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How To Build A Lasting Legacy Through Your Brand

Priya Chande


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hsbcinnovationbanking logo

How To Build A Lasting Legacy Through Your Brand

Priya Chande



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Priya Chande
Full transcript here

About Priya Chande

Episode 153: In LAB #38, Amardeep Parmar from The BAE HQ, welcomes Priya Chande, Global Brand Director at WUKA.

This podcast episode discusses building a lasting legacy through brand development with Priya Chande, Global Brand Director of WUKA. Key topics include empowering women and girls through menstrual health products, the importance of customer feedback, and strategic growth through creative, low-budget initiatives.

Priya Chande


Show Notes

00:00 -  Intro

01:11 – Priya Chanday discusses WUKA's mission and its impact on women and girls.

01:42 – Challenges in normalising periods and WUKA's efforts to destigmatize them.

03:00 – Priya talks about WUKA's lasting legacy on inclusion and environmental sustainability.

04:07 – Advice for founders on aligning internal teams towards a common legacy goal.

06:04 – Importance of listening to customers and creating impactful products and experiences.

08:24 – Example of WUKA’s intergenerational customer engagement.

09:22 – Steps for early-stage founders with limited resources to create a lasting impact.

10:59 – WUKA’s approach to securing budget through competitions and creative solutions.

14:18 – Effective use of media slots and creative storytelling in branding.

17:18 – WUKA's bold approach to breaking period stigmas through TV ads.

19:30 – Strategies for founders to make a lasting impact beyond just their product.

21:20 – WUKA's campaign to abolish the period pants tax and its broader impact.

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Priya Chande Full Transcript

Priya Chande: 0:00So the lasting legacy we're having here is on a planetary level in terms of on the environmental side, but then also in terms of the comfort and the accessibility that we're affording young people and women and girls of all ages.

Amardeep Parmar: 0:18

How to build a lasting legacy through your brand. We define what that really means. How do you get your entire team swimming in the same direction, what founders should do on a low budget. If you get PR, how can you use it most effectively? And what can you do beyond just simply your product? To help us tackle this subject, we have our expert with us Priya Chande, who's the global brand director of Wuka. They're the number one period underwear and sportswear brand. Before that, she was also a managing director at L'Oreal. She's got a wealth of experience across all types of different companies and we're really excited to share insights with you today. I'm Amar from the BAE HQ and this podcast is powered by HSBC Innovation Banking. Thank you so much for coming on today, Priya, and it's incredible what you've done with WUKA so far and building that brand out, and I'd love to know what you mean by creating a lasting legacy. What does that mean in terms of creating a brand?

Priya Chande: 1:11

Well, thanks for having me. It's been a real journey at WUKA for the last two years in terms of seeing our brand awareness kind of explode in such an amazing way. And it's kind of exploded in such an amazing way. And just to give a bit of context, so WUKA stands for Wake Up, kick Ass, and I think the name alone kind of is a testament to the legacy that we're trying to create insofar as helping women and girls worldwide to kick ass in sync with their period, not in spite of their period.

Priya Chande: 1:42

So we are a menstrual health brand and a lot of our mission from day one was about how do we bring periods out of the darkness, out of something that's considered a taboo amongst many, many different facets and people in society, so that they are not something to be ashamed of and so that people can do as much as they can or as they are, you know, empower people to achieve what they can achieve, you know, in the face of having a menstrual cycle, which is something that 50% of the population will have at some point and will, you know, be around for the best part of 40 years of our lives. So, in terms of a lasting legacy at a very kind of meta level. You can see that quite clearly in that we want people to not have to stop going to work on the days where they have a really, really heavy period because they don't know how to manage it, or girls to not drop out of sports. We know that one in two girls drop out of sport by the age of 14 because of puberty. We don't want that to be the case. We want there to be continued activities or participation in exercise and fitness and social situations and in education as a result of period products that can help people to do that.

