India’s Eco-Conscious Padwoman Has Created the Ultimate Sanitary Napkin

By the time she was 24, Tanvi Johri had already seen the winding up of two startups. Armed with a degree in chemistry from Hindu College followed by an MBA, the Mathura-born girl was left jobless but with a deep understanding of how to lay a strong foundation for a startup, and the mistakes one must avoid.

Her experiences at the workplace also gave her an opportunity to interact with scores of working women, and to understand their daily lives and needs. “What struck me was the difficulty of having periods in the workplace,” says the bright, bespectacled young woman, who is now 26.

Firstly, women would tuck their sanitary napkins tightly in their palms or their dupattas while going to the washroom, and would also need to carry some paper or bag to discard used ones. Secondly, many wore the same pad all through the workday, choosing to change only once they got back home.

The long duration coupled with the pad’s synthetic materials and India’s humid conditions meant that a rash or infection was always waiting to happen. And then the problem of disposal – why must we fill up landfills with tons of waste plastic?

“I wondered why MNCs never thought about biodegradable napkins. Or softer surfaces that don’t create rashes. Or pretty packaging that one doesn’t have to be ashamed of carrying around,” she says.

And so Tanvi decided to create the ultimate sanitary napkin herself.

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Team Carmesi

Along with her partner Rikshav Borah, she developed a beta range of pads that were easy on the skin. After nine months of extensive trials and feedback from over 3,000 clients, she further modified and enhanced the pad and, in November 2017, came up with Carmesi, a 100% biodegradable napkin.

The pad has many features women would rejoice about besides the fact that it doesn’t harm the planet: it comes in a sealable pouch for disposing soiled napkins. It has a cottony covering that makes you feel like you aren’t wearing anything. It contains no chemicals and is certified in India and abroad.

You can take a subscription and have 10 pads delivered to your doorstep just before your period, so that you never need go out to buy them. You are given a pretty box that you can proudly keep on your dresser without embarrassment. And it comes in two sizes – you can even specify how many of each you need per period.

The only con is the price: it costs between Rs 25 to 34 per pad due to the high cost of production, packaging and home delivery.

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Carmesi’s storage box is designed to be kept on a dresser

But Tanvi – who has almost 20,000 customers – is optimistic that Carmesi would appeal to those looking for a menstrual product that matches their lifestyle, the way the upwardly mobile opt for better shoes or sunglasses.

She also wants to remove the social taboo about talking of menstruation – Akshay Kumar’s Padman could not have come at a better time for her. “Men buy our gift packs for their girlfriends or the women in their families. It makes me happy that we’ve made menstruation goods a ‘regular thing’ for these men, like shaving or brushing,” she grins.

Coming up soon: pantyliners!

First published in the March 2018 issue of eShe magazine. Read it for free here.