3 min readBusiness 30 April 2019
Transitioning into womanhood has not always been a comfortable experience. However, co-founders Taran and Bunny Ghatrora have successfully created a space for girls and women to celebrate womanhood
Earlier this month, their company, Blume, announced that they had raised $3.3 million in seed funding from Felicis Ventures, Victress Capital, Panache Ventures, and Eric Reis (author of The Lean Startup).
Taran Ghatrora recently sat down with SWAAY to talk about the fundraising journey and what the future now holds for Blume.
After noticing that current personal-care and menstrual products on the market were not catering to the needs of Gen Z consumers, the Ghatrora sisters founded Blume, a sustainable care brand that would provide girls and women with non-toxic period products, clean skincare and educational resources.
"We realized that [Gen Z] was underserved especially in the realm of the products they need when they go through puberty," said Taran Ghatrora. "We knew from experience that that's a really difficult time to go through. You get your period, and then you need to buy a training bra, deodorant, and you're also getting acne and need to buy skincare. That's what made us ask, 'Why is there no go-to brand?' And it's primarily a Gen Z problem because they're the ones currently going through puberty."
As the Ghatrora sisters' research and experiences supported their desire to fill this gap in the market, it was equally important for them to find investors who understood and believed in their mission, as well. "A lot of the investors we met were through introductions and through building relationships." said Ghatrora. "Some people we had known for years and have been mentoring or advising us." The entrepreneurial duo was well aware that not every investor would be the right fit for their company. "We filtered through what investors would matter to us and we didn't just look broadly, we were very targeted in who we would speak to and how they would help us elevate the business." Ghatrora stated.
In order for a mutually driven investment to be successful, Ghatrora also came to understand what it would take, on their end, to attract the right investors. Investors want to know that the company understands their audience and the market of the products they're selling. "We're customer centric. To really know our customers and create a product that they want meant the company was doing well, and in turn, that helped us attract investors." said Ghatrora. Blume was the perfect example of a business that understood their community and remained loyal to them.
Round leader Victoria Treyger, General Partner and Managing Director at Felicis Ventures, was particularly moved by Blume's unique outreach stating that, "How Blume taps into its loyal community to co-create new products is something incumbent CPG brands cannot do themselves." After coming to learn more about the company's mission and audience, Suzanne Norris, partner at Victress Capital, felt that there was a noticeable white space in the market for products aimed directly towards Gen Z consumers. "Blume is the only brand that is approaching the Gen Z consumers' needs in this cohesive way across both commerce, and content [...] We strongly support Blume's mission and we are honored to partner with their team."
When asked about their journey to fundraising, Ghatrora credited her investors for making the experience a little less tumultuous. "Fundraising is very hard. We're really fortunate and grateful to have awesome investors that understand our mission and are behind it 100%. I think a lot of the time, people overlook how important it is to spend time building relationships, not just with the goal of raising money, but to know if you are a good fit for each other," said Ghatrotra. "All money is not equal. You really have to resonate on a mission and raise at the right time." Despite only 2% of venture capital funds going towards women, Ghatrora expressed how happy she was that more funding is slowly but surely supporting women-run businesses.
As a woman and a minority founder, Ghatrora offered a piece of advice to her peers who are also embarking on the journey to fundraising. "My advice would be to go for it and don't let anything discourage you. Build relationships and remember that you have a brand that you're really passionate about and you're the expert at that. Don't be too swayed by mentor whiplash or too much advice. Stick to your guns and to the product and brand that you know best."
Now that Blume has successfully raised funding, customers must be wondering what's next for the female care brand. Ghatrora reassures, "There's so much to be done in this space. We're really excited to build up the community, build on the education, and in the future add additional products to help our customers. It's really just the beginning."
New parents re-entering the workforce are often juggling the tangible realities of daycare logistics, sleep deprivation, and a cascade of overwhelming work. No matter how parents build their family, they often struggle with the guilt of being split between home and work and not feeling exceptionally successful in either place.
Women building their families often face a set of challenges different from men. Those who have had children biologically may be navigating the world of pumping at work. Others might feel pulled in multiple directions when bringing a child into their home after adoption. Some women are trying to learn how to care for a newborn for the first time. New parents need all the help they can get with their transition.
Women returning to work after kids sometimes have to address comments such as:
"I didn't think you'd come back."
"You must feel so guilty."
"You missed a lot while you were out."
To counteract this difficult situation, women are finding mentors and making targeting connections. Parent mentors can help new moms address integrating their new life realities with work, finding resources within the organization and local community, and create connections with peers.
There's also an important role for parent mentors to play in discussing career trajectory. Traditionally, men who have families see more promotions compared to women with children. Knowing that having kids may represent a career setback for women, they may work with their mentors to create an action plan to "back on track" or to get recognized for their contributions as quickly as possible after returning to work.
Previously, in a bid to accommodate mothers transitioning back to work, corporate managers would make a show at lessoning the workload for newly returned mothers. This approach actually did more harm than good, as the mother's skills and ambitions were marginalized by these alleged "family friendly" policies, ultimately defining her for the workplace as a mother, rather than a person focused on career.
Today, this is changing. Some larger organizations, such as JP Morgan Chase, have structured mentorship programs that specifically target these issues and provide mentors for new parents. These programs match new parents navigating a transition back to work with volunteer mentors who are interested in helping and sponsoring moms. Mentors in the programs do not need to be moms, or even parents, themselves, but are passionate about making sure the opportunities are available.
It's just one other valuable way corporations are evolving when it comes to building quality relationships with their employees – and successfully retaining them, empowering women who face their own set of special barriers to career growth and leadership success.
Mentoring will always be a two way street. In ideal situations, both parties will benefit from the relationship. It's no different when women mentor working mothers getting back on track on the job. But there a few factors to consider when embracing this new form of mentorship
How to be a good Momtor?
Listen: For those mentoring a new parent, one of the best strategies to take is active listening. Be present and aware while the mentee shares their thoughts, repeat back what you hear in your own words, and acknowledge emotions. The returning mother is facing a range of emotions and potentially complicated situations, and the last thing she wants to hear is advice about how she should be feeling about the transition. Instead, be a sounding board for her feelings and issues with returning to work. Validate her concerns and provide a space where she can express herself without fear of retribution or bull-pen politics. This will allow the mentee a safe space to sort through her feelings and focus on her real challenges as a mother returning to work.
Share: Assure the mentee that they aren't alone, that other parents just like them are navigating the transition back to work. Provide a list of ways you've coped with the transition yourself, as well as your best parenting tips. Don't be afraid to discuss mothering skills as well as career skills. Work on creative solutions to the particular issues your mentee is facing in striking her new work/life balance.
Update Work Goals: A career-minded woman often faces a new reality once a new child enters the picture. Previous career goals may appear out of reach now that she has family responsibilities at home. Each mentee is affected by this differently, but good momtors help parents update her work goals and strategies for realizing them, explaining, where applicable, where the company is in a position to help them with their dreams either through continuing education support or specific training initiatives.
Being a role model for a working mother provides a support system, at work, that they can rely on just like the one they rely on at home with family and friends. Knowing they have someone in the office, who has knowledge about both being a mom and a career woman, will go a long way towards helping them make the transition successfully themselves.