This homegrown business offers game-changing period care products

PHOTO: Blood

Periods suck.

Which is why we’re always grateful for any help we can get to make dealing with that time of the month a little easier.

Take period care company, Blood (previously known as PSLove), for example, which was founded in 2014 by entrepreneurs Tan Peck Ying, 32, and Caleb Leow, 31.

It’s likely best known for MenstruHeat, a drug-free portable heat therapy patch that helps alleviate menstrual cramps , heats up in a matter of minutes, and offers up to 12 hours of relief. Its stockist list now includes retailers and supermarkets like 7-Eleven, Guardian, Cold Storage, and Watsons.

We got Peck Ying to tell us more about Blood, how she’s set on changing the conversation and stigma surrounding menstrual cycles, entrepreneurship , and the challenges that come along with it.

What were you doing before starting Blood and what was that journey like?

PHOTO: Blood 

Blood (previously known as Pslove) is my first venture. Prior to Blood, I was part of the pioneering team which helped build up the start-up ecosystem at LaunchPad Singapore. It’s now a community of diverse startups, incubators, venture capitalists, and ecosystem partners.

In my university days, I was part of NUS Overseas College, an entrepreneurial program that gives students the opportunity to intern with fast-growing startups.

I was then exposed to how even small companies can make an impact in a large way. This and my exposure at LaunchPad Singapore helped spark my interest in entrepreneurship.

What do you like most about what you do?

PHOTO: Blood 

Through Blood, we’re able to create and give women access to period care products that help them to not only tackle their day-to-day activities during their period but also explore new possibilities. 

Besides being a business, it’s also a platform for me to advocate for female entrepreneurs and hope that my story will inspire more women in the region and around the world to pursue their aspirations and interests.

What advice would you give someone who's embarking on a completely new career path?

As my team members, colleagues, and friends become experts in their fields, I often find myself unlearning and re-learning concepts as well as practices from them – from social media marketing to growth strategies for our business across different marketplaces. 

My advice is to be open to experiences and learn along the journey. Talk to those around you to learn from their experiences. For instance, speaking to various Amazon sellers and other consumer startups, and learning from their experiences made the process of selling our products online much smoother.

Taking the first step and starting somewhere is the most important part of any journey.

Can you tell us about a time in your career where you felt challenged?

As we grew Blood, we received requests for our products from women in different cities. Many of them suffered similarly each month without healthy and sustainable remedies for menstrual cramps and were hoping to try our products to feel better.

While eager to help them, we were unsure of how to handle our distribution in locales like the US and European Union without costs quickly adding up for small shipments. 

We discovered Fulfilment by Amazon (FBA) and realised that it was a “shortcut” to distribution and selling online in such locales, as compared to trying to do the supply-chain and go-to-market entirely on our own. 

Over the years, such challenges have become part and parcel of our journey and we now see them as stepping stones and learnings to grow further.

ALSO READ: Everything you should know about Toxic Shock Syndrome

Have you ever made a mistake in your career that you regret?

Personally, I don’t believe in regrets. There is always a learning opportunity in every right or wrong decision made. When I see how our team continues to go all out to serve our mission and customers, despite the difficulties, I am inspired and humbled by their drive to do better.

What have been some of the more rewarding parts of your journey?

Each time our products help a customer, I am re-energised and motivated to keep growing. We often hear customers saying “your product saved my life” and it is really encouraging to see first-hand how what we do helps improve the lives of so many women every day.  

Discussions around menstruation are often “hushed” in our culture and region. With an open approach, we believe the stigma can fade away and bring to light real stories around periods.

As an entrepreneur, it’s also very rewarding to see my team’s personal growth with the company over time. I believe that properly managing a team, though very dynamic and challenging, is the greatest leverage for any company in the long run.

What are some things you wish you knew before starting your own business?

PHOTO: Blood 

Blood is my first foray into entrepreneurship and business. It had a humble start – I was looking for a solution for my menstrual cramps and was frustrated at the lack of non-medicated solutions. A personal problem inspired me to develop our flagship product, MenstruHeat.

It was through many months of research and development, experimentation, and countless rounds of customer feedback that eventually grew into the business we have today.

From understanding our customers’ needs and reaching them across markets to managing our operations and scaling the business sustainably, each step of the way has been a lesson. I believe we could only have learnt these after setting up Blood. 

Online stores like Amazon have also been a great part of the journey. Selling on Amazon and using the tools and resources it offers has significantly reduced our time-to-market, improved our customer reach, and grown our revenue to allow us to build a global brand – Amazon accounts for over 20 per cent of our e-commerce sales now. 

In today’s world particularly, as retail sales are affected Covid-19’s impact and customers are increasingly turning to online shopping, it is important to have a digital presence and stand out online. 

Can you tell us more about your experience with menstrual cycles and the discomfort that came along with it?

I have had very bad menstrual cramps since my late teenage years. Sometimes they would be accompanied by fainting spells or nausea. Unwillingly, I would have to skip class and just lay in bed, hoping that the pain would go away.

The first two days of each period cycle would always be a battle with the pain as I would avoid all kinds of activities and try every way to distract myself. That said, the pain was one of the main reasons I conceptualised MenstruHeat and Blood. 

Though necessary and important, many might feel there's still a stigma around the topic of menstruation. What are your thoughts on this?

PHOTO: Blood 

Indeed, there is still a prevalent stigma in many parts of the world and people shy away from conversations around menstruation. It takes time for mindsets to evolve.

We have come a long way and are seeing more startups addressing and raising awareness around issues concerning women and menstruation.

Our re-branding from Pslove to Blood is our way and confrontational approach – because we believe that bleeding is a part of who we are and nothing to shy away from.

Before using Blood's products, can you share what other remedies you've tried and tested?

Our flagship product, MenstruHeat, was conceptualised when I could not find a natural remedy for period cramps. I was inspired by the electric hot water bottle my co-founder gave me before we started the company.

The heat was relieving but hot water bottles could only do so much so I started looking for more effective solutions.

What were some of the challenges in designing the relief products for Blood?

PHOTO: Blood 

Customers are at the heart of what we do and as such, we try our best to delight and provide great service to each of them. 

We are mindful that every customers’ pain, needs, and experiences are different so it is important to have a variety of products across price ranges to offer something relevant and accessible for everyone. 

Since starting out, we have expanded our product range to offer period care products beyond MenstruHeat, such as BackHeat, and our Blood Menstrual Cup Kit for those after sustainable and leak-free alternatives to sanitary napkins and tampons.

Visit Blood’s website.

This article was first published in The Singapore Women's Weekly.