All women bleed but some of them can’t afford period products. I’m here with Nayanka Paul and Zoe Vella, the Bloody Bitches, about their blog and their lives, and fighting against period poverty. Bloody Bitches advocates for period poverty, sex education sustainability, and health. They have amazing workshops that you can be a part of.
Nayanka recently graduated from Temple University studying Account Management Advertising and started to venture has already Bloody Bitches. She also volunteers in her community with two mentoring programs in her city of Philadelphia.
Zoe is from Malta and has lived in the US for the past 17 years. In addition to Bloody Bitches, she also writes a blog, Earth and Self, about being environmentally conscious.
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Alice: All women bleed but some of them can’t afford period products. I’m here with Nayanka Paul and Zoe Bella, the Bloody Bitches, about their blog and their lives, and fighting against period poverty. Bloody Bitches advocates for period poverty, sex education sustainability, and health. They have amazing workshops that you can be a part of.
Nayanka is a senior at Temple University studying Account Management Advertising and started to venture has already Bloody Bitches and P & P Alignment, a business consulting company. She also volunteers in her community with two mentoring programs in her city of Philadelphia.
Zoe is from Malta and has lived in the US for the past 17 years. In addition to Bloody Bitches, she also writes a blog, Earth and Self, about being environmentally conscious.
Welcome. We’re so excited to have you join us on the podcast today.
Nayanka: Thank you.
Zoe: Thank you so much.
Alice: I just want to start with maybe some more fun questions. What are your favorite period blogs that you’re reading right now?
Zoe: Nayanka, do you want to go first?
Nayanka: No, you can go.
Zoe: I was just gonna say, more so than blogs I really like to just go in Instagram pages that inspire me. One of them that I really love — because I’m more of a sustainability side of Bloody Bitches, I really like Sustainably Vegan’s Instagram. She incorporates period poverty into her Instagram page. I just love seeing any influencers that post about like Diva cups or any menstrual products and things like that. I’m an Instagram person. I just dive deep into that and find inspiring people.
Nayanka: I would say, along with that, I am not good with Instagram names, and a lot of them period Instagrams have the same kind of names. I do like a lot of the Instagrams, especially the ones that are very artsy-like. There are a lot of art pages that make posts about period poverty and just everything menstruation. They make it very digestible because of the way they create their graphics. I really like that just because I’m into creative stuff. Other than that, I don’t really read blogs on period poverty as much as I read actual developed research papers and articles on it.
Alice: Perfect! That’s amazing! Thank you, girls. I’ll have to check out those pages that you said. There are some amazing artworks.
Alice: Recommended the human body or a woman’s body through art and guidelines of Instagram which I think is really fascinating.
Nayanka: Yeah, there’s one called A Tribe of Woman. They’re not centered on period poverty but it’s just very woman-based so they have made graphics in relation to period and stuff like that.
Alice: Oh, cool! I’ll have to check that out. Thank you.
Zoe: There is one called the Period Poverty Movement, I believe. They have cool graphics. I think they repost a lot of content but they have good graphics on there too. Like what Nayanka said, they are digestible pieces because, obviously, there’s so much information to understand when you’re talking about period poverty, it’s not just one dimension. They break it down really easily so that you can really understand it all and it’s not overwhelming or throwing at you.
Alice: Oh, that’s great! Thank you. What are you girls doing in quarantine? What are you doing just to stay sane?
Nayanka: My time has been spent a lot on homework, unfortunately. Other than that, I’ve just been reading, catching up on shows that I didn’t get a chance to when school was in session, and just doing random fun things. Going on like Pinterest, friend dates… just doing random. It’s obviously just been filled with a bunch of randomness. I’ve been doing a lot of at-home workouts too because I like to work out a lot.
Alice: Oh, nice!
Zoe: That’s so good! I’ve been working a lot because I work now so that’s been my full-time thing that I’ve just been doing. Other than that, I work on Zero Waste Malta alongside Bloody Bitches. Zero Waste Malta is a page I created in Malta. When I’m there, I try to do beach clean-ups and things of that nature. Organize all of that stuff because it’s an island. In Zero Waste Malta, I Just post a lot about tips and zero-waste things. I don’t post as much as I want to but I have a challenge right now and that has about 450 people in it.
