How can I be of service? How can I be of service? I prayed to some higher power as I placed 108 coins in 108 tin bowls at the base of the Reclining Buddha at Wat Pho Temple in Bangkok. I had spent the previous weeks traveling down Vietnam and through Cambodia, and this was the last day of my first trip to Southeast Asia. If this whirlwind tour had shown me anything, it was that this world contains more suffering than anyone can bear alone...and perhaps there was something I could do to help relieve it.
No big revelations came to me at the feet of the Reclining Buddha. On the contrary, after leaving the main temple my friend and I went for a Thai massage at the school where it was first taught. I had lunch and then proceeded to my hotel to pack.
That evening, as I was about to leave for the airport to get on a plane for the next twenty-plus hours, I got my period. Shit, perfect, I thought as I unwrapped an organic tampon that I had stored in a plastic bag to prevent it from unraveling at the bottom of my backpack. For years, I had been overpaying (in my opinion) for organic cotton tampons with cardboard applicators that I dreaded, tampons that often fell apart completely before I could even use them. I can't count the amount of times I've opened my purse to find a completely naked tampon staring up at me. For the uninitiated, this experience is far from pleasant at a business meeting or on a date.
Concerned with the potential long-term (and un-researched) health impacts of inserting bleached, synthetic commercial tampons into one of the most sensitive and absorbent areas of my body for decades of my life, I had made the switch to use organic tampons years ago. During that time, I had been wondering why nobody had melded the user-friendly applicators of commercial brands with healthier and eco-sensitive organic cotton tampons. For years, I had been praying for some company to come up with a solution.
And then I had it: I could create that solution.
I could develop a company that would sell organic cotton tampons with high-quality, user-friendly applicators. I could educate women and girls about the health and environmental benefits of being conscious of what is in their products. And even more, I could start a company that would directly contribute to sustainable menstrual hygiene management programs in Southeast Asia.
Today, all around the world, girls and women who can't afford period products miss school and are unable to work when they have their periods. Rates of infection from use of poorly sanitized rags are tremendous; and in rural areas especially, medical myths (such as not bathing during menstruation or upon contracting an infection) abound. So I decided to start making a little mark in rural Cambodia, by mobilizing girls and women in the United States to choose products that are not only eco-conscious and health conscious, but would contribute to the health of girls and women worldwide.
At the end of 2014, I left a stable job to launch conscious. period., a company that will be selling organic tampons with high-quality applicators and contributing to sustainable menstrual hygiene management programs partnered with local NGOs in rural Cambodia.
On any logical level, I had no place making this move. My background was in social work; I had spent my professional life working in nonprofits. But I had a passion for creating change, a desire to see a very specific product on the market, and a vision of a better world for girls and women everywhere.
And thus, I started conscious. period. at the beginning of this year. Abandoning all logic, I started my own company and have learned a tremendous amount in these short months. And if these lessons have taught me anything, it's that using my talents and interests to be of utmost service is a worthy pursuit indeed. I can't wait to see where this journey leads.
So, what's your dream? What can you do to make it come true?