The United Nations has declared that access to menstrual hygiene products is a public health, gender equality, and human rights issue, as a lack of access prevents half of the population from full societal participation. To Dallas native Emmy Hancock, this ought to lie at the forefront of philanthropic concern.
But, the topic of menstruation often cannot be fully explored because it’s shrouded in stigma.
So Hancock found her own way of raising awareness for menstrual health inequity by combining entrepreneurship and social impact to found Oluna.
The Dallas-based fashion line features a collection of relaxed and stylish pants ranging from $64 to $69. The soft fabric and stretch fit aims to keep customers “grooving” from the workday to the weekend.
For every pair of pants sold, Oluna donates a year’s supply of period products to an American in need.
As of now, Oluna has distributed feminine products to nine local homeless shelters in Dallas: Interfaith Family Services, Promise House, 24 Hour Club, Hope’s Door New Beginning, Union Gospel Mission Faith, Our Calling, Genesis Women’s Shelter, DISC Ministries, and The Bridge: Homeless Recovery Center.
The seemingly challenging timing of starting a company in a recession is emblematic of the founder’s determination. As company of one, Oluna is 100 percent funded by Hancock’s personal savings.
She says created the LLC the same day she graduated from the University of Pennsylvania to hold herself accountable for her ultimate dream of becoming a founder. Then, pandemic-induced quarantining and social distancing provided her with free time to build the business.
“I truly believe that there is no better time to start a social impact business than 2020, especially because period poverty has gotten so much worse,” Hancock told Dallas Innovates. “If your company can succeed in the midst of a global pandemic, it can make it through anything.”
The e-commerce site currently can ship pants anywhere in the world, with period products mainly going to homeless shelters in the DFW area. Hancock hopes to expand to the rest of Texas by the end of 2021.
She also plans to distribute 50 percent of funds from merchandise toward research and policy that can address period poverty in the United States to build the foundation for lasting, meaningful change.
As Oluna expands, the company aims to create a secondary impact by hiring women in homeless shelters to help pack and ship products.
“The best way to tackle a serious issue is to make it fun,” Hancock says. “Oluna hopes to inspire a playful and whimsical engagement with boundaries in us all. No question is off-limits. No person should ever feel ashamed.”
Oluna’s pants are available in black, olive, and multi-colored stripes. Hancock predicts the holiday season will be an opportunity for sales, saying that pants make the perfect present for fashionable friends while simultaneously giving the gift of social impact.
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