Alice: Wow! That’s amazing!
Zoe: It has been really fun to interact with people on that platform, on Facebook.
Alice: Oh my gosh! Is there a way we can be a part of it right now?
Zoe: Yeah! It’s a different challenge each month. Actually, this month is on-the-go which is ironic that that happened because April, you know, we’re on quarantine. We can still learn about on-the-go and talk about it and then use it later when we’re out of quarantine. I’ll send you a Facebook link to that.
Alice: Yeah, that would be awesome! Cool! I can post it with our podcast.
Zoe: That would be cool! Thank you!
Alice: You guys also talked about binging TV shows. Nayanka, what are you watching right now? I need some recs.
Nayanka: I feel like I might have liked a lot of shows. The one show I just re-watched, I’m not sure if you know, Lincoln Heights. It was this old show that was on TV.
I want to start the show called Insecure. Other than that, current shows that I watch are This Is Us — that’s a good show.
Zoe: Yeah, that’s a good show.
Nayanka: You’re going to cry almost every episode. It’s super sad but super cute. On my blog — I watch a lot of Netflix shows. I should just really watch a lot of them.
Alice: That’s awesome!
Zoe: I’m not really watching too many shows. I just like crime shows, honestly. I like Criminal Minds a lot.
Nayanka: I love Criminal Minds!
Zoe: That’s just a great one to binge-watch. It’s just so good. Also, I really want to watch the new season, not even new, I’m just so behind. American Horror Story.
Nayanka: Yeah. Yeah. I feel watching so shameless. I feel like there are so many things I fell off.
Zoe: There’s so many shows that I just need to catch up on. What are you watching?
Alice: Um, I’ve been watching Kim’s Convenience, which is on Netflix. It’s a Canadian TV show. I’m also a die-hard Bachelor fan which is good and bad. I’m watching their new music show which is so terrible but hilarious at the same time and totally turning off your mind.
Zoe: Sometimes you need that.
Alice: Yeah, I need it right now. I can’t leave my house.
Alice: Yeah, can you talk about where you guys met? You guys both went to Temple so —
Nayanka: We both — I’m an entrepreneurship minor and you actually finish up major, right?
Zoe: Yeah, it was an international business with a concentration on Entrepreneurship. Yeah, it kind of intertwined in many areas.
Nayanka: Yeah, so we had to take a series of classes and I met her. We had a class together in the first semester. In the second semester, we had a class together. She came up to me because we had to pitch ideas. My idea, initially, was having like a subscription box to relieve period pains that would in term help people better — that are suffering from period poverty. She came up to me on one of the last days and I was, “Oh my God! I would really like to help with this and that.” I was, “Okay. I still don’t really know what I’m doing but okay.” It happens that I had a class with her the next semester. We got closer and started to figure out more about what we wanted to do and things to look like. This was Spring 2019.
Zoe: We really transformed things and things around since then. We had a lot of discussions surrounding how we can best stop — I don’t even think stop when we love to stop here in poverty but best grasp period poverty and just really help and make an actual impact that lasts a long time instead of just putting band-aids on issues. That’s been a large discussion within our organization.
Alice: Yeah, can you talk to our viewers about what Bloody Bitches is? What is this organization that you guys created and started at Temple?
Nayanka: Zoe, do you want to go first?
Zoe: I don’t mind. Okay, basically, Bloody Bitches is all about advocacy for period poverty and medium different pillars. We have a lack of access which is accessibility to not even just period products like menstrual products but bathrooms too because some people don’t have access to bathrooms. We try to be inclusive to everyone that has a period because it’s not just women as well. The lack of accessibility is our first pillar.
We have our educational pillar which is surrounding everything regarding periods, stigmas, and things that people don’t even realize as an issue. People are ashamed of their periods. People don’t realize how much the pure industry is. Plastic tampons and things like that and how that affects our environment. There’s a whole education alert and that period of poverty aspect affects everyone of every class, race, everything. It’s not just lower-income families and things like that because education can be a widespread thing. It can be more prevalent in certain classes. We just want everyone to know that it affects everyone.
