Fan of Stitch Fix, Blue Ribbon? Now there's SHE

Nursing alumna turned entrepreneur creates organic tampon subscription service

By MAURA SULLIVAN HILL, USF NEWS Posted Tue, 12/05/2017 - 14:15

Mail-order subscriptions are having a moment — whether they contain clothes, makeup, or perfectly portioned ingredients for dinner. And after forgetting to buy her monthly tampon supply too many times to count, Lauren (Esser) Carletta BSN '14 wondered why there wasn’t a similar option for feminine products.

“Every woman, even though we know that our menstrual cycle is coming every month, has forgotten to buy tampons,” she says. “To have them delivered right to your door on a schedule is ideal.”

So, together with her two sisters, Carletta created SHE, which delivers organic tampons to customers' doorsteps on a monthly schedule. The nursing alumna's entrepreneurial venture launched in May 2017, and has been growing ever since, with workout and yoga studios from San Diego to New York stocking their product.

Good for people, good for the planet

With a self-described passion for organic living, Carletta worried about the lack of research about the effects tampons have on women’s bodies, and the fact that the FDA doesn’t require companies to disclose what is in feminine products. 

“Women are putting these products into the most absorbent part of our body, and could be absorbing harmful chemicals,” she says. “We’re hoping that scientists and researchers will pay more attention and study the effects that these products can have on women’s bodies.”

Non-organic cotton is harvested with toxic pesticides that can make their way into women’s bodies through tampons, Carletta says. Organic cotton not only eliminates that possibility, but also uses less water, so it's good for people and good for the planet. 

“We’ve heard from a lot of customers who were having trouble with pain and other ovarian problems while using regular tampons,” says Carletta, who's also an acute care nurse at St. Joseph’s Hospital in Orange, California. “But since they started using organic, a lot of that went away.” 

Entrepreneurial ethos

Carletta says her time as the vice president of the USF student nursing association taught her to step up and be a leader. Her sister and co-founder, Lindsay Aschtiani, agrees. “I saw how, at USF, she learned to work within a team. And on any team, someone inevitably shines through to be the leader and the risk taker, and that is definitely Lauren,” Aschtiani says. 

Going forward, SHE has plans to expand their product line to include more size options, as well as organic pads and pantyliners. In addition to traditional marketing, the SHE team partners with lifestyle and healthy living bloggers and social media influencers to get the word out. 

“USF promotes an entrepreneurial spirit, and I was definitely influenced by that. I wanted to do something in addition to bedside nursing in my career,” Carletta says. “I was a student in more ways than one, because USF also taught me the importance of being environmentally friendly. While building this business, I was thinking about not only what is healthy for our bodies, but also for the environment.”