Priya Chande: 3:00

So, if you're talking at a macro level, lasting legacy for us is really about engagement and inclusion for women and girls in all the areas of life that they should be able to be participating in in the face of having a period which they're going to have with a product that has been designed to completely and utterly replace pads and tampons single use products so that we are not only helping women to you know, wear a product for up to 12 hours, meaning they don't have to worry about changing or leaking and fearing things but also about the ocean and the plastic waste that has contributed to by the single use market and has been for know decades, until now. So the lasting legacy we're having here is on a planetary level, in terms of on the the environmental side, but then also in terms of the comfort and the accessibility that we're affording young people and women and girls of all ages, so that they can continue to participate in the areas of life that we want them to. So that's, that's the lasting legacy piece really there.

Amardeep Parmar: 4:07

So for founders out there who've got a company where they want to build a long lasting legacy as well and the challenge is obviously you've got different teams, you've got marketing teams, you've got sales teams, you've got product teams how internally can you structure yourselves around that long lasting legacy so that everybody is swimming in the same direction within the company?

Priya Chande: 4:25

It's a really good question, um, and I think it comes down, at the end of the day, to the problem that you initially set out to solve, um, and really, for us, being a consumer brand, it was always about placing the women or the girls that we were aiming to help, uh, manage their periods periods, at the core of it. Now, being a startup, a very lean startup, we're a company in which everyone's kind of done a bit of everything at some point along the way, and even myself, as a brand director, and the DMs of our Instagram channel, every single day answering queries, listening to people that have have, you know, that have issues either with our product or have I've had issues with other products, and they're therefore coming to us to ask questions on things. You find yourself being a little bit of a, a bit of a therapist and a doctor and a and you know, albeit never issuing out official medical advice, but you know, you find yourself answering a lot of queries that are beyond the scope of what your actual product does, because of the space that we are in as a women's health or menstrual health brand, and the reason I talk about that is because everybody is listening on a daily basis to what women are wanting, or telling us that they're needing, either for themselves or for their daughters, or for their goddaughters or for their nieces. Daughters are for their goddaughters are for their, for their nieces. It's meant that we are much, much closer to our, to our customer than I think a lot of other brands are out there, and that has enabled us to see and understand what really matters to our customers and what it is that we need to do to help them kick ass. So we always ask ourselves before we do anything how does this make our customer kick ass?

Priya Chande: 6:04

And we have very clear customer profiles and as time has gone on, those customer profiles have evolved. We've actually identified we're quite an, we're an intergenerational brand and what and that sets us apart in a lot of ways? Because we find a lot of mums come to us to buy for their daughters. So it's not so much that we're going to Gen Alpha immediately, it's actually their parents that are coming to us on their behalf. But by recruiting them that early on, through their parents, we're obviously growing with them as they age and as they then go through other phases of their life.

Priya Chande: 6:39

And that idea comes down to how do we, how does every single person in the business, from sales to to ops, to customer service, how do we create products and experiences that enable that young gen alpha or their mum to help them to feel like they can kick ass, whether that's at school or whether that's anywhere else? And so, because that mantra is something that we all believe in and we agree like we're centered around, and then also because the fact that all of us have all had a hand in doing each other's jobs, it means that we're all just constantly thinking in that way, and so if an idea or a suggestion comes up that kind of falls outside of that, we're able to sort of quite quickly eliminate whether or not we should do it or not, because we're like is that distracting us from the cause? Yeah, it is okay, we're not going to do that because we could do it, but actually it's not really helping us. And and we realize that when we do things authentically, and when we do things that we really have, are born out of what our customers have asked us for, the results are so much more impactful and stronger, whether that be in sales of a product, or whether that be in engagement, or whether that be in community growth. The minute we identify what matters most to our customers and then we mobilize ourselves as a team and as a business around that one cause or around that set of kind of key, important things, the results are just exponentially better than than any other initiatives that we've tried before, that we've tried before. So really really put your customer first, listen to them and then also decide collectively amongst you as a team, across all functions, do we believe that this is something that's really going to matter and like help our customers kick ass and if it does great, it kind of goes through to the next stage of decision making in terms of whether we prioritize it as a P1, 2 or a 3.

