“We’re women OHNE a mission to give the world a shake, one tampon at a time.”
Last week I had the pleasure of interviewing Leah & Nikki from the groundbreaking home delivery tampon company Ohne. As not only a customer but a brand ambassador I feel it’s so important to speak frankly about having periods and put taboos to rest. To put it simply the main reason for this feature is to maintain a healthy conversation about “Mother Nature” and also touch upon the reality that she does not care that you are on holiday or traveling. She, unfortunately, does not care if you are on a coach with no toilet, or on a plane with no backup pads.
She is coming & you can’t do anything about it. So prepare for that time of the month ladies.
Leah, Nikki! Firstly thank you so much for agreeing to this and it’s so lovely to be able to feature you both. My first few questions will revolve around traveling and your experiences and then we will go into more detail about the company and what you do. Have either of you ever gone solo travelling or backpacking?
L: I haven’t actually, not solo at least! I used to be pretty awful at being on my own so I never took the leap to travel alone. Now that we’re so busy, the tranquillity of travelling alone now sounds absolutely idyllic!
N: I’ve never gone backpacking on my own but have definitely done some solo travel and solo working abroad! When I finished uni I headed off to South Africa to visit my parents and that’s when I decided to move to Zambia to work with the School Club Zambia which was a crazy experience. It can feel a little intimidating heading off on your own to do something you’ve never done before, but the feeling of accomplishment is really, really worth it.
What’s your favourite place you have ever visited and why would you go back?
L: My boyfriend and I spend as much time as we can in Bali – it’s one of our favourite places. Not only are the people lovely. It’s also a space for us where we can indulge in wellness (think hot ashtanga and coconuts on the beach!) There’s also an amazing selection of wholesome organic foods – and we all know I’m a sucker for anything organic!
N: One of my favourite places in the world is Cape Town – as a city it’s got absolutely everything. My parents lived in South Africa for 5 years so I was lucky enough to be able to visit Cape Town a few times and one of my best friends also lives there, so I always have an excuse to go back. It’s quite a small city but you’ve got the sea, the mountains, an amazing range of restaurants, and lots of potential for exploring. The Cape Town lifestyle also involves being outside as much as possible – which, when you spend so much of your time in front of a laptop, is a nice ethos to be surrounded by!
What’s one place that shocked you culturally?
L: Earlier in the year I was in Cuba, which I found to be quite the culture shock – but in the best way possible. From the moment I landed in the airport, I noticed how commonplace it is there for women of all shapes, sizes, and ages, to wear figure hugging, revealing clothes. Mini skirts and fishnet tights are even common workplace attire! The body positivity that surrounds you in Cuba is just infectious. I just got the impression that the women had less inhibitions and internalised shame about their bodies – or at least, that was the impression I got. And that’s got to be cultural, because it’s not like we’re born being afraid of cellulite or ashamed of our tummies. When you’re surrounded by women who seem to be carrying around so much less of this internalised bullshit you can’t help but feel freer yourself! I just wish I could have bottled up that feeling and brought it back to Europe with me.
N: Funnily enough, the place that shocked me culturally the most was actually coming back to Europe after I’d been living abroad for so long. My parents jobs took us travelling around a lot and when we moved back to Europe I had a sort of reverse culture shock! I had become so used to the ‘organised chaos’ of the different beautiful countries that I’d been living in, so coming back to a very organised society was really unsettling.
Do either of you have a story about a time Mother Nature has caught you off guard? I ask because I recently had a ‘moment’ when camping in Australia. ( Thankfully I had packed a few Ohne tampons as a precaution, given my slightly irregular cycle ) I’ve honestly never been so thankful for biodegradable sanitary products.
L: Oh wow I have so many! My period comes pretty regularly every 5 weeks but, before launching OHNE and receiving my box in time for my period, I’d be caught off guard almost every time! I still get caught out every now and again, just in a different way… I hiked up Machu Picchu in Peru this year and was on my period. Normally, I have two days of super heavy bleeding and then am pretty light for the remainder of my period. Maybe it was the altitude, maybe it was my body punishing me for not chilling TF out whilst I bleed, but day 3 of my period I’m 4000 metres above sea level, trekking up tiny mountain trails surrounded by jungle and I realise that I have to change my tampon, and fast. Luckily I had tampons with me, luckily OHNE tampons are 100% biodegradable being made only of organic cotton. I fought my way off the track and found a snake-free area to change my tampon and dig a little hole for the used one!
N: Oh my days too many stories to count! The story of the first period I had using tampons is a particularly good one though, as I had decided to try using one for the first time on sports day at school. I managed to get it in right before leaving in the morning but when I had to change it at lunch time I couldn’t get it in properly and ended up spending the rest of the day SO uncomfortable as it was wedged up there wrong. This of course didn’t soak up any blood and I ended up with a serious leakage situation. Managed to get cleaned up but had to use a wad of toilet paper in my underwear to get me home – not ideal!
“Women deserve to know what’s in their period products, and their vaginas would be saying “hell no” if they did…”
What are your biggest achievements with Ohne? What makes you most proud of your company?
