We would never miss an opportunity to talk openly about our periods — let alone how to make them less of a pain in the ass. That’s why when we got wind of THINX Period Panties, we practically catapulted ourselves at the brand in hopes of grabbing a few words from the insanely-inspirational CEO & Co-Founder, Miki Agrawal.
What are period panties? Great question. Let’s preface this whole conversation with the fact that there was an overdue need for a little innovation in the feminine hygiene industry. Aside from the invention of the tampon, we’ve really seen no viable solutions for our dreaded monthly visit (not to mention women spend millions on tampons a year). The best solution we have seen surface is awesome, yet it’s only fair we have options — we aren’t all built the same, or have the same preferences. Did you know that the FDA doesn’t even regulate what goes into our tampons? And those are just the issues we face here state-side. Thus, the need for something new. Something that will revolutionize the way we deal with menzes. That’s where THINX came to fruition, as a masterfully designed panty that wicks moisture, absorbs flow (no leaks), and is anti-bacterial — those are just a few of its benefits. We tried them ourselves, and boy were we carefree in our white vintage Levi’s (we’re full converts).
When looking back on the history of feminine products thus far, and world-wide the facts are outrageous — that’s why we were dying to hear right from Agrawal where this brilliant idea stemmed from, and how we can expect it to better women’s cycles world-wide.
VÉRITÉ: What about the state of the feminine hygiene industry made you want to take action, and make a product that was drastically different than what was out there?
Miki Agrawal: The first “aha-moment” for the idea was born in 2005 during our annual Family Games called Agrapalooza – where my sister Radha got her period in the middle of their championship race. We raced to bathroom to wash Radha’s bathing suit bottom (still tied together!) and through our frustration, we thought, “Wouldn’t it be great if we had a pair of underwear that was period proof?” It was then our idea was born.
Then, the idea really got its legs when I traveled to South Africa in 2010 for the World Cup. There, I met a 12 year-old girl in a rural area. I asked, “Why aren’t you in school?” and the girl quietly responded, “It’s my week of shame.” Upon my return, we discovered that 100 million girls around the world miss school just because they lack the sanitary supplies they need to manage their periods. We knew that they could somehow use the innovative idea of magic period underwear to support these girls. And BOOM. THINX was born!
Once we began the process to make this a reality, it took about three and a half years to make THINX. Through trial and error, and making sure all of the standards we set were met, the innovative undies were launched.
V: You want to strongly unhinge the taboo surrounding periods, how do you want to use THINX to empower women and men to move away from these?
M.A.: We are using innovation to change the culture, and the conversation, around menstruation here and in the developing world. Women find it uncomfortable to talk about it; it’s a huge taboo – and THINX is committed to breaking it. We want people to come in contact with our brand and immediately know that it’s okay to be open and inquisitive, and to challenge the norms surrounding our periods. I think we’re really doing it, too; we’ve never seen more women openly discuss their hygiene regimens than now, on our own social media accounts, articles, and advertisements. It’s really powerful, and so motivating to see.
V: THINX isn’t just trying to make a shift in North America but across the world, can you share how you are going about this?
M.A.: After we found out that millions of girls in the developing world were falling behind in school just because of their periods, we knew we could use our idea to support them somehow. So, we did a lot of research on a number of organizations to find the right partner, and fell in love with AFRIpads’ model, which really empowers local women and girls in a big way. I visited Uganda earlier this year and talked to some of those women who either sew, sell, or use the menstrual kits that we fund, and it’s no exaggeration when they tell us that their lives have changed. The rate of attendance in school just skyrockets when they have access to the materials they need, and the women that AFRIpads employs now have truly sustainable careers. (More on AFRIpads here.)