CEO and co-founder of THINX, maker of women’s underwear that doubles as feminine pads, Miki Agarwal may very well be on the verge of disrupting a $15 billion feminine hygiene market. “I want to change the culture around women’s most normal time of month — and not while wearing grandma panties or pads that feel like a diaper,” Miki told Forbes.
In an age when women have made enormous strides in almost all spheres, they still squirm while talking about menstruation. In the western countries, the average woman spends thousands over her lifetime on tampons with landfill-packing plastic applicators (“Women are afraid to touch themselves, or that they will get blood under their fingernails,” Miki said), and pads are uncomfortable and unreliable. Both tend to leak.
In much of the developing world, extreme taboo around women and girls’ monthly period mean they fall behind in school or are limited in their ability to work. The United Nations reports that just 43 percent of girls in developing nations attend secondary school as they have poor access to feminine hygiene products that could make it easier for them to attend school during their so-called “week of shame.” “That is not OK,” added Miki.
In a report by India Today, Thinx was one of TIME magazine’s top 25 inventions of 2015. “We are still not allowed to advertise in taxis, in elevators, on television, and are faced with the great challenge of making this an acceptable dialogue,” Miki said. Still, the revenue for Thinx (it has six versions, including one for transgender men, created with patented technology) increased by 2,500-3,500 percent between last year and this year.
Miki was named Social Entrepreneur of the Year at the World Technology Awards 2015, received the Tribeca Film Festival’s Disruptive Innovator Award, and was one of Forbes’s Top 20 Millenials on a Mission in 2013, when Thinx took root.