In the May issue of Retail Pharmacy Assistants magazine, we speak with TABOO’s Managing Director and co-founder Eloise Hall about the importance of tackling “period poverty” and about how the social-enterprise company is making waves in the female hygiene category.
Please tell us how TABOO was launched.
TABOO is a social enterprise that exists to sell certified organic cotton pads and tampons to the Australian market with the commitment to dedicate 100 per cent of net profits to supporting women and girls around the world.
This business was born out of necessity, as period poverty is an issue that affects so many people around the world. Many girls will have to drop out of school as soon as they get their first period because they aren’t able to access or afford period products. Meanwhile, the Australian market for period products is worth more than $400 million.
Isobel [Marshall], the other co-founder of TABOO [and Young Australian of the Year 2021], and I spent our first year out of high school establishing the company. Because this was a new experience for us, we depended heavily on the advice from experienced mentors and advisers. From 2018, our team started to expand, and we now have 10 core team members in the company. We launched our pads and tampons in August 2019, and celebrated with more than 400 people who’ve been involved in the support and development of TABOO to date.
Was there always a plan to begin selling menstrual products? When did this idea begin, and why?
Yes! Period poverty is an issue very close to our hearts. It’s a global issue that affects half our population. The consumer markets of Australia are such a great opportunity to fuel change. If Australian people are buying period products already, why not offer a brand that supports people in practical, social and charitable ways?
Can you discuss the issues that TABOO addresses and hopes to resolve?
Period poverty is when people aren’t able to access period products or the right education for menstrual management. Often, people will use rags, mattress rippings, used sponges, tree bark or even cow patties to manage their periods. These methods are often unhygienic and can cause infection and disease. Often, if young people are experiencing period poverty, it will bring their education to a halt as they can’t attend school while they’re bleeding.
How does the team aim to resolve these issues?
One of the biggest influences in period poverty is menstrual stigma. The taboo and shame attached to periods prevent important conversations from happening, and are a barrier to improved menstrual education and access to product. TABOO’s marketing efforts are designed to break the stigma, and all net profits from company sales are dedicated to charity partners that provide practical menstrual support in Sierra Leone, Uganda and Australia.
What do you see as being a current trend in terms of menstrual products?
Consumers are rightfully switching towards reusable period products for environmental and sustainability purposes. As people become more comfortable with the process of menstruation, reusable products are becoming more popular. Often reusable products aren’t an option for people, due to their culture or geographical circumstance. It’s important that there’s always a wide range of period products available for people to choose from.
What is one message you hope to leave with pharmacy workers reading this feature?
The social enterprise model is an exciting opportunity for us all to make a significant difference, simply by making informed and social consumer decisions. It’s important for people in the retail and health space to have a social consumer mindset for the greater good. Even though, as individuals, it might feel impossible to make significant change, we can put pressure on existing expectations, especially in consumer markets, to have a more social and charitable focus.
To read the exclusive feature in full, as it appears in the May issue of Retail Pharmacy Assistants magazine, visit: rpassistants.com.au/magazines/retail-pharmacy-assistants-may-2021/