Yesterday, Procter & Gamble (P&G) announced its acquisition of This is L., a period care startup that manufactures organic pads and tampons. Although the startup would not disclose the acquisition amount, TechCrunch reported that a person with knowledge of the investment put the price tag at roughly $100 million. This is a big win for the Femtech space, which some still view as “niche”.
This is L. was founded in 2011 by Talia Frenkel, a former photojournalist who worked with the United Nations and the Red Cross. While documenting humanitarian crises around the world, Frenkel witnessed first-hand the neglect of women’s sexual reproductive rights and the effects of HIV/AIDS on women and girls. She initially began a distribution campaign of condoms and then expanded her business to include period products. But the mission has always been the same: for every product sold, another is made accessible to a girl or woman in need.
When I interviewed her, Frenkel told me:
L.’s purpose is to make essential products accessible to as many women as possible. We have experienced strong growth with a team of eight people, breaking barriers and making our line of organic products accessible in thousands of stores across the country. Our rapid growth has enabled us to now stand in solidarity with women throughout the world; from partnering with organizations to send period products to Native communities in South Dakota, to supplying pad-making machines to a women-led business in Tamil Nadu and funding industrial production units in Kenya to create reusable pads for school girls.
This is L. officially launched out of Y Combinator (YC) in August 2015, after which it raised an initial seed round. The accelerator program, which has other Femtech graduates like The Flex Company, iSono Health and Nurx, confirmed that this is its first Femtech startup to have a successful exit.
The period care space has been growing considerably over the past few years, with freshly minted startups like This is L. making a name for themselves by being more transparent about their manufacturing process. According to its website, L.’s organic products are free of any pesticides, chlorine, fragrances or dyes.
This has been a huge issue in the space, with period activists pressuring tampon makers to disclose what ingredients they include in their products. P&G, which owns brands like Always and Tampax, says it openly shares its feminine brands’ ingredients on its website. Its acquisition of This is L. will surely attract a new generation of consumers who are seeking a different kind of branding that focuses on organic products with a social purpose.
Jennifer Corso, a Senior Manager at P&G’s Global Communications sent me this comment via email:
From our deep consumer research and understanding, we know that different consumers are seeking different product benefits. Some we are currently meeting today with our Always and Tampax portfolio and others are looking for products like L. This acquisition is exciting because it will help us to reach new consumers. We will not share our future plans for competitive reasons. What we can share is that we are focused on fueling the continued growth of L., and are committed to continue delivering the high quality, natural products that have earned the faith and trust of the L. consumer.
Frenkel confirmed this.
“P&G is committed to maintaining the product quality that L.’s consumers have come to trust, including period products made with organic materials,” she said. “In our discussions leading up to the deal, it was evident that P&G has great respect for our purpose and our commitment to prioritizing women’s health. We’re looking forward to bringing L.’s products to women around the world with the support of P&G’s scale and resources.”
Frenkel told me she will continue to work closely with P&G as a consultant and ambassador for L.
“There are so many inspiring women founders in Femtech,” said Frenkel. “My hope is L.’s success can help break barriers for purpose-driven businesses, menstrual equity, sexual health and women’s health in general.”