Interview: Roslyn Campbell of Tsuno

ROSLYN-campbell-tsuno-interview-creative-womens-circle By Keely Malady

Sometimes a good road trip is all you need - this was certainly the case for TSUNO founder Roslyn Campbell. After studying industrial design, this self-described fiercely entrepreneurial lady had a great idea driving down the Hume highway one Christmas. But great ideas don’t just jump out from behind a road sign, and Tsuno was no exception; the synthesis of years of experience working odd jobs, discovering social enterprise and crowdfunding, and extensive travel in the third world, in particular becoming aware of barriers faced by women to attending school and work during their period.

Ros recalls arriving at her parent’s place on Christmas Day brimming with enthusiasm for sanitary products, much to the bewilderment of her family. In the year that followed that trip, Ros completed a small business course, designed and sourced a container load of sanitary pads and successfully launched Tsuno using Australian crowd funding platform Pozible.

Tsuno’s biodegradable sanitary pads are a functional, affordable, socially conscious, environmentally sustainable and beautifully designed solution to two problems - monthly sanitary protection and charitable giving. 50% of Tsuno’s profits are donated directly to programs that focus on empowering women, ranging from health initiatives, to education and small business. The first of these organisations to receive donations is the International Women’s Development Agency. To top it off, when placing you Tsuno order you also have the option of purchasing a box of pads for women supported by the Asylum Seeker Resource Centre here in Melbourne (surely one of the most worthy uses of a last minute ‘add to cart’ impulse!).

Getting to know Ros a little better over the last six months, it’s become evident that this self-made social entrepreneur is no accidental vocation, but the result of years of hard work and self-discovery. I asked her a little more about her business journey from the early beginnings to her current day-to-day...

Tell us more about why you chose to launch Tsuno via Pozible? Even before I had the idea for Tsuno, I was a big fan of crowd funding. It’s such a valuable tool for creative people to test an idea, kind of like market research, but in real time. Literally, asking the question 'would you buy this' ad then, 'if you would, please put your money where your mouth is', and if enough people do, then we're rolling!

Preparing for and running the campaign was a lot of work, but it was really the perfect fit for my goal to engage with my directly with my market. My target was definitely ambitious. Some of my friends tried to help by breaking it down to how much the campaign needed to make each day to reach goal. That freaked me out, because prior to that I was thinking a lot more abstractly, thinking that I only needed 2000 women to pledge $20 each, and how many menstruating women are there in Australia?! A lot! Having said that, I went through a time of extreme doubt, and found my best way to work through it was to ignore it. In the end the only reason TSUNO was possible is because of my friends. They started spreading the message.

The double edged sword of doing research [into launching a new product into the marketplace] is that you know you’re prepared, but you also know how advanced your competitors are. Luckily I eventually learnt to switch off to the 'comparison trap', recognising that it wasn’t helpful to the project or to my own self esteem. I learnt not to doubt myself, sometimes just through naivety. I think one of the strengths of not being an expert is that sense of flexibility in your approach, that you’re more willing to just try things out, take risks.

Towards the end of the campaign I had a great idea on how to engage my audience and pulled it together in a day. I like to think that that last push was the reason [the Pozible campaign was successful]. All the sudden pledges went from ten per day to one hundred. And it happened very quickly. It was awesome, but stressful at the same time. Possible sends you an email every time someone pledges, so my phone was vibrating like crazy for a couple of weeks!


What is the greatest thing you have learned in starting you own business? Learning how to ask for help. It’s something that’s definitely needs regular practice. The greatest challenge was getting to the point of asking; thankfully the Pozible model makes it really quite easy for people to get involved once you’re there. The ability to ask for help is something I’m motivated to improve on, and I’m definitely getting some positive reinforcement at the moment with the Sanitary Tax Petition campaign. This was only made possible because I asked for help and found someone keen to take responsibility for the project under my guidance, meaning they are enabled to spread the word without me micromanaging or spending hours creating content. She is so enthusiastic and excited and brings a great new energy to TSUNO, I think it has been rewarding for all.

What are you most looking forward to? Getting back into is product development. The first six months of TSUNO have been full pace: building the network, filling the Pozible pledges, getting the website up and running, moving warehouses too many times... meaning product development has really been on the backburner since launch. With an industrial design background, my mind is always thinking ahead in this area. Ultimately I want to build TSUNO into a brand that has every type of product that you might need during your period. I understand that some women don’t like certain products and others do, so I want to create a brand that caters for every woman's needs. My foremost interest is adding tampons to the product range, which is in the plan for the next year.

What is a typical day for TSUNO? (Laughs) I don’t have a typical day! A lot of it is battling with being self-employed, and trying to stay focused when my office is in my bedroom. I’m getting my head around it a bit more now, figuring out when I work well and when I don’t. One thing I’ve learnt is I have got to allow the morning to be slow, because I’m just not productive in the a.m. I get the same amount of work done in the afternoon as I would have in a whole day if I allow myself that time for slowness and gentle exercise in the morning. At the beginning I was just getting the basics done to make TSUNO possible, keeping everything very minimal. At the moment [I'm] putting processes in place to make things sustainable in the long run. The other thing that takes up a lot of my day is packing orders, which I would like to figure out how to be more efficient at. I spend a lot of time at the post office. I’m at the point now where I’m working out the best ways to do things, and generally trying to avoid moving warehouses every three months! 


You can purchase TSUNO products from their website, and hey, consider adding one box to cart to be donated to a fellow lady in need! :)

{Images by Hania Glapa

Keely Malady is a twenty-something year old graduate architect living in Melbourne. Keely’s blog, Small Talk & Co. Aims to hold a space open for a new conversation on the wonders of the small things that make up a life well lived. Find Keely on Twitter and Instagram @keelymalady or on Facebook /smalltalkco.