Although eCommerce platforms have been a game-changer for innovative ventures to build brands and create businesses like never before, losing the in-person touch of customer relationships means that entrepreneurs have to find inventive ways to get in front of their customers and gain their real-life trust. Take Marlow as an example — a company built by four friends and Co-Founders while at Ivey Business School in London, ON. Nadia Ladak, Simone Godbout, Kiara Botha, and Harit Sohal, created the first ever lubricated tampon for smoother and more comfortable insertion. Marlow’s product is an instant problem-solver, becoming a helpful solution for folks who are new to using tampons, struggle with dryness from birth control or post-pregnancy, going through hormonal changes, or who have varying medical conditions. Their products were also created with sustainability in mind, offering a 100% cotton-based tampon, plant-based applicator, and compostable and recyclable packaging. Marlow is a brand that was built almost entirely online, starting their company solely through eCommerce and building the brand through intuitive and innovative digital marketing, community building, and the hard work of Marlow’s four founders.
A Year of Social Media Magic
“Our goal is to normalize menstrual wellness and reduce the stigma around periods,” says Ladak, Co-Founder and CEO at Marlow, “We want to make the education easily digestible, breaking down taboo topics using our blogs, workshops, TikTok channels, and online community.” Building this community of Marlow users and supporters was no small feat, and creating genuine interpersonal connections through the magic of social media allowed the Marlow team to create an online space that centered them as a powerhouse in the industry while continuing to expand their product offerings. Forming integral partnerships with like-minded businesses, in 2022 Marlow products hit the shelves (literal and digital) of some big-name partners, including Sweat + Tonic gym in downtown Toronto, and Canada’s well-known, well-loved green and natural online retailer, Well.ca. With these big steps towards further expansion and embracing customer connection outside of the screens, Marlow had an unbeatable year getting face-to-face with their customers and utilizing network supports and startup funding to propel their already successful year.
Funding Brings the In-Person Fun
Marlow is a recent i.d.e.a Fund recipient. Supported by a $10-million Government of Canada investment through the Federal Economic Development Agency for Southern Ontario (FedDev Ontario), the i.d.e.a. Fund is led by Boundless Accelerator in partnership with five Regional Innovation Centres (RICs): WEtech Alliance, Haltech, Innovate Niagara, Innovation Factory and TechAlliance of Southwestern Ontario. The program helps high-potential ventures access the tools they need to succeed by providing financial and business advisory supports to develop or redesign products, services, processes, and technologies that reduce impacts on the environment and create made-in-Canada solutions.
Using the i.d.e.a Fund to further their in-person connections, Marlow put their energy into pop ups and event activations across Toronto. With booths at the infamous CNE, STAKT Toronto Market, and Yorkville Mall, these in-person set-ups provided opportunities for their community to interact in person.
Showing our products in-person and sharing our brand and own stories helped us connect with our customers in such incredible ways
The in-person setting allowed for further conversation about reducing the stigma around periods, as well as the ability to provide a hands-on showcase of their new-to-market product, educating folks who previously didn’t understand its purpose or impact. Marlow also kickstarted their “Move with Marlow” campaign, a series of fitness events such as yoga and spin classes that allowed the team to interact with their community and share educational awareness about how movement and exercise impact your cycle.
As i.d.e.a Fund recipients, the Marlow team were paired with TechAlliance’s Manager of Startup Advisory and Venture Growth, Andrew Leest, to utilize industry expertise in the medtech space, “The Marlow team were keen on co-creating tangible strategies that allowed them to implement their i.d.e.a Fund project in ways that had irreplicable impact on their community”, said Leest, “They were able to leverage the most out of their pop up commitments, and their dedication to relationship building had a direct impact on customer traction and revenue growth.”
Committing to Community
Having community members and followers approach their pop ups, share their stories, and chat about the impact that Marlow’s digital community has had on them, the Marlow founders found immense value in dedicating their time to these in-person experiences, not only for themselves but also for their customers. With their 2023 priorities focused on influencer marketing and retail partnerships, Marlow is a brand, product, and community that is popping across digital spaces everywhere. With a goal to expand to US markets this fiscal, the strength of their initial innovation, the lubricated tampon experience, upholds the community it has created, and will continue to break into menstrual product spaces as a proud industry disruptor.
To learn more about Marlow, access educational and community resources, or purchase their products, head to wearemarlow.com
To learn more about The i.d.e.a Fund go to https://www.techalliance.ca/i-d-e-a-fund/
To learn more about FedDev Ontario, go to https://ised-isde.canada.ca/site/feddev-ontario/en