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Mhairi Cochrane


What was your first job after leaving school/further education?

Since graduating from University this year (2020), I have started working full time for Lilypads. Lilypads was founded by myself and my co-founder when I was still at University. I have moved from balancing it with my studies to full time.

On a very different note, throughout University I worked part time; catering, at a sandwich shop, a garden center and coffee shop.

When did you start your business & what prompted you to do it?

Lilypads began as a student led project in 2017.  The decision to transform Lilypads into a business was taken after we realized there was a huge gap in the market for sustainable, effective and affordable period products. When testing reusable period pads to distribute internationally, we received such amazing feedback. Digging further, we realised so many people with periods felt unsatisfied with their current products. We realised by building a company which sold period products commercially we could have a bigger impact around the world improving access to period products. For us at Lilypads, mission and values lie at our heart and so we were committed to growing a company, knowing we could empower more women around the world.

What did you find most challenging at the beginning?

Balancing Lilypads with University and part time work was a challenge. I was so desperate to get stuck in, wanting to work full time to support my co-founder who had already graduated, but being so restricted still by other commitments.

Who did you as for advice & why did you chose them?

I have a group of trusted friends and mentors that I surround myself with. I chose them as they share similar values and they have no vested interest so I can rely on a truthful assessment of circumstances and scenarios. 

How did you fund your business?

Edinburgh Innovations provided us with mentoring opportunities and spaces to learn.

Through the Pitch @ Palace competition we met Belinda Roberts.

How did you fund your business? 

University grant funding

Grant funding

Accelerator programmes

Crowdfunder July 2020

What would you do differently now looking back?

Looking back now I would want to be more confident in our own capabilities and decisions. Although it was great hearing lots of different opinions about where we should take Lilypads/how we should structure the entities, it was often stressful trying to juggle very conflicting opinions. Looking back, although we would still take all opinions on, I would have more faith in our own instincts and act on them sooner.

What or who has helped you to grow your business the most?

Mentors and advisors who let us fail. Those who were able to dive into problems with us, create a safe space for learning and making mistakes and those who believed in us from the very beginning. Those who understand our mission and understand that our mission comes first.

What are the future plans for your business?

We aim to grow Lilypads to high revenue generating period pad company headquartered in the UK but reaching global markets. We want to be a value driven brand, which is known for its people centered community feel and which sells a high quality period and incontinence pad which is identifiable. We hope this will allow us to provide pads to 1 million girls around the world by 2030. Our vision is to ensure no one is limited by their period.

What advice would you give to anyone wanting to set up their own business?

Trust your gut- finding that passion and belief in your instincts and vision. Holding onto that vision and standing by it will ensure you reach it.

Surround yourself with people- connections and support are what will ensure your success. Hearing people’s ideas, getting support from those who have been in your shoes or coaching from individuals to help you be your best self are so important to success.

Tell us something about you that isn’t commonly known.

Lilypads was initially a student project; pads were sewn by us in my and Alison’s flats and taken in a suitcase to Kenya. We started small but always dreamt big.


Lilypads Logo


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