Where are they now?
Sarah Callaway's reusable menstrual products dispel taboos
In March 2016, Sarah Callaway and Mike Pitman came up with the idea for House of Callaway while they were studying at the University of South Wales.
After experiencing skin irritations from using disposable menstrual products and learning about their devastating environmental impact, Sarah decided to launch a business making reusable cloth menstrual pads.
Used externally, the pads come in a variety of shapes and sizes. Once used they are simply rinsed and thrown in the wash to be used again. Designed and made in Wales by Sarah, the pads use fabrics sourced in the UK.
In the months preparing to launch the business they received significant support from Big Ideas Wales, part of the Welsh Government’s Entrepreneurship Service which helps people aged 5-25 to develop entrepreneurial skills.
Sarah and Mike particularly appreciated having one-to-one support from a Big Ideas Wales advisor.
“We set up the business while balancing our university studies, so we needed practical help and advice. Our advisor talked us through every aspect of setting up a business, from marketing to paying taxes,” says Sarah.
They also attended a series of workshops for young entrepreneurs led by Big Ideas Wales.
“It was great to be around other people just starting out,” Sarah says. “Even though everyone was doing totally different things, we would discuss our challenges and find solutions together.
“I’m still in touch with a lot of them, it was so important to have that community from the beginning.”
From abuse to strength
As a new business owner, Sarah expected hard work – what she didn’t expect was abuse.
“People sent me private messages calling us ‘disgusting’ and ‘filthy inbreds’, just because we made reusable pads,” says Sarah.
“For every post we made on Facebook, there would be 10-15 nasty comments. We were in the Daily Mail because of all the abuse we received. We were just trying to start a business – it was shocking.”
At the height of the abuse, Sarah received a note of encouragement.
“It was so amazing because I’d never met this woman – but she loved what I was doing. I still read it sometimes and it never fails to give me strength,” says Sarah.