Interview with Be Prepared Period

We recently teamed up with Be Prepared Period, who provide helpful information and open conversation about menstruation, as well as sanitary and related products, to talk feminism, business, and periods! 

This is their interview with Zealo Apparel founder, Josie. 

What was it like for you to get your first period?

I remember feeling like I was now supposed to be a woman, feeling like my childhood was behind me all of a sudden. Which is ridiculous! Nearly everyone gets their first period as a child, some when they’re particularly young. I think the association of periods and womanhood needs to stop. Not only does it make it especially difficult for children and people of other gender identities but it’s not helpful to anyone. It’s a basic biological function that half the population go through at some point in their lives and by making it “women’s issues” it creates a taboo around it as something that women can only talk about with each other, something that should be hidden from men and boys, and I think that just makes everyone uncomfortable. I think it’s important that everyone is educated about it and everyone feels like it’s acceptable to talk about.

How prepared or supported did you feel for your first period?

Very. Fortunately both my parents are very supportive and that helped a great deal. I also found that teachers and other members of staff at school can be very understanding. You shouldn’t feel like you have to deal with it on your own.

Have you experienced menstrual shame? If so, when?

Not so much shame as embarrassment. When I was about 11 years old, I hadn’t started my period yet but I was carrying pads in my schoolbag just in case, a boy rudely went through my bag when I was looking the other way and pulled them out, waving them around. He made out like it was something disgusting, and it was all so new to me that I was embarrassed.

How have those feelings of menstrual shame changed as you’ve grown?

Greatly! Haha! I used to be too embarrassed to purchase sanitary products and would get my parents to buy them for me. Now I can talk about it without embarrassment. I realised that it’s just a fact of life that some of us have to deal with, we have no control over it, so there’s no need to be embarrassed. That was my natural development, along with becoming more familiar with the experience and learning about other people’s experiences, and generally getting more self-assured with age. 

What words of advice would you give a young girl that is just starting her period and struggling with embarrassment?

I think if anyone tries to make you feel uncomfortable about the topic it’s because they feel uncomfortable, and that’s their problem and it doesn’t need to affect how you feel. It’s not something that’s disgusting and shameful, it’s natural, and you having the strength to deal with it and continue with your day to day life as normal is admirable not embarrassing.

What made you want to start your own business?

I’ve always been interested in business since I was a little girl and I feel I have a unique skill set that I wouldn’t necessarily get to implement working for somebody else. And I like being my own boss, using my own ideas, making my own decisions.

What is the mission of your business? Why do you do what you do?

The aim of Zealo Apparel stems from my own shopping experiences and the frustration I feel when faced with gender inequality and unnecessary gendering. As a woman I don’t really want to shop in the men’s section or men’s stores; but I also don’t want to pay more in women’s stores for essentially the same item in a thinner material. This is something I come across time and time again. I also know people of non-binary gender identities, and can only imagine what it must be like to not only be catered for badly, but to not be catered for at all. So I wanted to create a shop as gender-neutral as possible. I know this isn’t a problem for everyone, but if I can reach just one person who feels like they’ve finally found somewhere they can shop where they feel represented and equal and not mislabelled, then I’ve achieved something.

Apart from the shopping experience itself I also want to create designs supporting causes that people care about such as feminism, LGBTQ rights, racial equality etc. to help spread positive messages, as well as fun, lighter themed products that people love.

What words of advice would you give a young girl that is interested in starting her own business?

Follow your dreams! If you’ve got an idea that you think could work and have the skills you think you’ll need (or are able to learn them) then go for it! It’s a very viable option in the modern day with the Internet, there are options that don’t require a lot of start-up capital and you can learn information and many skills online. It’s an especially good option for young people who have knowledge and skills that might not be valued in entry level jobs.

Who are your female idols? Why do you look up to them?

I wouldn’t say I have any idols or role models at this point in my life. But the women in my life inspire and influence me and make me proud all the time. And when I see, hear, or read about any strong women standing up and making a positive change it’s reassuring and inspiring.

What is your favorite empowering quote?

“No one can make you feel inferior without your consent.” – Eleanor Roosevelt.

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