The Boss Ladies Podcast podcast

Ep. 58: Competitive Lifesaving, Vertically Integrated Menstrual Markets, & Redesigning the Tampon For The First Time in 90 Years with Co-Founder of Sequel, Amanda Calabrese

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In this episode, Manasi and Sualeha sit down with Amanda Calabrese, Co-Founder and CMO at Sequel, which recently received FDA clearance for it’s re-engineered performance-oriented tampon. Sequel’s FDA clearance marks the first time the tampon has been majorly redesigned since it’s invention nearly a century ago.

We kick off the episode by diving into Amanda’s journey through surfing, teaching surfing, and competing in the United States National Lifesaving Team in championships across the world. By starting up her own surf business, Amanda discusses how building a surfing business provided her with transferable skills that spun her towards the world of business and product design, which she pursued through her studies at Stanford.

Throughout the episode, Amanda discusses the journey of building out Sequel through dorm room prototypes, eventually leading her and her co-founder to stumble upon the idea of Sequel’s spiral grooves that wrap diagonally around the tampon—rather than the linear channels of most other tampons on the market—allowing them to absorb more fluid. Amanda dives deeper into the history of tampon innovation, the difference between white label and private label manufacturing, and the vertical integration of tampon mass manufacturers across supply chain and distribution systems that place small companies looking to innovate at a disadvantage.

Towards the end of the episode, Amanda also touches on Sequel’s patenting process, as Sequel has garnered 11 patents in the US and another 7 pending international patents. Through it’s novel manufacturing method, Amanda explains how Sequel can differentiate itself from traditional production and distribution networks and invest more into R&D. We wrap up the episode by discussing the urgency for “need based” innovation in the space of menstrual products rather than white label products which provide the illusion of choice with little differentiation.

Sequel’s Website:

Dr. Jen Gunter’s Review of Sequel (post-FDA clearance):

Politico Article on Juliet Thomas & Plan A Health (mobile clinics providing free healthcare services to communities in the Mississippi Delta):

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