Monday, 27 June 2011

The Friday Interview on Monday: Vicky from Luna Wolf

I’m starting off my interviews again, woot, go me, and I’ve got one for you today! And another on Friday so I can resume The Friday Interview! So my schedule is aligning and this makes me happy, although I appreciate it doesn’t mean quite as much to you ;-). Today’s interview is with Vicky from Luna Wolf who makes reusable menstrual pads.
Vicky at work immediately proving she is a better person than me by not swearing at her overlocker
Reusable pads are one of those things I think you can go through your life without anyone telling you about, unless you have come across them on the internet, because you don’t see them in mainstream shops. I think this is a real shame, because they’re really good. I’ve been using reusable pads for a good couple of years now (I’ve got a selection from various sellers on etsy) and I love them.

Now, this is the obligatory TMI alert so my mother can skip the next paragraph, but I thought I might as well give you a description of my experience so you can decide whether they sound like they’re for you or not: I have very heavy periods for about 2 days and then lighter for about 3/4 days more. On the first two days, I have found that some reusable pads work better than others, and I have some where, no, I probably wouldn’t want to sit through a three hour meeting in a white skirt, although I also have some where they are more absorbent than disposables: on the lighter 3/4 days, however, they are unbeatable. They are so comfortable and so much better than the naff plastic alternatives. In terms of washing, when I was looking into buying them, I read a lot about buying special handthrown pots to soak them in and then using the soaking water to water your roses. This might sound more attractive if you have roses that do not wilt and/ or fall on your head when you walk down the garden, however, our bathroom is quite literally (this is not an exaggeration) the smallest bathroom I have ever seen in a house, I think they must have converted a cupboard, and a Handthrown Pot Honouring The Inner Feminine would not last 5 minutes against Partner stumbling about clumsily in the middle of the night. I would probably have to put it on the coffee table for safety. So this put me off a bit. However, additional TMI alert, I have found that I can just wash them, unsoaked, in the normal wash (I do them at 60 degrees C with towels), and they are fine and do not stain. And I only use Ecover so there we are. Also, although one of the myriad ways in which I have failed at being a woman is that I don’t understand what panty liners are used for (panty!), if you do, and you are in the habit of using them, I would think using smaller pads would be much cheaper and way more comfortable.

OK Mum, you can look again now ;-). I found Luna Wolf pads through a recommendation on Ravelry and thought they looked brilliant: lovely colours, variety of sizes, and instructions to do it yourself! (Yes, of course I am. Yes, I’ll report back ;-) ), and Vicky very kindly agreed to do an interview for me. Thank you very much, Vicky! Take it away.
Luna Wolf pads in fantastic cheerful colours
1/ Could you tell us a bit about your pads, and why they’re better than commercial (disposable) pads/ tampons?
I make reusable cloth menstrual pads, using modern fabrics and prints - I firmly believe that just because an item is functional doesn't mean it can't be beautiful too! I wouldn't be so bold as to say they're "better" than commercial products because everybody is different, and what suits one person may not suit another. However, they are definitely a better option for me and for the many other women who find commercial disposable products uncomfortable. For some women, synthetic materials or chemicals in disposables cause irritation, whereas my pads put soft natural fabrics against the skin. The environmental and economic impact is fairly significant, too: in my case, seven years of cloth pad use equals approximately 1100 disposable pads I haven't had to buy and send to landfill.

2/ How do you use and care for reusable pads, i.e. changing them when you’re out and about and washing them?
Using cloth pads is very easy - as with disposables, you just need to make sure you change your pad before it gets too saturated. You can buy specialist "wetbags" for carrying pads when out and about, but a simple shower bag or resealable "ziploc" bag works just as effectively. Most cloth pads fold into neat little envelopes so that everything is contained.

