Archive for the ‘Media’ Category

AFRIpads & Lunapads: putting a ring on it

Friday, March 7th, 2014 by Madeleine

It’s amazing timing that AFRIpads founders Paul Grinvalds and Sophia (Sonia) Klumpp have recently become engaged (hooray! we wish them every happiness), because we have some commitment news of our own: Lunapads has just become an official shareholder in AFRIpads.

afripadslunapartner AFRIpads & Lunapads: putting a ring on itMadeleine, Paul, Sonia & Suzanne meet in Uganda for the first time in 2012

Like most long-term relationships, you keep building it over time (in this case, since 2008), not really paying attention to all the incremental pieces of trust and co-creation that are taking place. And then from time to time it hits you that it’s actually something special that’s worth pausing to take stock of and celebrate: this is one of those moments.

Looking back at our over-20 year career as entrepreneurs, our relationship and visit with AFRIpads stands out as a high point. For those of you new to the story, the journey started in 2008 when Carrie-Jane Williams, then a UBC student, brought over some Lunapads kits to the Ugandan village where she was working on a literacy project. There she happened to meet Paul and Sonia, themselves also volunteers working on a development project, and showed them the pads she had left.

Paul and Sonia, for their part already having identified the issue of girls missing school due to lack of feminine hygiene products, were inspired to start their own business making pads modeled after Lunapads. They wrote to us to ask for our support, we said yes, and “off to the races” they went.

By the time we met Paul and Sonia and the AFRIpads team for the first time in January of 2012, they had 30 employees working in 2 facilities, and had supplied over 100,000 girls with AFRIpads kits. Since then their team has grown to over 60 and they have supplied over 250,000 girls with pad kits.  And, as new investors, we are beyond proud to be directly supporting the building of their new factory, which just broke ground this year!

Following our 2012 meeting, we decided to launch our One4Her partnership, whereby for each Lunapads One4Her product sold, AFRIpads are donated to girls in need in East Africa. To date, the One4Her program will have provided over 34,000 AFRIpads to thousands of girls: the largest distribution being 2,000 kits in Kibera, Kenya in October 2013.

While our relationship with AFRIpads’ most obvious benefit is providing girls with pads to support their school attendance, another key aspect is sustainable employment for local Ugandan women, and we have also been proud to support AFRIpads’ staff professional development.

Like getting married, becoming shareholders is a big step: but when it feels right – well, it just feels right. We’re excited for the future, knowing that we are stronger together.

Congratulations to everyone, and many, many happy returns!

Announcing G Day for Girls!

Tuesday, January 21st, 2014 by Madeleine

Telling you about G Day feels like a combination of my birthday, a weekend and every holiday I’ve ever anticipated. It’s a new creative project that I have had in my heart and mind since I was a little girl.

As a girl, I was awed by the idea of becoming an adult woman. Like Margaret in Judy Blume’s classic Are You There, God? It’s Me, Margaret, I was obsessed with all the details, particularly menstruation, and on a semiconscious level I hoped that there would be some sort of fanfare when the momentous time came.

The obvious aside, nothing happened, and I was left with a sense of deep disappointment. Not that I could have told you what exactly I had imagined might happen – I just wanted other people to acknowledge in some way that what was happening to me was special, because I sure thought it was.

I was reminded of these feelings early last year, when I was invited to speak at Pecha Kucha Night Vancouver as part of a Special Edition created in partnership with Women Transforming Cities. At first I thought it was a bit weird to be thinking about my work in an urban context, and then I remembered my girlhood dream, and landed on the idea of creating modern Red Tents where we could bring our daughters to celebrate them when they entered adolescence.

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Pirates, B Corps & Disruption: Not Business as Usual

Monday, January 20th, 2014 by Madeleine

Not Business As Usual Documentary from institute B on Vimeo.

It won’t come as news to most people reading this blog that our business philosophy is firmly grounded in the belief that capitalism can be a powerful force for positive social change. You just don’t often get to see these types of values expressed every day, let alone as a documentary film with you in it.

