One of my earliest memories of my mother and grandmother was us in an old four-storey apartment building off Fraser Street in Vancouver where my Abuelita lived and also cleaned the wooden hallways to subsidize her rent. It always smelled strongly of Dove soap, rubber bands and hot chocolate. A distinctly odd combination that occasionally floods my memory as an adult. There was an old broken down aluminum washing machine in the hallway, the kind that you had to manually wring the clothes through two pressing rollers. I drove past the building before it was knocked over years ago in my early twenties and although it still reminded me of many days spent singing and playing in the hallways, it also had lost some of its magic through the lens of adulthood.
I’ve been reflecting on that time these days. Along with how my mother managed as a single-mother (during my early years) and an immigrant who didn’t speak English well enough to land a job in her trade (Technical Drafting). I think about the fun we had together, but also the food lines we sometimes waited in, and the way people treated her as my nanny, not my mother. The universe has a sense of humour and I was born with my Canadian father’s blue-eyed blond-hair features vs my mother’s Mexican-Spanish features. And, since my biological father was never part of the picture until I tracked him down in my 20’s (that’s a whole other story!), we were an atypical mother-daughter combo that didn’t always fit in.
When I first met my co-founder, Jayesh, we talked about all the regular getting-to-know-you stuff. High-level introductions to the layers and layers we held under the surface. What struck us both was the thread that tied us back to both our mother’s sacrifices and a generous and caring community. These were themes in both our lives and the more we talked about it, the more we realized how this was not only a theme but a legacy. Something to take forward and weave into the fabric of the brand we are trying to build.
Building a company is hard. I know this because I’ve helped other founders grow their companies and now I’m just starting to grow mine. The basic nature of a business is to earn enough revenue to grow and if you are really successful you earn enough revenue to grow quickly and with impact. That alone can be challenging for many reasons that I won’t list here. Jayesh and I want to do more than just earn enough revenues to thrive and grow — we want to earn enough revenues to help our communities thrive and grow as a way to continue the legacies our mother’s started. Because of this, we’ve created three key values for joni:
> Unapologetic inclusivity
> Radical transparency
> Be different on purpose
These values are the lighthouses that we use to guide the 100’s of decisions we make each day. It’s our way of eliminating the noise and attempting to stay laser-focused on the bigger goals. These are also the fundamental lessons that our mothers and communities taught us and shared with us. We believe honouring these is our way forward as we launch joni and work with our industry partners to create #periodequity through our give-back model. It’s our “why” — the reason we continue to take a step forward after falling three steps backwards.
As a mother of two daughters, I feel a profound need to connect what I do every day with the world I want to help create for them. At joni, we are working with our industry partners to move period equity forward — where everyone who menstruates has bodily agency and access to safe period care. Where people and communities stand united to support equal opportunities for all, in all aspects of life. I realize we’re not going to solve these complex social, environmental, cultural, and economic problems overnight or on our own but aiming for progress, not perfection will take us one step closer.
Through our give-back model, we’re taking action. Social progress and economic prosperity don’t have to be mutually exclusive. We are thankful for those who paved the path thus far and we are looking forward to picking up the baton and doing our part to move the dial.
If you want to join us we would be so grateful to have you. We’re basically people-powered because your buying decision allows us to move our mission of #periodequity forward. For that, we thank you.
We’re over at getjoni.com.
**August 2021 update: since launch in March of 2020, we’ve donated over 100,000 pads to our non-profit partners and together have supported over 10,000 menstrual cycles across Canada.