5 things i’ve learned from...taking on a taboo topic in business

Nicole Sara Sivens
June 4, 2018
7 min read
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Tracy Puhl is the president & owner of GladRags, a Portland, OR company with a mission to positively transform the experience of menstruation with reusable period products. A firm believer in the campsite rule of leaving everything a little better than you found it, Tracy is an active volunteer in her community. She holds a BA in Social Science from Portland State University and has won multiple awards for entrepreneurship. Tracy offers business coaching and mentoring services to micro-enterprises and solopreneurs.

Be true to your mission

We started looking at B Corp certification about two years before we were actually certified. It can seem very overwhelming at first: To become certified, you need to complete a massive assessment that looks at all aspects of your business. However, once we really bit the bullet and committed ourselves to getting certified, it only took a few months. The biggest hurdle was formalizing and writing down a lot of our policies and practices, but fortunately, the B Lab team was very helpful in supplying resources and advice. Since our certification in 2012, we’ve been recertified every two years. They keep making the assessment more difficult, so we’re very proud to maintain our status as a certified Benefit Corporation!

Education is key

Education! We believe that consumers need all the information to make the best choices for their own unique bodies. Unfortunately, many of us don’t get an adequate reproductive health education here in the United States, so our first step at Glad Rags is often dispelling myths about menstruation. After that, because reusable menstrual products are new to many people, we need to educate folks about how they work and how to care for them (spoiler: it’s super easy).

Partner for change

Over the years, we’ve contributed to a number of organizations assisting those who lack access to safe and clean menstrual supplies. Most of these organizations focused their work overseas, particularly in Africa or Asia. When we learned that there are individuals here in the United States facing the same lack of access, we jumped at the chance to support an organization that was doing the same work here at home. We love that PERIOD is addressing this issue from all angles, through the distribution of menstrual supplies, education, and policy.

Progress has its rewards

Periods, despite the increased conversation surrounding them in the past few years, are still a very taboo topic. It’s really incredible to witness the shift that happens in someone’s attitude toward menstruation when they switch from a disposable product to a reusable. We periodically (pun intended) receive phone calls and emails from customers thanking us for the change they’ve experienced in their own feelings toward their bodies and their cycle. We feel really honored to be a part of that experience, and we hope that by continuing to be vocal about menstruation and reusables that we can continue to help even more people discover their own inner period positivity.

Run your own race

I have a watercolor illustration a friend made for me hanging on my office wall that says Run your own race. It reminds me to stay focused and not be distracted by competition. Yes, you should pay attention to what your competitors are doing, but ultimately this race is against yourself. How can you be stronger, smarter, more efficient than you were a year ago? Reminding myself to run my own race keeps me grounded and focused on what I need to do next.

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