Talk about your period. Just talk about it. It doesn’t have to be a speech, a planned thing or a lengthy Instagram post. Mention it in daily conversation and normalize it. We have a series on our blog and socials called #uterUS where people share their period stories. We’ve learned that even though we thought we were alone in all these experiences many people have had the same ones as us. We imagine how much better our period experiences would have been if people were more willing to share their stories. Talking does two things. First, it normalizes periods. When you casually mention your period, it signifies that it is a normal topic for you and nothing to be ashamed of. It encourages other people to share their experiences and creates a community of inclusion. Second, it creates change within the industry and encourages innovation. Good businesses are designed to give people what they want. If more people are open about their wants in regards to periods/women’s health, more innovation will follow. You really can create better period experiences for others, just by sharing and talking about yours!
I had the pleasure of interviewing Abby Warner, Taimi Kennerley and Zoia Ali. they co-founded The Girls Company based on the simple principle that your life shouldn’t stop when your period starts. Period. They designed a solution women actually wanted — the world’s thinnest heated band you could wear under a pencil skirt. No battery packs, wall outlets or microwaves. The Girls Company is all about having those important conversations, normalizing periods, and making period cramps suck less.
Thank you so much for doing this with us! Our readers would love to “get to know you” better. Can you share your “backstory” with us?
We (Abby, Zoia and Taimi) were all randomly placed into the same group in our very first entrepreneurship class in college. The groups were tasked with solving a problem in an assigned industry, ours being the health industry. Since there were only 6 women in the whole entrepreneurship program at our university, we knew that having 3 out of the 6 together had to be fate. All three of us were passionate about helping women and decided to focus on women’s health. When we talked through the many pain points in the women’s wellness sphere, we realized that we all had negative experiences with our periods and decided to see if we could do something about it.
As we researched the way periods, and especially period cramps, had been treated throughout time, we were left with so many questions — How did a problem so large have so few solutions? And why didn’t existing solutions for period cramps keep the women using them in mind? That’s crazy! This motivated us to find a solution. When the class ended, we decided to continue working together to find a way to alleviate period cramps. We tested our prototypes with hundreds of women which led us to create our product, The Band. The Band is a heated, discreet band women wear underneath clothing to alleviate cramp pain. There are pockets in the front and back where you insert thin, disposable heat pouches for all day heat and pain alleviation.
We created The Girls Company based on the simple principle that your life shouldn’t stop when your period starts. Period.
Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you started your career? What were the main lessons or takeaways from that story?
Due to the current nature of the investment and business world, we are often talking and pitching our company to lots of older men. This gives us many interesting stories. One of the most memorable was when we were at a large investor’s pitch event. We had just finished our pitch and we were taking questions. One man raised his hand and asked, “Excuse me, but could you please explain what udder U.S. is?” We answered, “Um, a uterus?” The crowd erupted into laughter and he later apologized. From these experiences, we’ve learned that there is a long way to go in educating people and removing the stigma of periods.
Can you share a story about the biggest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?
We have made PLENTY of mistakes during our short time as entrepreneurs. Our biggest mistake when we were first starting out, and something we still struggle with, is perfectionism. We wanted our product to be absolutely perfect before we began selling.
We knew that there had not been a lot of innovation in relation to period cramp pain and we wanted to make sure that people knew we were listening to what they needed and wanted. We felt like if we messed it up the first time, nobody would trust us and our name and company would be ruined. No matter how many times our mentors told us it was good enough to start selling, we were still wary.
Eventually, we had to bite the bullet and decide it was good enough to sell. We anticipated that after our first shipment, we would take the feedback and make changes to our product because we believed that it still wouldn’t be near perfect. In fact, before we had received any feedback, we already had some ideas of things we wanted to change. However, once we started selling, nobody really had any complaints about our product or things they wanted to change! The “flaws” we thought were so prevalent were actually things they mentioned they loved. We were shocked and realized that we had spent so much time and effort trying to fix things that were not even issues to begin with. We have realized that we can’t let our desire for things to be perfect stop us or hold us back, we just have to go for it.
None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?
There have been so many people who have helped us since we started. One person in particular was an entrepreneur our university connected us with, Corbin Church. Corbin helped us immensely with figuring out manufacturing in China. He actually went to our factory for us to make sure it was a quality factory, picked up samples of our product and asked for nothing in return. Not only did he teach us so much about manufacturing, supply chain, and business, but he taught us the value of using your expertise to help others build their dreams which is something we strive to do every day. We definitely could not have made it as far as we have without all the help and support of so many people along the way.
