Research also opened up Welch’s eyes to the amount of misinformation and secrecy surrounding menstrual health. “Why do we think it’s normal to be embarrassed about leaks? It’s not the end of the world,” says Welch. “What we’re up against is a thousand years of patriarchy.” Welch’s assertion isn’t an understatement. Organizations like the United Nations and Human Rights Watch consider menstrual health and hygiene intrinsically linked to human rights. The discrimination stemming from a period can impact a person’s access to education and careers and render them vulnerable to acts of sexual violence. “There are parts of the world where you can still be shunned for having a period or a woman might be taken out of school while she’s having her period,” says Welch. “Giving them a product that allows them to remain in school changes their lives, and when you uplift women, you uplift entire communities.”
With that in mind, Welch began to outline her priorities for the brand: creating a product that was good for the environment, easy to care for, and, most of all, affordable. “You can’t change things if you aren’t affordable for everyone,” she explains. “That’s why we charge $12. We decided to make less money and keep things simple and usable.” The fight for increased access has led Welch and her team to connect with organizations fighting to create menstrual equity for people from all walks of life. “We’re mission based, and our goal is really to get with FEMA and foundations that are getting [supplies] out to people who truly need them,” says Welch. “We’ve just signed a deal with New York State, where our underwear is going to be given at clean-needle sites, and we’re beginning to work with schools as well. Getting the product out there [through donations] is part of our business model.”
The brand’s philanthropic goals reflect the moment’s mood. “We’re in a year where people have seen the cracks in our world. They’ve looked through them to glimpse that new and brighter world that lies ahead,” says Welch. “You see it with the rise in activism, the movement for racial equality, and the way everyone has become so engaged. People want change across the board, but there are still mountains in the way. We’ve been chipping away at those obstacles gradually, but with Period, what we’re trying to do is bring the dynamite and clear the way for a better future.”
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