Posted on January 13, 2023, 2:45 pm
Abdominal colic, pelvic and muscle pain, headaches, back pain, bleeding losses, intense fatigue, nausea, diarrhea, constipation… .
65% of French women in paid employment say they have already faced difficulties related to menstruation at work, according to a September 2022 IFOP study commissioned by EVE and CO (a French brand specializing in menstrual panties). Even worse, one in five menstruating employees has been the subject of teasing or derogatory comments about the rules. The famous : “So, are you on your period? ! »
lift the taboo
However, the subject remains largely hidden in the professional world. Unlike Japan, South Korea or, more recently, Spain, the “menstrual leave” granted to female employees who suffer during menstruation is not relevant in France. It doesn’t matter that entrepreneur Elodie Placide, head of start-up Clitty, intends to impose the “period” tab on business.
Since 2021, the young entrepreneur has been selling eco-responsible washable sanitary napkins and menstrual underpants. After eight months of prototyping and testing in the Lyon region, its manufacture is guaranteed free of endocrine disruptors and labeled GOTS, certifying among other things that the fabric is organic.
“Third Menstrual Payer”
Made in France, its products are expensive to produce and don’t generate enough margins to be sold in mass distribution. But it doesn’t matter, Elodie Placide turns in 2022 to a business model in “B2B2C”, that is, through intermediation. Thus, he surfs the idea of a “third-party menstrual payment” in which the user pays nothing up front.
Its objective: to make Clitty an intermediary between funders (companies and universities) and final recipients (employees and menstruating students) who will benefit from awareness-raising workshops on the subject of menstruation, and at least one washable sanitary napkin . “Some companies or large schools already provide disposable protection in their bathrooms, so why not reusables? », says the businesswoman who does not hide her ambition.
This economic model is based on the sale of a “pack”: the structure buys the desired volume of towels (generally corresponding to the number of participants in the workshop) and invoices the specialist’s intervention separately. Count 1,000 euros (without tax) for an hour and a half awareness workshop, accompanied by 40 Clitty towels – sold for 25 euros each on its e-commerce website.
Turning the corner and reducing waste
This first test offered by a third party – the employer or secondary school – is intended to convince women to take the step and therefore to retain them. “It is normal for schools to be concerned about this, it is a physiological need, and the sooner we educate women in ecological habits, the more they are installed”, she says. As for companies, she believes that “It goes in the direction of history with the evolution of CSR by taking into account the reduction of the carbon footprint of employees”.
It is worth remembering that disposable sanitary pads represent about 30 kg of waste per person per year, according to Ademe data. Not to mention the harmful chemicals that most contain, an issue already raised in 2018 by ANSES, the national health security agency.
A story of flow
When she launched Clitty in 2021, Elodie Placide was not in her first entrepreneurial experience: two years earlier, with two friends, she had founded a digital communication agency specializing in rebranding.
But this time the story is more personal. As one in ten women in France suffer from endometriosis, she is committed to the subject. With her extraordinary menstrual flow, she has searched for time without results for washable and eco-responsible protections that correspond to her needs.
“At the office it was complicated, she says. During periods, I sometimes had to switch protections almost every two hours. » Neither one nor two, launches its project via Ulule, and raises 5,000 euros in November 2021 on this crowdfunding platform. Enough to launch its first range of reusable sanitary napkins. Products she designs and adapts to different menstrual flows. ” Covid hasn’t helped and commodity prices have skyrocketed with the war in Ukraine, but I’m holding on.” she guarantees.
On Clitty’s blog, she co-writes – with an apprentice and a freelancer – educational articles about how the rules work and, most importantly, the importance of following your cycle. She says she chose bright colors (purple, orange) for her pads and menstrual panties to contrast with the usual black bottoms of other products on the market – which makes it difficult to tell how much she has flowed or to see her consistency. “It’s important to know yourself better, to know how to listen to your body better”, she specifies.
Raising awareness, sinews of war
Killing two birds with one stone, she wants to encourage more environmentally friendly consumption of health protection, while freeing up the discourse on rules at work.
In the last quarter of 2022, the bet proved to be a winner: a first collaboration was started with the Ecole des Mines de Saint Etienne, and with the company Suez, where it conducted an awareness workshop on the subject of menstruation, based on volunteering. The entrepreneur already thinks big for the future. “These workshops should in future be open to everyone, because they are not just for menstruating women. »
Next steps for Lyonnaise? Train the members of the Lyon Part-Dieu business club and the Martinique students association (island where she is from) on the occasion of endometriosis month in March and hire a new work-study student(e) on the business side. Welcome arms to develop its activity in ten structures this year, and distribute 150,000 washable sanitary pads within two years.