In this inspiring interview, Molly Hayward, co-founder of Cora organic tampons, shares her favorite natural products, vegetarian eating tips and advice for living a sustainable life you can be proud of!
Welcome back to the In Her Shoes series, where we share inspiring interviews with influential experts in health, nutrition, and lifestyle.
Whenever I meet healthy, beautiful, successful women, I’m always dying to know what it’s like to walk in their shoes. What do they eat? What products do they use? What’s their routine? I’m obsessed with other peoples’ stories and love sharing uplifting women with y’all!
Today we’re chatting with Molly Hayward, the co-founder of Cora, an organic tampons subscription service–you may remember it from the guide to safe and non-toxic feminine care that we shared recently.
GETTING TO KNOW MOLLY HAYWARD
Based on the sheer fact that Molly co-founded an organic tampon subscription service (one that I personally use and LOVE!), I knew she had to be a pretty amazing woman. But I had no idea just how incredible her story was until we got on the phone recently.
“I studied economic development and women's health in college, and have been traveling to developing countries ever since. But after school, fate took its course, and I got a job at a startup focused on sustainable products in e-commerce. To see a for-profit company doing good and helping people was great. But when I realized they were only limited by how good their product was and how well they marketed it, I thought: if you can hitch the wagon of social impact and sustainability onto a rocketship, why not do that?”
“When I left, I volunteered in Kenya for girls education and health on a whim. I saw that girls would stay home from school during their periods because they didn’t have pads or tampons, and it was such a lightbulb moment to create a company like Tom's Shoes, but for menstrual products,” says the Philly-native.
So Molly started researching feminine care and quickly learned that conventional tampons are made from dirty, toxic cotton, synthetics and lots of questionable contaminants that we don’t know about because companies don't have to disclose what's in their tampons.
“This is something I’m putting IN my body and I don’t have a right to know what’s in it?? So that’s where I became most galvanized. And the subscription business model and the accessories to make managing your period easier flowed from the initial idea that the product should be pure and healthy…but not crunchy. We wanted something modern and beautiful.”
After using Cora's organic tampons myself for the past year, I can personally attest to just how sleek, comfortable, safe and sustainable Cora's products really are. I've been blown away by their business model, and it's just a company that I feel SO good about supporting!!
Needless to say, I couldn’t be more excited that Molly is here with Root + Revel–I know that you’re going to find so many inspiring tips and tricks in this interview!
So let’s get into it; let’s take a peek at what it’s like to spend a day walking in Molly Hayward’s shoes.
WHAT ARE THE FIRST 30 MINUTES OF YOUR DAY LIKE?
I wake up at 6:30, but I’m not a morning person. I’ve been paying more attention to my sleeping habits lately and my morning routine is varied, so it's either one of two things. I either get up and stretch in bed, get ready and run out the door.
Or if I went to bed early and slept well and got 9 hours of sleep (that’s my number that makes me feel great, so I’m trying to honor that), I wake up before my alarm around 6:15. It’s dark and quiet, I make a pot of coffee, sit in my living room and meditate. I’ll light a candle in the bathroom while I shower. I walk out the door and feel like I can conquer anything. I do other morning things when I get to
I do other morning things when I get to the office, like eat breakfast.
SHOWER TIME! WHAT ARE YOUR GO-TO PRODUCTS?
I did a total bathroom detox at the end of 2016 because I was so concerned with the chemical burden on my body. I really wanted to simplify.
I always use Dr. Bronner’s castile soap in citrus or peppermint to wash my body and face and shave.
I’m an Ares and we’re apparently obsessed with our hair, so a good shampoo and conditioner is just a godsend to me, but I’ve struggled to find something on the organic/natural spectrum that works really well. I read on the Dr. Bronner's label that you can use it as shampoo, but it’s really drying. So I did some research and got their hair rinse…if I don’t wash it out well enough, it can be greasy. But if I do, it’s soft and manageable.
Exfoliation is the best thing, so I like to use loofah gloves on body and face once a week, which makes all products work better.
