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Don't Shy Away

Thursday, March 15, 2018

It’s time to shake off the stigma that surrounds menstruation and stop shying away from all things period related! Pearl Mathias talks with Neha Tulsiani about her latest initiative, ‘Don’t Hide It. Period.’

Shush, we’ve heard them say time and again when it comes to matters surrounding that time of the month. ‘If someone might hear it, what would they think?’ Well, we’re extremely fortunate to be living in an age in which we’re enlightened, and open to enlightening the minds of those who are of the notion that no one except for the female race knows what’s happening during that time of the month.

With films such as Padman making us question ageing thoughts and ways, and with celebrities taking to social media to exhibit their open mindedness, encouraging us to do the same, there’s another initiative that’s come into the spotlight. Since we’re all talking about it, why hide it, right? ‘Don’t Hide It. Period.’ is a project that focuses on changing the mindset of people who otherwise shy away from having any talk surrounding a sanitary pad.

Designer Pallavi Mohan of label Not So Serious has collaborated with NH1 Design to create packaging that generates awareness. We speak with Neha Tulsiani, founder of NH1 Design, to find out more about the campaign and the bold designs.

What drew NH1 Design to this cause?
As a design company, around two years ago we had a new business enquiry to design the packaging for a new sanitary pad brand. Unfortunately the founders had changed the business plan. But this got us thinking. Why does sanitary pad packaging fail to communicate and engage the end user? It’s almost like the sole purpose of the packaging is to hide the pads by dressing them in florals, butterflies, cursive typography and stereotypical graphics. This brought us to the bigger question: Why are we still shy to say the word ‘period’?

Menstruation is a natural biological process. And that’s all it is. We decided to take matters in our own hands and designed a packaging system that allows women to embrace their periods and break the ice between their uterus and society. If you like the thought and find our efforts worth it, do share, Tweet and let others know about it.

Tell us a little about the project. How has working on it been?
Periods are as natural as eating, drinking and sleeping. There can be no human race without it. Yet, most of us loathe talking about it. Look at social media. You’ll see plenty of things been written to address this issue. Despite all the mediums of communication that exist, we feel that the first point of communication should be the packaging itself.

We interact with the sanitary pad every month and it lives with us only to be hidden in our bathroom drawers. Wouldn’t it be fantastic if every month the packaging were to engage us in this conversation and encourage us to open up and talk about periods? The power of design is not only to draw attention, but to help enact a positive change in response to social issues too.

Even in urban India, people shy away from talking about periods. And the first step is to create a shift with this audience. We aim to start an urban dialogue to stir the conversations around the menstrual cycle with an end motive of helping rural women access sanitary pads at low cost.

These pads are sold exclusively on www.nykaa.com, and proceeds will be donated to The Better India, which is setting up a factory in Ajmer together with Aakar Innovations, who will employ local women to manufacture and distribute bio-degradable, low-cost sanitary napkins. Fashion designer Pallavi Mohan of the label Not So Serious has lent her support to bringing the canvas bags into fruition and designed an exclusive T-shirt as well.

Apart from the packaging and T-shirts, www.donthideitperiod.com, a website dedicated to the campaign, invites users to join the conversation by writing their own messages on the virtual pad and sharing it to create a wider awareness on social media.

As this was a self-initiated project, we took around two years to turn it around. We had to look at right partnerships and juggle time between client work and our projects. ‘Don’t Hide It. Period.’ is a project we’re immensely proud of. The team at NH1 Design has long pondered the issue. I am certain our design system will encourage people to open up and not hide behind closed doors anymore.

Tell us a little more about how the proceeds from the sale of these pads are used.
The ‘Don’t Hide It. Period.’ sanitary pads are priced at Rs 285 on www.nykaa.com. 100% of the proceeds from the sales will go to The Better India and Aakar Innovations to help in the setting up of the factory in Ajmer to manufacture and distribute bio-degradable pads. Aakar Innovations already makes affordable, almost 100% compostable and bio-degradable pads, priced at Rs 30 for a pack of eight. The aim is currently to set up mini factories at rural and semi-urban areas where women are trained to make these low-cost napkins to be sold in their communities where there is a lack of both accessibility and affordability, while also generating livelihood for the rural women of the area.

What other social issues pique your interest? What would you like to get involved with in the future?
As a design company, we have been working with various healthcare brands. Through our projects, we always try and define a visual and verbal language for patients, which help improve patient experience. There are various social issues that pique our interest, child trafficking and working against rape, poverty and hunger, to name a few. But we need to take one small step at a time. To really make an impact, we need to partner with the right MNCs and NGOs who can help us amplify the message to the masses.

 

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