Designer Pallavi Mohan collaborates with best friend Neha Tulsian of NH1 Design to speak out against the taboo that still surrounds menstruation

In a bid to raise awareness about menstrual hygiene and to break taboos around monthly periods, designer Pallavi Mohan has collaborated with her best friend Neha Tulsian of NH1 Design to create a t-shirt and sanitary napkins with fun, colourful packaging 

Fashion and design come together for a good casue. In order to raise funds for The Better India & Akaar foundation to build a sanitary pad factory in Ajmer, Rajasthan, designer Pallavi Mohan has joined hands with Neha Tulsian of NH1 design, who happens to be her best friend. The proposed factory will employ local women to manufacture and distribute bio-degradable, low-cost sanitary napkins to the rural areas of Rajasthan and adjoining states. Sold exclusively at nykaa.com, all proceeds will go to the foundation. 

We had an interaction with the two women on the project. Here's what they had to say. 

Indigene: How did this collaboration come about? As best friends, did you find it easier to work together on this project?

Neha Tulsian: We both went to University of the Arts in London and since then we have always taken a keen interest in each other’s work. We have been a source of inspiration to each other. I came up with the idea and discussed this with Pallavi, and we both instantly knew that this was something we wanted to work on. Our relationship is absolutely flawless, we both specialise in our own design disciplines and have mutual respect for each other’s work.

ID: How does design play a role in the awareness campaign on menstrual hygiene? (Both in the packaging and the t-shirt).

Pallavi Mohan: A period is 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 has been written to address this issue. Despite all the mediums of communication that exist, we feel that the first point of that communication should be the packaging itself. We interact with the sanitary pad every month. It lives with us hidden in our bathroom drawers. Wouldn’t it be fantastic if every month the packaging system can 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 to but to help enact positive change in response to social issues around us.

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

period-embed_013018035314.jpgCourtesy Abhijit Gohain

ID: Why was Ajmer chosen as a location for the sanitary napkin factory?

NT: Ajmer’s population is 15.7 lakh, out of which 7.7 lakh are women. Ajmer comprises seven blocks in total, which are further categorised into urban and rural. This model is a unique combination of empowerment and livelihood generation, which inherently promotes the financial growth of these women. Aakar Innovations intends to set up a sanitary napkin production unit in slum areas and create a demand for the same.

ID: As it is being sold exclusively on nykaa.com, is your aim to also reach a more urban audience?

PM: Yes, even in urban India, people shy away from talking about periods. The first step is to create a shift with this audience. We are aiming to start an urban dialogue around the menstrual cycle with an end motive to help rural women get access to sanitary pads at lower cost.

Sold exclusively on Nykaa.com, with every pack of pads purchased, the sale proceeds will be donated to The Better India Foundation. 

ID: How important do you think is menstrual hygiene awareness for men as opposed to just women?

NT: We think it is equally important. Men are further associated with their girlfriends/wives/sisters/daughters. It is, hence, an effort of both the sexes to normalise something as natural as a period. A man with the right menstrual hygiene awareness would be more supportive, understanding, and equipped to deal with the changes that a woman goes through as she moves through her menstrual cycle. We need more men and women like Arunachalam Muruganantham redefining social entrepreneurship and stirring new conversations against social injustice. 

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