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the Scarlet Tale

Although Sachin Jain grew up with four sisters, it took a rural immersion program at his business school to realize the true plight of rural menstruation in India. Incidentally given the product of sanitary napkins to conduct research on, he had to zero in on a business idea to take forward, as part of his curriculum. 

“I inferred menstruation to entirely be a gender issue until last year when I was sent for a sanitary napkin research project from my business school when I learned how non-involvement of men could stigmatise periods.”

Sachin jain, co-founder of scarlet tales

Unsure of what to do, he approached his classmate Akanksha Ladkat. She elaborated further on what the rural immersion program had taught him – for the women of rural India, it was difficult to obtain resources and knowledge about how to handle their menstrual cycles. On her side, while her mother was happy when she got her period at thirteen, she insisted that Akanksha keep it under wraps. For four years, she made covert efforts during her cycles to hide it, such as scrubbing her stained sheets. When she did come clean to the rest of her family, she was given a set of rules to follow during the cycle.

Given a separate mattress for the four days and restricted from making direct contact with anyone or anything in her house, she was not ready to follow the rules without questioning them first. Her father explained to her that when a woman is on her periods, the body was pushing something out, which went against the flow of positive energy. He also said that while a woman is equipped to deal with these changes, she must do so in her own space. As a result, Akanksha hopes for the Scarlet Tales box to be a friend to all girls out there who follow similar period practices to her.

Inspired by her inputs and connecting to her idea, he made his decision on the spot – he was going to create a box with essentials and education about periods for those women. 

Thus, Scarlet Tales was born.  

What really goes into a Scarlet Tales kit?

At the top of the latest edition of the Scarlet Tales kit, you will also see a small guidebook designed by the team – featuring the company’s mascot, Scarlet. The guidebook talks about how to ensure hygiene during your menstrual cycle, and its warm, reassuring tone is designed to put users of the box at ease by giving them key tips.

The scarlet tales kit. Courtesy: Sachin Jain

Today, if you open the beautifully-designed sanitary kit of Scarlet Tales, you will be able to understand the story of what women go through during their menstrual cycles. The kit is designed specifically to get you through one menstrual cycle and has been divided into three sections – essentials, hygiene and wellness. It includes sanitary pads for the bleeding, pantyliners to protect your underwear during the process, cramp rolls to reduce pain, and treats such as serum face masks and sweets as comfort during your cycle. What Sachin had in mind was to ensure that during the cycle, women would receive the relief and comfort that they have always deserved. 

“As I was introduced to menstruation, I looked deeply into the issue – and i felt like i had less of an idea what women go through. I believe that this idea of Scarlet Tales was there in the cosmos and it kept giving me indications which I duly identified with the help of Akanksha.”

Sachin Jain, Co-founder, scarlet tales

However, the journey from idea to genesis was not easy for Sachin. After pitching the idea to his coaches, he was ridiculed for his keen interest to work on this. His plans of serving the rural market also had to be put on hold. During a SWOT analysis, he realized that he had to penetrate the urban market right now as the target audience was right. 

In order to understand the needs of urban women, he personally spoke to around 200 women in colleges, schools, malls, cinema theatres, roads, and restaurants in  Pune, Mumbai, Bangalore and Chennai. 82% of his interviewees clearly stated that they would like to have a box of essentials for their periods. 

Scarlet Tales aims to illustrate how much periods matter, through bold imaging and their products. Courtesy: Sachin Jain

With the assistance of Akanksha, who joined hands with him on the project, he began a three-month plan and laying the groundwork on what products to include in the box that he planned to put out. Together, they created the first prototype box for a start-up bazaar to be held in their university. The inclusion of each project was planned based on research, to be enhanced by the customer feedback.  On the day of the bazaar, they waited with bated breath to see the crowd’s reaction.  

People loved the idea and the effort behind the project, and they ended up selling the most number of units in the event. They were also awarded the “Most Innovative Start-Up Award” and were featured in the Pune Times, Raipur Times and Sakal Times. 

From August 2019 to October 2019, they began the most crucial phase of the product, the phase where they made numerous mistakes and learned more than they could count. First, they started working towards the commercial launch of the project as the WE Show at Conrad. Their preparation time leading up to the event was extremely difficult. “There was an insane workload, as we had no team ever since we started, just the two of us,” recalls Sachin. “We packed each of those 600 boxes with the help of Akanksha’s entire family, including her dad. We pitched our idea in front of 500 people within a week at various networking events.” 

According to Sachin, a man’s perspective is to ensure that girls can use the Scarlet Tales kit, which will her care and comfort during periods, they should acknowledge that yes, period matters.
Courtesy: Sachin Jain

While the launch was disastrous for Sachin and Akanksha, they utilized the constructive criticism to map the next six months of Scarlet Tales. Right now, they have set their focus on sending out the right product to the right market, with the right message. “We have realized how crucial it is to learn from past mistakes and failures. We are using the effectuations more often and effectively. We will work only on foolproof plans. We are keen to give it back to the place where the idea has come from,” says Sachin. The vision of Scarlet Tales is the education of young girls to menstrual hygiene in rural backgrounds and to sensitize men towards menstrual care and to help men understand the needs of women during this time.

Sachin and Akanksha are constantly evolving the kit of Scarlet Tales, based on customer feedback. It will be launched in the market in 2020. The standard kit will be priced at 1500 INR and can be subscribed to in order to receive it on a monthly basis. The smaller kit is priced at 700 INR.

Akanksha’s tale of Scarlet Tales’ vision.
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