Nadia Ladak is the founder of Marlow, a FemTech start-up that has developed the first-ever tampon and lubricant designed to be used together for a smoother, less painful insertion experience. She is passionate about empowering a generation of menstruators to prioritize their menstrual and sexual health by sparking conversations around these topics that are often awkward — although they shouldn’t be. Before launching Marlow, Nadia worked as a management consultant at KPMG, where she worked across a number of retail clients in go-to-market strategy, customer experience, and e-commerce projects. Nadia is also committed to giving back to her community through her role as a catalyst board member at Holland Bloorview Children’s Hospital, and as a mentor for the Junior Achievement Company Program where she provides weekly coaching to high school students as they operate their own small businesses.
My first job ever was… working as a receptionist at a yoga studio.
I decided to be an entrepreneur because… of the impact you can make. Entrepreneurs are working on the world’s to-do list by solving pressing challenges we are all facing. It is so inspiring to connect with these individuals and to see the passion and determination they have to change the world for the better.
I founded Marlow because… I want to empower menstruators to live life on their own terms, not by what is dictated by the time of the month. Inserting tampons can be an uncomfortable process for those who are new to using them, who have pelvic floor conditions like vaginismus, who experience vaginal dryness, or for those who have a lighter flow, especially at the beginning and end of their cycle. Our lubricated product creates a smoother insertion process to allow menstruators to continue to live an active lifestyle while on their period. Through education and innovative products, we can help people get off of auto-pilot and take their menstrual health into their own hands.
I’m passionate about the menstrual care market because…I believe it is an important part of our overall health. In the last decade, we’ve seen a surge of companies excel at physical wellness and mental wellness, and now it’s time to look forward towards menstrual and sexual wellness. In order to have holistic wellness, we need to prioritize all aspects of our health.
My proudest accomplishment is… hearing the stories from our community about how our products & education have empowered them in their lives. Our mission is to change “The Talk” about menstrual and sexual health for the next generation from uncomfortable to refreshing — it’s incredible to read the comments and DM’s from our community, sharing that they turn to Marlow to learn more about their bodies. We can actively change the narrative around these topics, one conversation at a time.
My biggest setback was… navigating the Health Canada process during the pandemic when they were quite busy managing COVID vaccines and approval.
I overcame it by… partnering with a research lab and regulatory consultant who helped us build our strategy and path forward. Often it is nerve wracking asking for help, but it’s important to recognize your strengths and weaknesses and to partner with experts who can help drive your business forward quickly, because as a start-up, speed is your biggest advantage.
“Action cures fear, so at the beginning of each day, pick three realistic priorities that you can accomplish to drive your mission forward.”
My advice for aspiring entrepreneurs is… find a low cost way to test your idea before jumping all in. Start by sharing your idea with your friends and family to get initial feedback. Then, you can do a customer survey to understand the problem space before building some initial prototypes. Entrepreneurship is all about continuous learning and iteration, so be open to building, learning, measuring, and adjusting accordingly.
The thing I love most about what I do is… having the opportunity to create change in a space that impacts 50% of the population at some point in time. Every day, I wake up energized and excited to empower menstruators with the products and education they deserve.
If I were to pick one thing that has helped me succeed, it would be… the support of the people around me. Whether it be my family, co-founders, advisors, or investors, I have been so lucky to receive support and mentorship as I embark on my entrepreneurship journey. They put up with the late night rants, they celebrate my wins, and they’ve taken the time to learn way more about tampons than they could have probably ever imagined!
If you googled me, you still wouldn’t know… that I started my university career in music. Growing up, music was always a huge part of my life. I was in choirs, participated in musical theatre, and played guitar and piano. I went on to study music in my first two years of university before pursuing the Ivey Business School program at Western University. Entrepreneurship has been the perfect career path for me, because it allows me to combine the passion and creativity I learned in music school with the analytical & financial management skills I learned in business school.
I stay inspired by… taking things one step at a time. There’s a million things you could be doing, but it’s about finding ways to make the minimum viable progress everyday. Action cures fear, so at the beginning of each day, pick three realistic priorities that you can accomplish to drive your mission forward.
The future excites me because… of the rise in mindful menstruation and the overall boom in FemTech. Pinterest released their 2021-2022 trends report that shows that terms like ‘period care’ are up 3x in search volume. Gen Z and millennials are increasingly looking to prioritize their menstrual health — we want Marlow to be at the forefront of this movement.