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“I want to open up the conversation”: Erica Stewart on period product business Juuni

Online gift store Hardtofind founder Erica Stewart has just launched period product business Juuni, in an effort to encourage an open, positive conversation around menstruation and dismantle the shame surrounding the topic.

Aimed at people aged 15-35-years, the subscription-based business allows customers to mix and match their various sized organic cotton tampons and pads. Featuring bright, colourful designs, each personalised monthly box of products also includes a free gift to ‘surprise and delight’ customers, such as a pair of earrings or a sheet mask ‘for when your skin is PMS-ing’. As Stewart explained, the value-add lends a fun element to the deliveries, giving customers a reason to look forward to their period each month and “celebrate” them.

“I’m a mum with three kids, two of whom are daughters, and I want them to grow up feeling comfortable with their bodies and what happens as they become women. I want to open up that conversation at home and shift the dialogue away from it being an embarrassing shameful thing,” Stewart told Internet Retailing.

“I always have to ask my husband to rush out to the chemist or supermarket for me and I frequently have to bum a tampon from a colleague. Everyone’s the same. Now they arrive in the mail and you don’t have to think about it.”

It took 18 months for the team to develop the right organic cotton products, said Stewart, pointing out the team would often manage long lines of pads in the office while conducting water tests to check the products for absorption, effectiveness and dampness.

Stewart first launched Hardtofind 10 years ago and a couple of years ago, she started considering the assets that she and the team have developed and how to leverage them, especially as other online marketplaces like Kogan and Catch have expanded into other categories such as insurance. 

As Stewart explained, the Hardtofind team has robust, custom-built marketplace software and a huge database of female customers and small creative businesses. 

“I thought, ‘How can I get these customers of mine shopping again and again without having to constantly bombard them with advertising?’” she said.

“What I love about the business is that it’s fulfilling a need in terms of convenience, but I also realised there was a gap in the organic market for a period brand that speaks to younger women both in terms of voice and design. And it’s a concept that I could leverage my Hardtofind team and database to build.”

Off the back of this new venture, Stewart is also hoping that Juuni will eventually expand into other lifestyle products in the future.

“We’ve got plans to launch products into the subscription model, which will be supportive of women’s health and wellbeing, particularly at that time of the month. It can be hard. It can be a physically and emotionally challenging time for women and there are a lot of different shades of normal. We want to be at the forefront of those discussions,” explained Stewart.

“There are people in my family who are curled up in nausea and pain at the base of their toilet every month. Others react badly to the change in hormones and get depression for a few days every month. That’s normal for them, but I don’t think we’re talking about those things.”

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