Choose reusables over disposables says local menstrual pad creator
Kristen Scott Ndiaye’s plan is to create reusable menstrual pads and encourage females to ditch the disposable products she says are harming us all.
The idea won first place in the Bermuda Economic Development Corporation’s Rocket Pitch competition last month.
The would-be entrepreneur swayed them with her argument that disposables are significantly more costly, that some of them contain artificial fragrances and bleach which are harmful to users and that they release cancer-causing gases into the environment when incinerated.
Her pitch was made in front of more than 240 women who signed up for the virtual entrepreneurship conference put on by the BEDC.
“Women said this is exactly what they needed,” said Ms Scott Ndiaye. “They said they were excited to try them. I was pleasantly surprised. I am glad that women are looking for this type of stuff. Up to this point we have just using what we have been given.”
Her hope is to produce a line of pads and panty liners through her company, Triangl Bermuda, and start selling them by February.
“The average woman uses 11,000 disposable feminine hygiene products,” she said. “If there are 34,000 women in Bermuda then that is 374 million products going into the incinerator.
“The chlorine and plastic that are in sanitary pads, when mixed together they release harmful cancer-causing gases; the incinerator would have to be operating at [a very high temperature] to be able to get rid of them.”
The idea came after Ms Scott Ndiaye signed up for a progamme with Ignite Bermuda, a company that helps “local innovators and start-ups” grow their business.
Her initial thought was to attack the overabundance of plastic trash in the world – the problem was how. Her mind started racing when she saw reusable pads and panty liners advertised online.
Many were sewn with fun fabric in different shapes.
“I didn’t know they could be so beautiful,” she said. “What we don’t realise is we are putting chemicals around our vaginas which isn’t something we should want to do.”
Disposable products can cost $25 a month; reusable pads typically cost $20 each and can last for several years.
The product can be washed by hand or thrown into the washing machine.
“They can be made of amazingly absorbent materials,” said Ms Scott Ndiaye who is considering using a bamboo charcoal material to make hers. “It is not what you think, when you think of activated charcoal. It is sewn into the material. It is actually an absorbent material I would be using it to make the top layer.”
The problem was she learnt of the BEDC pitch only shortly before the event was scheduled to take place.
“I thought this was the best audience I would ever have for this idea,” she said, explaining she had two days to prepare and a nine-week-old baby at home.
“My family really stepped in to make this happen,” she said.
Her husband, Issa Ndiaye, cared for their son, Kaius, and their four-year-old daughter, Nahla, while she worked on her presentation.
“The challenge was getting it together in two days to be able to communicate, in a simple way, a really huge problem and maybe a small solution to a small part of the problem,” she said.
Ms Scott Ndiaye was thrilled to receive the top prize: $2,000, accounting and legal consultation, coaching with Gayle Jennings-O’Bryne creator of the Wocstar Fund, and access to three eight-week courses, workshops and webinars run by the BEDC.
Although there are some reusable options available here they “are not Bermudian designed, or Bermuda made”.
Said Ms Scott Ndiaye: “These pads are meant to make sure women feel like home at an uncomfortable time.”
For hundreds of years women have been told that their period is “hush, hush”, she added.
“We are told that it is a punishment. We are told that we are at our weakest point when we are pregnant or having our periods. You need to go and rest. You need to stop what you are doing. In actual fact, biologically on our period or pregnant, we are at our strongest, most compassionate and empathetic.”
Her challenge going forward is making what is in her mind, a reality.
“I know how to use a sewing machine, although I haven’t used one in a while,” she said.
Look for updates on Kristen Scott Ndiaye’s reusable pads and panty liners on Facebook and Instagram: @levwellbermuda