Women’s brand EcoFlo started a few years after its founder, visionary Leigh Carcel, fell down a flight of stairs during a vacation in Australia in 2019 and injured some parts of her body to the point that she couldn’t feel anything from the waist down.
She stayed in the hospital for three months for treatment and while she was initially told she couldn’t walk ever again, she had a spark of hope when she felt some movement in her toes, which eventually extended to her entire body.
Leigh spent the next seven months in intensive outpatient rehab. In her journey to recovery, she had to wear “bulky and uncomfortable” adult diapers due to mild incontinence. “I had to learn to walk and run again. My bladder and pelvic floor were, at the time, weak, so I had mild incontinence and started using adult diapers to exercise,” she told PhilSTAR L!fe during the brand's official launch in Makati.
Things changed for her when she was introduced to period underwear, thanks to her good friend who is also a strong advocate for the environment. “It was a game changer. It works just as well, if not better, than pads and diapers,” she said, adding that it helped her feel a little bit more like herself again.
“Because it was so good, I started using it for my period,” she recalled.
After surviving the fatal accident, Leigh—now with two titanium rods in her body and reconstructed vertebrae—decided to offer the same product to Filipinas through EcoFlo. She said it's already being widely used in Australia and the United States, but not so much in the Philippines.
“How different are women’s bodies than our physical needs? I know we have social, cultural differences, but physically, we are all the same,” she pointed out.
“If it’s quite popular already and useful to some women in different countries, then I’m sure it can be useful to women [here],” she mused. “So I thought at the very least, women here deserve an alternative to what they’ve been using for decades—an alternative that is just as good or if not better, an alternative that is stylish and has nice designs, something that is cost-effective, something that is sustainable,” she said.
L!fe got to know more about the sustainable brand through an interview with Leigh at the recently concluded event. Here's what she shared with us.
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Can you tell us about your brand name? Why EcoFlo?
So first, “Eco,” we wanted it to be clear that we are a sustainable brand and of course, “Flo” signifies women’s leaks and flows for women’s bodies.
When and why did you decide to start EcoFlo in the Philippines?
I started it this year. The brand is just sold here but this product is available in other countries and it’s quite popular, a lot of women are using it. We all have the same bodies and I thought women here would be happy with an alternative like that.
How do EcoFlo products work?
The product has three different absorbency levels. We have the light flow, the medium flow, and the heavy flow. The EcoFlo Light is equivalent to one to two pads, the medium flow can absorb almost up to two to three pads, and our heaviest flow absorbance level can absorb up to 30mL and this one has four layers to protect women from any leaks.
Does it feel bulky under clothes?
The underwear itself feels like any other underwear, but the gusset area is a little bit thicker, obviously, because instead of the normal, it has different layers. So it’s a little bit thicker, but it’s not uncomfortable.
How often do you create new products?
For now, we just have five different designs. I’m hoping to come up with a new collection next year based on what we’re learning from all our feedback this year. We should have a collection next year. I do want to have a lot of designs but because we’re trying to be sustainable, I don’t want to come up with collections every three months to avoid manufacturing more than we need.
What makes your brand stand out from the others?
First, there’s not really that many available here in the Philippines. There are some, but there’s a big gap. I wanted to introduce something that’s high quality with stylish designs, sustainable, as well as something that targets women with incontinence. Usually, people just talk about periods but there’s a bigger market here.
How do you want customers to feel when they use EcoFlo?
I want them to feel secure that they can rely on the underwear and protect them from unexpected leaks. I also want them, of course, to feel empowered and confident.