Priya Chande: 8:24

And sometimes those things that matter are not just physical solutions to symptoms. They can be bigger, more systemic challenges that our customers are facing, notably taboos. What is it that our customers feel about periods or menstruation that is still highly stigmatized or taboo? That is still highly stigmatized or taboo, and how can we as a brand use our force and our might and our voice to help to eliminate that, so that actually we're creating a longer legacy and creating a larger impact for the end customer so they identify and remember WUKA was the brand that helped me to be more positive or reframe the conversation around periods with my child better, or help me to not see any shame in talking about my heavy periods with my manager at work. That's the brand that we want to be, is the brand that empowers and helps people to have those conversations, because we know that once we do that, they will immediately then think of our product as being the next thing to help them, to help solve that.

Amardeep Parmar: 9:22

And you mentioned that you've done this in such a lean team and limited budget as well, especially in the early days, and there's going to be many founders listening now in that same position where they've got a small team, they've got limited resources, but they want to make that impact and want to start creating that long lasting legacy. What are some of the steps that people can take at those early days, when maybe they don't have 100 million from a VC to prop them up?

Priya Chande: 9:45

Yeah, I mean we're proudly bootstrapped, independently owned and female founded and bootstrapped to date and you know we're. That, I think, has actually been a blessing in a lot of ways because it's meant that we've had to be really nimble and really kind of like seek out the diamonds in the rough, as it were, in terms of the opportunities for us to kind of grow our awareness and get kind of people to know about us. Ruby, our founder in the early days, will always say she said yes to every opportunity. I think now she'd probably say don't say yes to everything. But that's because of the stage we're at now and needing to be a little bit more kind of uh, streamlined in our choices and not spreading ourselves too thin. But in the early days it was just say yes to absolutely everything, um, so that people can hear about you, because you just never know what can come of it. And we're very proud that because of that, a lot of the relationships that we secured in the early days, particularly within, for example, the influencer marketing space, um, we are still, you know, we still have those today and actually it's meant that we don't necessarily have to start afresh and pay a lot of the big budgets that a lot of other brands do, because we've loaded that, that we've. We've nurtured relationship from day one.

Priya Chande: 10:59

But the other thing we've done and I'd like to say we're pretty good at and we're ninjas in entering competitions. So we seek out opportunities, and any opportunities there are to win any kind of budget for any kind of competition, we just put ourselves out there Even if we don't even think we're qualified for it. Sometimes we just throw our hats in the ring because we're like we can do it. We, you know there's at the end of the day you've got to be in it to win it. And what's the worst that can happen? You don't get selected this time round, um, or you know you miss out on that opportunity. But at least you know then what it takes if you want to enter again the next time, what you might need to do in order to kind of have a better chance the next time around.

Priya Chande: 11:39

So I can give you two very clear examples of things that we've done. So the Sky Net Zero Footprint Fund, which launched, I think, three years ago now. We entered in their second year and we were selected as the winners of the second year fund. So we won a quarter of a million pounds to create our first ever TV ad, which then got aired across Sky channels throughout 2023. And another one was the JC Deco Reach program, which was leveraging media outdoor media, digital outdoor media to speak to kind of minority communities and ethnic communities we um won a hundred thousand pounds for, and which we launched our desi period stories campaign on first south asian heritage month last year, which was all about the wuka wedding and kind of the intergenerational impact of menstruation across the south asian communities. So two very different examples of media formats, um.

Priya Chande: 12:40

But you know nearly half a million pounds worth of media there that we secured for Xero, which we would have otherwise never got if we hadn't just kind of thrown our hats in the rings and had a little bit of self-belief. We've sprinkled it with a bit of creativity and a bit of wild thinking around, kind of if we could be on TV, what would we do? Wild thinking around, kind of if we could be on TV, what would we do? And they came to life and there's definitely a way in which we've created a lasting legacy, but also something that we've not just done once and ignored. We've actually just riffed off of that, because the assets and the value that those have reaped for us has meant that we can just continue to sweat that asset continuously. So it's added more value on top of the initial media value that we initially secured as well.

Amardeep Parmar: 13:24

We hope you're enjoying the episode so far. We just want to give a quick shout out to our headline partners, HSBC Innovation Banking. One of the biggest challenges for so many startups is finding the right bank to support them, because you might start off and try to use a traditional bank, but they don't understand what you're doing. You're just talking to an AI assistant or you're talking to somebody who doesn't really understand what it is you've been trying to do.

