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Sustainable Female Care Brand, Blume, Raises $3.3 Million to Make Puberty Easier for Gen Z

3 min read
Business

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."

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Health

How This CEO Is Using Your Period To Prevent Chronic Diseases

With so many groundbreaking medical advances being revealed to the world every single day, you would imagine there would be some advancement on the plethora of many female-prevalent diseases (think female cancers, Alzheimer's, depression, heart conditions etc.) that women are fighting every single day.


For Anna Villarreal and her team, there frankly wasn't enough being done. In turn, she developed a method that diagnoses these diseases earlier than traditional methods, using a pretty untraditional method in itself: through your menstrual blood.

Getting from point A to point B wasn't so easy though. Villarreal was battling a disease herself and through that experience. “I wondered if there was a way to test menstrual blood for female specific diseases," she says. "Perhaps my situation could have been prevented or at least better managed. This led me to begin researching menstrual blood as a diagnostic source. For reasons the scientific and medical community do not fully understand, certain diseases impact women differently than men. The research shows that clinical trials have a disproportionate focus on male research subjects despite clear evidence that many diseases impact more women than men."

There's also no denying that gap in women's healthcare in clinical research involving female subjects - which is exactly what inspired Villarreal to launch her company, LifeStory Health. She says that, “with my personal experience everything was brought full circle."

“There is a challenge and a need in the medical community for more sex-specific research. I believe the omission of females as research subjects is putting women's health at risk and we need to fuel a conversation that will improve women's healthcare.,"

-Anna Villarreal

Her brand new biotech company is committed to changing the women's healthcare market through technology, innovation and vocalization and through extensive research and testing. She is working to develop the first ever, non-invasive, menstrual blood diagnostic and has partnered with a top Boston-area University on research and has won awards from The International Society for Pharmaceutical Engineering and Northeastern University's RISE.

How does it work exactly? Proteins are discovered in menstrual blood that can quickly and easily detect, manage and track diseases in women, resulting in diseases that can be earlier detected, treated and even prevented in the first place. The menstrual blood is easy to collect and since it's a relatively unexplored diagnostic it's honestly a really revolutionary concept, too.

So far, the reactions of this innovative research has been nothing but excitement. “The reactions have been incredibly positive." she shares with SWAAY. “Currently, menstrual blood is discarded as bio waste, but it could carry the potential for new breakthroughs in diagnosis. When I educate women on the lack of female subjects used in research and clinical trials, they are surprised and very excited at the prospect that LifeStory Health may provide a solution and the key to early detection."

To give a doctor's input, and a little bit more of an explanation as to why this really works, Dr. Pat Salber, MD, and Founder of The Doctor Weighs In comments: “researchers have been studying stem cells derived from menstrual blood for more than a decade. Stem cells are cells that have the capability of differentiating into different types of tissues. There are two major types of stem cells, embryonic and adult. Adult stem cells have a more limited differentiation potential, but avoid the ethical issues that have surrounded research with embryonic stem cells. Stem cells from menstrual blood are adult stem cells."

These stem cells are so important when it comes to new findings. “Stem cells serve as the backbone of research in the field of regenerative medicine – the focus which is to grow tissues, such as skin, to repair burn and other types of serious skin wounds.

A certain type of stem cell, known as mesenchymal stem cells (MenSCs) derived from menstrual blood has been found to both grow well in the lab and have the capability to differentiate in various cell types, including skin. In addition to being used to grow tissues, their properties can be studied that will elucidate many different aspects of cell function," Dr. Salber explains.

To show the outpour of support for her efforts and this major girl power research, Villarreal remarks, “women are volunteering their samples happily report the arrival of their periods by giving samples to our lab announcing “de-identified sample number XXX arrived today!" It's a far cry from the stereotype of when “it's that time of the month."

How are these collections being done? “Although it might sound odd to collect menstrual blood, plastic cups have been developed to use in the collection process. This is similar to menstrual products, called menstrual cups, that have been on the market for many years," Dr. Salber says.

Equally shocking and innovative, this might be something that becomes more common practice in the future. And according to Dr. Salber, women may be able to not only use the menstrual blood for early detection, but be able to store the stem cells from it to help treat future diseases. “Companies are working to commercialize the use of menstrual blood stem cells. One company, for example, is offering a patented service to store menstrual blood stem cells for use in tissue generation if the need arises."