San Diego Native Brings the Anti-Tampon to Market
FLEX promises “the most comfortable period of your life”
The Flex Company co-founder Erika Jensen
After 80 years, the tampon industry is being disrupted by two female founders in Southern California. Tampon companies and menstrual cups had better watch out for FLEX, a device that promises “the most comfortable period of your life,” and mess-free period sex.
The idea for FLEX originated with founder Lauren Schulte, who suffered from yeast infections for 15 years. “I never realized that my persistent yeast infections were being caused by tampons. And when I tried a menstrual cup, I was disappointed with how difficult it was to insert and remove. Plus, I didn’t like the idea of boiling my menstrual cup on my stove to disinfect it. I wanted to create something in between a tampon and a cup — something that was more comfortable than a tampon, could be worn for much longer, and wouldn’t cause infections.”
She later teamed up with San Diego native Erika Jensen. “When I first met Lauren, I didn’t see the problem with tampons. She gave me a sample of FLEX to try, so I tested it out the next day at work during a busy day of meetings. I loved that I didn’t have to get up to run to the bathroom every hour to change my tampon. Later that night, I went to put a tampon back in and it literally felt like razor blades. I realized then that it had always felt this way and I had been conditioned to think that was normal. I quit my job the next day and have been working with Lauren ever since.” Erika, who grew up in Valley Center outside San Diego, spent 7 years running e-commerce for consumer businesses, including bebe and Jimmyjane, before joining Lauren as co-founder at Flex.
For almost a century, the menstrual market has been stagnant. The tampon was not originally designed with a woman’s body in mind; the material was used for field dressing in WWI. In 1933 Earl Haas created the modern tampon patent, and the product category has remained largely unchanged ever since.
The first commercially viable menstrual cup was patented by a woman, Leona Chalmers, in 1937. This bell-shaped device is known for being reusable, and has gained popularity in recent years but hasn’t gained adoption by most American women.
Today, The Flex Company, a Venice, California-based startup is going after both products with FLEX, their patented menstrual disc. The menstrual disc is a disposable device that can be worn for up to 12 hours, and holds the same volume as three super tampons. It’s made out of a medical grade polymer, which is hypoallergenic, BPA-free, and phthalate free.
Perhaps one of the most interesting things about The Flex Company is they don’t believe in shaming women about their period product choices, says co-founder Erika Jensen. “Women are constantly made to feel ashamed about their body, their period, their hair color, what they buy at the grocery store. We refuse to contribute to that notion and are doing everything we can to build a world where every woman loves her body. For us that really starts with supporting her personal choices. In a world where there are millions of dollars invested into apps, SAAS, and drones, we’re simply giving women what they deserve — access to better, more innovative solutions for our health and well-being, without the shame or judgement.”
FLEX is sold online through the company’s website. They are currently offering a free, one-month trial with $3.95 paid shipping.