THE RAREBIRD SERIES
A Collection of Inspiring Humans, #1
JULY 5, 2018
CEO OF 'EASY.'
The first time that we met Alyssa was at a Globe and Mail panel on women using technology in business. She spoke with passion and honesty about her company and the challenges of starting her own business. Inspired by her talk, we just had to know more about this woman, who, at the age of 25, started Easy Period, a feminine hygiene product subscription service that delivers health-conscious tampons and pads right to your door.
Describe easy. in 3 words.
Convenient, transparent, empowering.
How did you know you wanted to start your own business?
I've always felt entrepreneurial in the sense that I always looked for more efficient ways of doing things. With my background in healthcare, there often wasn't a platform for voicing these sorts of opinions and having them put into practice. With easy., the idea came before any action. I knew that buying tampons was a pain for me, and I felt like a delivery service would just make sense.
What was it like when you decided to take the leap to begin easy., and how did you make it happen?
It was thrilling. I was still working full-time at a hospital, but every evening and every Saturday morning, I was on my laptop just chipping away at it. I was so open to connecting with new people, and all of these like-minded individuals started crossing my path. It was one of the greatest periods for me, because I was just moving past my fear and that felt so great.
How would you compare the early days of easy. to now?
That's a great question! We're two years in business now and things look really different. I'm no longer packaging and shipping every package from my home office, and I'm able to be a lot more hands off which is sort of a nice change of pace for me. I'm at a point now where I'm really appreciating what we've built so far and trying to be really mindful and deliberate about what happens next. Like everything in life, I feel that this business deserves the time to grow and come into itself.
Mindfulness is also built into your business. Each purchase from easy. supports a girl in need with 5% of profits are donated to Zana Africa Foundation. How important was it for you that your business gave back? Why Zana Africa Foundation?
It was hugely important for me to incorporate the give-back component. As the business evolved before launching, in my research, I learned about the potential negative health effects of other forms of menstrual hygiene products, as well as the massive lack of access to products being experienced across the globe. I felt called to not only ensure I was offering a safe product but to, in whatever capacity I could, ensure that our service was helping contribute to making product available to those who need them. In seeking out organizations that championed this work, I was so impressed by Zana Africa Foundation. Not only do they provide pads, they work directly with community agencies in Kenya to provide health education workshops, conduct research to assess the impact of their work and have created a reproductive health magazine for the girls they serve in Kenya.
"I felt called to not only ensure I was offering a safe product but to, in whatever capacity I could, ensure that our service was helping contribute to making products available to those who need them."
For the longest time, women's issues have remained hush, hush. It was almost as though we were keeping a little secret. Now, with the #MeToo movement, and women's empowerment being at the forefront, this seems to be changing, but there's still a long way to go. Tell us about #NOSHAME.
I'm a firm believer that silence around issues that matter is the worst case scenario. Conversation, dialogue is the first step to creating an awareness which can eventually lead to change. In terms of menstruation, there are so many issues that need to be discussed; the lack of access to products in institutions like prisons, hospitals and schools; taxes on these products; and the health side effects of having to use found materials to deal with menstruation if you can't afford conventional products. The No Shame campaign was our way of creating a dialogue around this experience, of reminding viewers that periods are natural and certainly nothing to be ashamed of. The campaign consisted of four posters featuring scenes that someone who menstruates might be familiar with (laying with a hot water bottle, having a blood stain on your sheets). The posters ran in both men’s and women's washrooms at 100 locations across Toronto. The press coverage of this campaign was astounding and really contributed to this swell of conversation taking place right now around period politics.
It’s inspiring how you are using your business to affect change, though it can’t be easy to run a business and change the world. When things aren't going your way, what keeps you going?
When things aren't going "my way" I try really hard to see what's happening as a lesson. I'm humble enough to know that my way isn't necessarily the best way in the long run, and often times, when things haven't gone my way, I've recognized later that it was for the best. I try to see obstacles as detours in the right direction. I believe something far more intelligent than me has a handle on things and if I trust in that and take the next right action things typically end up working out for the best.