As some background, Institute B is a Vancouver-based social impact business think tank/incubation/education and venture capital firm. Suzanne and I have participated in their highly regarded Changemakers series, and are proud and excited about the work they’re doing and community they’re building. They are massive champions of the Benefit Corporation (B Corp) movement, a group of almost 1,000 companies worldwide who participate in a rigorous evaluation process of their impact, then go a step further to amend their legal articles of incorporation to enshrine a commitment that pursuit of profit will never come at the expense of social or environmental considerations.

When we were approached to be interviewed for the video, naturally we agreed to share our story. What we didn’t know was that the “video” was actually destined to become an hour-long documentary about the evolution and future of capitalism. Several of our favourite friend/colleagues/B Corporations (hello Fairware, Junxion Strategy, Save On Meats, Potluck Cafe, Renewal Partners) were also interviewed, and the result is pure inspiration. We were also delighted to see our sister company AFRIpads featured too!

ssib Pirates, B Corps & Disruption: Not Business as Usual

Following the screening, Suzanne was invited to join a panel of fellow entrepreneurs for a discussion, moderated by Kevin Lee Royes, a serial “soulcial-preneur” who successfully closed a deal on Dragons Den (the Canadian version of reality TV entrepreneurial pitching) and parlayed that into a guest hosting gig on future shows. His first question to the panel was “Is it too late to save the world?” In response Suzanne retold the story of the Little Hummingbird & the Forest Fire and said that “we (ie: Lunapads & AFRIpads) are simply doing what we can.” And so thanks to all our customers and supporters: you are helping make that happen!

The “Pirates and “Disruption” in the title of this post are references to a couple of particularly cheeky lines of my and Suzanne’s. There’s not much more to say other than thank you to the IB team for this incredible opportunity to be part of such a powerful and innovative movement. We’re not stopping anytime soon ;-)

Enjoy!

One4Her: Eliminating Poverty with AFRIpads

Monday, October 7th, 2013 by Madeleine

During a coaching session I had once upon a time I was asked what my favourite hobby is. I said gardening, and the Coach then asked what I had observed during my time in the garden that might be applicable to the rest of my life. “That everything takes its own time”, I replied. I thought of this when we received this video of a recent One4Her distribution of 2,000 AFRIpads kits in Kibera, Kenya.

Going back through my email to discover just how long we have been talking to Judy Craig from Eliminate Poverty Now tells me that not only has our conversation been going on for close to four years, but moreover that in its course it has built a quality of deep and mutual respect. Without getting into all the ins and outs, bit by bit by bit we have exchanged ideas and contacts without really having a sense of what our goal was. But we kept going, and now we have some great news for you.

The other very notable long-term player and relationship in this story is AFRIpads, who go back to 2008. The consistent features? Trust, communication, and willingness to keep supporting, answering questions, making suggestions – even when we didn’t know what we were going to “get out of it” (the expression feels ludicrous given how much goodwill exists between all of us!).

In Judy’s words, this is what you get: ”We had an intensely moving day. You get a sense of it from the girls’ faces. For me, the high point was when one of the girls asked whether there would be clotheslines to dry the pads on at secondary school. She clearly intended to go to secondary school – and we know that having the pads will help her achieve that goal. But just as clearly, she had no personal experience of what secondary school would be like. Probably, she’ll be the first child in her family – or in her neighborhood – to go to secondary school. And we are helping to make that happen. How lucky are we to be able to help someone transform their life that way?

Living Extraordinary with Conscious Divas

Wednesday, September 11th, 2013 by Madeleine

Suzanne and I are unabashed in our affection for the fabulous Kate Muker and her inspiring business, Conscious Divas, and incredibly proud of our partnership.

Here’s a fun video of us speaking at last year’s version of her Living Extraordinary LIVE! event. It’s wonderful how many speaking/storytelling events have cropped up in recent years. We have had the good fortune to participate in TEDx and Pecha Kucha Night, as well as to be inspired by countless peers doing the same.

Speaking of which, we can’t wait to see some of our favourite entrepreneurs and changemakers take the stage this year, including Tantra Goddess Devi Ward, eco-fabulous fashion designer Nicole Bridger, self-made Sales guru Belynda Lee and one of my longest-time sister entrepreneurs, Aromatherapy tycoon Deborah Drummond-Backer.

The 48 hour ticket sale starts tomorrow: September 13 & 14 – just $30 each! Hope to see you there!

A Happy Camper

Tuesday, August 20th, 2013 by Sara K.

