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Maria Markina and Alexandra Griswold of Athena Club

The goddesses on their customisable, home delivery tampon service, why you deserve to insert only the very best in your body and their thoughts on menstrual cups.

As we get more and more conscious of our daily supplement intake, how often we exercise a week, how much sleep we get and how to read product labels, there’s one thing that many of us have not given our attention to: what we put inside our bodies — and we’re not talking about your diet here.

Research has shown that the average woman uses some 17,000 tampons in her lifetime. With most of the tampons on the supermarket shelves made of bleached synthetic rayon — and housed in plastic applicators that aren’t BPA-free — think of how many toxic substances gets accumulated in your body over the years. The frightening reality of it is enough to turn you off tampons for good, isn’t it?

That’s where Athena Club comes in. Putting their bodies on the line, founders Maria Markina and Alexandra Griswold tried and tested all kinds of products for almost a year to ensure that their affordable tampons tick the boxes of price, quality and convenience. Prices start from as low as $6.50 a month, and if that weren’t enough, they also deliver straight to your door. Customers can choose from a Premium version made of unscented cotton, or a biodegradable, Organic type crafted from unscented 100 per cent organic cotton. Both come with BPA-free plastic applicators (BPA is a known hormone disruptor).

With their high quality cotton, this reduces the risk of soaking up pesticides. Athena Club’s unscented products also take away any doubt on whether any nasty chemicals were used to infuse fragrances. No dyes or chlorine is used too, and their manufacturer is FDA approved.

All in all, feminine care is no longer an afterthought.

How did you come up with the idea for home delivery tampons, and what does the name “Athena Club” mean?

Combined, we’ve had periods every month for nearly 30 years. At first, we were excited when we heard about subscription tampon companies — we’re millennials, so we love the convenience factor — but we balked when we got to the prices. Most companies are charging $10, $12, $25 to deliver tampons. We’re talking two to six times the price of picking them up in a store. It just didn’t make sense. So we started digging around to figure out why this was happening, and what we could do to change it.

We tested products for nearly a year to ensure that our tampons, both Premium and Organic, deliver on price, convenience and most of all, quality. We did our research, and we’re pulling back the curtain to give women something they should have had from the start: high-quality, reasonably priced tampons delivered straight to their doors. There is no good reason for how expensive it currently is to deal with something very common: being a bleeding human being. We’re building Athena Club to be the high quality and affordable option for women who want convenience — and who shouldn’t have to empty their bank accounts to get it.

As for the name Athena Club, we wanted a name that meant something — both to us and to the women who become part of the Athena Club community. Throughout history, Athena has represented a strong female figure with an amazing range of talents; from arts and mathematics, to wisdom and courage. Athena — and her owl, who is always seen with her — have stood the test of time and been a much-needed reminder that women can excel in anything we put our minds to. We hope that our customers can relate to her in their own ways. Among the other goddesses, Athena stands out for her incredible strength and independence. Similarly, we wanted our company to stand apart from traditional brands, and to help women find the strength and independence of Athena inside themselves.

Maria Markina Athena Club Après Avant

“Most companies are charging $10, $12, $25 to deliver tampons. We’re talking two to six times the price of picking them up in a store. It just didn’t make sense.”

Why was it important to you to offer 100 per cent organic cotton, unscented, chemical-free, BPA-free plastic tampons?

It is really important to us to give our customers the freedom to choose the products that work best for them and for their bodies. We offer both Premium and Organic products in different sizes, all of which are unscented and 100 per cent free of dyes and bleach. Everyone is unique, and we want to be a brand that helps customers find what’s right for them rather than telling them what to do. Whatever works best for their bodies, we can provide.

How do your materials and quality standards benefit one’s skin, hygiene and overall well-being? 

By offering two different product lines, we can tailor our offerings to customers with different needs. For instance, if a customer needs a more absorbent tampon, they will typically use our Premium line. Whereas if a customer has skin sensitivities/allergies, our Organic line will often help. Women don’t all fit into one box, and neither do our tampons. With Athena Club, women have the freedom and flexibility to customise the products that are best for them and their bodies.

What do you think about menstrual cups? 

Menstrual cups are a great alternative for those who choose to use them. Personally, we never liked them or the experience of using them. However, we totally get why many people do. Periods are so personal, and we think that there shouldn’t be any judgement over what each person chooses to use.

Athena Club Après Avant

What are your favourite organic beauty brands, their products, and why?

Maria: Herbivore Botanicals’ Pink Cloud Rosewater Moisture Creme. It is so light and feels great on my skin, especially when it gets really warm in New York in the summer. I also like Burt’s Bees Lip Balm. I cannot go anywhere without lip balm and this one has always been my go-to choice. It works super well, and is reasonably priced!

Allie: Two Peas Organics Mineral Sunscreen. I am one of those people who’s so pale that I never really get tan; I just get burned. So as you can imagine, sunscreen is a very important part of my summer beauty line-up. I love this organic sunscreen that protects both my sensitive skin and all of the sea creatures around me with its unscented, mineral-based formula that includes organic coconut oil, jojoba oil and shea butter.

I also like Cocovit’s Coconut Oil. For me, coconut oil is a gift from the gods, and Cocovit is by the far the best organic coconut oil I’ve tried. I use it for everything: a deep conditioner for my hair, a hydrating facial, an emergency resurrection for my dry hands — it’s a miracle worker! Drunk Elephant’s Lala Retro Whipped Cream is another one of my favourites. This cream is loaded with all the good stuff — green tea, plantain extract and omega acids — and none of the bad. My favourite all-purpose moisturiser (and skin saviour) all year-round.

Is chlorine, bleach and dyes typically found in off-the-shelf tampons?

We cannot speak for other brands or their manufacturing practices as their materials are not always disclosed but we feel strongly about not using harsh chemicals in any of our products. All our products go through thorough testing and FDA verifications to make sure they are as safe as possible. Regardless of the products used, it is always important to follow insert instructions to prevent toxic shock syndrome.

If one is prone to yeast infections and UTIs, what should they consider when shopping for feminine care items? 

We strongly recommend speaking to a doctor first to find out what products would work best based on the specific circumstances. If it is caused by allergies or intolerances to certain ingredients, switching to all organic tampons might help, but again, we would suggest talking to your doctor first!

Athena Club_Après Avant

“If a customer needs a more absorbent tampon, they will typically use our Premium line. Whereas if a customer has skin sensitivities/allergies, our Organic line will often help.”

What’s next for Athena Club?

We are looking into several exciting things for the next chapter of Athena Club! Our goal is to connect with as many women as we can — to make their lives easier, without high price tags. We’re considering new products and partnerships, both with businesses and non-profit groups, to help us do just that: reach more women and offer them more ways to live their lives and their periods better.

Finally, what does conscious living mean to you?

For us, conscious living means living thoughtfully and deliberately, and being aware of where we choose to devote our time and our energy each day. Each day — even each hour — there are thousands of micro decisions that shape who we are, and how we touch those around us. We see conscious living as a style of living and thinking that brings conscious awareness to the beliefs and passions that guide us, and the different ways that we can weave them into our lives.

Our belief in empowering women and to simplify the unnecessarily complicated gave us the idea for Athena Club, but in a way, the conscious living mindset helped us bring it to life. We spent a lot of time understanding our goals and the steps we would have to take to get there. We knew it would not be an easy road, but that our beliefs were strong enough to make it through.

Images courtesy of Athena Club