This past week I had the opportunity of chatting with Morgan Oliver, the CEO and entrepreneur behind the brand new company Period for Good! She was kind enough to give a bit of insight into the process of starting your own business in order to help the rest of you out there understand the ups, downs, and in-betweens of becoming your own boss. So, please keep your arms and legs inside the vehicle at all times as we take a journey through the eyes of a young entrepreneur!
What is Period for Good?
Periodforgood.com is a monthly tampon delivery service that donates 25% of its profits to charities. Each month we deliver a package filled with tampons of the subscriber’s choice and goodies such as chocolate, a surprise gift, tea, and cramp tabs. Along with the package comes a personalized note detailing why we choose our specific products of the month as well as what a subscriber’s donation accomplished for the charity of their choosing. Subscribers can select to donate to any one of six carefully selected charities including: Tripp Halstead, Relay for Life, Best Friends Animal Society, DonorsChoose.org, Sunshine on a Ranney Day, and Ride to Give. We also made the decision to include a 7th option, “You Pick for Me,” for those subscribers looking to touch different lives each month.
How’d you come up with such an awesome idea?
My senior year at Duke I took a course called Creative Entrepreneurship. The professor required us to keep a creative journal of all the things in the world that could be improved. Most people get frustrated with the way things are or the way some things work, but they never stop to think how they could make it better. This is what the journal encouraged us to do; it trained our brains to see problems and their potential solutions.
The creative journal revolutionized how I looked at the world and that outlook always stayed, nagging, in the back of my mind. So, when I graduated college, I decided that I owed it to myself to take a break, to try this newfound thing people called “relaxation”. I decided to go on a cross-country road trip with my best friend. However, relaxing does not come naturally to a recent graduate, and I found myself constantly going back to the mental creative journal I had created for myself.
We hit Little Rock, Arkansas and I felt like I could not possibly endure another car ride across flat fields. Honestly, it was so boring some days driving that the most exciting thing we saw all day was a colt running. So, I started thinking about what I wanted to do next. In my creative journal, two ideas always stood out to me: fixing the misery of a period and running a cost-effective craft brewery. I thought back to my experience living on campus, where having a period seemed like a constant uphill battle of embarrassing walks in the grocery store filled with familiar faces, running late to a meeting because you forgot that your body needed more than caffeine and late night snacks, and laying in the fetal position as you failed to make it to your Psych class. I knew a lot about how horrible a period could be, yet I knew little about how to run a brewery. I guess you know which problem I decided to tackle first.
By the time I got to Omaha, Nebraska, my period called upon me like that old friend from high school who always drops in at the wrong time. I was in a foreign city with no tampons and no Midol. Rushing around Omaha at 10 pm the night we arrived, I made up my mind that I was going to do something about this for me and for all women alike. One thing led to another and I decided I was going to start Period For Good to help women like me who need a little pick-me-up every now and then when my Crimson Tide comes a-callin’. Inspired by how wonderful and good I found people to be on my road trip, I decided to incorporate the element of doing good for others while feeling good for yourself.
So, when I arrived in Denver, Colorado, I found a brewery and filed for an LLC.
What’s your background in?
I graduated from Duke in 2013 with a Sociology degree, a Psychology minor, and a Markets and Management Certificate. I also worked with the Duke Women’s Basketball Team for three years as a Manager and one year as Student Director of Operations for the team.
Do you have any competitors?
I do have competitors. As I prepared the business to launch, I researched the competitors to find out what others in the market were doing. I subscribed to about four companies to see what they were doing and I found that there really was a void I could fill. Some companies were late, which seemed counterintuitive when sending supplies needed on exact dates. Others were impersonal or underwhelming. All in all, I felt that none of the packages made me really feel better about getting my period. My whole mission with Period For Good is to make my subscribers feel better about getting their periods. I can’t make periods go away, but I can at least try to create a community of women looking to better ourselves as we help better one another. I want to make each subscriber feel like Period For Good is there for them every month looking for ways to make their hectic week with their period just that much better.
What makes your business unique?
