Oluna strives to make uncomfortable conversations, more comfortable - in order to help those experiencing period poverty.
A conversation with Emmy Hancock, Founder of Oluna:
How did you come up with the idea for Oluna and how did you decide to get involved in supporting women through pads? Although this seems counterintuitive, we believe that there is no better time to start a social impact business than in a pandemic. Now more than ever, it is critical that we turn our focus towards helping others. Period poverty has gotten much worse!
As a model signed in Dallas, New York, and Paris, I loved the fashion industry and wanted to return to it. At Penn, I majored in Criminology where I learned the importance of taking an upstream approach to lowering crime in America. Upon learning about period poverty in prisons, I realized that I could target a cause of community dysfunction. While in Dallas (back home due to COVID), I reconnected with Ali Aston, one of my oldest friends who I attended an all-girls school with for fourteen years. Inspired by her great grandfather, Stanley Marcus, Ali always had a passion for fashion and as a student mentor in a low income middle school she saw and understood first-hand the effects that period poverty had on young girls. Helping to solve this issue through fashion with one of her best friends, just made perfect sense. Ali and I have since joined forces into an unstoppable team! Our secret? Laughter. We bring joy in everything we do. Oluna also goes beyond the traditional “One-for-One Model.” We recognize that while helpful to those in need, the year’s supply of products only goes so far. For this reason, we have also dedicated half of the merchandise proceeds to fund menstrual health and policy initiatives so that we can begin to create a foundation for long term, meaningful change.
Oluna will also use our platform to inform and enable our consumer base on how to create ground up impact within their own communities. With period poverty, one person really can make a difference. Whether that is writing to their local representative disputing the additive sales tax on feminine care items or asking their employer to include menstrual products in the bathroom, Oluna aims to arm the consumer with the information and data to push for menstrual equality.
How much do you donate to nonprofits throughout the year? The 10 shelters in the Dallas, TX area that we have partnered with are Dallas 24 Hour Club, Interfaith Family Services, Promise House, Hope's Door New Beginning, Union Gospel Mission Faith, Our Calling, Genesis Women's Shelter, and The Bridge: Homeless Recovery Center. We donate through a variety of methods. We are partnered with Days For Girls International - a nonprofit organization. We offer a patented washable pad solution that lasts users up to 3 years. The kits are made from locally sourced materials, sewn with high quality standards by volunteers, and the most eco-friendly option out there! The fabrics are bright to make each user feel special. They’re beautifully designed - and that’s on purpose. Girls love and feel comfortable using them.
We also partner with the nonprofit PERIOD, inc. to provide funding to their collaboration with Harris Poll to study the effects of period poverty in urban vs. rural areas.
I’ve taken a local approach. Since we have produced the pants in Dallas, we are focusing first on homeless shelters in the Dallas area. We have currently partnered with ten shelters to receive the items. I hope to expand to all of Texas by the end of 2021.We hope to extend beyond homeless shelters to whoever else may need - be it food banks, schools, prisons, etc.
To learn more about Oluna, please visit https://oluna.co/