There are lots of different ways to clean washable pads - my personal favourite is the "dry pail" method, which you can read about here:

3/ Reusable menstrual products haven’t really ever gone mainstream (i.e. I can buy them in my local health food shop but definitely not in Boots. And the ones in the health food shop aren’t cheerful like yours!). Why do you think this is, and do you think it will change?
I'd love to see cloth pads in Boots! I think the main reason you don't see them in large chains is because most cloth pad businesses are very small, usually WAHW (work at home women) operations. To supply somewhere like Boots you'd have to move into mass production, and that's a whole other kettle of fish. I think it will happen someday when the larger companies start to catch on that there is a growing demand for reusable pads. (Boots has already started carrying menstrual cups, for example.) [Note from me, I have to mention here that although I am a pad girl, many woman find the Mooncup absolutely wonderful – I have heard nothing but raves about this. It always looks a bit involved to me but then I said that about stranded knitting. So this is definitely worth considering as well].
DIY pads! Instructions and materials available in Vicky's shop
4/ I noticed you sell instructions and materials to make your own pads. I’m really tempted! Are they difficult to make?
Not at all! I wrote the instructions to suit all abilities, and there are notes for hand or machine sewing. If you can sew two pieces of fabric together, you'll be able to follow the instructions. A word of warning though: making them is addictive! Before you know it, you'll have more pads than you know what to do with.

5/ How do you feel about the way commercial pads and tampons are advertised? (Wooo! Bodyform for youuuuu!!! ;-) ).
I think most pad and tampon advertising is ridiculous! With all the euphemisms, the constant talk of "freshness" and the hush-hush packaging, you would think that a period is some kind of unfortunate disease. The products themselves look very clinical, as if dealing with menstruation is akin to bandaging a wound or treating an infection. I prefer to think of my pads as nice underwear, and have found that this small shift in perspective has helped me to feel much better about my menstrual cycle. [Note from me, the ones that are fragranced irritate me. Grrr].

6/ What would you recommend to someone who wanted to try out your pads? (i.e. how many of what size should they buy initially?).
I always suggest starting with just two or three pads. If you've never tried cloth pads, you don't want to buy an entire stash in one go, only to find that the style you've chosen isn't right for you. Try a couple of different sizes, and see what feels best. A good rule of thumb is to measure your favourite disposable pad and pick something in that ballpark.

7/ What of the things you’re doing with your business at the moment are you most excited about?
I've always wanted to carry pad storage pouches in my store, but have never had the time to make them. I've now found someone who can supply fabulous zippered pouches, and I hope to place my first order soon. I get asked about pouches all the time, so I'm very excited at the prospect of being able to offer them at last! I'm also hoping to add some new fabrics to my DIY section, which I'm really looking forward to.
Thank you very much, Vicky! I loved your interview and to be able to spread the word about reusable pads (gets evangelical gleam in eye). Have a look at the Luna Wolf shop (or catch Vicky on her blog) and see if there’s anything you fancy – if you haven’t tried reuseable pads before I really urge you to give them a try. You don’t have to jump in headfirst, you could just buy one and see how you go. It does feel a bit transgressive the first time, yes it does, but I promise you after 5 minutes you’ll think, why did I never do this before? (Like so many things!).

OK. Getting out to enjoy the sunshine. Have a lovely day, everyone x


Vivianne said...

How do they stick to your knickers ? or maybe better would be, how do they stay still and not get all crumpled up and move to the wrong uncomfortable place ....

Vicky said...

Thanks for the interview, Susie! I feel very honoured! :)

Vivianne: They are held in place by wings that fasten around your underwear. Although there is no adhesive, the fleece backing grips your undies and keeps the pad from sliding/bunching.

Susie said...

Vicky no probs! :-).

Also, once you've snapped them in place, they actually don't move at all. I've tried quite a few different kinds and they really don't. The disposable sticky ones with sticky wings however I do not have a good track record with. As I have already crossed the TMI barrier, looked back laughed and waved, I shall just say that I once managed to try to use a disposable one the wrong way round (wine was involved) and nearly gave myself a Hollywood O_O.

Maria S said...

I'm a Mooncup woman, myself! So whilst I do think the reusable pads are a brilliant idea, they're not (IMO) quite *as* brilliant as never buying a pad again... (though the patterns are very pretty. Maybe Mooncups could come in pretty patterns too? There's a thought...)

