Kathryn Plouffe is the Co-Founder and CEO of Only, an online eco-retailer that provides affordable, organic, and eco-friendly period care products. Only is a company that offers consumers sustainable goods, offsets all carbon emissions, and shares a portion of its profits with local organizations that are dedicated to ending period poverty in Canada. Alongside their biodegradable organic cotton pads, liners, tampons, and medical-grade menstrual cup, Only also provides consumers with Canada’s first reusable tampon applicator, which is good for up to 10 years.
My first job ever was… Doing demolition work on the houses my Dad was renovating. I mostly helped clean up debris from the demo and was only allowed to paint the insides of the closets. Wise choice, Dad.
I decided to be an entrepreneur because… It honestly felt like the natural route for me — I can’t remember it ever being a conscious decision. The 9-5 lifestyle felt riskier to me.
I founded Only because… I was convinced there was a better way for people to experience the commercialization of menstruation. Better for them and much better for the planet.
I’m passionate about sustainable period products because… They should be the norm already. We have the science, technology, and logistics to provide a more sustainable experience for menstruators, so why wouldn’t we pursue that versus the plastic wrapped, rayon-based, carbon footprint heavy alternatives?
My proudest accomplishment is… Finalizing the distribution agreement between my company and our European manufacturers after a long, three year journey. What I love most about that accomplishment was that I intended to do my Master’s in International Affairs, but feel like I got a practical MBA instead.
I get to decide what needs to be done to move the needle every day. It can be the most exhilarating part of the job. Although, I admit that some mornings I miss having someone tell me what to do. Decision fatigue is real.
My biggest setback was… Managing my anxiety while building an investment-worthy company. Anxiety has definitely held me back from opportunities I should and could have taken.
I overcame it by… Consistent exposure to experiences outside my comfort zone: Meetings with potential investors, lawyers, accountants, marketing teams, logistics teams, our manufacturer, etc. After so many of these meetings, I became confident in myself instead of self-conscious, and felt like what I had to say was legitimate. I was worthy of being heard.
My advice for aspiring entrepreneurs is… Two things: Find mentors and be resourceful. Keep figuring it out day after day, little by little. If you don’t know something, someone or some source does, and use that to your advantage. Conduct your own experiments if you can’t find the answer you’re looking for.
The one piece of advice I give that I have trouble following myself is… Going to bed early.
The thing I love most about what I do is… I get to decide what needs to be done to move the needle every day. It can be the most exhilarating part of the job. Although, I admit that some mornings I miss having someone tell me what to do. Decision fatigue is real.
If I were to pick one thing that has helped me succeed, it would be… For building a startup, I think it’s been key for me to have a teammate who shares my passion for this company, a.k.a. a business partner. For me, that’s Phil Faubert, and there’s no chance I would be where I am today without all of his support, sweat, heart and soul he’s poured into building this company with me. A business partner will keep you motivated, accountable, and offer alternative solutions to your business problems.
If you googled me, you still wouldn’t know… I’m a hockey playing, video gaming, winter-loving person and proudest fur parent to my dog Puck and cat Nala. Growing up, my life goal was to get to a position that was powerful enough to allow body checking in women’s hockey (This is still a big goal of mine!).
I stay inspired by… Keeping my circle positive and inspiring. I haven’t always had this attitude; I was sticking with friendships, relationships, places of work, or following accounts on social media that didn’t make me feel good. I no longer make time or space for negativity, gaslighting, or general bad vibes and it’s been one of the best things I’ve done for myself in my late twenties.
The future excites me because… I’ll soon be able to offer menstruators the period products they deserve! I’m so excited to share this beautiful, innovative, sustainable product line across Canada and start understanding what more I can do for my customers.
My next step is… Making it through my first four quarters of Only being a revenue-generating company alive!