It’s safe to say Aotearoa is a pretty innovative place when it comes to delivery services. Similarly, it’s also pretty safe to say New Zealand is a pretty innovative place when it comes to start-ups addressing menstrual needs, if people and organisations like Dignity’s Jacinta Gulasekharam and Miranda Hitchings, Wā Collective’s Olie Body, Helen Robinson and Organic Initiative, and more are anything to go by.
Add an organisation that’s disrupting things by offering a subscription service for someone’s menstrual needs. Say hello to Luna, the brainchild of Kelly Gregor.
“Luna is an online community that supports girls through their first and subsequent periods, and empowers them by normalising periods, busting myths, challenging the status quo and fighting taboos and stigmas,” she explains. “Along with this community support, Luna provides customers with a highly customisable subscription service, that delivers packs monthly, in phase with their period. And because knowledge is power, educating our audience about periods and what to expect are core founding principles.”
Listen to this podcast with Dignity's Jacinta Gulasekharam and Miranda Hitchings about the need for sanitary items in workplaces, the importance of providing sanitary items to schools, equality, and more:
Focused on people going through puberty and experiencing and managing periods for the first time, Gregor says knowledge and accessibility are key focuses. “While products are important to managing periods, Luna is also focused on the understanding and accessibility of products – knowing what they are and ensuring their packages arrive before they need to buy them – ensuring girls are represented and have a voice on menstrual hygiene and that there is a brand dedicated to their experience.”
She explains the missions come from personal experience. “I wasn’t prepared for my first period and it wasn’t a positive or empowering experience,” Gregor explains. “I was scared and embarrassed, which could easily have been avoided if I had been given access to products before I started and if I had been exposed to information targeted to my age. I was one week shy of my 13th birthday and got my period before Google, Facebook and Instagram were around, so access to information was non-existent and nobody talked openly about periods.
“It was an important milestone that I experienced in isolation, so I wanted to create a service that celebrates periods, makes them as fun as possible and provides a service that educates girls while empowering them.”
Check out this podcast with Wā Collective’s Olie Body:
Thus Luna was born. Gregor explains it’s been quite the journey already. “Funding was and continues to be the main hurdle. Having a good idea is one thing but if you can’t put it into action it remains just that, a good idea. Start-ups drain money because it takes time to generate revenues (let alone profits) while you still need money to develop and promote your business. So, it’s a constant juggle trying to make it all work. On a more positive note, retaining Mike Burke from Point 16 as an advisor was one of my smartest moves. He helped with the commercialisation process – not only creating the business model which was informed by solid customer and feature testing, but he also helped me to define my brand led positioning and proposition. I’m a believer! Every start-up needs a Mike [Burke].”
She also has some advice for other entrepreneurs – and herself if she could go back in time. “I would have been less focused on perfectionism and I would have launched earlier, because I’ve learnt so much about the business and what Luna is (and could be) since it launched,” explains Gregor. “I would worry less about the aesthetics – packaging and product and I would have focused more on the message. I think getting this right is key. The rest can wait until we move out of the MVP (minimum viable product) phase. I would also try to be less emotional about the business. It’s hard because you want it to succeed so much, but staying objective is important and it’s something I’ve struggled with.”
Since tampons, pads, menstrual cups and more have already been invented, Gregor says there’s an extra emphasis for Luna on sharing knowledge and promoting equality. “We’re not reinventing the wheel here,” she explains. “What we’re doing is bringing periods into the 21st century and saying it’s not okay that girls are still embarrassed by their periods, it’s not okay that girls are still in the dark about their periods, or missing school because they don’t have access to proper menstrual hygiene. We can, and we should want to do better, and it’s the brand that can communicate these messages.
“I want Luna to be a household name, one that’s automatically associated with period positivity, first period experiences and menstrual hygiene. If we can achieve that then we will have successfully broken down the barriers we face (such as the taboo around periods).
I want families and girls and boys to be educated about periods, and I want honest and open conversations to occur – I want Luna to drive that, to be the catalyst for change.”
Speaking of being a catalyst for change, there are some women Gregor admires who are doing just that – and who she thinks could, in an ideal world, be great champions for Luna. “Well, if we’re dreaming here, Meghan Markle and/or Amal Clooney,” she says. “Both are fierce advocates for female education, empowerment and gender diversity. Markle, in particular, has done a lot of work with charities in India around fighting the taboo of periods and ensuring girls have access to products so that they don’t miss out on school and their education. But equally, New Zealand is blessed with some amazing women, such as Hayley Holt or Eliza McCartney who I admire and think embody Luna’s values.”
But back to Gregor’s plans for Luna’s immediate future. “I want Luna to be a household name in New Zealand,” she explains again. “I want every girl who is about to or has started their period to think of Luna and how Luna can support them.”
But if the success of other subscription services (Toothcrush – which Idealog has covered extensively – comes to mind) is anything to go by, it would seem there’s a pretty good chance it’ll take off, too.
Check out this roundtable discussion with OMGTech! co-founder and general manager Zoe Timbrell, AUT lecturer and She# founder Dr Mahsa Mohaghegh and MYOB general manager Carolyn Luey on what can be done to increase gender diversity and inclusivity in New Zealand’s tech sector, what individuals and organisations can do, where things can go from here, and more:
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