Breaking taboos and empowering women with organic tampons to Bleed For You

Your vagina matters. All the cons on the female hygiene industry.

Bleed for you wants women to understand that their purchase decisions matter when it comes to buying tampons. Because sadly, “We are not equal”. That’s why the brand is committed to donating 50% of its profits to Share the Dignity, delivering tampons and pads to thousands of homeless women in Australia.

NOTE: We are sorry to inform you that this brand is currently no longer available in the market. We keep this post available for your reference in case it helps for inspiration, as we showcase social + eco enterprises and impact brands that make a positive difference in the world.

We interview Vanessa Alexander, co-founder of an Australian brand of organic tampons. Her sensitivity to the topics that concern women made her start a business in a 35 billion dollar industry that is just run by men. Not to mention all the health, social and environmental problems that carry the commercial sanitary pads and tampons. We hope you find the insights she brings useful… enjoy the reading!

What was the tipping point to start Bleed for you?

I’d had a real focus on women’s stories as a writer for 5 years has made a conscious decision a 40 that I would prefer that type of work above all else. Then came the night I passed with a senior guy in the industry at a work dinner, where he sat discussing his ‘sexual preferences’ for the whole night. Another woman and I just sat there listening, trying to change the topic, like you know you have to just not to lose your job. Something about that made me wonder why I women put up with this shit. After that, I was kind of really on the lookout for better ways to support the mission of womenkind outside of writing. I thought of this idea, wondered who made money from tampons, and discovered through google it was mostly eight big corporates who take little or no environmental responsibility.  They also all had male CEO’s on massive salaries, and I thought this is insane. Women bleed. We are barely allowed to discuss it. It’s portrayed as a blue liquid on TV. In Australia, they slap a luxury tax on products that are absolute necessities (the same tax is not on condoms). And yet we pour BILLIONS in profits into these corporate pockets every year for over half our lives. It’s obvious really. A good portion of this profit needs to come to helping women. 

What is the mission of the brand?

Helping people to see that their purchases shape the world they want to live in. By buying tampons, you are saying no to corporate greed, no to polluting the environment with chemicals, no to unfair pay practices AND you will be sharing profits with women in need. As long as women live in poverty, society will suffer. As the child bearers, the portion of the world’s wealth they hold is minimal. We need to change that and share it with each other.

WE ARE NOT EQUAL. We are a long way from it. We need to act to ensure this takes place. Everything from the #Meetoo campaign to the Oscar nominations to the World Bank report tells you this.

Where does the brave naming of the brand come from? 

There’s no shame in bleeding. There’s no shame in menstrual blood. It’s not gross, and women should not be made to feel apologetic about insecure about it.

Also, period shame causes terrible problems in 3rd world countries, a woman in Nepal died from being forced out of her village during her cycle just recently.  We just think it should end everywhere.  I remember feeling so embarrassed about blood on my skirt at 15, and at the same time in the same world men were pulling their penises out and pissing on bushes in the park for convenience. There’s a double standard. The name Bleed for you helps girls think that there’s nothing that needs to be hidden about their period and it says exactly what we do.  Don’t bleed and spend your money on big corporates manufacturing tampons and pads, bleed for yourself. Our brand offers you a choice in the market where you can do that.

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What are the issues you’d like to make women aware of? 

WE ARE NOT EQUAL. We are a long way from it. We need to act to ensure this takes place. Everything from the #Meetoo campaign to the Oscar nominations to the World Bank report tells you this.

Here’s an ugly fact from that report – Women represent 40% of the world’s labour force but hold just 1% of the world’s wealth.

To break women out of this cycle of poverty, we need to start paying ourselves, changing how we spend etc.

There are around 3.9 million “missing” women and girls each year under the age of 60.

This is a shocking statistic; 49 women were murdered in domestic violence in Australia last year, and yet the government CUT FUNDING to an organisation helping women in similar situations to safety and legal advice!

 The only solution is for us to take mass collective action in our lives. Reaching out to other women; refusing to tolerate unacceptable situations for women; making sure our purchases benefit women and the environment. Fighting for the society, we want our daughters to live in. Everywhere.

Supporting women buying organic tampons that are ethically certified

What needs to change in society for us to be more open about the blood coming out of our vaginas?

We need just to accept it’s normal. I’m tired of women being told what is gross about their bodies – from period blood to underarm hair to thigh rolls. Women are gorgeous, and we were not put on the planet to live up to unrealistic expectations.

How can women support each other when buying female hygiene products, such as tampons or sanitary pads?

If you buy Bleed For You tampons (and soon pads as well) we will donate 25% of our profit locally (Share the Dignity) and 25% internationally.  We are just locking down a partnership for the international charity, but are already working alongside Share the Dignity who delivers tampons and pads to thousands of homeless women in Australia. They also support some domestic violence initiatives.

How does the menstrual hygiene industry look like?  

It’s big companies, selling in supermarkets and manufacturing in China basically – and female-led upstarts like us who are trying to create better alternatives to the profits above people, benefits above planet mentality these big sales group usually have.

future is female bleed for you organic tampons

Don’t bleed for them, Bleed for you!

