Q&A With Fialuna Founder Dominique Gaspar
Q: What gave you the idea to set up Fialuna?
A: I had been pondering setting up a business for some time. I was on maternity leave and wanted to be able to work flexibly around my family. I had TONS of ideas, but never quite got any where with any of them. I needed something with legs - something that had the potential to replace my previous level of income. Not just a hobby/side line business. I thought selling something online would be good due to flexibility, but I’m not the type of person who could just start importing some generic cheap product they found on Alibaba and start selling on Amazon. I really needed to believe in the product.
I’d been using Thinx period pants for a number of years and had been meaning to try cloth pads for years, but somehow never got around to it. I think changing habits can be hard. Anyway, I came up with the idea for a reusable period product business the day I got my first post-partum period so I thought, “It’s a SIGN!!!” I picked up the idea and ran with it. I started trying lots of different cloth sanitary pads and then delved into menstrual cups. Trying lots of different products has helped me develop our product line. The combo of the business being eco-friendly and women centric really gets me excited.
Q: What plans do you have for your product line?
A: Well at the moment, we are still really early stages. My original plan was to launch a line of cloth sanitary pads as the first order of business. I started sourcing fabrics in July 2018 and first met with a pattern maker and product developer in August 2018 to help me develop the product line. Over a year later, I’m still developing the cloth sanitary pads. We’ve had some big challenges along the way. Some of the fabrics we chose originally didn’t work as well as we’d hoped. Then, we had some problems with our manufacturer. It’s been a really tough journey, but I just got samples back last week and we start more testing this week.
Because it’s taking so long to get the cloth sanitary pads off the ground, I decided to launch the line of menstrual cups to keep my momentum going. I had always planned to sell menstrual cups as well as pads and had been in discussions with a menstrual cup manufacturer for about a year. The menstrual cups were a lot more straightforward and once I decided I was going to sell them, we were able to bring them to market within a couple of months.
In addition to the pads and cups, I really want to bring a line of period pants to market too. I already have them designed in my head! I’ve left those until I get the other products off the ground because they are the most costly to produce and you need to have a pretty wide range of sizes. I think once we have the pads going though, we should be able to get them to market soon.
We also have cloth wipes, interlabial pads, wash bags and stain remover as part of our product line and I’m planning to have some wet bags launched with the pads.
Q: What have been the biggest challenges in getting started?
A: It’s been a steep learning curve. Working around raising a little person has been tough. Jumping between roles of mom and business woman can be hard for your brain! Hats off to all the moms who have started a business whilst raising kids (and dads too J). It’s not easy!
Also, being let down by other people and waiting for people to get back to you when you are time poor has been super frustrating. I’ve lost a lot of time and unfortunately money working with people who have let me down.
Q: What has been the most rewarding part of starting Fialuna?
A: Well, I think the best is yet to come…. BUT I’m selling my products to other small businesses and I love hearing about how other businesses are making a difference in their communities and helping people shop zero waste. There’s a huge unmet demand. The supermarkets have an opportunity to make a massive difference and they are not responding quickly enough. Honestly, their lack of action is pathetic, but the upside is that it’s sprung people into action and new small businesses are popping up and helping others shop they way they want – with little or no packaging.
I also really care about what I’m selling. Most people that switch to reusable period products would never go back. It’s rewarding to guide people to a better period. Reusables are so much more comfortable.
Q: Where do you see your business in a year?
A: Good question! Well, I know from my experience of the last year, that things do not happen as quickly as I think they will. I’m over 6 months behind my original timeline. That said, I think things are going to start moving more quickly now. I’m hoping in a year, we will have steady sales and brand recognition in the market. We will have the pads going and hopefully be making a start on our period pants. I’m excited.