L: I feel like there are so many things that we’re super proud of. I think that comes from having a genuine passion for what we’re doing and an overriding mission to create positive change. That being said, my happiest moments are when we hear feedback that organic tampons have completely changed our customers periods. We frequently hear comments from women saying that they thought their soreness, recurring thrush, dryness and or itchiness was ‘normal’ during and after their period but that after scrapping toxic mainstream tampons they also scrapped those side effects. It’s hearing that feedback (which we get a lot of) that really keeps us going.
N: My proudest OHNE moments come in almost every day in the form of women posting photos of their tampons online. It will always be exciting seeing women shedding the taboo that’s taught us to be ashamed of our periods for so long, and using their personal social platforms to give other women the education that’s really needed around mainstream/non-organic period products. It’s pretty amazing!
How do you prepare for that time of the month when traveling? I find I tend to pack a little period kit which more often than not includes numerous painkillers, my little red-box of pretty Ohne tampons, granny/period knickers ( readers don’t judge – all girls know you can’t wear thongs that time of the month )
L: ) I get really nasty period pains, which is also one of the reasons that we’ve launched our pro-period Anti-Teardrop CBD oil, so that comes with me everywhere (assuming it’s legal in the destination country!). Other than that it’s my OHNE tampons, nighttime pads and making sure I’m carrying absolutely no ‘guilt-for-over-eating-and-over-indulging-when-I’m-due-on’!
N: Haha – it’s definitely all about the right underwear, comfort is key especially when travelling on your period. Similar to Leah, managing the pain aspect of my period is also super important as those cramps can really catch me off guard and it’s always helpful to know I have the things I need (CBD, and sometimes a few painkillers just in case it’s really bad). Having a little biodegradable bag to store your used tampons in is also super helpful in case you’re somewhere without easy access to a disposal spot.
What’s your best advice for girls just starting their periods or for those of us who may not be comfortable talking about menstruation?
L: That half of the population either experiences, will at some point experience, or has previously experienced a period and that every single person in the world is here because of a uterus which, at some point, bled. It cannot get more normal than that. There is a taboo around periods still (one that we’re desperately trying to bust) but, actually, talking about periods is often a lot easier than you might think. Turn to someone close to you, there’s a high chance they’ve had a period at some point and can share your experiences. (And remember at OHNE we’re always always here to help too!)
N: I guess my advice would be to remember that whatever you’re experiencing when it comes to your period is valid and don’t be afraid to talk about that. I think we forget that the nerves/fear/embarrassment around having a period also comes alongside a huge change in our hormones which can play a big role in how we’re feeling about everything. These changes in our hormones and moods can be quite scary and feel really different so I think it’s really important to know that everyone that bleeds goes through these changes and you aren’t alone in it! Like Leah said, if you’re feeling overwhelmed turn to someone you trust as it always helps to talk.
“Here’s our no-nonsense pledge: always organic, straight to your door, ready when you need it. OHNE when you are.”
And finally Ladies, I know I wouldn’t shop anywhere else but why should girls buy Ohne tampons over others? And maybe tell us a bit about the other work Ohne does for girls in Africa.
L: So, OHNE tampons are made of 100% organic cotton – and that’s it. They’re also 100% biodegradable within just a few months so not only are you putting your vagina first, you’re putting the planet first too! We started OHNE when we realised that we couldn’t find the ingredients list for mainstream tampon brands anywhere. We soon found out that there are more disclosure regulations for hamster food than tampons and that mainstream tampons can contain a mix of synthetic material as well as bleached cotton, dioxin, plastic, herbicides, pesticides…the list goes on. You’ll often use a tampon for up to 8 hours at a time in one of the more absorbent areas of your body – we think that’s pretty much as intimate as a product relationship gets. At the very least, you deserve to know what you’re putting inside you!
N: We work with an organisation called School Club Zambia, specifically supporting their Girl’s Programme which is dedicated to helping girls living in rural Zambia out of period poverty. Because we’re super eco-minded, we wanted to be sure we were supporting a period charity that looked for long-term, sustainable solutions rather than donating single-use, disposable products (which is obviously still much needed in some cases!). The Girl’s Programme aim to build brand new, clean toilet blocks in every school they work with, educating the students about menstruation, and equipping the girls with the skills they need to make their own reusable, sustainable sanitary pads using local resources. I’ve worked with SCZ so I know what brilliant work they’re doing and was so excited to be in a position where we are able to support them long-term like this. We want all our customers to know about the communities they’re directly helping by being customers of OHNE!
Wow, Ladies! Thank you so much for being so honest and transparent – I really couldn’t imagine representing a better brand. Since being a customer and brand ambassador I have learnt so much and I must say my outlook on discussing periods has changed A LOT. Prior to discovering your company ( which happened thanks to activist Gina Martin), I would never have dreamed of even saying the word period aloud if boys were around, but now ( ABOUT BLOODY TIME ) I’ve learnt the importance of breaking down barriers and taboos. I wear my period tote bag on the London underground with pride and possible I also try to encourage everyone around me to talk openly about periods.
Readers I really hope you had a little giggle and feel more confident talking openly about your periods – if you learnt a few things even better. If just one person has read this and felt more empowered then I’ve done my job. As a little gift from me to you if Ohne sounds like a little bit of you and you would be keen to try before you buy then Enjoy a free box on me with my discount code: CARMELAVIP