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Female Disruptors: Molly Hayward is shaking up women’s wellness

Be human. We’ve all experienced brands and people as clichéd, canned, out of touch, and talking at us instead of listening to us. The most exciting thing you can do today is to be real. Connect with others with vulnerability. Show genuine interest and curiosity in other people and ideas — you never know where they might […]


Be human. We’ve all experienced brands and people as clichéd, canned, out of touch, and talking at us instead of listening to us. The most exciting thing you can do today is to be real. Connect with others with vulnerability. Show genuine interest and curiosity in other people and ideas — you never know where they might take you.


I had the pleasure to interview Molly Hayward. Molly is the founder of Cora, a brand giving women a modern method for managing their periods. With innovative and healthy organic products, a modern user experience, and sustainable menstrual products given to girls in developing countries for every monthly supply sold, Cora represents the smart, sophisticated, and conscious woman of today and is transforming the experience of womanhood on a global scale. Molly was the first entrepreneur in the now-trendy menstrual management space to establish a modern, socially conscious brand, presenting the issues of healthier products and women’s global social justice to the mainstream female consumer. At 29 years old, and recognized as a Forbes 30 Under 30, she has been featured in major media outlets and garnered awards for her innovative and holistic approach to elevating women globally through for-profit business. For more information, visit www.cora.life.


Thank you so much for joining us! What is your “backstory”?

They say if you want to know what you should do when you grow up, you should look at what you were doing when you were 10 years old. At 10, I was collecting change from my classmates to send to UNICEF. So it’s not surprising that I’ve spent my career in socially impactful startups — from a environmentally responsible e-commerce company I joined right out of college to then starting a sustainable clothing brand in the UK. Everything I did in college and my early career was focused on economic development and social impact through business.

Why did you found your company?

My passion for periods and women’s wellness started while I was traveling in Africa. I met girls who would stay home from school during their periods because they couldn’t afford period products, and then learned that millions of girls around the world stay home from school during their periods because they don’t have a way to manage them. That was what first sparked my consciousness around this universal experience of women. At that time I began to explore and understand my own cycle in a deeper way and found extraordinary meaning and significance in it both for my own health and wellbeing, as well as its connection to all the other natural cycles in nature. It showed me my ability to understand the forces of life and death more profoundly and viscerally. My first teacher in this space helped me to see how our cycles are a practice in the wisdom of life/death/life. Women experience this truth every month in their bodies. The end of the cycle is the beginning of the next one. I began to see myself, and all women, as the bearers of this wisdom that everything in life has a cycle. Things (ideas, institutions, plants, animals, humans) have to die to allow for the birth of new ones. The death of something is not the end, it’s the beginning of the next cycle. Powerful wisdom for our society today.

What is it about the work you’re doing that’s disruptive?

Cora entered the women’s wellness space at a time when innovation was stagnant and brands were failing to connect authentically women. We came with the intention to disrupt, and since our launch two years ago we’ve created products like premium organic tampons in compact applicators, micro-thin pads that are half as thick as the leading ultra-thin, and Hybrid Pads that work for both periods and light bladder leaks. Plus, we have a social mission to provide a girl in need with pads for every Cora product sold. Cora is completely changing the way women think and feel about their bodies, especially the parts that historically have been taboo or perceived negatively. Our philosophy is that every woman is a force of nature and should be revered as such.

We all need a little help along the journey — who have been some of your mentors?

I’ve never had a formal mentor, but I have had so many support me along my journey — from Cora’s earliest investors to the friends who let me crash at their home while I was starting up the company and was flat broke. I am an avid student, and try to learn something from everyone I meet. I believe everyone who shows up in our lives is there to teach us something.

How are you going to shake things up next?

Our mission at Cora is to create the most healthy, innovative products in women’s wellness, an in that vein we have a number of product innovations we’ll be rolling out later this year — so stay tuned!

In addition to products, our new content platform, Blood and Milk, is one of the fastest growing online women’s wellness sites and will be releasing its first multimedia piece A Woman’s Worth, on the real and opportunity costs of being female in our society today, this September.

Can you share 3 of the best words of advice you’ve gotten along your journey? Please give a story or example for each.

I’m not sure if these pieces of advice came from other people, or if they’re simply an accumulation of my own experiences along my journey, but this is what I try to live by and share with others:

Be human. We’ve all experienced brands and people as clichéd, canned, out of touch, and talking at us instead of listening to us. The most exciting thing you can do today is to be real. Connect with others with vulnerability. Show genuine interest and curiosity in other people and ideas — you never know where they might take you.

Stand for something. With whatever you are doing or building, think of the deeper purpose and integrate that into everything you do. Use your power to make the world better.

Ignore your fear. It never goes away, at least not for long. Learn to listen to your instincts and the parts of you that are thrilled and enlivened to be doing the work you do more than the part that is telling you you’re not good enough. The only way to fail is to give up because you were too scared to carry on.

What’s a book/podcast/talk that’s had a deep impact on your thinking? Share a story with us.

I’ve always loved listening to Yvon Chouinard talk about the story of building Patagonia as a progressive company in his books “Let My People Go Surfing” and “The Responsible Company”. From the time that Cora was just an idea, I have been inspired by Choinard’s spirit of adventure and the way he didn’t let the traditional models of business interfere with his vision for his life or the way he thought business could be done better — with greater consideration for people and planet. He talks about taking several months off each year to go fly fishing in a remote part of the country, and that he tells his employees that if the Patagonia factory burns down they shouldn’t call him, because he can’t do anything about it anyway. I love that kind of attitude about maintaining your own freedom and trusting your team enough to walk away from the business to rest, and replenish your energy and passion.

Some of the biggest names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might see this. 🙂

I’d love to have breakfast with Chrissy Teigen. She’s been incredibly outspoken and vulnerable in sharing her experiences as a woman — like periods and bladder leaks post-childbirth — with her fans and the public. At Cora, we are so grateful to women like her who are proactively sharing these experiences in an effort to normalize them and unseat the taboo that has caused women to feel shame or suffer in silence. She’s a badass.

How can our readers follow you on social media?

@mollyrosehayward

@corawomen

@bloodandmilk

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