Mess Is The Mission, Laughter Is The Vision with Susan Allen and Tara Priya Chandra · ShiftWorkPlace

Ep95 Mess Is The Mission, Laughter Is The Vision with Susan Allen and Tara Priya Chandra

Tagline

Shamelessly natural care for life’s messiest moments 

Bio for Susan Allen and Tara Priya Chandra

Susan Allen grew up in the city of champions—Boston, Massachusetts, and received her B.A. in communications and legal studies from the University of Massachusetts Amherst. After three years working at a healthcare policy nonprofit in Boston, she moved to New York City to join George Soros’ philanthropy, the Open Society Foundation. Susan completed her Master’s in Management at the London School of Economics in 2015. She relocated to London in 2016 to lead the Foundation’s work on diversity, equity, and inclusion and to launch “Here We Flo” with her best friend, Tara.

Tara Priya Chandra is the co-founder of Here We Flo. Born in San Francisco, she studied Economics at Columbia University in New York City, where she tried almond milk and kombucha for the first time and had her mind blown! After working on Wall Street for a hot minute, Tara ended up in the music industry in LA while freelance copywriting for brands like Ray-Ban. Tara received her Master’s from the London School of Economics, where she met her bestie and future co-founder Susan and received the C200Award for exceptional MBA students.

Episode highlight

Susan was daydreaming about starting a Feminist Mafia with Tara. On the other hand, Tara wondered why she couldn’t find organic tampons anywhere. From these dreams and dilemmas and after loads of research, a Master’s dissertation and heaps of terrible period-pun business names later, “Here We Flo” was born!

In this episode, Susan and Tara share their childhood, how they met and became business partners, the challenges they faced while building their business, and how they have continuously grown their business and team. 

If you want to build a business from scratch without investors, this episode is for you. Learn all about it from Susan and Tara.

Links

Quotes

  • Authentic self is the only self.”
  • “You have to like the place you work, not just because you get money out of it. Enjoy the journey, even when it’s stressful.”
  • “Our mission is shamelessly natural care for life’s messiest moments.”
  • “It’s not fair to leave people with only one option that isn’t good for the planet and probably isn’t great for their bodies.”
  • “Don’t be afraid to fail, everything’s not going to go perfectly. As long as you’re learning and improving, that’s the most important thing.”

Takeaways

Personal Journeys

Tara:

Tara grew up in the San Francisco Bay Area, California. Her parents were Indian and Persian. She grew up very close to her Indian family and only saw the Persian family once a year when they visited. When Tara’s mom fell sick, the different sides of the family took turns caring for Tara and her brother. At 12, Tara lost her mom, and her independence journey started. Different people mothered her. Having the two sides of the family exposed Tara to different cultures and developed her open mindedness.

Susan:

Susan was born in the US Virgin Islands and St. Croix. They moved to Boston, Massachusetts, when she was one year old. Her parents are from Montserrat. Susan’s mother was a Montessori primary school teacher in the Islands before they moved to the US. She later worked recruiting minority doctors at Boston Medical Center. 

At the age of nine, Susan’s parents divorced. When Susan was about ten years old, her brother, who used to DJ at parties,  was shot. Their mom didn’t have money for the required surgery, which led to Susan’s brother having a colostomy bag for 18 months. Susan’s mother later found out through the executive director of the healthcare facility she worked for that her son could get the surgery he needed through a free program. That experience made Susan’s mother a strong healthcare advocate.

Childhood Incidents

Tara:

In Hindu culture, the belief is that service to humankind is service to God. Growing up, Tara realized that her dad never encouraged her to get into a career so that she could make a lot of money. Instead, he encouraged her to pursue a career that would help her serve others. According to Tara’s dad, the most successful people were not the rich but people serving others. 

Susan:

Susan’s mom believes in service to others, and from Susan’s story, it is evident that her children took a similar path. Susan’s siblings are in positions that allow them to serve other people no matter what profession they choose. One of the sisters is a teacher, the other one works in the sex offenders’ registry, and the other is in public service. 

Susan recalls how her mother gave her the freedom to try out different things as a child, and looking back, it prepared her to become the person she is today. 

How Tara and Susan Met:

Tara and Susan met at the London School of Economics. In their class, there were only six women. Susan and Tara were the youngest became best friends right away. One day, Susan and Tara were going to the restroom, and Susan suggested they start a business. Tara was all pumped for it, and they started brainstorming. One thing Susan knew for sure was it would be a “feminine Mafia”. Tara was into organic stuff and a vegan. She loved her feminine organic care pack, but it was becoming difficult to find the products. They decided to launch a business on organic feminine care products, Here We Flo. Susan and Tara worked on their business from scratch for nearly five years without investors’ help. Their business has been on a growth trajectory, and they currently have a team of 13 women working with them. 

Workplace Culture at Here We Flo:

Susan describes their workplace culture as a feminist oasis in a sea of patriarchy. After hiring their first two employees, they sat down with them and came up with their mission and vision. Their culture revolves around trust and compassion. They trust that their team members will achieve whatever goals are assigned to them. Here We Flo goes the extra mile to make sure all team members feel appreciated. 

For instance, they send birthday gifts to their members and flowers when one of them is unwell. They also have a mental health day for all the team members, where every member gets a day to take care of their mental health, which is not part of their annual leave. Their aim is to make Here We Flo a great workplace like Google and Microsoft. 

What Brings out the Best in Susan and Tara?

Susan and Tara love working with people who are honest about their ambitions. To bring out the best in them, one must be open and willing to learn, vulnerable and transparent.

Extro:

Susan Allen and Tara Chandra had extended families from diverse backgrounds who provided the love, support, and encouragement for them to pursue their interests, studies, and dedication to the service of others. “Here We Flo “was born out of a desire to provide women with organic and sustainable body fluid products for the various “messes “women deal with throughout their lives. Driven by purpose, feminism, fierceness, and fun, Susan and Tara consciously created a foundation for their business to provide the flexibility and support all women need as they raise their families and go to work. After lots of knocking on retailer doors, they grew their customers in the UK and the USA to the thousands and now have a staff of 13 while boasting manufacturers and distributors in multiple countries. I was impressed with their humanity, solidarity, and solid business acumen and was certainly inspired by the purpose and mission of their lives. Tara and Susan have forged a solid purpose-driven business that serves a very real need–safely and sustainably collecting and disposing of female bodily fluids for the many messes of life. Their website tagline is “life gets messy–we’ve got your back and front!”

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