The last one is the fundamental rights which definitely affects everyone because fundamental rights deal with like tampon tax and FDA regulations, things that we should all be aware of. Unfortunately, a lot of us aren’t in it and it’s just not fair for our bodies. We’re just trying to bring awareness and all of that.
Nayanka: Sorry, Zoe. I miss the first half because my screen froze and log me out of everything.
Zoe: You’re good.
Nayanka: Whatever Zoe said…
Alice: Great! You guys have your Instagram page. You have a blog. Can you talk more about like the workshop that you guys just conducted and will there be more?
Nayanka: Yes. Right now we run everything through Instagram. We just created a Facebook group called, Be A Bloody Bitch. We created that for the purpose that people were always dm-ing us: How can we help? How can we be a part of this? We want to learn more? We’re like, “Let’s just create a space with like-minded people who have different perspectives, whether you’re someone that’s more on the sustaining sustainability and the things are your own the more education like thinking we could all contribute and generate solutions that could help our communities, especially those that are most impacted by this. That’s why we created the group.
The workshop was just a great starter place for us in letting people know this is who we are. It also allows people that either wasn’t familiar at all period poverty or had a little bit of familiarity to understand more: what is this issue, who does it affect, and why is it an issue? and giving everyone the lay of the land. Also, getting people to engage more in the conversation and figuring out, “Is this something I want to be a part of?” “Is this an issue that I want to fight for?”
We got really great feedback after the workshop. Honestly, in the future, I would like to keep the starter workshop as something that we can continue to offer because I know that there are some people that missed it and were like, “Oh my gosh! You got to have more in the future.” I think that the next workshop will definitely continue but also adding additional ones for those that know a lot about it and other fun interactive ones that we can have.
Alice: Wow! We should all pay attention to your Facebook group and your Instagram so we can go to that next workshop. Can you guys talk about becoming entrepreneurs or this interest in entrepreneurship? It’s really unusual to be an entrepreneur in America, to be an entrepreneur in the world. Can you talk about your interest in that and pursuing it at Temple?
Nayanka: Zoe, do you want to go first?
Zoe: Oh, yeah. Sure. Yeah. I was originally an art major. I’m really a creative person and I think that’s what led me to entrepreneurship because it’s creative and fun. It’s really hard and definitely been a struggle lately having a job. They’re trying on multiple businesses in this and that. It becomes a lot of hard work but I think, finding a rhythm is important. I think it’s going to be rewarding in the years to come once we are doing something that we actually enjoy and we feel passionate about. That’s my feeling about it.
Nayanka: For me it was — I didn’t have my entrepreneurship major anyways. For me, I’ve always truly honestly have known that I wanted to be in the business world somehow and start my own business. I became more clear the older I got especially because of the way my mind works and how articulate I am. I always want things done a certain way. I’m also very big on having a kind of a solution-based mindset and being intentional with how we solve problems. I don’t like a lot of the way certain things are done. Everything just came naturally. When I figured out this is the area where I want to be involved and this is how I wanted to do it, I was thinking, “Entrepreneurship is the goal.” The goal was how do we end period poverty. “I feel like I have a solution.” “Oh, I guess this is entrepreneurship.” You know what I mean.
Zoe: Yeah. It is more of a passionate place, I think.
Nayanka: Yeah. It is like, I always knew I wanted to be a business owner. This is more of, “ I’m a solution provider.”
Zoe: Yeah, exactly.
Alice: Yeah, I asked that too because I’m an entrepreneur myself. I run a theater company at night after I do this. This jubilance for PMS is a supplement that helps with your PMS symptoms. That’s my little entrepreneur baby. I just think it’s unusual and wanted to ask you guys about it.
Nayanka, I also want to know, what is P & P Alignment? Can you talk about this other company that you’ve started?
Nayanka: Okay. Fun fact, that’s no longer a thing anymore…
Alice: Oh, okay.
