In this series, City A.M. looks at the financial and economic impact of the ongoing pandemic on a range of small and medium-sized businesses across London. This week: How a reusable period product brand with an E1 base saw sustainable period pants prevail during three lockdowns.
Whilst periods do not stop during pandemics, supply chains, access and choice are quickly reduced and limited as a result of the three merciless lockdowns London has experienced since March of last year.
This is what Modibodi, a reusable period pant brand based in East London, initially witnessed when the Coronavirus reached England.
The Aussie born, East London-based company found that from the outset of the lockdown, supply chains were in distress and customer orders dropped as Modibodi adjusted to the new normal.
Its period pants, which are reusable, are made of environmentally friendly bamboo and merino wool and designed in Australia. As an e-commerce driven brand, it relies on smooth supply chains.
“I created the brand out of necessity. Women with hectic lives, key workers, those with disabilities such as sensory issues, needed a product which fits comfortably into daily lives,” Kristy Chong, the founder and CEO of Modibodi, told City A.M.
Once the company had found alternative ways of working, orders slowly picked up again.
The practicality of reusable pants became increasingly relevant since the pandemic hit. In fact, with less commuting and cars on roads, the nation re-evaluated, Chong explained.
“Ultimately, I had secured a prime spot in the hectic and unpredictable lives of women across the UK,” she said.
“This coupled with home-schooling, key workers on their feet all day in the midst of a pandemic and the rise in period poverty, created an even more important and practical place for our products,” Chong added.
Clothing vs period products
One “jarring point we’ve found” is that, when the government removed the tampon tax in January, it kept a 20 per cent luxury tax exclusively on reusable period pants, because they are defined as clothing rather than period products, Chong continued.
“This makes no sense in terms of levelling the playing field on choice and access for environmentally friendly period products,” she argued.
Therefore, Chong is calling on the government to remove this tax so she can lower her prices.
“Moving forward, choosing to manage your period sustainably should not come at a higher cost. the Government should be incentivising greener options, not penalising them.”
“So whilst the pandemic initially caused challenges, it’s the government which is the current stumbling block in providing sustainable, reusable period pants at a more affordable rate,” Chong sighed.