Amardeep Parmar: 13:45

HSBC have got the team they've built out over years to make sure they understand what you're doing. They've got the deep sector expertise and they can help connect you with the right people to make your dreams come true. So if you want to learn more, check out hsbcinnovation banking. com. And let's say, somebody's thing has got this opportunity where they've got a tv ad or something like that, where they know they can't do it too many times, they don't have the budget or they've won an award to get that, that position. How do you think about, or how do you advise them to use that slot most effectively so they can get the most bang for the buck there?

Priya Chande: 14:18

It's a really um, a really important time in your brand trajectory to think about what matters and what legacy you want to have or what impact you want to have, and we debated about it a lot. Um, for the sky tv ad, um, it's one thing. Winning one thing people won't tell you it's one thing. Winning one thing people won't tell you. It's one thing. Winning a media fund it's another thing than creating that media, that piece of creative, and a lot of people know how much money it then costs to go out and produce a TV ad. So it was kind of funny when we first won I hadn't actually joined the brand at that point and Ruby and the team were initially going out and looking at kind of some of the agencies that sky had recommended to use if we wanted to, and the cost to produce the tv ad was almost the same as the media fund that we'd got. So at one point there was a lot of confused faces around like, well, we've won this fund, but we actually have to pay the same amount to make it. So are we really getting this for free because we don't have 100k in the bank to do this? Um, and in true bootstrap lean style, we went out and we made it on an absolute shoestring, and by that I mean we wrote the script ourselves. We had no script writers. It was me, ruby and dave in a room, locked in a room in a writer's room, and we wrote the script. We wrote the jingle, we wrote the um, we did the storyboarding, we got an Airbnb, we drove up to Manchester in our electric Tesla and we did everything on a complete budget. We had friends and family. We're the actors in the TV ad. Literally everything was as low cost as you could possibly make it.

Priya Chande: 15:58

But what we debated a lot about was what are we going to say and show on that TV ad so that people remember us? And it is not just another Tampax or an Always ad or another period brand ad. And for that it came back to what I said at the beginning about understanding what matters to your customer, understanding what matters to your customer. And we went back to all of our DMs and all of the most engaged posts we've ever had on socials for that and did loads of social listening on like what is it that they continuously say frustrates them or annoys them or like they wish would change about periods and the conversation around periods and we realized heavily that there wasn't still a continued problem with how periods are depicted in the mainstream.

Priya Chande: 16:42

And blood clots came up again and again and again. And I know it's not sexy and I know it's. You know people think, oh my lord, on a big screen. Really, you're going to do that. We were like absolutely, because nine out of ten of our customers tell us that they suffer with blood clots and they and they don't think that they're normal or they think that there's something wrong with them. The reality is they're entirely normal and most of the time there is nothing wrong with them. But in order to normalize this, we've got to make, we've got to break through and we've got to be bold and we've got to showcase this in a way so that people get that. And we used our TV ad to do that.

Priya Chande: 17:18

So, along with other things, our tv ad demonstrated that was one thing that it did show and uh it, it didn't come without um, it's some consequences. So, for a start, it took us six months to get it approved with the asa, um, with clearcast sorry, who are the body that approve all tv advertising and, and it was a hard fight, but we didn't change anything from our original script, and anyone that's done TV before will know that to get your original script through is often really difficult. I mean, even in my L'Oreal days we would have to concede and change a lot of the claims because they wouldn't allow them to go through without evidence. We didn't change a single one, which was huge. Second of all, once we went live, six months later we received 395 ASA complaints to the Advertising Standards Authority, which meant that they formally had to investigate us on the grounds of having done something that was, you know, that was warranting maybe us being pulled off air.

Priya Chande: 18:15

And we upheld the statement and said, in the vein of smashing period stigmas and showing the reality, the true reality of what periods are and menstruation is, this is not worthy of the complaints and being pulled off of air.

Priya Chande: 18:29

And again we won that and we maintained our position as a leader in as a taboo busting brand.