Stitched Together said...

As I no longer menstruate due to chemically controlling them because if endometriosis, this means nothing to me. However before my periods stopped I had moved over to the mooncup and thought it was brilliant. It handles heavy periods well and you don't even notice you are using it. Mine didn't come in a pretty fabric but I did crochet and felt a cute bag fir it LOL. I think if I hadn't discovered the mooncup I would have used these reusable pads because it just feels more sensible to me than putting all those pads or tampons in landfill or the sewage system.

Sophie said...

I used to use a Mooncup very happily. Then I developed Interstitial Cystitis, and found the cup irritated my bladder. I tried a smaller and softer cup, the Ladycup (also cheaper and available in a variety of colours), but only rarely can I tolerate it. Now, I'd tried pads in the past and been unimpressed: clumsy construction, bad fabric choices (children's fabrics left over from making coth nappies - I do not want to bleed on Hello Kitty, thank you very much - or colours so dark you couldn't see whether it was time to change the pad), and back then I didn't know about dry pailing. I tried soaking them, but you had to change the water every day and it still got smelly and, well, ick.

Thankfully I discovered Vicky's lovely pads and have been a convert ever since. They're snazzy, they're slim and comfortable, they don't move around or bunch or leak. (I had to use disposables when in hospital last year and was horrified at how uncomfortable, bulky and smelly they were.) I sent her some leftover quilting fabric, and she made me a custom set which I've added to a bit over the years. Unfortunately, one symptom of the Interstitial Cystitis is slight urinary incontinence, something which was making me very miserable, but then I stocked up on extra panty liners and the problem was much improved. So for anyone wondering, they work for that as well.

She told me about dry pailing, which works a charm. I just soak them for an hour in water with oxygen powder (longer fades the pads), rinse properly, put a bit of stain remover on any stains still visible, and bung them in the washing machine. I seem to have missed the memo that you're meant to soak them without the oxygen powder first, but the pads are fine regardless. They've been through years of washing and drying cycles and are still perfectly happy and a joy to look at.

Vivianne said...

Absolutely not for me, but thanks for all the information: interesting.

AC said...

So you just throw yours in the wash? I've thought about making the switch, but I'll rarely buy anything that I have to handwash. If you can throw it in the regular laundry, that would be awesome and I'd be on board.

Sophie said...

I believe you can handwash them if you really want to, but I've always machine washed mine. If you get a big batch, you can do it all at the end of your period, otherwise you will need to do a wash mid-cycle, which works out better if you can tumble-dry the pads too. I just have enough pads to last my whole cycle.

Anonymous said...

That was all very interesting and I am tempted so far - will investigate further. What puts me off is the cleaning with oxygenated products. That all seems a bit chemical for me; I think I would have to see if a bit of elbow grease would do the trick. I can't use mainstream strong cleaners etc as I am allergic to them. Also salt is good for removing blood stains. Off to see prices etc. Thanks for the info.

Susie said...

I only ever use ecover non-biological on anything, and it works fine. I get some (very mild) staining but they've been in use every month for years, so I think that's not unreasonable. Also if I was just better at doing laundry I could probably get rid of the stains but sadly I come from a long line of Bad Laundresses, yes mother I am looking at you and I have not forgotten my PE shirt when I was 14.

And yes, normal machine wash + tumble dry, do not handwash, ladies, life is short & precious. (Unless it is a shawl made out of Malabrigo Lace).

Thank you everyone for interesting comments, and thanks Sophie, very useful to hear about your experience.

Kezz said...

Another mooncup fan here, although I am considering reusable pads for those end days when it's not really worth using the mooncup but not entirely safe not to...

gemmipop said...

I am trying one of Vicky's pads for the first time today! And it is amazing, I feel so much more comfortable, and it's so pretty!

Jade Graham said...

The size would have been perfect for the end of my cycle when my cervix drops quite a bit. Within 3 days of receiving the meluna I got rid of it. menstrual cups

Marion said...

reusables are great very comfy