AN EAST Lothian social enterprise whose mission is to eradicate period poverty is on course to see turnover more than double in its second year of business.

Hey Girls, which produces, sells and donates a range of period products, is on course to turn over £2.2 million in the current calendar year, up from just under £1m last year.

Much of the growth is down to the organisation’s products, including tampons, sanitary pads, and menstruation cups, being sold nationally by Waitrose, Asda and the Co-op, with ScotMid due to start stocking them next month.

READ MORE: Hey Girls: the firm on a mission to end period poverty

However, founder Celia Hodson noted that it is the growing number of partnerships that Hey Girls has formed with a range of corporate clients that is really driving the business forward, enabling it to donate 5.2 million products to community groups and food banks since it launched in January 2018.

Tourism agency VisitScotland, construction business Willmott Dixon and clothing retailer H&M are the latest to come on board, with the former two making Hey Girls’ products available free of charge in bathrooms at all their sites while the latter is doing the same in its Edinburgh customer service office.

“Because we’ve been getting so many requests we have built an online platform where corporates can tell us how many people they have and how many washrooms they have and it gives them an immediate quote,” Ms Hodson said.

“When you talk about free products companies think it is going to cost them thousands and thousands of pounds but it won’t because it’s about [making products available for when people are] caught short. If companies make soap and paper towels available, why not have these products as well?”

Ms Hodson said it is expected that the quote generator, which led to two orders being placed as soon as it went live this week, will enable Hey Girls to bring partners on board more quickly.

READ MORE: Hey Girls’ phenomenal success sees it close in on aim of ending period poverty

Hey Girls’ model means that every time a consumer or corporate buys one of its products, an identical product is donated to a partner organisation in the local area.

Due to the growth in sales, the organisation has had to increase the size of the team that packs and distributes the donated products, with a total of eight people now working in Hey Girls’ new base at Olive Bank Retail Park in Musselburgh.

“We’ve employed mums to do the packing,” Ms Hodson said. “We put out an ad that said ‘join the best team in town and work school hours’ and we got 80 people who applied.

“We’ve taken two of those and will probably need another two in the new year. Both live in East Lothian so are near to where we pack and they are returners to work after having babies.

“It’s very important to find opportunities for mums to get back to work.”

Ms Hodson established Hey Girls, which, as a social enterprise, reinvests all its profits, after a chance discussion with her two daughters about how damaging period poverty can be.

Since launching last year the business has been selected as a partner on the Scottish Government’s Washroom Solutions and Sanitary Products framework, which means it is one of just a small number of providers that public sector organisations can choose to purchase their products from.

It was also selected as a provider for a scheme run by anti-food-waste charity FareShare, which after a successful pilot in Aberdeen was awarded £500,000 of Scottish Government funding to enable it to distribute period products from its centres in Scotland’s main cities.

READ MORE: Hey Girls: the firm on a mission to end period poverty

Education is also a key focus for the business, which this year received two weeks of free peak-time TV adverts on STV after Ms Hodson won an STV/Deloitte Scottish social entrepreneur of the year award.

The organisation used the ads to run a campaign fronted by the actor Michael Sheen aimed at encouraging fathers to talk to their daughters about periods. Called Pads4Dads, the aim of the campaign was to break down the stigmas that prevent fathers from discussing menstruation with their daughters.

Ms Hodson said the company is now pushing ahead with a “teach the teacher” initiative that holds period education training sessions for leaders from a range of organisations who then take the message back to their staff.