Exclusive: How SOS and Rael Founders are Fighting Period Poverty by Donating More than 200K Tampons
When we hear the term "period poverty" we may be inclined to think of an event affecting countries in the Global South or lower income demographics, but in reality, lack of access to menstrual hygiene products affect women globally.
Women in the United States consistently struggle with caring for their menstrual health with rising issues such as the tampon shortage of 2022 and taxes on feminine care products.
To tackle these issues and provide women with more control over their menstrual health, SOS, a Boston-based company focused on redefining wellness through a network of smart vending machines, and Rael, a 360 holistic feminine and beauty company dedicated to clean period, intimate care and skincare, have partnered to give away more than 200,000 tampons and pads for women across the United States.
The female-founded and led brands are launching their efforts by giving women access to free tampons and pads at all of SOS's vending machines during the next year, in hopes of increasing access to essential personal care products. The machines will be placed in high-traffic public locations where people can access them easily.
In an exclusive interview with People Chica, Susanna Twarog, Co-CEO and Co-Founder of SOS and Sorah Park, Chief Marketing Officer of Rael, shared their unique plans for normalizing access to period health and tackling period poverty.
Period poverty is a worldwide issue and has recently hit the United States with tampon shortages and increased expenses for people who menstruate. What inspired your collaboration to focus on tackling this lack of accessibility?
Susanna Twarog: The inspiration behind SOS came from the all too familiar frustration and distress women face every day when period products are not available when they need them. Without reliable access to free, high quality period products, women are not in a position to reach their maximum potential.
Our partnership with Rael and the brand's commitment to supplying 200,000 free period products in 2023 will allow SOS to deliver on our mission and amplify the message that spaces need to be built with all people's essential needs in mind!
Sorah Park: Menstruation is a natural, biological process that half the world's population experiences every month. Yet, many women and girls lack access to safe and effective menstrual hygiene products. We were inspired to collaborate with SOS to launch this initiative because of our mutual belief that everyone deserves access to safe and clean menstrual products.
Rael is committed to changing the way people access quality period care and breaking down stigmas with the goal of providing not only access, but free menstrual products through the strong network of SOS machines located in high-traffic areas.
Through your exclusive partnership you're giving away more than 200,000 free tampons and pads. How do you hope this campaign will impact people?
ST: We hope that as the SOS network and access to free Rael period products grows, more people will feel welcome and included in the spaces where they spend their time. Whether it's a ball game, at the office or on the road, by addressing this universal need, our partnership is making the physical world more equitable – one free tampon at a time.
SP: We are thrilled to be collaborating with SOS to provide people with greater access to essential hygiene products. We hope this campaign will empower people to take control of their bodies and their lives as well as encourage everyone to learn more about this important issue. Together, we can break the stigma around menstruation and create a more inclusive world for all.
At Rael, you're offering holistic period care that is made with sustainable materials. Aside from this project, in what ways do you continue to make feminine care products more accessible for people?
SP: From its inception, Rael has been on a mission to make better cycle care available for those who bleed, everywhere. We are committed to making natural and effective menstrual products for all women, in an effort to help bridge the gap between period poverty and menstrual dignity.
We are currently available in 19 countries worldwide and growing. In addition to this collaboration, we have partnered with organizations, including #HappyPeriod, PERIOD., and I Support The Girls, that make an impact and champion menstrual dignity for all.
SOS is redefining wellness through the use of smart vending machines, in what ways are your brands transforming the way people shop and purchase the items they need?
ST: At SOS, we work with better-for-you brands that align with our company values of delivering high performance products with clean ingredients and diverse founding teams. Our goal is to build a world where the products you need from the brands you love are available wherever you go. At SOS, we want to make your day easier AND more fun, and what better way to do that than curate an incredible group of brands and products to discover and sample on-the-go!
As female-founded and led brands, what is your best advice for growing generations who are looking to make an impact?
ST: Find a co-founder who makes you laugh and makes you proud. Changing the world and making an impact requires a tremendous amount of work and grit. Having the right people alongside you on that journey will make all the difference!
SP: Passion and purpose should be at the forefront of everything you do–making something better than you found it while providing a solution. As a female-founded and led company, we can attest to the fact that when you're driven by something bigger than yourself, success will follow. Whether it's starting a company or developing a new product, always start with why you're doing it. What problem are you solving? Who will you be helping?
Once you have a clear understanding of your purpose, everything else will fall into place. Don't be afraid to take risks, challenge the status quo, and be your own biggest advocate. And finally, always remember that mentorship is key. Find someone who believes in your vision and who you can trust to give honest feedback. With the right combination of passion, purpose, and mentorship, you'll be well on your way to making an impact.