From School Project to Mass Manufacturing

Simhona is the product of over a year's full time work - a result of literal blood, sweat and tears. 

School Project

Simhona began as a school project (originally called Empower). The goal was to create a product to combat period poverty. I worked with AfriPads to create an innovative menstrual pad. 

AfriPads is a non-profit based in Uganda that works to combat school absenteeism due to period poverty by conducting workshops about menstrual hygiene, and providing free reusable menstrual pads. However, even with their products, menstruators were still skipping school. They found that this was due to improper care and lack of privacy to change at school. 

  • If not properly washed and dried, the pad becomes a breeding ground for bacteria - causing bacterial infections, while also reducing the lifespan of the product. 
  • Many schools did not have proper toilet facilities, making changing pads difficult and embarrassing.
The product I created in response to these issues was designed for increased sanitation and discretion. It was later chosen to be displayed in the Pratt Show, as part of NYC Design Week.

COVID19 effect of period poverty, and a call to action

During COVID19 period poverty rose, becoming more prevalent in “developed” countries such as the US. Most menstruators in the US use disposable products as they are more convenient and widely available. These products are usually also the ones given for free in places like schools and community centers - places on which many people depend on for their supplies as other outlets can be too expensive. 

In March of 2020, most of the USA was put under lockdown, and people scrambled to stock up on supplies. While toilet paper was one of the most widely sought after, menstrual products were also frequently understocked. On top of that, with schools and community centers mainly closed, free supplies were now out of question.  

The benefits of reusables on period poverty

If menstruators in the US had been using reusables they would not have been hit as hard. They would have had products on hand, and their periods would have been much cheaper - particularly important in a time when many people got furloughed/lost their jobs. 
Reusables have always been cheaper (in the long-run) and more sustainable than disposables, but it had never been shown in a starker light. Therefore, I decided to revisit the product, but as it related to my home countries - the US and India. why weren’t reusables more popular?

Extensive market research was conducted in the US and India to understand why menstruators were reluctant to use current reusable products. The findings revealed the gap in the market between period underwear and reusable pads. 
Why most US menstruators are not using reusables:
  • Too expensive
  • Difficult to change
  • Difficult to clean
  • Convenience
The reason why most menstruators in India weren’t using reusables were similar to the reasons why menstruators in Uganda weren’t using reusables. 

The creation of Simhona

These findings sparked the creation of Simhona. 
Simhona is designed to be: 
  • Affordable
    • One Simhona equates to 2 period underwear due to the ability to solely change the absorbent portion. 
  • Easy to clean 
    • The pad opens up for targeted cleaning and faster drying. Proper cleaning makes the product last longer, further lowering the cost of a period.
  • Easy to change
    • The pad can easily be switched out without removing the entire underwear. 
  • Comfort
    • The pad attaches to the underwear similarly to a disposable pad - having multiple points of contact, so that the pad does not shift or bunch up, and fits smoothly into the underwear. 
Simhona will be sold at an affordable price in the US, and donated in India. India encounters issues similar to that of Uganda, making the cleaning and changing features particularly important.
I hope Simhona will help you have a better period - both for you, and the rest of the world.