WHAT’S YOUR TYPICAL BREAKFAST?
I have recently cut meat out of my diet, and done short weeks of going vegan. I’ve done it in the past, but recently have become much more devoted to it and it just feels like a more natural way for me to eat.
So breakfast is either a yogurt with granola and fruit, or avocado toast sometimes with a fried egg on top. Sometimes I'll add spring greens and use the yolk as a salad dressing. That just fills me up and gets me so fired up for the day, and it's a great way to incorporate greens into my breakfast. I love a simple glass of OJ.
ARE YOU A TEA OR COFFEE DRINKER?
Coffee, but I’ve recently switched to Organic Valley's soy creamer.
And I love juice—I juice at home once a month. I'll just make like six big mason jars full of juice and drink it over 2-3 days. It's usually romaine, cucumber, apple and ginger.
I do drink alcohol, but less lately…and wine exclusively. Even one glass does affect me the next day–I don’t feel as sharp in the morning, so I counteract alcohol with tons of water and not drinking on an empty stomach.
The reality is that drinking becomes a really simple and easy way to relax and unwind. It’s very socialized and a part of our culture. Moderation is truly key–it reminds me of one of my favorite quotes: “I love green juice, and also fried chicken and tequila.”
WHAT’S YOUR EXERCISE ROUTINE?
I’m the worst person to ask this question…every single day for me is different and I have more resistance to doing something if it feels like it’s part of a routine or a schedule…it becomes an obligation. So fitness is kind of tied to that.
I’ve tried to find things I love doing and just do them anytime I feel inspired to do them. SoulCycle and Yoga are pretty much the only two things I do every week. I love spinning and SoulCycle, in particular, is also a mental, psychological, spiritual experience where you can just sweat it out.
I love yoga for the relaxation and more simple body orientation that it gives me. Yoga keeps me connected and grounded…it's less exercise for me, I love the slow heated classes that wear you out in a different way.
Hiking is fun too, but it’s not a part of my routine. I was so athletic as a kid and growing up and now I’m 29 and I just can’t run anymore because of old injuries.
RELATED: THE BEST FREE WORKOUT VIDEOS
TIME TO GET READY! WHAT ARE YOUR GO-TO BEAUTY AND SKINCARE PRODUCTS?
Beautycounter is my go-to. I love the fact that they have eliminated so many chemicals from their formulations, but their products are still super high quality and work just as well as other upscale brands. I use their Skin Tint and concealer pen.
I still use a few conventional products, like NARS blush. And I love Stowaway lipstick–it's so smooth and creamy and it stays on really well. I mix scarlet and cranberry, and also use champagne for a neutral palette. Mascara is one of those things that I read is
Mascara is one of those things that I read is like the one thing that’s pretty generic across most brands, so if one stands out, I can pretty much adapt… I’m pretty simple and easy for day-to-day makeup, don’t do contouring or eyeshadow. It’s foundation, blush, mascara and lipstick, maybe. Usually lip balm–I love Eminence Organics.
WHAT’S IN YOUR MEDICINE CABINET?
No prescriptions, but I have been taking HUM nutrition supplements—I take UberEnergy in the middle of the day around lunch and it totally picked me up for the rest of the afternoon. And I take Moody Bird, which is for PMS– it just sort of balances me.
I’ve taken supplements all my life throughout different points of time. But I sort of like the way Hum takes you through an assessment before you pick your supplements. So you're addressing your needs holistically, and then you don’t have to take tons of pills, as they’re formulated to address specific issues.
Taking Melatonin at night helps put me to sleep more quickly before bed, and I've heard time-release is actually better so you don’t wake up in the middle of the night.
WHAT ARE SOME OF YOUR FAVORITE ON-THE-GO SNACKS?
Coffee, haha. I really like the Almond Coconut Kind Bars and 88acres allergen-free bars. They're not syrupy or overly chewy because they're baked instead of pushed through an extruder, which is more labor intensive, but the bars are amazing.
