We're not sure about you, but there's nothing we love more when we unexpectedly get our periods than hauling ourselves off the couch, putting on real pants, and commuting on a crowded bus to a brightly-lit drugstore to buy bleached hunks of cotton to stem the tide...
Tbh, having to buy tampons and pads each month is one of the worst parts of having lady parts. That's why we were so excited to hear about easy., a Canadian-led company that delivers organic feminine products every month directly to your door, leaving you to bleed in peace. Not only that, they're firmly committed to ending the stigma of periods, and their NO SHAME campaign is redefining how we view women's bodies and cycles. They also donate 5% of profits to the Zana Africa foundation, helping girls in Kenya stay in school through reproductive education and sanitary products. We love their commitment to empowering women — that mission is behind everything we do at Knix too.
We recently sat down to chat with founder Alyssa Bertram about the beginnings of easy., what it's like to be a female CEO, and how she's hoping to change the way we think about periods.
I'd love to know how you got started -- where the inspiration for easy. came from, and why menstruation was an issue you wanted to put your energy behind.
I got started in the summer of 2015. I was feeling sort of stifled and bored by the work I was doing and like I could be adding better value doing something. Then my mom got really sick. It was a very scary experience - she was in a coma for 8 days and we weren't sure if she was going to recover. She's since made a full recovery! But that experience really gave me the push that I needed. It showed me that life is short and we have to take the risk now to do the work we're passionate about.
I had the idea for easy. for year prior to that. I was always talking about the fact that tampons should be delivered because I found them such a pain to buy and I was always running out at the most inconvenient times. As I dove into the literature I started to learn some disturbing information about the products I was currently using. I found out that tampons are considered medical devices, so their manufacturers aren't obligated to list the ingredients of their products. This concerned me right away: I like to know what's in the products I use, and my menstrual hygiene products were something I had never considered. I learned that some popular products contain traces of bleach, and that the cotton used in tampons has been sprayed with pesticides. Some brands use synthetic fibres that can shed in the vaginal walls. At that point I myself switched to a 100% organic cotton brand and I felt hugely passionate about spreading the word to others.
How did the NO SHAME campaign come about, and what does it mean to you?
The NO SHAME campaign was developed collaboratively with an amazing creative team at Cossette. We came to the conclusion that beyond empowering women by saving them time, offering them a safe product and giving them a seamless way to give back to other women, we wanted to empower them by honestly portraying their experience. NO SHAME got a lot of people talking about periods, whether they liked it or not. That's exactly what we wanted to do. We wanted to put the experience in peoples faces, for it to be addressed and represented and to let people know that there's no reason to be ashamed.
What's it like to run your own business? What advice do you have for women who want to do the same?
I'm going to give you the good and the bad and be completely honest. The great parts are that I get to be completely authentic all of the time. I'm interacting with people and talking about a topic that naturally interests and excites me. In that way, it never feels like work. It truly is a passion for me and I really love it. The tough part is the uncertainty. Unlike having a pay cheque you can rely on every two weeks, the first few years of launching a business from scratch are highly uncertain. There needs to be constant iteration and I believe the value of a positive attitude and a focus on solutions rather than problems is huge. I wouldn't have it any other way truly. I believe that if you're adding true value for people and willing to consistently change and solve problems then that investment will pay off.
In terms of advice, I'd say know your why. When things get tough or you feel like giving up, having a concrete reason for starting that you can return to will keep you grounded. When you're clear on why you're doing something and you lead from that place, it also attracts business to you. People are naturally attracted to genuine enthusiasm.
What has surprised you most about your first year?
What I've learned is that growth happens in waves and this is actually a blessing. Had we experienced consistent growth, rather than spurts, we may not have had the infrastructure necessary to sustain it and offer the same quality service.
How do you "knix" boundaries?
How do you "knix" your insecurities?
How do you "knix" taboos?
I knix taboos by talking about menstruation all the time with anyone who will listen. I think most of the people I've come in contact with have had to rethink any discomfort they may have had around menstruation.