Ok perfect. Now let’s jump to our main focus. When it comes to health and wellness, how is the work you are doing helping to make a bigger impact in the world?
Every single month, virtually every woman you know has a period. Yet for thousands of years, periods have essentially been the same experience — they suck. It’s 2020! Enough with bare minimum. Women deserve to have options to alleviate one of the most common (yet debilitating) pains that they experience.
At the Girls Company, we create the solutions that women need so that they can do what they need to do to make the world better. We know that there are so many amazing women doing amazing things. Our job is to get them there without having to constantly think about the cramp pain. That’s why The Band is so thin, why it lasts for a full 8–10+ hours without ever needing a charge or battery pack or outlet, and can be worn underneath any clothing without being seen. It’s made for the person who can’t afford to miss out on life! (and life can’t afford to miss out on them!) We often get messages from people saying that The Band has helped them get through a school day, work presentation or travel again! We believe that anyone who gives others the options and tools to participate more fully in their own lives has a huge impact in the world.
Can you share your top five “lifestyle tweaks” that you believe will help support people’s journey towards better wellbeing? Please give an example or story for each.
- Don’t hang onto the past! Sometimes we have bad days and sucky things happen but it’s important to take those lessons and move on. We can’t change the past so there’s no need to dwell on it.
- Eat a snack. Or offer a snack to someone else. Sometimes we are just hangry.
- Don’t be afraid to ask for help. We have learned that most of the time we don’t know the answer but there is likely someone else out there who does. People want to be helpful so just ask!
- Do your best and know when you should stop. We’re all human. We have our limitations. Our goal each and every day is to do our best. And to know when we need to take a step back and come back to it.
- Meditate to keep yourself centered and journal to get out negative feelings and thoughts. Sometimes, we can all be stuck in our head and in our thoughts. It’s exhausting. Meditation has been the best tool for us to calm our minds and quiet the “noise” in our mind and stress we feel. Being an entrepreneur means dealing with change and rejection quite often. Getting out of our heads and writing down our thoughts and feelings has been such a powerful and beneficial way for us to work through negative emotions.
If you could start a movement that would bring the most amount of wellness to the most amount of people, what would that be?
Talk about your period. Just talk about it. It doesn’t have to be a speech, a planned thing or a lengthy Instagram post. Mention it in daily conversation and normalize it. We have a series on our blog and socials called #uterUS where people share their period stories. We’ve learned that even though we thought we were alone in all these experiences many people have had the same ones as us. We imagine how much better our period experiences would have been if people were more willing to share their stories.
Talking does two things. First, it normalizes periods. When you casually mention your period, it signifies that it is a normal topic for you and nothing to be ashamed of. It encourages other people to share their experiences and creates a community of inclusion. Second, it creates change within the industry and encourages innovation. Good businesses are designed to give people what they want. If more people are open about their wants in regards to periods/women’s health, more innovation will follow.
You really can create better period experiences for others, just by sharing and talking about yours!
What are your “5 Things I Wish Someone Told Me Before I Started” and why?
- Have a planning meeting at the beginning of every week that details out what needs to be done, the highest priority tasks and who is doing what (and write it down). We recently started doing this and it has helped us to be way more productive and (a little) less stressed. We wish we had started doing it sooner!
- Everything takes twice as long and costs twice as much as you think it will.
- Outsourcing is good! At the beginning, we thought we needed to learn and do everything ourselves to save money but the reality is people are really good at their jobs for a reason. It is a better use of time and money to have people do things for you that they are good at and you don’t know how to do.
- We wish someone would have told us how attached we would get to our company! They always say not to get married to an idea but that seems pretty impossible when you spend all of your time with it. This journey has been so emotional in so many ways and that’s not really something we expected.
- We are constantly seeking and getting so much advice from different people with various business experiences. We often get conflicting advice and it can be difficult to filter through what works best for our situation. We wish we would have known how to better filter the advice early on. With time, we’ve been able to intuitively know which advice to take and which to not.
Sustainability, veganism, mental health and environmental changes are big topics at the moment. Which one of these causes is dearest to you, and why?
Mental health is really important to us. It affects every person in one way or another, including us and the people we love.
We want to keep the conversation going and keep supporting our friends and family members. We know that getting the right support for you is so important, whether that’s therapy, medication, more self care, supportive friend groups and communities, or help from other professionals, taking care of your mental health is normal and great!
What is the best way our readers can follow you on social media?
Follow us on Instagram: @thegirls_co
Or Facebook: TheGirlsCo1