I think the biggest thing is that Period For Good really just wants to help people. Everything we do has a purpose, a backstory, a meaning. We want to create connections that bring people together. We hope to bring Tripp’s story to some folks up North or to help another female entrepreneur reach a market she was previously unable to. One of our biggest goals is to make our consumer’s giving extremely personal and unique, so everyone can know exactly where their money is going and how it is being spent. I imagine the business will become a space where we not only give monetarily, but go out and give our time painting, building, educating whatever it is our army of subscribers’ are passionate about that month. We are different because of how personal and customizable a consumer’s relationship can be to Period For Good and to the good she supports each month.
What about your team? Are you working with others or is this a one-woman show?
It’s both a team and a one-woman show. My team consists of my incredibly supportive family. Bart, my brother, helps me a lot with technical logistics and brainstorming. My sister Taylor is a vivacious go-getter that has committed herself to helping me market Period For Good. I rely on her opinions on colors and designs because she has a more stylistic eye than I do. They both help out with the aesthetics of the business, but my mother, Jamie, and I run most of the business. My mother is the warehouse manager and I handle inventory, e-mails, packing, shipping, and just about anything else it takes to run an online subscription business. As the business grows, my ultimate goal is to have a local facility that hires handicap workers to be my fulfillment center. Again, we will be creating jobs and helping others with each subscription.
Tell us about your successes and challenges. What’s gone great so far and what bumps in the road have you hit?
Right now, I’d say I am most proud of finishing the website, which proved to be a real feat, and launching the business. If there is one thing I learned in college, it would be that getting started is half the battle, the rest just kind of comes to you. I have found that the same thing applies in business. You can have ideas all day long, but if you don’t start putting in the hours then they are just ideas.
Finishing up the website is such a big success because everything leading up to its completion felt extremely difficult. I could have never imagined how hard it would be to find someone to build a website on a small business budget. When I first started talking to web developers, it seemed like the most difficult thing in the world to do. I read blog after blog, trying to find a way just to be able to communicate with web developers about what I was looking for them to do. I found myself making phone call after phone call to different web developers looking for someone who I did not feel would just take my money and run. After about 100 different phone calls and Skype dates with various people and organizations, I found a web developer in California who appeared fit for the task. Little did I know that, as he took on the task of building the website, I took on the task of being his “on task” manager. Phone calls with him would last hours and it felt like things were accomplished at a glacial speed. He promised the website would be built in about 42 days, but about 95 days and 200 e-mails later, the website became live.
Where are you looking to go in the future?
Of course, I am excited about all of the potential this business has to help others. We made our first donation and it was an amazing feeling. I hope to grow this so that we become recognizable in the good we are accomplishing. Also someday, I hope to attend business school. After starting this business on my own, I would love the opportunity to expand my knowledge of the business world and further my understanding of how a successful business operates. This potentially could lead to opening a brewery…
What tips can you give to other young entrepreneurs?
Even if your idea seems like a stretch or you get laughed at for it, give it a shot. Whether you are successful or not, you will still learn a whole hell of a lot along the way. If you think you can’t start a business because it costs too much or you won’t make enough money, take a leap. It does not all have to be about the money. I started Period For Good with the money I saved in college and I feel like I can really make a difference, even if it is just in the life of one other woman. Also, try to create a support system of people who believe in you to help you when things get rough. I do not think I would have been able to weather the storm that was my web designer without the love and encouragement I received from those around me.
Lastly, don’t forget to breathe. Sometimes it can feel so overwhelming that we forget to step back and just pat ourselves on the back for what we have presently accomplished. Appreciate the little victories because those can be what keeps you going. People say that lack of fortitude is what keeps people from succeeding. Many times I would lay my head down at night ready to quit, only to get a small victory the next day that kept/keeps me going forward. Hang tough is my best advice.
Let me tell you, being a woman who dreads getting her period, nothing sounds better than being greeted with chocolate and my favorite tampons. My husband was even on the site asking me what brand I used. When I told him he gleefully said, “Oh, they have your type! Want me to order?” I think someone is hinting that either a. I’m cranky on my period and he wants me to have more Midol or b. He wants some extra chocolate. Either way, I’m really looking forward to catching up with Morgan in the future to see how it’s all going and to continue to help you all learn about the awesome process of being your own boss! It just goes to show that nothing is easy, but it’s still totally worth it in the end.
Now, it’s your turn! What did you think was the most helpful advice?
Got a business of your own you’d like featured so you can help other entrepreneurs? E-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org