Today’s blogpost is a special one. I’ve sat down with Janina Breitling, the founder of the organic & reusable period panties brand Nookees, for an interview. From the moment she steps into the cafe, I knew it. She has something special going on about her. It’s clear she’s a woman knowing exactly what she wants and won’t let anything get in her way of achieving it. Her energy is reaching me, it’s vibrant.
People may know her as a single mom who traveled the world with her son Max, while others know her as disruptive in the period products industry. What is clear is that whatever she is passionate about, she’ll undertake it. She has a big heart with a clear mission to not only support women during their menstruation in the best and most comfortable way possible – she’s also to fight period poverty in third-world countries.
We started the conversation about the period, and soon after I learned how she got involved with Nookees, her company that delivers reusable period products in the most sustainable and safe way.
“It started with a personal experience”, she mentioned. Janina shared that she was already using reusable menstruation periods with click buttons on the side. “They would always move in my underwear. I didn’t like how they worked, or how they looked. One day, they slipped around my underwear moving from the inside to the outside part.” That was the moment when a thought came to her mind. “There must be something different on the market that works better. Though I’m not referring to menstrual cups, I didn’t want to put anything inside to stop the flow.” She went on to express that normal period panties weren’t serving her needs as well. “I wasn’t keen on changing underwear, or wearing underwear for 12 hours but not being able to change it easily. And let’s not forget about the toxins that they put in those panties to soak up the blood and cover the smell.”
And so the idea for Nookees began. If nothing exists yet, Janina would be the one finding ideas to make this better. Organic, high-quality products, and most importantly, creating a click system so the period product can be clicked inside of underwear. A product that you can change quickly, without changing the full underwear.
“It was when I lived in Bali, I started to draw patterns, asked friends to bring organic materials from Germany, and searched for a sewing company to help me create my vision.”
I asked if she could share more about her journey. Things moved rather quickly. End 2019 her idea was brought to life and she received solid proof in 2020 with a Kickstarter, where her products sold out very fast. The demand was there, many women loved her products from day one.
But the journey wasn’t always easy, she told me. “After the Kickstarter, I moved from Bali to Portugal as I felt Europe would be the best place to set up production. Corona came, and things became complicated.” During that time, she moved to Brazil and continued to develop Nookees further. “The potential of Nookees was so big, I had many women come to me asking when the next batch would be available.” Also, Brazil turned out to be difficult for production reasons and so the decision was made to move back to Germany, the country of her roots, and set up her company here.
“It took me one year to set up everything; develop the product, find a pattern maker, and found a product that could deliver the standards and quality I was looking for. This was in Lithuania. With success, as recently I relaunched Nookees 2.0 with a new mission vision and new product.”
While we chat further about her journey it became clear that Nookees needed that time to develop, so it could become the product it is today. She continues by sharing her two-year rule “If you’re not ashamed about your first product after the first two years, then something went wrong.” Janina explains “First design, the layering of the parts and choice of the fabrics, it was all me. A journalist who had an idea. Now I partner with experts and this can be traced back in the design and quality of my product: the difference of the cut, the layering, the level of absorption.”
She also changed the colors of the panty, she expressed. “The first was gray with black, we changed this to gold, because I want to make a statement to celebrate and shine with your period. Every woman deserves to feel golden and amazing during menstruating!”
As with her first launch, the relaunch has been acknowledged and praised. Many women -from all over the world- find out about Nookees and use the product as their main period product.
But she feels it’s not enough. When I ask her what women should know about period articles, she expressed two things:
- “One, think about what you’re using. When you use tampons or menstrual cups, it means you put something in your body to stop the flow. Let’s not forget about the pads, they contain lots of plastic. And did you know that period products from DM, take 800 years to decompose? Here’s my belief: don’t mess with your body and the environment when you don’t need to. There are much safer products out there!
- Second, when you’re using alternative products be aware of the materials inside the product and/or fabrics. Even sustainable options, might not be as sustainable as you think they are. Some period underwear brands use biocides to eliminate unpleasant odors and fight bacteria. Zinc pyrithione and silver chlorides are mostly used. Due to the extra components in the fabric, they can only be washed at 40*C. My opinion; Do your research, and be aware of what you’re using.”
It’s a no-brainer for her that the first thing we should change when it comes to period products is to stop the production and use of supermarket period products. “It shouldn’t be allowed as it’s dangerous for our bodies and the environment.”
“I want to make a difference with Nookees. It’s not acceptable that women and young girls don’t have products and cannot go to school just because they’re bleeding.”
The philosophy behind Nookes
- The Product: it’s an amazing period product that is organic, works well, is easy to change, high absorptive, and is washable at 60 degrees.
- Providing Education: Nookees believes in cyclical living “Click with yourself, click with your period.”
- Fighting Period Poverty: Many women don’t have access to period products and Nookees is here to change this and partnered with a project in Uganda, called Girls on a Mission. The project built a health center, Nookees provide the fabric and money for the sewing ladies, so they receive a proper salary for their work, and can share the products with their tribe and other women.
- Fair payment: Our products are produced under fair conditions (in Europe), and packaging is created where disabled people work. Nookees is made with love and care. You buy one pad for you and for her. Many people are involved in creating this product and they all receive fair pay.
Get your Nookees today at www.nookees.com
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PS: I have a few spots left for my coaching program Reset Your Hormones starting in May. I invite you for a (free) intro conversation to explore how I can support you in healing your hormones.
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