On building brands, communities, and mission driven companies: a conversation with the Taran Ghatrora, founder of BlumeFeatured
I spoke with @taranghatrora, founder and CEO at Blume, a clean skincare, period care, and body care company. Earlier in 2019, Blume raised $3.3 million with a $2.5 million annual run rate, but the company began without any initial external influx of capital. Taran shared her founding story and advice on building brands, communities, and mission driven companies. Taran initially wanted to be a human rights lawyer but ultimately felt that she could make greater impact through business. In particular, she wrote her master’s thesis on reproductive and period rights and was especially interested in creating positive change in this area. Around this time, her sister was diagnosed with polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), a hormonal disorder impacting 1 in 10 women. Taran realized that while the disease was quite common, it was not widely discussed, and there was generally very limited dialogue, support, or community around women’s health. Through learning more about PCOS and the broader menstrual health space, Taran realized the awful products that go into most tampons, so she was inspired to create a brand that produced clean products and simultaneously brought women together to discuss crucial topics that were previously considered taboo by mainstream media. Blume thus started in period care but has since gradually expanded to other products around the same central mission for supporting women through life changing periods. Specifically, they also provide products and community around self-esteem for girls going through puberty. Taran realized that when girls go through puberty, they end up dropping out of sports and science, technology, engineering, and mathematics fields in disproportionate numbers because of the self-esteem issues they begin to face as their body changes through periods and acne. Taran sought to change this by building great products and supportive communities to help girls navigate these challenging times. Taran shared her biggest learnings and advice from her founder journey thus far. On creating a customer first experience, Taran underscores the importance of engaging directly with your audience to inform your strategy. Blume has launched new products (including a natural acne treatment to wear under makeup and a creamy, non-foaming face mask) in part based on customer comments. The company listens closely for what is highly requested by customers and engages them in each step of their product and broader brand strategy to ensure they are meeting the needs of their communities as they evolve. More specifically, Blume engages their customer through surveys, polls, biweekly customer calls, liaising with their customer service team, focus groups, and backend data. They also leverage their Facebook group of highly engaged customers who provide more direct product feedback from early samples. On bootstrapping her business, Taran highlights the importance of getting comfortable with uncertainty. You will not see around every corner and must be open to continuous learning, specifically “just in time learning.” You will not be able to learn everything you need to know for the full life cycle of the business, but you just need to know what is necessary for your business in the next 3-6 months. When hiring, build a well-rounded team and focus on gaps and weaknesses you may have. Make sure your company is covered along the dimensions of growth, product development, and operations. Beyond team members, look to people smarter or more experienced to come on board as mentors unofficially or advisors more formally. On educating the consumer and building a new category of products, Taran notes it is important to balance information without fear mongering. Blume capitalized on a broader consumer shift as people expected more and better from their brands, and Taran was able to share crucial information with women around the injustices in period products (many of them incorporate bleach and pesticides!) and build a solution for them. On raising venture capital as a female founder, Taran recommends finding strong champions who understand your space, particularly ones who were previously founders themselves and can bring that empathy and experience to their work with you.