Menstrual Equity Period Care - How One Brand is Changing the Rules

We had the opportunity to talk to joni, a period care brand that is turning heads, and deservedly so in our opinion. Although joni only started in 2020, they have become an impactful social enterprise, partner, sponsor, and voice in the period care industry. joni is finding a space in sustainable, safe, and organic period care products with subscriptions and single purchase pads and liners. 

Below we dive into our conversation with joni co-founders, Linda Biggs and Jayesh Vekariya. 

What is joni and what does joni stand for?

joni is an innovative, design-led period care brand focused on empowering everyone who menstruates through safe and sustainable period care products accessible for everyone. We are unapologetically inclusive, radically transparent, and different on purpose. 

What is wrong with the current period care industry?

The main problem with the period care industry is that even though the world has changed dramatically over the last few decades, not enough about period care has. Just take a walk down the “feminine hygiene” aisle to see a flurry of pink and purple packaging with euphemistic language. And when it comes to innovation, there have been very few changes over the last decade or so, with most brands focusing only on maximum pad absorbency and fluid distribution. There hasn’t been much in the way of sustainable disposable options or addressing common period care problems such as infections and irritation. Although reusable options are a great sustainable choice, not everyone can use them. That means millions of pads and tampons that are plastic based are being disposed of annually. We wanted to offer a better option to anyone who needs it. 

The profit margins for major brands are huge, yet we don’t see prices dropping, we don’t see investments into innovation when it comes to sustainability (hello, we don’t need a “discrete wrapper” or a commitment to community). The industry can do way better. 

What makes joni different (in both products and values)?

joni is different by design, from how we designed our pads to our business model. In Canada, period care is not required to disclose all ingredients in pads. joni, however, believes in transparency because you should be able to know what’s going next to your skin. Consumers can see, layer by layer, what goes into our pads on our website. 

The main part of our pad is organic bamboo, which uses 1/3 less water to produce than organic cotton. Bamboo is also softer and more absorbent than organic cotton, our pads are also chemical free; we commonly hear from customers who have rash issues with conventional pads that they have not only found relief with joni, but that they actually work better than conventional pads, too! Our pads are also biodegradable and compostable as the plant-based plastic bottom layer is made from cornstarch. joni pads break down by 94% within 12 months versus over 300 years it takes conventional plastic pads.

We are passionate about being a social enterprise and feel every business should build giving back to their communities into their model vs just at key marketing events. joni was born in response to the shocking statistic that one in three young Canadians lives in period poverty—our mission is to fight for period equity by making period care more accessible in Canada. We’re doing this by offering lower per-package pricing, free shipping anywhere in Canada, and a donation giveback model that distributes free pads to people in need through non-profit partners across the country. As more municipalities and government organizations move to provide free period care in public washrooms (as they do toilet paper), we’ve been able to step up as a grassroots Canadian brand that can supply safe, organic, and sustainable period care for the same cost as a big brand.

You’ll also notice that our packaging is gender-neutral, which is aligned with our inclusive values. We’re here to empower everyone who menstruates.

How does joni fit into the movement?

We believe in bodily agency and period equity. This means creating a space where shame, and stigma associated with periods and even with the period care products that are used is not an issue. We work to show what is possible when people have choice and inclusive access to menstrual education and products. Of course, having just launched 18 months ago, we know there is a long line of folks who have been doing this for years. We’re here to walk with them and do our part as a period care brand to move period equity forward. That is why we work directly with non-profits and key partners to supply them with organic period care to distribute to the people who need them while also working with policy makers and leaders in the period equity space to advocate for change. 

Over the last few years we have seen period care in Canada evolve slightly as reusables enter the space. However there is great potential for growth when you compare the Canadian femtech industry to the USA. Worldwide, the femtech market reached $18.75B in 2019 with 49% of the industry in the United States. By comparison, Canada only makes up 2.8%—so there’s lots of potential for growth! As a social enterprise, we want to show that economic prosperity and social progress don’t have to be mutually exclusive.

How has joni developed since its inception?

joni launched in March 2020, just before lockdown. Let’s just say we’re learning the art of the pivot! When you’re a startup, funds are tight and the team is lean but that has also kept us incredibly agile. When we launched, we were focused on primarily offering a subscription service. To reach even more people, we have now expanded into brick and mortar and we will be in 100 stores across Canada by the end of the year.

While we’ve made some directional changes, our mission and values have remained constant. If anything, our convictions have become stronger! Our understanding of period care and gender-related challenges has deepened as we continue to learn and advocate for everyone who menstruates. We just wrapped up a successful crowdfunding campaign and raised 199% of our target, which feels like validation that our business timing is aligned with what consumers are looking for. We know the world has changed but this category has remained very stagnant. We want to change that and the funds raised are helping us get exactly where we want to go this fall as we prepare for new product launches.

What do you see as the 'new rules' of period care?

Access and the right to choose what’s right for one’s own body are the new rules of period care. We need to work together as an industry to ensure period care supports each person’s right to choose options that work for them while also providing period care that’s sustainable. It doesn’t need to be an either / or. That’s divisive. What’s right for one body may not be the same support another body needs. The key is making these choices accessible for everybody who menstruates. We envision a future where period care is safe, equitable, accessible, and sustainable for everyone as a fundamental human right. 

Above are just a few of the fantastic things that joni has accomplished so far, we can not wait to see what they will do in the future! 

You can learn more about joni, their products, and their mission on their website or see what the hype is about on ELLE, FASHION and Best Health.

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