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Nadia Ladak (she/her) is the co-founder and CEO of Marlow, the newest menstrual health brand that has created the first-ever lubricated tampon for smoother and more comfortable insertion. Beyond the product, the team is taking a community-driven approach to reduce the stigma around menstrual health through education and conversations. The brand has been featured in a variety of publications including Global News, Betakit, Canadian Living, The Kit, Vancouver Sun, and more.
Nadia led the team’s fundraising strategy and raised a $500,000 pre-seed round and obtained $150,000 in non-dilutive grants. She is a Canadian delegate at the 2022 G20 Young Entrepreneur Alliance summit, contributing to international policy regarding entrepreneurship. She is also the Ontario representative on the Startup Canada Women Advocacy Network where she participates in government roundtables to advocate for female founders. She was recently recognized as one of Canada’s Top 30 under 30 leaders by Bay Street Bull and as one of the top 29 women leading the modern menstrual movement. Nadia is committed to giving back to her community through her role as a member of the National Strategic Planning Committee at Girl Guides and as a mentor for the Junior Achievement Company Program where she provides weekly coaching to high school students as they operate their own small businesses.
1) What does your organization do?
Marlow is a modern menstrual wellness brand that is creating more comfortable periods, starting with the first-ever lubricated tampon for smoother insertion. The product is more environmentally sustainable as it is 100% organic cotton with a plant-based applicator and compostable wrapper. The products are purchased through an e-commerce channel and are delivered through quarterly subscriptions, resulting in a recurring revenue model. Our brand has recorded over 40 million views and six million likes on TikTok, but our mission goes beyond just delivering a product.
We’ve built a community of over 50,000 menstruators through our education and content strategy and are determined to smash the stigma around menstrual health. We also aim to provide our community with reliable education so that they can learn more about their bodies in an approachable manner. This led to our team’s recognition as part of the top 29 women leading the modern menstrual movement.
2) If you could get Canadians to understand one thing about your work, what would it be?
Historically, the menstrual product space has been dominated by a few select competitors. This lack of competition has minimized any incentive to innovate products, reinforcing the idea that menstruators should simply continue to put up with the products that are available. This has led to millions of menstruators feeling that there is something wrong with them if they cannot use a tampon because there are no other options available.
At Marlow, we believe we can be a part of changing this narrative. Through education and conversation, we want to prove to menstruators that there are tons of reasons for uncomfortable tampon insertion and you should not have to put up with the pain. We’ve worked to create a product that reduces this pain and discomfort. Now, menstruators who previously have had pelvic pain, vaginal dryness, or a lighter flow can use tampons with ease and not be held back by their period.
3) What are some unique challenges that you have faced in your work? What are you doing to overcome them?
One of the challenges we’ve faced is working to reduce the stigma around menstrual health. Menstruation is something that happens to 50% of the population at some point in time and yet, there is still so much stigma surrounding this topic. This leads to challenges when marketing our product and sharing our story.
We’ve combatted this by creating a safe space and community for individuals to learn more about their bodies. We break down these historically “taboo topics” and use humour to normalize the topics of conversation. Our goal is to create a world where menstruators can flourish rather than be ashamed of this natural bodily occurrence that happens to them every single month for 39 years.
4) How has the pandemic impacted your work?
We founded Marlow during the pandemic and went through our product development and regulatory approval process during this time as well. It was a challenge to liaison with Health Canada when they were understandably tied up with pandemic support and vaccine roll-out. Approval processes that were estimated to take 3-4 weeks were taking upwards of 2 months. This significantly delayed our timelines and the ability to bring our product to market.
5) What keeps you going? Are there any hopeful stories that you can share with us?
We are motivated by the impact we can make with our educational community and innovative product. We love speaking to our customers and hearing their feedback and experiences. One moment that stands out to me is the following comment from a member of our community:
“I just wanted to say thank you because you make me feel so normal. I have felt so insecure and so broken for having so much pain with tampons and it helps so much knowing that I’m not alone. The fact that my problems are acknowledged and seen is so wonderful.”
Reading comments like this has been so inspiring and validating to know that we are making a difference for menstruators everywhere.
The Mar-Lowdown, a blog from Marlow, shares tampon tips for beginners, resources to learn about sexual health and answers questions on a range of topics related to and answers questions on a range of topics related to menstrual and sexual health! Check it out at https://wearemarlow.com/blogs/marlowdown