Taboos out: exclusive with Ruby Raut on her revolutionary underwear
Why does something that happens normally, even now that nothing is supposedly stigmatized, is still a taboo subject that we hear little about in the media? Are we ignoring and isolating in the world of fashion such an important issue as that of menstruation? Or is it that this should be an article of the "provocative" Vice Magazine? Do not get upset: In Madshion we have not gone crazy, but we have discovered the WUKA Period Underwear and we could not miss the opportunity to introduce you this underwear that surprised us a few weeks ago, and of course talk with its creator, Rubina Raut.
And is that these panties that combine science and design, as well as being eco-friendly (made with beech tree fibers), are designed to be put directly, without anything else, during the period, replacing products such as tampons or pads that they become really uncomfortable, with a use of up to 8hrs. and ensuring optimal hygiene, thanks to its intelligent absorbent fabric that creates a barrier against moisture and can absorb up to 200 times its own weight in water.
In addition to creating a whole movement that combines ecological responsibility and commitment with women, it also has a strong ethical conscience, and proof of this are its toiletry bags, created to wash underwear and handmade in Nepal, with an exclusive woven design called "dhaka", in support of local businesses led mainly by Nepalese women.
That is why Madshion contacted Rubina, the CEO of Wuka, to talk about all this and tell us, delighted, his story:
How did you come up with this idea?
I grew up in Nepal and used green and sustainable products, but they were very uncomfortable. In the United Kingdom I studied environmental sciences and that is when I discovered that we generated a lot of waste during the period since most of these products are bad for health or the environment, even for both.
I wanted to create a product that reduced the environmental impact as well as being super comfortable to wear. This underwear makes you flow freely and have a comfortable and ultra hygienic period.
Do you think this can change the industry in the near future? Would I be more responsible with the planet?
Absolutely, not in the future but now! We are seeing this change in people who opt for greener products and this is the case of reusable products for the period, including underwear.
More and more people are inclined towards a sustainable life and are more careful with what they use in their homes.
Just think about how women buy underwear and then compare it with the way you buy products for the period. Completely the opposite experience! We have shopping centers full of top brands and luxury stores that sell lingerie that we can only use for part of a month, literally, without mention of the word 'P' (period) in any underwear store. Our goal is to change that!
Have you met skeptical people who said "Ok, it can not be possible, I can not support you", "This is crazy, who will believe you?"
Like all products, we do not fit with everyone, there are many types of women who opt for one or another product but it is true that our product fits more with those who use external elements (compresses) instead of internal (menstrual cup). However, we have listened to many people who would love to wear underwear during the night instead of tampons and menstrual cups, as it is undoubtedly the most comfortable product that has been manufactured for these moments.
Did you expect the Kickstarter campaign to be so successful?
Kickstarter is always exciting, since it is "all or nothing", so it keeps you controlling your total funding hundreds of times a day. However, we were well prepared as we have been building our loyal WUKA community for months and Kickstarter has a good reputation for bringing in traffic, so we were confident that we would raise our funds.
We reached our goal in two weeks and were excited to add a new growth goal to make the WUKA wash bag that supports small communities in Nepal.
However, there were some factors to consider at the time, we were live on Kickstarter for only three weeks trying to raise £ 6000 at Christmas. There is a lot of competition for customers at this time of year and a lot of gift shopping, so we had to think intelligently to make our offer suitable for a gift, even without shipping the product until February! So we created a special reward for Christmas, in which the sponsors could back us up and receive a Christmas card before the date to put it under the tree with a special message from the WUKA team.
We made a great effort to get the campaign out on time in 2017, so that we could start 2018 with a complete product and start shipping to customers.
How many people make up the WUKA team?
Currently we are two, as I mentioned, I have experience in environmental sciences and my business partner has more than 20 years of experience in product development and electronic commerce, which helps the transition to our next stage of launch in our web store.
Are you preparing next campaigns with new designs for 2018 or do you prefer to have a basic icon?
Our focus is mainly on a product, a design and this is what we are proud of. Of course, we will never be quiet and we will be adding improvements, so we hope to launch more products in the next year.
Will it be sold (in the future) in physical stores?
We currently sell through our website and send worldwide, but we will do several events and we will even have a flagship store planned for this year. We would love to meet companies interested in exhibiting our products and we are confident that we will approach some select brands in the coming months.
With WUKA Wash Bag you are supporting businesses of local women in Nepal ... will you continue doing it with the next products?
The WUKA wash bag was the project of my dreams, mainly because I wanted to present this incredible fabric with which I gained popularity in the United Kingdom; It is handmade mainly by local women, providing them with employment opportunities, as well as being very beautiful and lasting.
My family is still in Nepal and they will also help me to work with these local businesses.
What about the Kickstarter shirt? Will you sell it online?
Our shirts are limited edition so the design will change when they run out. All our shirts are made of cotton and are approved by fair trade. Our priority is to bring our period underwear more comfortable to the market and help everyone to have a sustainable period. Our shirts are fun and help us share the message, but they are mainly rewards for our loyal customers, we hope they become collector's items!
Do you think this is just a beginning? Will you continue researching improvements to make the product even more sophisticated?
During the last 50 years there has been little innovation in products for the period, which shows that there is great potential and a market area.
We are more aware than ever of the environmental and health impact of any product we use, including menstrual products, and this is absolutely necessary to save the planet. We will continue with our research of materials to find better fabrics and construction to continuously improve our main product.
We really believe that "periods can save the planet!"