Black-owned organic period care brand Femly wins Ford Pitch competition

BY Preta Peace Namasaba October 21, 2023 10:19 PM EDT
Arion Long. Photo credit: Arion Long

Femly, a Black female-led organic period care brand has won the 5th annual HI-HERImpact Pitch Competition. Organised by 1863 Ventures and Ford Motor Company Fund, the competition enables women social entrepreneurs to boost their enterprises for long-term impact and sustainability. The company was founded in 2016 by Arion Long who doubles as its CEO.

Winning top prize in Hi-HerImpact is transformative for Femly. I was overjoyed to receive inbound customer interest for our period care dispensers during our pitch. The financial award, introductions, and support from this competition directly support our growth, job creation, and ability to scale.

Arion Long

Recognised for its organic cotton period products, Femly presented an impressive pitch to win the grand prize of $50,000. With a vision to bring about period equity, the company makes safe feminine hygiene products more accessible. Femly has shipped more than 325,000 period care products in the past year, transforming over 50,000 lives in the process. It recently finalised a deal with a Georgia school district to provide hygienic products to 93,000 students.

Long and her team have developed a patent-pending dispenser, that enables users to access period products for free. The touchless pad and tampon vending machine are sold to schools, hospitals, and hotels globally for their restrooms. The dispenser is reforming the landscape of public restrooms and providing healthier and more sustainable period care alternatives to the masses.

Femly plans on incorporating a QR code into the dispensers so that users can donate to underserved communities. Maintaining the philanthropic spirit, the company has donated thousands of hygiene products to women in need all over the world. She recently partnered with Sagamore Pendry Baltimore Hotel to deliver 1,285 hygiene kits to Kenya. As the only minority-led organization in the B2B/enterprise space, Femly is leading the way as more countries enact period care laws.

Long has raised more than $1.2 million in venture capital for Femly. With capital acquisition being a major barrier for Black female founders, she has overcome this particular hurdle by raising funds from pitch competitions and grants. Last month, Maryland’s economic engine for technology companies invested $250,000 in Femly. The company is also backed by popular public figures and entities such as Pharrell Williams, Beyoncé, and Google.

Long is a Morgan State University graduate with a bachelor’s degree in business family and consumer sciences. She conceived the idea to start Femly in 2013 following a cervical tumor diagnosis. With there being a direct link between her cancer and the chemicals in the feminine hygiene products she was using, she set out to develop organic cotton period products. In 2018, she lost her daughter in a stillbirth delivery and was diagnosed with e.coli septicemia, organ failure, and disseminated intravascular coagulation. Long was only two weeks off life support when she won $10,000 at Hera Fast Pitch DC.

We assume because some of these pads are white, that they’re clean. That is so far from the truth. Historically, many of the popular pad brands were made with synthetic materials like nylon, which is known for harboring heat and bacteria. The other side of that is many of these pads included ingredients like Bisphenol A bleach dioxins, which are linked to reproductive illnesses and cancer.

Arion Long in AfroTech