Founder Focus: Valentina Milanova of Daye
Daye is a female health research and development company, founded by Valentina Milanova. After almost 3 years of research and testing, Daye launched its first consumer products; the Naked and Clinically validated CBD tampons. We caught up with Valentina to find out how these innovative and sustainable tampons came into being.
What was your eureka moment?
I first had the idea for Daye when I discovered that industrial hemp can provide absorbent and sustainable fibres, as well as a soothing, naturally-occurring CBD extract. In trying to produce our first product, I realised the scale at which innovation has been lacking in feminine hygiene and women’s health overall. After seeing the positive impact the product was making on women who had suffered with the gender pain gap for too long, I was ultimately inspired to pinch my nose and take a leap into entrepreneurship.
What is your elevator pitch?
Daye’s Naked tampons are made with dye and pesticide-free, lab-tested, highly absorbent fibres. The applicator is made of sugarcane, and the wrapper is home-compostable. These tampons are produced by women, who used to be part of the criminal and care system, in a CO2 neutral facility in South London.
Daye’s CBD tampons contain concentrated (30% potency) levels of whole plant hemp extract with naturally occurring CBD (100mg per tampon). Daye’s CBD is THC-free, pharmaceutical-grade and won’t get you high or show up on a drug test. The tampons have been clinically tested for safety and effectiveness.
How did you test your idea?
Daye operates in a very sensitive area of women’s health, which is why we had to immediately start testing with clinical validation, proving safety and effectiveness. I also tested the idea by stalking people in the tampon aisle in Planet Organic, so that I could ask them questions about tampons, applicators, wrappers and periods. We’ve now come full circle with signing a partnership with Planet Organic to stock Daye! Available in select stores now.
What advice would you give someone thinking of starting a business on their own?
Read Shoedog by Phil Knight. It’s a great illustration of the excruciating physical and mental pain that is getting a business off the ground. And, only start a business if you really can’t live without it existing. If you’re not fully committed to your idea, you won’t be able to keep pushing through.
Do you have a mentor or are you one?
I do have a number of mentors, mostly other entrepreneurs (Sharmadeen Reid from Beautystack, Michelle Kennedy from Peanut, Jeremy King from Attest) who help me sort out various operational and business challenges at Daye, as well as help me gain perspective in times of self-doubt.
What’s your plan B?
I don’t believe in plan B. I don’t want to do anything else with my life, but be building Daye… maybe the occasional Pilates class.
What is the most worthwhile investment that you have made?
Forcing myself to make time to journal daily. I don’t have a co-founder, so when I need to vent or process things, I write them down.
What one failure are you glad you experienced?
I’m grateful for the many failures I experience on a daily basis, because they have taught me to be humble and quick to admit when I’ve made a mistake. I want the culture at Daye to be one where we embrace failure, when it comes with a lesson learned. But also, the time I addressed an investment funder with another funder’s name wasn‘t a crowning achievement of mine…
What is coming up for Daye?
Scaling our production to service increased demand. Over the next 12 months, we’re going to transition from our pilot manufacturing in South London to a larger factory. We’re also aiming to launch in the US later this year!
What is the book you would recommend that everyone reads and why?
The Art Spirit by Robert Henri. If whatever you do doesn’t feel like making art, don’t bother. Also, if whatever it is you’re doing now is challenging, thinking of it as art can help bring your inspiration back. I often come back to this quote from the book: “Art when really understood is the province of every human being. It is simply a question of doing things, anything well. It is not an outside extra thing. When the artist is alive in any person, whatever his kind of work may be, he becomes an intensive, daring, self-expressing creature. He becomes interesting to other people. He upsets, disturbs, enlightens and he opens ways for better understanding.”
How do you find balance in your daily life?
It’s still a work in progress. Most times I question whether balance is what I want? I’m quite an erratic person, I love immersing myself into new concepts and ideas fully, I love working long hours, indulging daily into bringing the vision for Daye to life. Most of my days fly by like minutes in the flow of rewarding, hard work.