Tell me about Luna. What does it offer?
Luna is an online community that supports girls through their first and subsequent periods, and empowers them by normalising periods, busting myths, challenging the status quo and fighting taboos and stigmas. Along with this community support, Luna provides customers with a highly customisable subscription service, that delivers packs monthly, in phase with their period. And because knowledge is power, educating our audience about periods and what to expect are core founding principles. We promote the values of empowerment, education and authenticity through Instagram and Facebook, which are our most popular social channels.
What makes Luna different to any other period product available in the market now?
Luna is solely focused on the tween and teen audience; girls going through puberty and experiencing and managing periods for the first time. Luna believes that every girl should have a positive first period experience, and every girl should have the support and knowledge available to enable her to manage her period with dignity. While products are important to managing periods, Luna is also focused on the understanding and accessibility of products – knowing what they are and ensuring their packages arrive before they need to buy them – ensuring girls are represented and have a voice on menstrual hygiene and that there is a brand dedicated to their experience.
What inspired you to launch a service like Luna?
I wasn’t prepared for my first period and it wasn’t a positive or empowering experience. I was scared and embarrassed, which could easily have been avoided if I had been given access to products before I started and if I had been exposed to information targeted to my age. I was one week shy of my 13th birthday and got my period before Google, Facebook and Instagram were around, so access to information was non-existent and nobody talked openly about periods.
It was an important milestone that I experienced in isolation, so I wanted to create a service that celebrates periods, makes them as fun as possible and provides a service that educates girls while empowering them.
What was your biggest challenge in starting up Luna?
Funding was and continues to be the main hurdle. Having a good idea is one thing but if you can’t put it into action it remains just that, a good idea. Start-ups drain money because it takes time to generate revenues (let alone profits) while you still need money to develop and promote your business. So, it’s a constant juggle trying to make it all work. On a more positive note, retaining Mike Burke from Point 16 as an advisor was one of my smartest moves. He helped with the commercialisation process – not only creating the business model which was informed by solid customer and feature testing, but he also helped me to define my brand led positioning and proposition. I’m a believer!! Every start up needs a Mike.
If you could go back in time and give yourself one piece of advice for when you started on this venture, what would it be?
I would have been less focused on perfectionism and I would have launched earlier, because I’ve learnt so much about the business and what Luna is (and could be) since it launched. I would worry less about the aesthetics – packaging and product and I would have focused more on the message. I think getting this right is key. The rest can wait until we move out of the MVP (minimum viable product) phase. I would also try to be less emotional about the business. It’s hard because you want it to succeed so much, but staying objective is important and it’s something I’ve struggled with.
How important is the brand to the success of Luna?
Essential, vital – there is no business without the brand, the brand is the business. Tampons, pads, menstrual cups have all been invented. We’re not reinventing the wheel here, what we’re doing is bringing periods into the 21st century and saying it’s not okay that girls are still embarrassed by their periods, it’s not okay that girls are still in the dark about their periods, or missing school because they don’t have access to proper menstrual hygiene. We can, and we should want to do better, and it's the brand that communicate these messages.
Longer term, how will you measure the influence of your brand on the success of Luna?
I want Luna to be a household name, one that’s automatically associated with period positivity, first period experiences and menstrual hygiene. If we can achieve that then we will have successfully broken down the barriers we face (such as the taboo around periods).
I want families and girls and boys to be educated about periods, and I want honest and open conversations to occur – I want Luna to drive that, to be the catalyst for change.
If you could choose any individual to positively champion and influence your brand, who would it be?
Well, if we’re dreaming here Meghan Markle and, or Amal Clooney. Both are fierce advocates for female education, empowerment and gender diversity. Markle in particular has done a lot of work with charities in India around fighting the taboo of periods and ensuring girls have access to products so that they don’t miss out on school and their education. But equally, New Zealand is blessed with some amazing women, such as Hayley Holt or Eliza McCartney who I admire and think embody Luna’s values.
What trends and/or new initiatives do you follow?
I’m very interested in the zero-waste movement and reducing the use of plastic. I try to practice a vegetarian/vegan lifestyle as much as possible to reduce my personal plastic consumption and the effect dairy and meat livestock have on the environment. I’m very interested in reusable menstrual products and how they will grow in popularity as consumers become increasingly focused on sustainability.
What local and international brands inspire you and why?
I really admire Oi – Organic Initiative – for manufacturing products that are both good for the environment and women’s health, and for helping to fight the stigma and taboo associated with periods. I’m a massive fan of Deadly Ponies, I think they’re a world class company that showcase the best of New Zealand and what it means to be Kiwi, that you can go up against the big guys and win (and have the tenacity to think you can).
I love Ben and Jerry’s and their sustainability message that permeates everything they do, from sourcing ingredients to their Fairtrade practices and to the values they promote. I love Coca-Cola. Although not necessarily a healthy option, I love the feelings I have when I think of Coke; they're always so positive. Coke reminds me of childhood treats and parties, of hot summer days, sports games and long days at the beach. And I think that’s the most important quality of a brand – how it makes you feel. It’s completely intangible, but loved brands have an emotive connection to their audience, and that’s not something you can buy. People fall in love with brands for the same reason they fall in love with people; they take you to a place no one else can.
Where do you see Luna in five years' time?
I want Luna to be a household name in New Zealand, I want every girl who is about to or has started their period to think of Luna and how Luna can support them. I want all girls to feel connected and engaged by Luna and feel that it’s a community that represents them and provides them with a platform to share their experiences and feelings about such an important step on the journey to womanhood.