working.
There’s a good balance between having fun and knuckling down and getting on with work. Everybody gets a cake and fruit for their birthday, and for other big life events like having a baby. Then we all stop work for twenty minutes and catch up. It’s really very friendly and humanistic.
Our offices are light and spacious, and we have a beautiful garden which we can eat our lunch in or have outside meetings during the summer
Working for a period product company is also everything you’d expect; shameless period talk; hot water bottles; free products, herbal teas – what more could you ask for?
It’s also amazing to work besides Susie and the rest of the team, who are all so inspiring and determined to make a change.
Which is your favorite eco-friendly feminine care brand? Comment below.