Oskri coconut dark chocolate bar tastes like an almond joy, but it’s way better for you, only 5 ingredients.
RELATED: SAVVY SWAPS FOR HEALTHIER SNACKS
WHAT’S A TYPICAL LUNCH LIKE FOR YOU?
I usually bring something from home, often a salad—spring greens, kale, sautéed tofu, cold rice, broccoli, cauliflower, avocado, sunflower seeds with a homemade tahini lemon olive oil dressing. I’m not a great chef or cook, nor do I have the time or energy, but this is sooo good. There’s great little places around us so I’ll do tacos or sushi or something relatively clean and simple.
WHEN YOU’RE GROCERY SHOPPING, WHAT INGREDIENTS DO YOU AVOID ON THE LABEL?
On the whole, when I’m reading a label, I’m more looking at the number of ingredients, rather than what the ingredients are.
I really try to avoid palm oil because of the way that it’s sourced, and partially hydrogenated oils. I try to avoid agents like carrageenan, especially in non-dairy creamers.
And I do eat dairy, gluten, sugar, but I try not to eat a lot of processed sugar.
RELATED: WHAT IS REAL FOOD AND WHAT TO AVOID
DINNER TIME! IF YOU’RE EATING OUT, WHAT DO YOU LOOK FOR ON MENUS TO STAY HEALTHY?
We eat out once or twice a week. But my partner enjoys cooking and is very health-conscious, so I often get to come home to a lovely meal prepared.
Since cutting out meat, that really cuts down on your options, so I tend to gravitate more toward things that are plant-based, like salads or soups or tofu dishes. I eat lots Thai food, and Asian food is really easy usually. It’s such a fun way to eat vegetables—to have a professional prepare and season is just so much more exciting.
RELATED: HEALTHY VEGETARIAN RECIPES
WHAT’S ON YOUR NIGHTSTAND?
I always have a stack of books next to my bed. It’s everything from roomy poetry to women-run-the-world to women’s health or menstrual health to memoirs of an Americans.
RELATED: 5 HEALTH BOOKS TO READ NOW
I love Hemmingway, so he's my go-to for novels. And my favorite health book is Women Bodies, Women Wisdom–it's an oldie, but a goodie. It's comprehensive, covers absolutely everything and from the perspective of physical, psychological, emotional and spiritual. And it's science-based, she is a doctor, but there's a lot of anecdotes and stories from real women.
BED TIME! WHAT’S YOUR NIGHTLY ROUTINE?
I try to go to sleep before 10 p.m. because of when I want to wake up–I really need 9 hours of sleep.
Best case—I’m really tired and I do just get in bed and shut down. What usually happens is I’m ready, but my brain is still very awake. So I start reading the news on my phone, it’s an oddly comforting awareness it brings me. I feel an obligation to know, even if it’s uncomfortable or upsetting.
When I get into the habit of reading a great book before bed, I love that. But if I'm really naughty, I'll bring my iPad in bed and watch tv.
FAVORITE HEALTHY INDULGENCE?
Acupuncture and massage are my splurges. Or doing a retreat for a weekend. Healing meditation events can be expensive, but bring deep experiences. They're such an amazing supplement to my wellness routine, and keeps it interesting and gets me to try something new.
RELATED: THE 80-20 RULE FOR A BALANCED DIET
FAVORITE PRODUCT THAT EVERYONE NEEDS TO TRY?
Heritage Store Rosewater with Glycerin. It's such a wonderful all-purpose product I started using recently. It's a toner, a moisturizer, I spray it in my hair to keep it smooth and smelling good (I don’t wear perfume so it’s nice scent) and it’s super calming. It gives you this dewy glow on your skin, so sometimes I spray it on after I put on my makeup. I tried it without glycerin, but I like the extra moisturizing benefits you get from glycerin.
And that’s a wrap. HUGE thanks to Molly Hayward for sharing her story with us.
Disclaimer: This post includes affiliate links, and I will earn a commission if you purchase through these links. Please note that I’ve linked to these products purely because I recommend them and they are from companies I trust.