Why did you decide to go into the already saturated sanitary product market?
Trendy and tampons are not words you would normally put together in one sentence. But that is exactly what I set out to do: to create a tampon brand that women would be proud of and happy to carry in their handbag. It's a product that offers something special to women: a trendy and fashionable product that speaks to women on a more personal level.
Besides the packaging, how is Ava unique from other sanitary offerings?
Ava is not just a pretty tin. We have spent two years researching manufacturers across the globe to ensure we provide the South African woman with a top-quality product. Our supplier adheres to strict international regulations. We also look at our customers as individuals and build relationships with them. We have a dedicated care-line, as well as an email service, where young girls can call or email us with their questions regarding periods and puberty. It's a difficult time for any teenager and if they need to reach out to Ava, she'll always listen.
The fast moving consumer goods (FMCG) market is cut-throat. How do stay ahead of the pack?
I have a wonderful creative team who are constantly bringing new ideas to the table to make Ava stand out. We make sure that we stay on top of our social media pages to interact with our fanbase online. We are also a company created solely by women – which I feel gives Ava that personal touch that other brands might lack.
How many women do you employ? And why did you decide to employ only women? Be honest, do you ever think, "There's too much oestrogen in here"?
We are a close team of four women. Ha-ha, I suppose sometimes there can be too much oestrogen in the office, but that is often when our best ideas come to life. As women we know each other's strengths and even though there are days when things are stressful, we have a close enough bond to ensure things get done. All four of us come from different backgrounds. We've had different experiences that have led us to Ava – and that helps us to form our strategies. We are the market. Everything we do we ask ourselves, “Would I buy that?” So far, the answer has been a resounding "Yes".
What in your career and educational background ultimately led you to create Ava?
I have a strong design background – I've been an interior designer for over 20 years, working with international companies, hotels and residential clients all over South Africa. Throughout my travels, I have seen women in other countries celebrate their femininity. That is something I always found lacking here in South Africa. We tend to shy away from anything remotely related to our periods. We sometimes find ourselves competing in a male-dominated industry – and then, almost instinctively try and "muscle up". Instead, we should celebrate who we are as women!
How did you decide on the name Ava?
From the start I wanted a name that would resonate with women; that would give them that personal connection. "Ava" means "bird" in Latin. It's such a beautiful, free image for our brand to be associated with. We've referenced the bird in our logo and packaging (in the cameo Ava has a wing and feather in her hair. There is also a band of feathers around the current tin design).
What's next for Ava?
Ava's future is looking bright. We are in the process of expanding into more stores and will also soon be launching our first applicator tampons.
What advice would you give to an aspiring entrepreneur?
Don't give up. Have faith that what you want to create will be successful and you will succeed in time. Make sure you are passionate about what you create as that passion will shine through your product.