This women healthcare startup seeks to change the narrative on menstruation in India through zero-waste products that cater to environment protection and workshops that impart much needed education.
If you are a woman growing up in India, chances are, you faced some trauma regarding menstruation. This natural phenomenon, which is part of the human reproduction system, is still a taboo topic in many Indian households, and girls are often forced to follow some bizarre rituals during ‘those’ days.
Needless to say, women face a lot of discomfort every month, and instead of getting support from the people around them, they’re made to feel further uncomfortable. At the same time, the modern woman seeks eco friendly products too.
Out of this discomfort and need to be environment friendly, was born Avni, a young startup focused on holistic, traditional menstrual care. Founded by the husband-wife duo, Sujata Pawar and Apurv Agrawal, the brand offers well researched, innovative, tested products to facilitate women hygiene during periods.
The co-founders envision Avni to emerge as a reliable women’s health brand with the support of medical experts, 24X7 helpline, and conscious products right from menarche to menopause.
The Tech Panda spoke to Sujata Pawar, the Co-founder and CEO of Avni, about their startup story.
In modern India, the taboo associated with menstruation is impacting women’s emotional state and mental health
“In a country like India, menstruation has always been a social taboo, a topic that refrains openness, something we need to change the outlook on. What is Menstruation? Period or menstruation is a natural and normal phenomenon in which vaginal bleeding occurs as a part of women’s monthly cycle,” she says.
“Unfortunately, it has always been surrounded by taboos and social myths which has resulted in othering and exclusion of women from many aspects of socio-cultural life. In modern India, the taboo associated with menstruation is impacting women’s emotional state and mental health,” she adds.
“The products available in the Indian market are not of the best quality causing rashes, irritation and hygiene issues. There are so many untapped issues to be addressed, add to it the lack of innovation,” she states.
This mind-set had a great impact on Sujata, convincing her to start her own Startup called Avni- a brand focusing on menstrual healthcare. Avni’s aims to introduce women to new age, tested, toxin free wellness products used during periods and intimate hygiene. Avni manufactures reusable cotton cloth pads that can redefine the traditional way of menstruating.
What They Do
Avni first and foremost aimed at developing holistic traditional menstrual care products for women. The brand’s motive has always been to serve society by offering well researched, innovative, tested products to facilitate women hygiene during their periods. The co-founders have pivoted all their efforts and time in making Avni, a reliable women’s health brand with the support of medical experts, 24X7 helpline, and conscious products right from menarche to menopause.
“The product at Avni is tested to its end, which has no harmful impact on its users,” says Pawar.
Our products are best suitable for women who have sensitive skin and who care about the environment and the future at the same time
She has been conscious to develop a genuine product that provides safer and healthier menstrual experience which is friendly on skin and environment at the same time.
“Our products are best suitable for women who have sensitive skin and who care about the environment and the future at the same time,” she says.
The Avni team understands that every period is different, they ensure health-friendly features like making clean, tested, sustainable, functional products that works best for women.
Origin & Inspiration
The inspiring story behind Avni stems from Pawar’s own personal experience as a woman.
“Having experienced periods and its associated problems from 18 long years now, I can tell you with certainty that commercial pads have always caused rashes, irritation and various kinds of skin-infections,” she says.
It all started eight years back when she had an uncomfortable experience using commercially available sanitary napkins.
“It was then, when I had started searching for better alternatives that not only suit sensitive areas but are also eco-friendly and at the same time, not harmful for sanitation workers. After doing my research and applying my original thought to it, I shared this business idea with Apurv, who was equally excited to work on it,” she recalls.
Having experienced periods and its associated problems from 18 long years now, I can tell you with certainty that commercial pads have always caused rashes, irritation and various kinds of skin-infections
“From that point, we together started developing Avni reusable cloth pad, which is also India’s first tested cloth pad which not only absorbs but also protects from infections. Seeking to change the narrative on menstruation in India, we produced zero-waste products that not only catered to environment protection, but we at the same time also educated a lot of people through our workshops,” she reminisces.
The Avni USP
Avni means ‘the Earth’. The brand has significantly redefined this by reinventing a healthier way to experience the menstrual cycle. The brand empowers a modern approach to the time tested ancient ways of managing menstrual cycles with high quality natural ingredients trusted by women.
Catering to a healthier choice for women out there is what makes Avni’s product gain an edge over its competition
“Our brand has centred all its focus on creating menstrual healthcare products that are skin-friendly, chemical-free, and environmental-friendly at the same time. Hence, catering to a healthier choice for women out there is what makes Avni’s product gain an edge over its competition,” explains Pawar.
As to competition in the market, she simply says, “We do not see many brands in the market with such a wide portfolio of reusable and disposable products suitable for wide body types.”
Avni is a digital first D2C brand with presence on its own website as well as major ecommerce platforms including, Amazon, Flipkart, OneGreen, ThePinkBox, Smytten, and Woovly. The brand also has a retail presence in 26 stores in southern India.
Further, it is actively collaborating with NGOs and menstrual educators across India for outreach in rural areas to provide education, awareness and distribution of products.
“Avni has touched 50,000+ women in the last year and shipped products to more than 20,000 pin codes across India,” Pawar says with pride.
Pawar also reveals ambitious plans for the future, “Avni aims to go deeper in the category of menstrual and intimate care with unique first of its kind products for the Indian market.”