Who run these companies, who benefits from us, women, purchasing their products?

Go here for the list of the top ten. Then Google to see their CEO’s.

Alex Gorsky is a personal favourite, Head of Johnson and Johnson. He was a TRUMP ADVISOR who did not resign after white supremacist protest and Trump’s comments.

Buying tampons from J & J help prop up his 28 million dollar salary.

What have been the most significant challenges of Bleed for you in such a big, complicated and male-dominated industry?

Getting any online company going at the start is hard. The product is not on the shelves in front of people in the supermarket so you can’t be the default choice. You have to work hard to make people aware you exist. But we are building, and online is the future.  Plus we deliver, so you won’t run out, which is a classic tampon problem, right?

How does Bleed for you intend to give back to the world and empower women globally? 

Once we lock down the charity that we are working with internationally, we expect to provide support for girls without families to get an education, access to health care, and of course access to pads and tampons!

Could you talk about some of your partners and how have you impacted communities at this stage?

We take a lot of care looking into our charity relationships and are about to finalise an international one. Kimberley Hikaka, our charities advisor, has worked on the ground for several years for NGO’s in Papua New Guinea, Yemen and Mali, so it is great to have her look at how the charity is working.  In our case, we really want to support girls who have no families and are working on working with a charity to come up with a specific project.

Until that happens, we are donating to Share the Dignity only. This month one box for every box you buy as they are short of tampons!

Share the Dignity is a women’s charity that makes a real, on-the-ground difference to homeless women and victims of domestic violence. Share The Dignity collects thousands of pads, tampons and personal hygiene products every YEAR for women experiencing homelessness and poverty.  On any given night in Australia, 1 in 200 people is homeless. 44% are female, 27% are children under the age of 18. Family violence is the number one reason people present to homeless services; 55% of females cite this reason.

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Now, diving into the tampons. How are they made? 

Ours are manufactured in Europe from pure organic cotton. We had to go to Europe to get an ethical and organic certification that we knew was well policed and reliable.

What are the main differences between organic tampons and commercial tampons?

Organic cotton ones like ours are made from natural fiber. There are a few bigger brands using cotton, but if it is not certified organic then there has been bleaching and chemicals etc. Plus if they are not ethically certified, they could easily have been made for unfair wages or even in factories that employ children. Ethical certification also guarantees communities planting cotton crops are looked after, and the planting patterns don’t deplete the soil environment etc.

Also, are better organic tampons in regards to environmental contamination? 

Yes. No bleaching. No chemicals. All chemicals used in commercial processes end up dumped somewhere and contaminated where they were dumped. Plus the residue can hang about until you stick that tampon into your vagina!  

TSS is caused by a bacterial infection, and the most important way to prevent it is to wash your hands before and after insertion of the tampon.

I believe you are aware of the extreme consequence of the model Lauren Wesser, who suffered from the Toxic Shock Syndrome (TSS) losing her both legs due to the use of commercial tampons. Using organic tampons avoids the risk of this to happen to women?

No. TSS is caused by a bacterial infection, and the most important way to prevent it is to wash your hands before and after insertion of the tampon. TSS is not caused by potential chemical residue on tampons.  All tampons carry a very very small risk of TSS happening, but the reason every box has a leaflet is that knowing the symptoms is crucial. Treatment is usually very successful, and what happened to Lauren is both sad and very unusual. My understanding is that it was some time before she was even correctly diagnosed.

Is there a message you would like to send to women around the world in regards to the dangers of using commercial tampons?

When you buy tampons from big multi-corps, you are likely giving money to a company that places profits ahead of women, the environment, you and your vagina.  If you don’t believe me start googling Alex Gorsky (Head of Johnson and Johnson), and Risperdal scandal, and talcum powder scandal etc.

We love the section “Women who broke the rules” on your Facebook. If you could imagine Bleed for you is a woman who did something great for the world, who would she be? 

To break the hold of what is still a patriarchal society we cannot ask nicely. So I choose Nancy Wake – A female force of nature which once topped the Nazi’s most wanted list – she once described herself as a lover of drink and handsome men, especially the French kind. With coiffured hair and red lipstick, she was the epitome of the glamorous evasive spy – earning her a nickname from the Nazis – The White Mouse. She once rode a bicycle more than 500 kilometres through several German checkpoints, and by her own account killed a Nazi sentry with her bare hands. With a price of 5 million francs on her head, escaped France on foot, and joined a clandestine body training guerrilla agents against the Nazis. On the night of 29 April 1944, Nancy parachuted back into France where she coordinated a 7,000-strong group and headed successful attacks on German forces in the area. I mean really, how you can not love and admire a woman who fights dirty and still wears lipstick?

 ethical brands organic tampons bleed for you

If you could advise other social entrepreneurs on starting a business, what would it be?

No one is going to fix this world but us.  Do it now. This is your life purpose.

 If you could write a message on a big wall that the entire world could read, what would it say? 

Think before you buy or you might be supporting environmental and workplace crimes without knowing it. Make sure products from overseas have ethical and organic certification.

Give to the sisterhood.

Oh and also…


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