Featured Artwork: Hazel Mead
“Menstruation, or period, is normal vaginal bleeding that occurs as part of a woman’s monthly cycle.” (Menstruation, Period 2020). “Normal” as it may be defined, menstruation continues to remain as one of the lesser discussed topics, especially when it comes to women’s health. Menstruation often has associated with itself strong social or cultural stigmas. In underdeveloped or developing communities, monthly discharge is considered a disorder, and women having periods are regarded as patients who need a special kind of treatment. This treatment might vary from shaming the women to isolating them in separate menstrual homes. The lack of credible education and information on the topic makes it harder to break the stigma and normalize periods.
The world needs influential voices which could raise awareness and involve more and more people in bringing about a positive change regarding periods. One such voice is Viv for your V. I came across the brand when I was looking for environment-friendly menstrual products. As the world continues to face the atrocities of the COVID-19 pandemic, it only makes one wonder how to be more considerate of mother nature. My curiosity led me to interview the founders of this unique brand. Here is an excerpt from the conversation I had with the Founder and CEO of Viv for your V, Katie Diasti, and the Head of Business Development, Isabelle Sarrafzadeh.
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What inspired the core team to come up with Viv for Your V? What was the foundation idea of the brand? How did the name Viv for your V come into existence?
“Viv was born as a class project in college that Katie Diasti, Founder and CEO, never stopped working on. Katie was studying how brands were becoming the voice of people when more individuals lacked trust in the government and knew she wanted to create a brand that represented those less heard, especially women. Viv is based on genuinely innovating while building a brand, unlike any other in the period care space. The name ‘Viv for your V’ was created by wanting to personify our brand. Viv is bold, she’s vibrant, she’s an activist, and she’s willing to speak up. We often think of Viv as our alter ego when we need an extra confidence boost or when we need to conquer even more.”
How is Viv for your V any different from the regular brands that women use during their menstrual cycles?
“Viv differentiates itself in many ways. Firstly, we have the most sustainable pads and liners in the market among disposable period care options. Most brands use organic cotton pads and liners, but they still use plastic in them. Viv products are plastic-free and biodegradable while also being toxin-free. With every Viv box you use instead of a traditional product, you save the plastic equivalent of 48 plastic bags. Beyond our physical materials, Viv provides these earth-friendly and toxin-free materials at an affordable cost. We were tired of sustainable products, only being for those with a high disposable income. Now, with Viv, more of the population can access sustainable products. Finally, Viv is a brand that speaks out for all menstruators. We always ensure to use the all-inclusive spelling of ‘womxn’ or the term ‘menstruators’ when discussing periods. Not everyone with a period is a woman, and not every woman is a menstruator. Our branding is bold and vibrant, and we’ll answer questions other brands like to dust under the rug. Check us out on social to see what we mean: @vivforyourv.“
During my research, I discovered that bamboo fiber is one of the materials used in creating Viv pads. That seems like an interesting choice. What makes bamboo fiber so unique, and what is its impact on the environment? How long does it take for your products to degrade as compared to the usual menstrual commodities?
“Bamboo is an extremely eco-friendly crop, much more sustainable than cotton or even organic cotton. It uses ¼ less water and land than cotton. Bamboo also grows extremely fast, sometimes as soon as 3 feet in 24 hours. As a crop, it releases about 30% more oxygen into the atmosphere compared to other plants. It is even more absorbent and breathable than cotton and carries natural antibacterial and deodorizer properties, making it the perfect core material for period care. Viv products degrade drastically faster than many of our competitors. The average menstrual pad can take up to 800 years to break down. Viv products deteriorate in only 150 days!”
What are the products that the brand is currently producing? Do you guys also plan to grow into maybe tampons or alternative menstrual equipment? Are you guys doing online commerce too? And if so, what places are the orders being shipped to at this moment?
“Viv is currently offering bamboo fiber pads and liners. They come in individual boxes or a combo box. We recently added a menstrual cup on our website for those who want to switch to a zero-waste option! We do plan on adding tampons to our offering very very soon, so stay tuned. We sell direct-to-consumer via eCommerce right now. We ship ANYWHERE you are. We offer a subscription model for repeat customers, so you never run out, and we also offer one time purchases.”
We know that menstrual health is a stigma in many of the developing societies of the world. Because of the lack of efficient and appropriate conversing around this topic, several women suffer from conditions related to menstrual health. How do you think Viv for your V helps with that? How do you plan to reach and convey your message to underdeveloped communities?
“The lack of conversation and education around menstrual health makes it very difficult to break down stigmas. We are dedicated to encouraging others to talk about periods more often and have been opening up dialogue through our blogs and social media. Another significant issue is the lack of access. Menstrual equity is a significant issue that we strive to do our small part in tackling. We often partner with government organizations and communities to provide period products. During the COVID-19 crisis, we released a Periods Don’t Stop for a Pandemic campaign, and every share of that post was a pad donated to a shelter or organization in need of menstrual products. In the past few months, we have donated over 4,000 menstrual care products to shelters across the U.S. When a menstruator has access to these products, it enhances every other element in their lives from their work to education to confidence. We plan to partner with large nonprofits and activists to do our part as a mission-driven brand.”
I see that Viv’s core team consists mostly of young and smart women leaders, which is encouraging for a younger woman like myself. What does women empowerment mean to Viv, and how does it promote gender equality?
“Viv‘s team is very young, we are all under 23. We find that this has been a strength of ours since we can directly relate to our target audience because we are our target audience! Our team is so open to learning new things and growing along with the brand, which is why we have been able to keep the team so small to date. To Viv for your V, women empowerment steams from making our voices heard and filling a gap that didn’t exist in this space until we created it. It’s reminding ourselves that we are the experts in this specific space, but we don’t have to be experts in everything to accomplish great things. As a brand and a team, we are dedicated to lifting other female-founded brands and partnering with them to amplify our voices. We are cautious with where we use the word ‘competition’, even in a business sense. Instead, they are a potential partner, friend, or source of motivation. We never use language to bring down other brands striving to do similar things; instead, we celebrate that more individuals are also passionate about this space. We often think of Viv as another member of our team. She’s someone we look up to; she’s bold, vibrant, and willing to speak up. When we need a confidence boost, we all think of Viv as our alter ego. Just as Viv supports us, we want Viv to be there for all menstruators. That has helped us in creating our voice around empowerment and gender equality.”
I see that the core team has quite a few names, including the Founder and other significant leaders like the Head of Business Development and Web Content Intern. Was this team right there from the beginning, or did the team keep growing as more and more people kept joining? Also, can more people join the brand?
“The team started small. Katie was a solo founder and only team member for a long time before bringing on more members to the team. We have been so productive and motivated with each addition to our team; we feel so lucky to have some amazing young womxn involved in building Viv. If anyone is interested in being a part of our team, we encourage them to reach out. Katie is always open to getting on the phone and chatting with like-minded individuals about how they feel they can enhance the brand and impact. The conversation helped me a lot in gaining perspective, not only about menstrual health but also about environmental issues and gender dynamics.”
Viv for your V is a unique voice trying to bring about a change through their sincere efforts at so many levels. I wish them much luck and success in their future endeavors.