Priya Chande: 18:52

The amount of abuse we have received the amount of abuse Ruby, our CEO, has received off of people who have felt that we are being completely out of line and should never be allowed to be on TV ever again, has been worth it, because that was the decision we decided to make and that was the cause we decided to follow, and we've gained so much more than we've potentially lost out of just a few people banging their you know, banging their drums about how offensive we are. So I'd say, just make sure, root yourself in your customer and what they expect of you, what they want from you, and then really believe in your gut and don't don't be afraid of what the backlash might be, because actually there's always going to be people that have opinions, um, but this is your one chance to really kind of make a stand for what you believe in and that's what we believe in, which is smashing period stigmas and taboos and there's obviously a lot more that you've done beyond the product and the marketing too, and this is something which founders can do right.

Amardeep Parmar: 19:30

So founders obviously have their product, they have what they're trying to sell, but with the platform they have in the communities they build, what more can you do? How can you make a lasting impact beyond just the product as well?

Priya Chande: 19:41

Yeah, um, again going back to, um, what our customers have continuously told me. Sorry, I'll go back. I'll do it again again, going back to our customers and, over the years, what they've told us and shared with us. Their barriers are, or their challenges are, to either purchasing our product or just periods category as a whole. One of the things that repeatedly came up was price, and it continues to be price. I think anyone that's in the reusable or the sustainable sphere as a consumer brand will cite the fact that changing behaviors and getting people to convincing people to buy a product that's maybe a little bit more expensive than the current single use or disposable product that they purchase is, is a challenge. Right, you've got to really convince people as to why they should invest a little bit more for the greater good and for the long term benefits. But one way in which we knew price and accessibility could be changed systemically and benefit not just us as a brand but the category as a whole was by abolishing period pant tax. So five years ago, six years ago now, we were the first period pant brand to launch in the UK, and it was actually funnily enough when Ruby did her first taxes with HMRC that they said there's no category here for period pants. What should we tax these as? And she said, well, they're underwear that soak up period blood. And they went okay, great, we'll tax them as underwear then, which by default fell into luxury items, which was kind of fashion and undergarments. Hang on a second. They're not a luxury. This is period care, this is period products.

Priya Chande: 21:20

So then we started the campaign for five years, continuously, to ax period tax. A lot of time, a lot of signatures, a lot of lobbying, a lot of visitors to local MPs. We met Grant Shapps, rishi Sunak, jeremy Hunt, chancellors. We've done it all. We've met all of them. In it, a lot of people would say say, isn't that distracting you from your end goal of, like, just selling more period pants and, you know, creating millions and reaching millions of customers? We said no because, actually, by us making a stand to help abolish this tax, we are reducing period pant prices by 20 in turn, making the category more accessible to people that currently can't afford them and, by virtue of that, helping the category as a whole, not just for our own brand, but for all brands within the.

Priya Chande: 22:04

In the space and five years later, much lobbying later, many marketing campaigns that were created and devised around that. We successfully abolished that tax in the November 2023 budget and the influx of new customers that came off the back of it and actually over the duration of those five years, whilst we were lobbying and campaigning, people who realized that there was an injustice, who realized that we'd not won the fight, but were willing to try our product because they believed that our mission, that we were on, was enough of a reason for them to actually buy in even if the tax was still in place, has been one of the most incredible value added kind of aspects of what we've done today. And you know the fight continues. Period swimwear, which we do. Period sportswear, which we also create, is still taxed. So you know the fight continues. We've now got to abolish that because they've not considered that.

Priya Chande: 22:58

So you know it's about finding things that really matter to your audience, and really matter not necessarily just about with the goal of you pushing your product alone. Sometimes you can push a mission or get behind a cause that helps the broader category and your competitors as well, and don't be afraid of that, because if you feel that you are the ones that can help, the good, that can lead the charge and the good fight. Actually, your consumers and your potential future consumers will recognize you as being the brand that did that. And hey, at the end of the day, if it helps everyone, then and it helps you, like there's nothing wrong with that. So I think we really de-centered ourselves as a brand in that, in that mission, and it's it's paid dividends for us. It really has.

