In partnership with THINX
Like money, politics and religion, you might as well put periods down on the list of do not discuss topics. As a society, we’ve conditioned ourselves to avoid the conversation, save it for the ladies room, package it in flowers and fresh scents. But why? There are a million ways to answer this question, but let’s just chalk it up to another social construct—periods suck. They’re messy, bloaty, disruptive and just a plain pain. Yet they don’t have to be.
Tackling the taboo head on is THINX, the woman-made brand responsible for the cult ‘period panty.’ The company is reinventing the space of feminine hygiene, with products that are solution-oriented and a narrative that is open, encouraging, and for all people with periods. Period. We sat down with three women from THINX to see how they’re shaping the conversation.
Maria Molland Selby, CEOCOOLS: What initially drew you to THINX?
Maria: A couple different reasons… Firstly, I went through years of fertility issues to have my first baby and when I was going through that I had a list of companies that were really doing right for women around health and wellness issues. My doctor had told me that years of using tampons and even pads as well can create fertility issues. It’s rather unknown if you do have them and if you don’t, you’re still wondering what the impact was after all these years of putting bad things into your body.
So I decided that I was gonna use my business brain and come up with a bunch of companies that I thought were really trying to solve those problems and THINX was top of the list in terms of that. That combined with just looking at the market. You look at feminine hygiene as a global market – it’s a huge $20 billion market and it hasn’t been innovated since literally the 1800s.
So, you know, as a business person again you look at those and think gosh this is a huge market with a lack of innovation, largely made of big players that have no real incentive to do things differently. How do you really focus on helping women? That really got me excited about THINX, just in terms of the business opportunity in front of it and I had the personal connection in terms of what the product stood for.
Siobhan Lonergan, Chief Brand OfficerCOOLS: How is THINX helping to shape the visual identity of feminine hygiene?
Siobhan: We create imagery that’s very transparent, using natural elements like grapefruit and eggs to illustrate the female body and the cycle. Our models are never retouched, they are photographed in a non-sexual way in order to create a sense of empowerment. And if you stand back and look at the campaign, it’s really beautifully curated, everything is very thoughtfully placed and you know the idea is that we wanted to talk about a subject that had never been talked about, but we wanted to make our imagery really desirable and magnetic so people would stop and think. And when you think about the imagery in the category so far it has been a lot of swirly colors and flowers and butterflies and images that mask what we are really talking about. We were one of the first companies to put a stake in the ground and actually say what we mean.
COOLS: In a way, cutting out the bullshit is just going back to basics and creating an honest, unmasked dialogue.
Siobhan: We’re kind of. Yes, we’re continuing in that vein, realizing that our voice and our imagery allowed us to capture this audience but also to learn what inclusivity meant, making sure that we are embracing everybody that has their a period. So initially our advertising was for women with periods but then we realized that the trans community have periods too, so that allowed us to kind of go back and think about how we are engaging and producing products for everyone. That initiated our boyshorts product which were initially designed for the trans community and then our next advertising campaign featured a trans model. As we continue to understand what inclusivity means, we will go beyond race, beyond skin color, beyond size, beyond what/who you are as a person to reach everyone that has a period.
Maeve Roughton, Head of ContentCOOLS: How is THINX disrupting the conversation around periods?
Maeve: We’ve always kind of approached [the conversation] knowing that we didn’t want to take a similar path to traditional menstrual hygiene manufacturers, and I think we all know what that is: daisies on boxes, women running through fields on their periods. The pain is represented in softness, but in real life, the fact is you’re bleeding and have cramps and, like, wanna eat six plates of food. So we’ve always known this old marketing approach was not representative of the real menstrual experience, and we wanted our work to be reflective of the truth. It’s about being able to say, this sucks, but it doesn’t have to hold me back. Anyone with a period will say, you know, what’s happening to me is kinda gross, but I’m not gross. That doesn’t mean that I can’t have a moment of saying, argh this is annoying or argh this really sucks.
So we always try to connect with what is all ranges of moods, experiences and feelings.
COOLS: What has been your personal experience with the product?
Maeve: I have been really really excited to answer this question. I’ve been holding back from a Facebook review because I’ve fallen in love with THINX. Obviously, I’m been dying to tell the story:
So I got my period very late. I was 16/17 and super super active. I’ve never used a pad in my life, I had always used tampons—like, no question. Since joining THINX, you know, whenever you become part of some new community, this whole world of information is kind of opened up to you. That totally happened here, and I started thinking, Oh yeah, I don’t know what weird chemicals and stuff are in tampons… and if I give so much of a shit about where my food comes from, and if I care so much about shopping at ethical companies, why am I not gonna have that same of consideration regarding what I bring to the most absorbent, most sensitive part of my body? I like to think that I am very logical and rational person, and it just didn’t seem logical or rational to me to do that anymore. I had tried THINX before that, but I had never used them alone, always as a backup to a tampon. I have an average period so I stopped using tampons altogether and started using THINX by themselves. I truly fell in love with the product. I think I am a perfect candidate for using ’em as a full replacement to other products. But, again, I used them before with a tampon and I found them super-successful—I am just really crazy about using them now alone. It’s peace of mind overall.