Simphiwe Mntambo, founder of Pink, tells us about her eco-friendly menstrual products
The price of sanitary pads sparked the idea for Pink.
In 2015, I went shopping for sanitary pads and a pack of 10 was R50. Although I could afford to buy them, I still thought that they were expensive. I also noticed that the packaging didn’t include information on how they were produced. I then researched projects that made environmentally friendly sanitary products, and found numerous. This helped me build my concept and business model for Pink.
Working with young entrepreneurs encouraged me to pursue my business.
I started out as a trainee at the South African Breweries (SAB). I went on to become an enterprise development specialist, and ran the SAB KickStart; a youth entrepreneurial programme aimed at helping small business owners elevate their businesses. Working with young entrepreneurs who were running their own businesses encouraged me to do the same. In January 2017, I decided to quit my job, and went to Ghana to teach English for five months while also improving the business idea for Pink. The time away provided me with the confidence that I needed to focus on running the business full-time.
Giving women a choice is a large part of my business.
I returned from Ghana ready to tackle Pink. I had a clear idea of what I wanted it to be – a socially responsible company that made women feel that they had a choice when it came to the products they use when on their periods. The eco-friendly aspect was also important because we use these products in a sensitive part of our bodies, and I wanted them to be as natural as possible. Because of this, I decided on three products – the biodegradable sanitary pads, rewashable cloths and reusable menstrual cups. The products are made in Howick, KwaZulu-Natal, with the assistance of a few elderly women who sew the re-washable cloths. The ladies who run the Midlands Meander Education Project sell the products.
Pink just celebrated one year.
Although it’s just been a year, the business has grown in leaps and bounds. The elderly women from Howick were receptive to the rewashable cloths that they use for issues such as incontinence. This has opened up a new market for the business in the area of women’s health. We’ve also branched out into giving health talks about menstrual health and hygiene. The talks are a space for all women to have open conversations about menstruation and health. We’re also looking at introducing more sanitary products in the future. The cloths cost R65 for 4, menstrual cup R150 and lasts up to 5 years and the pads R20 for a pack of 10.
Kwanele Mathebula speaks to founder of Pink, Simphiwe Mntambo (28), about being the owner of an eco-friendly menstrual products company.