S2/Ep28: Emmy Hancock and Ali Aston, Learn About “Period Poverty” and How You Can Impact Your Community
Social Impact Fashion Start up
Emmy Hancock and Ali Aston
Where did it all begin?
She was a model in high school. She was behind the scenes of the fashion world. She wanted to pursue modeling. She got into the University of Pennsylvania and studied criminology. She graduated in 2018.
But then 2015 was the year of the period. And this is where she learned of “period poverty”. It launched to the national stage. It was a public health issue. She realized one person could make a difference. She began to reach out to non-profits. She wanted to create impact if she could have a brand that could fund it.
She moved to NYC and took a job and then she had to move back with her parents because of the pandemic. She then launched the brand herself. She did it all herself. She launched in October during the pandemic. She reached out and needed a co-founder on Instagram. A friend from high school reached out. They have been building the company ever since. We think of Shark Tank!
It is difficult to do it all yourself.
What is Oluna?
There are 3 parts.
For every pair of pants sold they are donating a year of period products to one woman in need.
Shining a light on Period poverty is an issue that is happening here domestically. Right here in our backyard.
They partner with Days for Girls globaly. They purchase and distribute and educate. They buy their product and distribute.
The Days for Girls (DfG) Pad is a washable, reusable, beautiful menstrual health product that’s built to last. Our patented design, which includes a protective shield and absorbent liner, is backed by the latest menstrual health research and a decade of feedback from women around the world. It is a truly sustainable solution that menstruators can count on month after month, for up to three years.
Oluna donates 1% to educate menstrual research and partners with https://period.org/
Oluna s empowers women by establishing an all female owned supply chain.
Period poverty effects the homeless and they don’t have dignity. You never see period drives!
It effects prison inmates.
It effects the poor. They are not covered by food stamps.
Toxic shock research asked for some changes and changes were struck down. Rep. Carolyn Maloney, a New York Democrat, has been trying to find that out for almost 20 years. In April, she reintroduced legislation — for the ninth time since 1997 — that would require manufacturers to label the fabrics, colorants, dyes and preservatives used in pads and tampons. Some women have expressed concern that trace amounts of the toxic chemical dioxin could be in tampons as a byproduct of rayon processing.
There is also a luxury tax on tampons. Obama said the laws were made by men. Back in the 20’s tampons were classified as cosmetics. 30 states have appealed but leaves 20 states left to the tax. Here is a link to join the fight in your state:
What triggered this in 2015? One big moment came in April, when Kiran Gandhi, a Los Angeles-based musician and feminist, ran the London Marathon while on her period, without using any hygiene products. She wanted to let her blood flow freely to encourage women not to feel embarrassed about their periods. It was the first time that people started talking about it. It is taboo.
“In America we have a new iPhone every year, but in the past two centuries there have only been three innovations in menstrual care. It’s baffling,” says Gandhi.
You have clothes! The pants are not related to periods. They are a lifestyle brand. They are elevating the lounge category. Wearing sweatpants was getting depressing. They are so cute they can be seen in public. They have slits along the legs so they are sexy. They are launching three new colors and are working on a dress. Comfort with style! The true day to night clothing!
How did this happen?
While in Cambodia she had to buy pants to go into a temple. She loved them. Her Aunt is a seamstress and made her a few pairs. After a couple iterations they came up with a new pant and Oluna was born!
Her Aunt kept at the project and found a pattern maker. Then they called manufacturers around the world and they found a female one right in Dallas! A lot of luck and a lot of hustle! She is learning as she goes! She loves to learn. She learns a new skill each month.
When you dream, what do you dream? She wants to pull in a community to help impact this problem. She wants her brand to help. She wants to employ homeless women to help pack and ship the brand. She wants a comfortable space.
Her challenge is brand awareness. COVID times are hard because people are not going to stores. She cannot speak to the people that they are helping as well.
There are so many opportunities for partnerships!
Everyone can make an impact. Reach out to her through her website and she has so many ideas on how you can help! You just need to believe.
How were you educated on period poverty? This Book: Periods Gone Public: Taking a Stand For Menstrual Equity by Jennifer Weiss-Wolf. https://www.periodequity.org/book-1
Nadya Okamoto is a another great resource for information.
Her main source of influence on discovering period poverty was through watching a film at the Cannes Film Festival. The film, I, Daniel Blake was about poverty and there was a scene in the movie that changed the way she though about menstrual products. It struck a nerve.
Read about the movie here:
This is fascinating how we find our passions and purpose! All the grains of sand make up a beautiful beach.