In Conversation : Roz Campbell, founder of Tsuno

For a little sneak peek of our Sundown Collection (and a good excuse for a catch up) we went for a walk along the Merri Creek trail with our friend and Northcote neighbour, Roz Campbell.

Roz is the founder Tsuno, a social enterprise she founded in 2014 selling disposable, sustainable bamboo fibre sanitary pads and organic cotton tampons. 50% of Tsuno’s profits are donated to charities that focus on empowering women, including ASRC and One Girl, with the main focus being girls education and menstrual support.

 

 

Tell us a little bit about yourself and the story behind Tsuno

I have been running Tsuno for seven years! Woo! That feels good to write. Before Tsuno I was studying Furniture and Industrial Design at uni in Melbourne and also running a small accessories label.. Whilst at uni I had a class about the social and environmental impacts of everyday product design, and I got very interested in menstrual health products as a result. I’d never given them much thought before, but this opened up a new world to me, around sustainability, materials, and most importantly women’s empowerment. I looked at the products available on the supermarket shelves and was concerned they were predominantly plastic heavy; the packaging was uninspiring, and I felt the companies on the market were still perpetuating a menstrual taboo in their advertising. So, I decided to do something to address all these issues and Tsuno was born!

 

 

What’s been your biggest challenge and greatest achievement so far?

My greatest achievement has been so intertwined with the biggest challenge, and that is sticking at this for 7 years. It’s not been easy, there were times in the first few years that I looked back on the year that was and thought I would have raised more money for charity by just having a bake sale on my street. I’ve since created a company that is consistently making donations of money and products and I’ve started employing people, and that feels great.

We didn’t get to see much of each other last year! Were there any silver lining reflections/lessons you’ll take with you into 2021?

2020 was the year of hand packing tens of thousands of boxes of tampons, and that has taught me that I can’t get away with doing everything myself in this business anymore without consequences. I’ve embraced, with the easing of restrictions, the opportunity to employ some new people, to get some personal time back, focus on my health and fitness and just be outdoors more (in my kayak preferably).

What artists do you have coming up for your beautiful boxes?

One that is very soon to launch and is quite special to me is the (new and improved) panty liner packaging. KB Song is a Mongolian illustrator, designer, film producer and substrate- traversing handicraft artisan. Her and her partner Jordan took me under their wing on my first visit to China and acted as my guides and translators when I was visiting a factory. It was whilst in her home I realised how much of an incredible artist she is. I’m so happy to be able to have done this collaboration with her.

 

 

I’ve watched you “learn by doing” since Tsuno’s inception. I know it’s been a huge amount of hard work with a lot of invaluable experience gained along the way. If you had a time machine what advice would you give a 28-yr-old Roz?

Other than ‘maybe just hold an annual bake sale for One Girl instead’ (joking) I don’t think I could have given 28 year old Roz any advice she would have listened to. However,  I’ll write a short list of the highlights for your reading pleasure.

  • quotes from the factory come in USD and the exchange rate is not 1:1.
  • that very convincing person from Kenya who you’ve video chatted to for weeks, who wants you to quote to be a supplier for a government contract providing school girls in Kenya with pads (a real initiative that made the news) is not real. Don’t waste your time doing weeks of work getting manufacturing and shipping quotes, get your visa organised and spend time looking at plane tickets and things to do in Nairobi. I still have no idea what they were planning to do when you arrived, but thank goodness for the friend of a friend who was in Nairobi and was able to check out the (non existent) office address for me beforehand.
  • Probably don’t go to trade shows in the UK and Hong Kong because you think the Australian market ‘isn’t big enough’ before you’ve even got distribution outside of Victoria.
  • Don’t pack 30 000 boxes of tampons by hand by yourself.

Unsurprisingly, we’ve had many chats about periods over the years, I’m often wowed by your knowledge. What’s your favourite period fact you’ve come across while running Tsuno? 

It’s a toss up between wondering, then learning, that period poos are a real thing and are caused by a real body process. Along with learning about endometriosis which through my social media information sharing, helped a friend get a diagnosis.

 

 

Our friendship started bonding over a book, Half The Sky, and I believe (correct me if I’m wrong) that it was one of your inspirations for starting Tsuno. What have you read recently that you can recommend?

It was! Although I cheated and only read the beginning, then watched the tv series, which was (I’m sure) equally as inspiring.

I’ve been reading a lot more since those days, and one that stands out that I took a lot from recently was Maybe You Should Talk to Someone by Lori Gottlieb.

Thank you so much Roz!

 

Image Credits: Merri Creek - Anna Scharf | Warehouse and Tsuno packaging - Bri Hammond

 

Sundown, a trans-seasonal capsule collection featuring our collaboration with Justin, is launching next Tuesday February 2nd.