The Flex Co. Secures Multimillion-Dollar Investment From Justin Verlander And Kate Upton

Professional baseball player Justin Verlander and his wife model Kate Upton have made a multimillion-dollar investment in sustainable period care brand The Flex Co.

The exact amount wasn’t disclosed, but the cash infusion is supporting the brand’s launch of naturally odor-fighting Bamboo Pads and Bamboo Liners. The products are available starting today on Amazon and Flex’s website. The pads retail at $9.99 for a 30-count box and liners retail for $7.99 for a 50-count box.

Upton, a dedicated The Flex Co. customer, made the deal happen. “Imagine my surprise a couple of years ago when I got a DM from Kate Upton telling me how much she loved Flex and asking me if she could help,” recalls founder Lauren Schulte Wang. “I wrote back, and we had a nice back and forth conversation. Fast forward to some time since she had sent me that first message, and I was like, ‘Hey, actually there is something I think you could help with.’”

That something was providing funds following the collapse of Silicon Valley Bank last year, where Flex had done all of its banking. The collapse made it difficult for the brand to finance new products, and it put releases on pause. Happy to help, Upton introduced Wang to her husband, who was game to pour a multimillion-dollar sum into Flex. Battling shoulder inflammation as the MLB regular season is about to get underway, the member of the Houston Astros and surefire hall of famer agreed to a two-year deal in 2022 worth a guaranteed $86.7 million. 

“After meeting Lauren and learning about her company and ethos I was impressed by Flex’s commitment to women and the business that Lauren has built,” says Verlander. “I look forward to seeing Flex grow.”

This investment isn’t Upton‘s first foray into the CPG space. Last October she joined canned beverage company Vosa Spirits as co-owner.

Prior to the latest funding, Flex raised $20 million from investors including Halogen Ventures and Quest Venture Partners. Late last year, Flex, which began in 2016 and is known for its popular disposable and reusable Flex Disc, acquired sexual health education platform Allbodies Health.

The Flex Co. is rooted in Wang’s personal experience. She dealt with recurrent infections from using tampons and pads and switched to period discs and cups kept them at bay. Still, while The Flex Co. has sold more than 130 million menstrual discs, Wang is realistic that the vast majority of period care consumers rely on pads and liners.

Founder Lauren Schulte Wang with The Flex Co.’s latest product launches, Bamboo Pads and Bamboo Liners, which are available on Amazon and the sustainable period care brand’s website.

The global menstrual cups market size was $1.36 billion in 2022, and it’s anticipated to advance at a compound annual growth rate of 6.1% to hit $2.15 billion by 2030, according to market research firm Fortune Business Insights. The firm Persistence Market Research forecasts the global period care product market will accelerate at a CAGR of 7.2% to increase from $46 billion in 2023 to $76 billion by the end of 2030.

Despite the market difference, Wang wasn’t persuaded The Flex Co. should enter the pads and liners category until she had to stick to pads and liners during a brief medical condition and discovered pad and liner options promoted as better-for-you leaked or smelled awful. Wearing better-for-you options, Wang says, “I feel like people can smell that I’m on my period. So, I told my team we have to do something about this.”

Odor is a top concern for period care consumers, and most period care products that claim to reduce odor mask it with herbs, fragrances or other deodorizers. The Flex Co.’s Bamboo Pads and Bamboo Liners speak to period care consumers seeking to avoid scented period care products due to allergies, among an array of health concerns. Wang, who also is turned off by the shame-stoking marketing that’s often connected with scented period care products, wanted The Flex Co. to create pads and liners that naturally prevent odor rather than attempt to mask it with a floral scent. Bamboo was the answer. 

The Flex Co.’s ultra-thin Bamboo Pads and Bamboo Liners are made without any fragrance, deodorizers, dyes, herbs, pesticides, genetically modified organisms or chlorine, but Wang says they’re top-notch odor fighters due to their absorption and moisture-wicking abilities. In independent tests, they were shown to be free of per- and polyfluorinated substances (PFAS). The Flex Co.’s pads have wings to stay in place and can hold up to 100 milliliters of fluid. The liners are long and have a curve-shaped design to fit underwear and diverse body types.

“Slight menstrual odor is totally normal, but the funky kind of smell that you get in a pad after a few hours, you don’t have to live with that,” says Wang. “After using Flex Discs for eight years, which naturally prevent odor, I was shocked when I reentered the pad market. I couldn’t find pads that naturally fought odor. Our bamboo products are made with clean ingredients. I’ve never felt more confident wearing a pad or liner.”

Beyond its menstruation products, The Flex Co. sells a range of supplements. The brand is stocked in around 30,000 stores nationwide at retailers the likes of mass-market chains and pharmacies Walmart, Target and CVS. Wang says The Flex Co.’s retailer partners have expressed strong interest in Bamboo Pads and Bamboo Liners. She expects the products will hit retail shelves later this year or next year with retailers’ spring resets.