Despite around half of the world’s population experiencing it every month, the topic of menstruation remains an uncomfortable conversation for many of us. Australian entrepreneur Kristy Chong however, is tackling the negative stigma surrounding our periods head on. After feeling repeatedly let down by both her underwear and the disposable feminine hygiene products available, Kristy founded high-tech underwear label Modibodi, which promises to protect women from leakages without compromising their style.
The first disposable sanitary pads were available for sale in 1888 but the sanitary pad as most of us now know it (sans the belt–yep, that was a thing), came to light in the 1980s. Since then, true innovation has been relatively minimal, until now. International attempts at creating underwear to replace sanitary products have been met with both praise and criticism: Thinx absorbent underwear founder Miki Agrawal, who was featured in Collective Hub’s 36th issue, and her ‘controversial’ subway ads promoting her perfectly non-offensive underwear replacement for sanitary pads and tampons is the perfect example.
Modibodi is another leap in the right direction. The absorbent underwear isn’t just for menstruation either: it also provides protection against other mishaps such as sweat, light bladder and breast milk leakage, has the potential to replace your current hygiene products entirely. Which, considering that 20 billion pads and tampons are dumped in our landfills every year, is doubly impressive, to both the environment and your back pocket.
And if you need any further incentive to give Modibodi a go, consider the fact that the Australian Government taxes every menstruating Australian to the tune of $25 million every year. But Kristy isn’t just satisfied with just saving the planet and our wallets; thanks to their partnership with Share The Dignity charity, a percentage of every Modibodi purchase also helps provide reusable sanitary products for those in dire need of it. Here, the Modibodi founder shares what she’s learnt since building a brand that’s been dubbed “the new Spanx”.
Find demand, then make the solution. “Modibodi came about from my own personal experience. I was living in Seattle, and I had two children and was doing lots of travelling and running. On one of those runs I realised that my underwear was failing to protect me from what is commonly known as Light Bladder Leakage (LBL) and from sweat and odour. I began to question whether underwear was as good as it could be and why with all the advances in technology, our underwear had not evolved. After speaking with friends and family about their own issues, I soon realised that I was not alone and that women either put up with failing underwear, or turned to irritating, unattractive, inconvenient and eco-damaging disposable options to stay dry and fresh. I knew instantly it was time for a change and that I wanted to create a beautiful and functional clothing brand that would allow women to feel attractive and confident and dignified at all times.
Do your research – then do some more. “The initial Modibodi Modifier Technology design involved consulting up to 100 textile engineers and fibre companies in the USA and Australia, conducting close to 1,000 scientific tests and working with leading Australian lingerie designers and manufacturers to develop the designs. It took over 18 months to perfect the technology and the designs behind the brand. We created over 30 prototypes before launching our flagship Modibodi Modifier Technology absorbent underpants.
For me, it was extremely important to get all elements right. My desire to have a layer next to the skin that was made from natural fibres and not synthetics, made the process even more challenging, but worth it in the end. Ultimately it was the belief that we were reinventing underwear for the better that inspired me to get through the tough days.”
Find your price point and stick to it. “The Modibodi brand and product range is essentially fash-tech, fashion merged with technology. However, a majority of our product range also sits across the feminine hygiene category, which is hard for us to compete with due to it being a cheaper upfront purchase despite them being neither discreet nor reusable and eco-damaging.”
We are priced competitively to ensure our product be accessible to as many people as possible throughout their life. From pre-teens with their first menstrual onset, to women after the birth of their children and women of any age who experience bladder loss, odour and sweat. Our aim to is to be with women at every stage of their life’s journey.”
Stick to your values. “One of Modibodi core pillars is empowerment, empowering women no matter their socio-economic status, religion, issues or where in the world they live. Modibodi actively supports causes and organisations that champion the empowerment of women including Share the Dignity, Days for Girls, Endometriosis Australia to name a select few. We hope to further our support to benefit more women in need.”
Look to the future. “We are always looking to evolve our product offering by expanding our range to suit a wider audience in key markets. Our current ranges include classic style, maternity wear and active collections. As a primarily online business the potential for international expansion is always something that is in our sight.”