Nayanka: …since we first got in contact. I still do freelance consultant work. It pretty much, ideally, is a work that I was doing before. The work that I was doing before, P & P Alignment, was mostly focused on helping young professionals’ resumes and interviews and things like that. As the company grew, I realized a lot of my clients were ones that were looking to go the untraditional career paths, which our clients I really did want to work with. I was doing a lot of brand work to brand strategy work. That was actually launched at my major because my major is Advertising. I was very familiar with that and like personal branding and I was, “You know what? I’m already doing this but I really solely want to focus on Bloody Bitches completely, entirely.” I still do really like helping other people that are going through the non-traditional career paths like makeup artists and things like that. I currently offer services on my personal website.
Nayanka: Yeah, I want to continue building on that. I still will be a freelance consultant taking clients here and there. There is that but Bloody Bitches is the sole focus.
Alice: Yeah, a woman of many hats.
Alice: Zoe, do you want to talk about Earth and Self?
Zoe: Yeah, that’s just, basically, something I do for fun. It’s a blog about sustainability and it kind of documents my journey in a way because I’m still learning all the time about how to better my habit. I don’t think there’s ever a perfect attainable way to be low waste to low impact and sustainable. I think everyone’s in a different place.
I really try to advocate that on my page on Zero Waste Malta, on my normal page. Also. it’s like another segment of environmental justice. I’ve always wanted to make sure that — some people judge people. They can’t do that zero-wasting, this and that. A lot of the times they’re, “What’s attainable for you in your situation? How can you be better for the environment?” Not everyone can get to the same levels and I think, that’s okay. Whatever you can do, you’re helping the planet. I try to say that on my pages. That’s the idea of environmental justice.
A lot of times things are expensive if there’s zero waste or low waste, you know what I mean? Buying organic, for example, it’s not attainable for everyone. That’s something else that I hope to work on maybe through Bloody Bitches too because it’s about sustainability as well. That is what Bloody Bitches do actually. Our whole goal is to get people, that can’t afford period products, our period products and it’s sustainable. They’re going to be getting top-notch products and not just leftover bad products with bad chemicals that are bad for the environment. We want to give them the best because they deserve that even if they can’t afford it, they deserve it. That’s our whole goal.
Nayanka: Yeah, and even more than that, I think we were always-Bloody Bitches is an organization that can’t be — I’m learning that’s not necessarily set in stone. We’re very much still learning and going back on with Zoe said, what’s obtainable from someone else may not be obtainable. Our goal is to give people the same quality products but we’re also realizing is that that also may not be very much possible. We can still eliminate other things like pollution. That’s happening. Pollution is fine but [found in] lower-income communities and how it’s affecting them and just other resources, We’re realizing that we have to divide our efforts and segment. How we can better help certain communities.
Zoe: It might be different from the beginning of our journey to later on. Right now, we support people that are getting products to lower-income communities regardless of the products. At the moment, we want to just like to help alleviate that having to just believe, without any products. Once we actually become better, have our products, and really grow as a company, then we’ll be able to actually get our products out to our lower-income communities. I think that’s a goal. There’s always going to be, along the way, we’re going to have to make some sacrifices to do what’s best for their trust. What we can do right now. It’s all very confusing. I’m sure you know as an entrepreneur. Starting up and everything, it never goes exactly how you planned.
Nayanka: Yeah, I think something to — even if we couldn’t-because, for me, those that are living deep poverty, they don’t have them. They don’t even have access to water. Our goal isn’t necessary if we can’t even get them reusable pads. We would love to get to a point where we can purchase or donate organic cotton. Ones that are just better for you.
Zoe: Better for them.
Nayanka: It’s not attainable for you to keep a cloth pad. There are disposable better products. We will also help eliminate the use of whatever is actually hurting the Earth.
Zoe: There would be a whole other segment possibly of donating to causes where they help them get water or help get access to water.
Nayanka: There are literally just so many avenues. I know we can do it. I think we had to step back and realize that the way we are attacking this issue. We only were aware that this wasn’t one-dimensional but our solution was almost a one-dimensional approach. I think, we’re learning to gather it back and saying, “Okay. Hey, this is how we have to do it. We need to really utilize our Facebook group and how we can segment our efforts. See how we can actually give the people in the community what they need in a way that it’s not this make-believe fairytale dream, but we can help you in this is how we want to.
Alice: Wow! That’s wonderful! Yeah. It sounds like there’s a long way to go but you guys have so many different avenues to explore.