I don’t believe in regret and rarely entertain it. There was, however, one exception that was recently inspired by Hello Flo’s viral video “Camp Gyno.” It struck such a cord inside me that I couldn’t help but entertain thoughts of “what if…”

The summer I was eleven, my father sent me to camp at a ranch in the Rockies. I couldn’t have been more excited about spending my days horseback riding and evenings in a bunk with forty other girls. It was like a giant sleepover every night.

I was in heaven, until I got my period on the third day. Having only had it twice before, it was still fairly new to me and pretty unpredictable. I’d come to camp prepared with all kinds of supplies, including massive mattress-sized overnight pads, but they were no match for my flow. Within two days I’d bled through pretty much all the clothes, pyjamas and underwear I’d brought with me. Far too embarrassed to talk to any of the counselors, I kept it to myself and simply demanded to be sent home, letting them believe it was due to homesickness.

campgynosara A Happy CamperHow would that summer have been different, if I’d felt empowered to talk to another camper or a counselor about what I was going through? What if I’d had a Joan of Arc championing my vadge? What if I’d felt pride and not shame? What if I’d seen my period as a Red Badge of Courage?

While I do feel regret for the scared and embarrassed 11-year-old I once was, I am beyond elated that “Camp Gyno” is fostering conversations about periods. Even if just a fraction of the >5.7 million people who have viewed the clip so far go on to promote a more positive perspective of periods, we are making strides. And that makes me a happy camper!

How about you? Do you have any summer camp or first period stories to share?

A better sensory + aesthetic experience

Wednesday, July 3rd, 2013 by Guest
Aircraft Lavatory 300x225 A better sensory + aesthetic experience
Public domain photo // Wikimedia Commons

“With menstruation on my mind, I wondered, then, if a major motivation for convincing people to use alternative menstrual products is simply that it creates a better sensory and aesthetic experience.

Mainstream tampons and pads seem a lot like metaphorical airplanes—unintuitive, wasteful, uninspired, bland, and meant to leave us with no sense of individuality or humanity.

For me, switching from years of using tampons to instead using funky, super comfortable, eco-friendly Lunapads created the opportunity for a better sensory experience—as they were physically more comfortable and created no unpleasant smells—and aesthetic experience—as they added a bit of individuality and uniqueness to the experience by having visual appeal. Reusable pads also eliminated the problem of worrying about clogging toilets with tampons, filling trash cans with ugly wrappers, and carrying a pile of products along on trips and vacations.

For me, Lunapads created a bit of much-needed peace with my menstrual cycle.”

The excerpt above is shared with permission from the post Menstruation as a sensory and aesthetic experience by Breanne Fahs. Read the full post at re:cycling, the blog for the Society for Menstrual Cycle Research.

Supporting the class of 2017 in Ethiopia

Friday, June 21st, 2013 by Madeleine

image3 Supporting the class of 2017 in Ethiopia

A beautiful report from our friends at imagine1day – wow! We are so thrilled to be able to support their amazing work building schools and empowering students in Ethiopia.

Dear Suzanne & Madeleine,

I trust that you both are well and flourishing in all that you’re up to. We continue to be buoyed by the contribution that you’re both being to the community here in Vancouver and beyond. It is truly inspirational to watch you in action!

I’m writing to give you an update on how the girls of our Graduate Fund high school scholarship program are doing, and share some great news about this year’s program.

Over the past 2 years, Lunapads has become an incredibly important partner for imagine1day in that your contribution has directly correlated to our Graduate Fund girls being able to focus on their education and thrive in the classroom without worrying about their menstrual cycle interfering. We are so happy to report that the girls of Class 2015 and 2016 are all excelling in their Grade 9 & 10 studies, with the exception of one student who has taken some time away to deal with some personal issues. That’s 41 girls in the midst of blossoming into their full leadership potential.

41girls Supporting the class of 2017 in Ethiopia

We have recently completed the selection process for our Class 2017 scholarship students, who will be starting their high school journey with us this September. The amazing news is that we’ve been able to increase the number of scholarships to 60 in total, 47 of which are girls. All of the students are buzzing with excitement, and are grateful for the opportunity to continue their education beyond Grade 8. 14 year old Nigisti Yisfaw (pictured below) is one of the girls who is particularly enthusiastic about her short walk to school, given the challenges she has faced in the past.

nigisti Supporting the class of 2017 in Ethiopia

The girls will be starting school again in September this year, and we would train them to use the pads as part of the Life Skill Training we offer to help them settle into their new lives living away from their families to attend high school. These girls do not have ubiquitous access to underwear, so the kits with undies in them are ideal.

