Written by Kirstie McCrum

Lifestyle

Letting periods out of the bag

Jessica Lambert, creator of The Flow Bag, tells Kirstie McCrum how we have the power to change how menstruation is perceived.

'Riding the crimson wave' flow bag

One of the Flow Bags designed by Jessica: a handy carrier for monthly essentials that also supports women’s access to sanitary protection.

Whenever I see an issue, I always want to lend a creative hand. I’ve always created my own quirky solutions to problems.

I am a wife, mother of one, stepmother of two and designer. When my son was born I began learning digital design as a creative outlet during naptime. Initially I designed things for fun and to help non-profits with their design needs on a volunteer basis.

My lightbulb moment came one day when I was fed up with looking for my go-to menstrual products in my bag. I took to the internet to find a solution and only came across a few homemade items. So, of course, I decided to create my own, and then I came up with a few more design ideas.

Blood Moon Rising bagThanks to the funny slogans I used (‘blood moon rising’; ‘riding the crimson wave’), my bag designs began to get quite a few laughs and this started some conversations about my knowledge of the issues, which in turn led me to realise that I had to get these out there.

The Flow Bag is a taboo-smashing accessory that funds menstrual management for the disenfranchised.

Besides being handy, the other purpose of my bags is to raise funds for organisations that work to destigmatise menstruation and distribute menstrual hygiene products. I work with organisations that don’t just hand things out, but create opportunities for growth economically as well.

Money raised from the Flow Bag campaign will go towards improving the lives of women, buying machines that manufacture sanitary towels at a fraction of the cost of other brands. This will allow my partners and I to help more ladies, create jobs and create women-owned franchises.

I want to eliminate one of the factors that keeps women and girls in disparity. In some places girls are missing a week of school every month. Women are using unhealthy menstrual management that causes health issues, and the easy solution is access to appropriate menstrual hygiene products.

My bags are a convenient way to store tampons or pads with funny, quirky designs and they’re also conversation starters. The designs are inspired by phrases women have used as code to say they are on their period out of fear of denigration. I want women to own them. Time to let periods out of the bag. The central message of why The Flow Bag matters is clear; leaks happen.

'How do I not die' bagNo woman anywhere should feel ashamed about this process we have no control over. We should be supporting each other in this. In some parts of the world, it is still so stigmatised that girls are quarantined for the duration of their menstruation.

Also, the fact that so many girls’ opportunities are taken away because they have no access to menstrual hygiene is appalling. More appalling is the fact that many are reduced to using leaves or sand to control their flow. Have you ever had sand in your vagina? Not fun.

I started this venture on less than a shoestring but in order to bring it to market at an affordable price, I found that I needed to order thousands from my supplier at one time. So I started an Indiegogo campaign. I hope to raise enough money for the first run of designs and expand my design catalogue.

How you can help

You can:

• Donate some tampons or towels to a homeless shelter or to initiatives such as Bloody Good Period
• Visit www.indiegogo.com/projects/the-flow-bag-accessories-feminism

@theflowbag

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Written by Kirstie McCrum

Kirstie McCrum is a journalist and a foreign-born chatty horror movie buff with a love for languages, puppies and coffee.

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