Alice: Yeah, veering off in a different direction, another avenue. Something that I always ask everyone on the podcast is, “What do you think it means to be a woman today?” At this moment. It can probably change 30 seconds from now but for you guys right now, what is your definition for that?
Zoe: Do you want to go first, Nayanka?
Nayanka: That’s like — lot.
Nayanka: To be honest, to me personally, I don’t know what it’s like to be a woman but I know what it’s like to be a black woman and it’s a very different experience than it is to be a woman of color or a white woman. To me being a black woman is — I don’t know we’re all very different but at the same time it’s — I don’t know being a woman is a different experience. I’m smiling and really excited. I feel women were natural nurtures. There’s something about a woman that is truly — what’s better than us?
Alice: Yes. Yes.
Zoe: What’s better than us?
Nayanka: That’s what it is. That’s my idea.
Zoe: I’m going to say, it means being a warrior for change and being empowered to create change. If that makes sense. Living to your values. Being a woman in 2020, I guess, we have the power to be aware of what we want and really try to strive for the changes that we’re passionate about. I just think about how before we didn’t really have these opportunities. Now, we can really try to stick to our passions and try to make a change. That’s only one avenue I could take. There’s a lot of ways to answer this.
Nayanka: Yeah, I feel what I look at as being a woman or what it means to be a woman in this day and age may be very different for what someone else may say being a woman is. I think that’s the beauty of it. Now, especially because I feel back in the days there was just this very one straight view of what a woman was and it was great.
Zoe: Yeah. It was very great.
Nayanka: It was very submissive, very portrayed in a certain way —
Alice: Definitely. That’s why it is so interesting. We all have different views and definitions for ourselves but I think it changes second to second. What you are now is not what you are in five minutes. What’s better than us, like you said? Yeah. Another question I like to ask is if you could give one piece of advice to a woman just walking along the street about really anything, what would you say?
Zoe: I would say don’t be so hard on yourself. You grow every day and you’re always learning. Allow that energy to come into and to feed into your life. Try to just keep those positive vibes come in so that you can really create what you want to create out of life.
Nayanka: Yeah, I think, I would say to a woman on the street to always walk with your head up no matter what. I mean that literally and I would say figuratively. I think, there’s a certain presence when you have a certain confidence, even if you’re not really confident. I’m not going to say fake it till you make it but reassuring yourself of what you have to bring to the table and knowing what it is that you bring and then following through with it no matter what —
Zoe: Manifest it.
Nayanka: Yeah, and being bold. I think a lot of times were taught to focus on our weaknesses. It’s not overtly out there but a lot of the times women were so used to being shut down, we’re so used to telling to not talk. I’ve seen in myself — someone’s away that I don’t talk in certain areas but continuously remind yourself of your strengths and just walk in that.
Alice: Thank you. What is next for both of you?
Zoe: I’m so proud of you!
Nayanka: In my kitchen.
Alice: Are you redoing your kitchen?
Nayanka: No, I’m just going to walk- I don’t know.
Alice: Walk to your kitchen.
Nayanka: Yeah, I graduate in two weeks. I’m looking for job offers. Hopefully, moving into a new apartment and working on Bloody Bitches. We have a lot in the work for Bloody Bitches. I think, Zoe and I- It’s gonna be another schedule shift for us. Now, I’ll be more available in a sense. I’m trying to see that even when I am more available, I feel like I always have a lot of stuff on my plate. I do truly hope that I can nail down and complete a lot of things I want to for Bloody Bitches.
Zoe: I hope to start getting supplies for the actual products. That will be…
Nayanka: I think, it’s super important that Zoe and I are closer to each other. That looks like it will happen.
Zoe: Yeah, it’s quarantine right now. Everything is —
Nayanka: Yeah, so we figuring out the next steps. Definitely more workshops, more content, YouTube, IGTV.
Alice: Awesome! All sounding good.
Nayanka: The whole shebang.
Alice: I want to thank you so much for being on today. It was such a pleasure to get to talk to you, to see you last week at the workshop and hear more about your views today.
Zoe: Thank you so much for having us.
Alice: Yeah. Have a great rest of your day.
Nayanka: You too. Thank you.
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