Some inspiring businesswomen are leading the way in tackling period problems head-on. They are providing solutions for everything from fighting period poverty, managing period pain, to preventing awkward menstrual disposal encounters, as well as breaking down stigmas to normalize conversations around menstruation.
Many of these inspiring businesswomen innovating in this space are leveraging online platforms, startup accelerators, and programmes like the Amazon Launchpad to help them make their products accessible to as many people with periods in the world as possible.
Here’re three case studies of some of their individual inspiring stories:
I. Be You
Be You co-founder Kru Patel.
At her first job after graduating, Kru Patel was period-shamed by a male colleague simply because they were uncomfortable with her using a hot water bottle to relieve period cramps. She was told in a derogatory manner, “No one wants to know you’re on your period, that’s so unprofessional, put that away.”
Disappointed at the response she received, Kru explained to her brother what had happened. The encounter encouraged her to design her own feminine relief products. With the help of her brother, they compiled a natural formula for a discrete ‘period patch’ for cramps while still sticking to their beliefs in home remedies.
When the first Covid-19 lockdown happened, they turned to Amazon which has been crucial to their growth – tripling in size each year since launch.
The brand now has a wide range of thoughtful feminine care products and have also begun the ‘Be You Foundation’ which provides free period pads to girls growing up in poverty in rural India. Their mission is to create natural alternative solutions for women’s hygiene care and bridge the gender gap for medical research.
II. Freda Health
Freda Health founder Affi Parvizi-Wayne.
Affi Parvizi-Wayne came to the UK as an Iranian refugee when she was 12 years old. One day, years later after having built a successful life and family, she was watching the news about refugees stuck at various border crossings and it really struck a chord. Reminiscing her own experience, she thought: “I could have been one of those women, and so could my daughter.”
It dawned on her that many of these women, who came from a similar background to her, may not be speaking up about their needs for period products as these topics are often taboo in their cultures.
Sure enough, looking into the matter, she discovered that the hygiene kits provided by the UN and relief organizations overlooked period-care. From this moment on, Affi was determined to make sure that the menstrual needs of women are not ever overlooked again, be it in refugee camps or in public spaces.
Upon further research, she also realized sanitary products were often made with cheap unnecessary chemicals that don’t legally have to be disclosed, which may be harmful to a woman’s body. As a result, she started Freda Health in 2018 to deliver transparent, chemical-free, sustainable and socially conscious period care where a portion of every purchase is donated to initiatives worldwide tackling period poverty.
With the help of the Amazon Launchpad programme, Affi reached the top 100 brands on the marketplace within 5 months and is realizing her mission to make Freda Health accessible for all.
III. Fab Little Bag
Fab Little Bag inventor Martha Silcott
Martha Silcott gave up her successful business in the finance world to prevent as many embarrassing period disposal encounters as possible. The idea arose after an awkward dinner party situation - no bathroom bin forced her to wrap her tampon in loo roll and hide it up her sleeve before subtly slipping it into her handbag at the table.
The next day, she went to Boots hoping to find something so she would never need to do that again, instead, she found nothing that could help.
Determined to find a solution, she continued her research online but again, there was nothing. So, she looked into what people did in similar situations and was horrified to find that many women flush these products down the toilet and it all ends up in aquatic waste.
With no existing solution on the market, Martha decided to create her own and so she invented Fab Little bag in 2015, a sustainably sourced, easily sealable, opaque period waste bag. Since its inception, Martha has been actively pushing her products into the hands of those who need them.
She joined a startup accelerator and Amazon Launchpad and saw their sales grow by over 100% in the last year. Despite all the export challenges caused by Brexit, selling online has ensured that Martha can still continue to reach and help her customers all over Europe.