Many many thanks,

Sincerely,
Michelle & the imagine1day team

Telling the future at BALLE

Tuesday, June 18th, 2013 by Madeleine

ballephoto Telling the future at BALLE

Fran Korten, D’Artagnan Scorza and Adrienne Maree Brown

Suzanne and I are just back from attending the BALLE (Business Alliance for Local Living Economies) conference in awesome Buffalo (seriously, it’s very cool) and are full of great ideas and inspiration about localism, entrepreneurship and community building.

As a microcosm example of the kinds of people and ideas that were zinging around the campus of Buffalo State College, I’m going to tell you the story (appropriately) of a workshop entitled “Changing the Story”. The idea that we can change our reality based on how we express it is hardly a new one, however I think that we can all agree that one can never be too creative when it comes to social change and imagining a better future.

The session was ably led by Fran Korten (left), ED of Yes! Magazine (who, coincidentally, we had met at the airport and shared a cab with on the way to the conference, making her our “first BALLE friend”), who vividly illustrated the principle of how story can shape outcome by citing the disparity between early Norsemen and Inuit’s ability to survive in the Arctic: the Norsemen’s racist belief that they were superior to the fish-eating Inuit “scraelings” (wretches) basically led them to starvation.

As activists, she invited us to share with other participants the story that we are changing. In my case, it was about shifting from seeing menstruation as unclean, painful and embarrassing to having a holistic view of our cycles and appreciating and honouring them for the amazing life-giving, Earth-connecting mysteries that they, and by extension our entire bodies, truly are – yay!

Fran’s next panelist was Gar Alperovitz of The Democracy Collaborative, a longtime political activist who shared the belief that the capitalist system as we know it is failing us, and that we are on the precipice of immense change, led by none other than us BALLE-goers – wow!

D’Artagnan Scorza (center), ED of Inglewood CA-based The Social Justice Learning Institute, shared a powerful video that laid waste to the idea that most young black men in that community are destined for lives of crime and incarceration. We watched as scores of strong, proud youth reclaimed a lifeless urban lanscape and built a flourishing community garden. Their new story is about food sustainability, community development, wealth and pride.

Although working on the other end of the country in Detroit MI, Adrienne Maree Brown’s (right) story of her work with the Detroit Food Justice Task Force is one of empowerment, healing and a better future brought about through urban agriculture with startling similarities to D’Artagnan’s. I loved how she is shifting the “Detroit is dead” story to “We don’t need saving, we need you to respect what we have created.” This shift is in turn bringing a new phase of distribution and education about nutrition and food security. Adrienne further leveraged her “inner sci fi geek” to challenge us to liberate our imaginations with respect to thinking about the future – how awesome could it be? Here’s her awesome post on the session, as well as Suzanne’s account of meeting Adrienne at SVI Hollyhock in 2008!

The dominant messages that I took away included that most communities are already resourced and need empowerment and leadership from within, rather than outside “experts” pointing the way, and that the crucial area that needs the most fearless navigating lies between the old and new stories.

Pads4Oprah: BOOM!

Thursday, May 23rd, 2013 by Madeleine

pads4oprahheader Pads4Oprah: BOOM!

This post is about so many things: walking the talk, making dreams reality, friendship without borders, and the pure power of inspiration. Regular readers will recall Pads4Oprah, our plan to donate 400 AFRIpads kits to girls in South Africa in honour of Oprah’s visit to Vancouver in January.

At Lunapads we love our social media, and so we promptly created a #Pads4Oprah bandwagon, making a video appeal and enlisting support from friends and fans to spread the word in the hope that we might catch Oprah’s attention. It was so much fun, and best of all we got to actually hear her speak right here in Vancouver. So far, so awesome.

Oprah came and went and didn’t call, however this did little to dampen our spirits, especially with the prospect of a 400 kit distribution on the horizon. So here we are again with the next, arguably most impactful chapter of this story: what happened with those 400 kits.

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