The opening photo for this post will be the profusion of flower beads that the ladies have had such fun making. The post is NOT about the flowers but the first photo is the one that comes up* on Facebook and the real subject matter may not make for an enticing photo. Even though the ladies are just as excited about it!!!!
We think our creatively entrepreneurial friends Daniel and Natalia would be very proud of us! A conversation in Kathmandu a few weeks ago got us thinking about a gap in the local market. (Blokes, you may want to turn away now.) We’d been reading about sanitary pads! In Africa, school girls were missing school days for want of sanitary protection and we read the remarkable story of the Pad Man in India. We thought there may be a market for some sort of sanitary pad in Birtamod.
A straw poll in the office revealed that fewer than 20% of the ladies used disposable pads and the rest used folded up torn pieces of sari. They were all fascinated to learn about potential alternatives and a roughly made, hand stitched sample pad was greeted with great excitement and another creative journey began.
Not without significant frustrations we may add but, to cut a long story (and powerful lesson in equanimity short) we are now ready to launch our first run of 30 Samunnat Sanitary Pad Kits. Possibly to be called Ritas after our first enthusiastic test subject.
Our informal committee reviewed several patterns available online (gotta love the internet) and we tweaked, tested and modified. A big consideration was coming up with some thing that would dry quickly in our damp monsoon and cold winters. We think our design is a good one. The management committee of the Cooperative is so excited that it is investing in our first run. The women are so excited about the product that quite a few of them plan to try selling them door to door. If there is enough interest, we will do a second production run.
Each kit contains two liners made from new fabric and then the inside will be made from recycled fabric. There are two baklo (thick) inner squares for heavier days and then three patalo (thinner) inner squares for the rest of the period. One kit costs less than tourist dal bhat in Kathmandu and a little over what you pay for two packets of Whispers (still very much a product for the middle class over here). Obviously, ours will last for a long, long time and not take such a toll on the environment!
We will keep you updated but at the very least, 80% of the ladies in our group will experience an environmentally friendly, significant increase in comfort and at best, we are making a much needed product that will help our Cooperative to do a great job.
*This may reflect a lack of FaceBook expertise! But there is method to our madness! Necklaces made using these gorgeous flowers will be available from some of our stockists now and in our etsy shop in 2015.