Over the past year we have heard a lot about food, sanitizer and toilet paper shortages. But one area that hasn’t gotten as much attention has been feminine hygiene. Many women rely on schools or shelters for access to those types of products, but during the pandemic, that has been largely impossible.
The women-owned period product company, TOP the organic project, amped up their donations during COVID-19 with a “Tampons for All” donation program which placed tampons and pads directly in the hands of women across the country who have been impacted over the past year.
The company was started by two moms, Denielle Finkelstein and Thyme Sullivan, who both left high profile corporate gigs at Fortune 500 companies because they couldn’t find period products they felt were safe for them, their daughters, and the planet.
Together they created 100-percent organic plant-based tampons (made out of sugarcane so they feel like plastic, but aren’t!) and pads.
Denielle and Thyme spoke with us about their company and the initiatives they have launched to help during the pandemic.
Q&A with Denielle Finkelstein and Thyme Sullivan, TOP Founders
Q: What drove you to start TOP?
A: 2 ½ years ago, we were at a crossroads with our jobs and seeking more purpose and balance. We were both seasoned executives at large corporations who felt like we were missing out on being parents. We weren’t fulfilled in our jobs and we craved more meaning in the next stage of our careers. We were the moms that cared about everything organic, like food and beauty products, but we had NEVER considered our tampons. Our daughters, Josie and Reese, were coming of age and as they began researching period products, we saw a category that had NO transparency, lacked innovation, and had significant negative impact on the environment. Since this area had largely been ignored, we decided to take the risk together and go out on our own to create TOP for our daughters.
Q: A lot has been reported on how school closures due to Covid have affected kids access to food. But many would be surprised to know that access to period products have also been a major issue.
A: At TOP, we have focused our give back on middle schools and high school students to help remove this barrier in school so they can reach their fullest potential at this critical point in their lives. Prior to COVID, when we made donations to schools and other organizations, we heard over and over again that so many students relied on the schools and their nurses for access to safe period products. These TOP donations helped supply even more students because most school budgets for these products was gone after almost 3 months. When COVID hit and schools remained remote, more and more students struggled with lack of access to food and the basic necessity of period products that schools had provided them.
Q: Food banks usually also offer products for women’s health. Why is there a greater need for them now?
A: The impact of COVID on many families has forced them to make decisions between food, rent, utilities and basic needs. Period products are in low supply at most food banks and other non-profits because they are not what people think to make for donations. So when food banks do receive period products, they are quickly depleted. For women and girls, they need access to safe period products in order to work, go to school and keep their dignity throughout these difficult times.
Q: Tell us about the Tampons for All initiative.
A: When COVID hit and throughout 2020, we began to lean heavily into giving back and worked with multiple non-profits that support women, girls and homeless families. There is a desperate need for period products for those who have been negatively affected by COVID and don’t have access to safe products. We have donated over 300,000 period products in partnership with Period, Inc, Girls Inc, Dignity Matters, and FamilyAid Boston. The campaign was called Tampons for All: Let’s get through this period by helping women and girls with theirs.
We heard back from many of these women:
“I had just gotten my period and was so grateful that I did not have to leave the home with my two children to go to the store that day to pick up products.”
“I was trying to figure out how to get pads as I am out of funds. Thank you so much for these supplies.”
“I wanted to express how grateful I am that you drove to the shelter amid these scary times, and personally delivered the pads, which could not have come at a better time for me.”
Q: Tell us more about your collaboration with Period Inc. and how it has helped cities hit hardest by Covid.
A: We have partnered with many organizations throughout the year to supply period products for some of the hardest hit cities. We continue to focus on organizations that support students and young adults so they can have access during these unprecedented times. Period Inc is just one of these organizations that we have partnered with.
After many requests from our customers that they wanted to make donations to the organizations that we partner with, we recently added the App DailyKarma to our website. This allows anyone shopping at TOP to give a cash donation at checkout to non-profits like Girls Inc, Dignity Matters and I Support the Girls. Over 30% of our purchases now include a cash donation.
Denielle Finkelstein & Thyme Sullivan
Co-Founders, TOP the organic project at TOP the organic project
TOP the organic project was founded by 2 Moms who left their corporate jobs to launch a social and environmental impact brand. They are bringing organic, plant-based and sustainability to a category long overdue for innovation and having fun long the way.