Amardeep Parmar: 23:43

So it's obviously like the work you've done there is incredible, both yourself, also ruby, and the entire brand where you, what you stand for, and I think it's always amazing as well because I think so many things you've done. It's often things that people think as a small company, aren't really possible. They don't think they can get PR at national level, they don't think they can change the law, and I think for many people listening, the tips and advice you've shared can really help them to punch above their weight and to make a bigger difference than maybe they think they can. And we're going to have to move on to quickfire questions now. So the first one is who are the three British Asians you think are doing incredible work and you'd like to shout them out?

Priya Chande: 24:21

Absolutely so, other than yourselves and the guys at BAE HQ, obviously. So these are people that we've actually been really privileged to work with and I feel like they are really owed a shout out. So, first and foremost is Shani Dhanda, a taboo disability activist who we are so proud featured in our Desi Period Stories campaign. What Shani has done and continues to do for the disabled community, but also in terms of driving awareness and showing us how mainstream that you know that she can be as an ally and as an advocate, is amazing. Second person, I'd say, is Asma Khan, so a restauranteur and somebody who is kick-ass in every single way, in so far as the decisions she's made around the chefs and the staff and her female kind of run kitchen, but also the immigrants that kind of have flown into that. Fun fact Ruby probably would have been a chef and had a Nepali restaurant if she wasn't the founder of Wuka.

Priya Chande: 25:19

So I think and and the relationship and the love language, there is something that's made us always really in awe of Asma and what she's doing. Um, and then, and then it's another female. Uh. So yeah, not there's a lot of men out there doing great things. But another woman who were very also we've worked with before is um Seema Anand, who is a sexual wellness educator, who again featured as our leak-free dadi which for those that don't speak Hindi means granny or grandma in our Desi Period Stories campaign, who has just again blown the door open when it comes to being a South Asian talking about taboo topics such as sex and sexual health, and she's a force to be reckoned with and, I think, as young women and girls, if we have these three women that I've just cited Shani, Asma and Seema to look up to, as to what's possible, I mean it really does blow your mind as to, and it's exciting for the next generation, I think, to see what is possible as a South Asian woman in the UK.

Amardeep Parmar: 26:22

Yeah, absolutely. And, as you said, even beyond those three, there's so many South Asian women doing incredible things, so it's always one of the. I think the pleasures of what I get to do here is I get to see people who've done such amazing things that often many people haven't heard of and it's like, well, now you do, and then they can be inspired by that, right.

Amardeep Parmar: 26:41

So if anybody hasn't heard of the free dimension as well, go and check them out, go and learn more about their stories.

Priya Chande: 26:45

And there's lots of people doing stuff in business, which is great, but I've really felt with the topic of legacy and having an impact. Today those are three women particularly that really strike me as they will leave a legacy and they already have done in the work they've done. So if you don't know them, check them out.

Amardeep Parmar: 27:00

If people want to find out more about what you're doing, what WUKA's doing, where should they go to?

Priya Chande: 27:07

So we're on all social media channels, at @WUKAWEAR, w-u-k-a-w-e-a-r, and on our website, which is wuka. c o. uk.

Amardeep Parmar: 27:14

And is there anything that you need help with right now or that we can use help with?

Priya Chande: 27:18

We're all about having open conversations and taboo busting conversations, and the power of community just continues to be at the centre of that. So partnerships would be something that if anyone would like to partner with us whether you're an organisation, we are the official period partners with Channel 4. So if you're a corporate and a workplace, we offer kind of workplace perks with Wooka Perks. But if you're a brand and you want to kind of tie up with us as far as kind of taboo busting campaigns whether that be events, social media, etc. Content collaboration please do get in touch. We'd love to tie up and join forces with you so thank you again so much for coming on today.

Amardeep Parmar: 27:55

Have you got any final words?

Priya Chande: 27:56

Thank you for having me, uh, and thank you for championing and giving us a space to talk about a slightly more taboo topic, which should not be taboo. So, yeah, keep kicking ass at BAE HQ. We're really privileged to have been invited.

Amardeep Parmar: 28:12

Thank you for watching. Don't forget to subscribe. See you next time.

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