I ran a 10K in Boston this past October because sometimes you just have to put yourself out there—way out there.
Through podcasts, self-help books, and countless articles, I have always heard, "We all have the power to make a positive change!" I love it; we all do! It's inspiring. But I thought it was up to other people to do it. I mean, I was very busy.
I had a big career, a great husband, two healthy kids, a dog, a fish, six chickens, and a home in a beautiful seaside town. It's a lot to handle, but how could I have been unhappy? Well, I was in a soulless job with a fat paycheck and a pension. I was more empty than unhappy. If anyone at a party asked what I did for a living, I quickly changed the subject; it just didn't interest me.
Oprah once said, "There are only two emotions in this world, love, and fear. Which one do you want to come from?"
I was at a job that had me traveling two or three nights a week, working insane hours, and becoming more and more detached from my family. And it was all driven by fear.
But, what if my career choice came from a place of love?
It worked for Oprah. So, what if I can do something I love and make a positive change? Why not me? It was my brother who finally convinced me to take the leap into entrepreneurship. He believed in me more than I believed in myself, and for that, I am forever grateful.
My first website didn't even have a photo of myself as the founder. I was too afraid to put myself out there. At the advice of a friend, I started by adding my story to the website. I slowly became my brand—speaking endlessly at every sporting event, meeting, and party about the importance of organic menstrual hygiene products. I hosted period parties at my home, and even now, I can't believe people came!
Then my friends started to host period parties (Titos, Tacos & Tampons, it's a thing!), and the buzz began to grow. Women have realized that when we lift each other up, amazing things can happen. It was for this reason that shortly after my launch, my cousin Denielle, who I had not seen in over 25 years (long story), found me on Facebook and asked what she could do to help. She is now my co-founder and magical unicorn. I cannot imagine doing this with anyone else.
She also had a big career and was at a crossroads in her life. Could we really leave these high paying jobs to see if we can make it as social entrepreneurs?
The regrets people have in their last days are the things they did not do, the risks they did not take. We decided to swing for the fences and change the narrative around menstrual hygiene. It is a category that has been controlled by two big companies in the US with little innovation, no transparency, no environmental or sustainable choices, and no one speaking up for the one in five US women who experience Period Poverty.
We are mothers of daughters, and we were going to do something about it—for our girls and for all girls.
As a self-funded startup, we nearly decimated ourselves and our bank accounts, building our direct-to-consumer business. Blissfully naive about fundraising, we spent several months on the venture capital circuit and didn't raise a dime. We almost closed our doors, but something about our purpose and the momentum we could feel from the women around us wouldn't let us give up.
Denielle bought a pink glitter unicorn headband, and I bought a Tampon costume from a Halloween website. It was time to dig deep. The unicorn headband brings us good luck, and Denielle wears it every day in the office. The tampon suit is just really funny, and luckily other people thought it was too.
First, we posted photos of me in it.
Then we made YouTube videos.
Then I ran the Reebok Boston 10K for women in the tampon suit.
And then we got noticed by retailers, by investors, and (most importantly) by women everywhere.
Denielle and I both had strong Mommas, who were trailblazers met with a lot of criticism for working outside of the home. We were very fortunate to grow up in the next generation, where many women went to college and had great careers. However, the women we came up with professionally were, simply put, mean. They were mean girls competing for board seats. Why weren't we working together? The men didn't tear each other down to get ahead. The guys laughed all the way to the board room, slapping each other on the back.
Our daughters are growing up in a time where women are supporting each other. We can be role models and show them the magic that can happen when women build each other up. We are not just changing the narrative about menstrual care. We are changing the culture of how to build a business for good.
You have to believe in the power of unicorns; you just have to put yourself out there. We can all be that person who lifts someone else up, and we all have superpowers to make a positive change in the world—sometimes, it just takes a unicorn headband and a tampon suit to start.
WRITTEN BYThyme Sullivan