Contrary to what we’re led to believe, there are actually other options for your period needs besides tampons and pads that are more comfortable, cheaper, healthier and eco-friendly. GladRags makes it their mission to bring you all of those alternatives in one convenient place while promoting period positivity. Say what? Let Tracy Puhl, Fearless Leader of GladRags, explain in her interview with Salted’s very own Alejandra Perez for this week’s Spotlight.
SALTED SPOTLIGHT: Tracy Puhl of GladRags
Tell us, how did GladRags start?
GladRags was founded in 1993 by Brenda Mallory, who was inspired by the simple comfort and environmental benefits of her daughter’s cloth diapers. Since then, we’ve grown from a home-based business to one that sells to women all over the world. We’re still a small company, but with a much bigger presence!
What is your mission?
Our mission is to positively transform the experience of menstruation with high quality, sustainable menstrual products. We believe that periods aren’t inherently unpleasant—and we know that when women switch to cloth pads, they invariably find a greater sense of well-being surrounding their cycle.
What products do you offer besides the cloth pads and how are they used?
In stores, we have a full line of cloth menstrual pads as well as the Moon Cup. The Moon Cup is a medical-grade silicone tampon alternative that is worn internally to collect menstrual flow rather than absorbing it. It can be worn for up to 12 hours before emptying, rinsing (if at home), and reinserting. Online at GladRags.com, we also carry accessories like carry bags and laundry essentials.
What would you tell someone who feels uncomfortable washing her menstrual products?
First, it’s okay to be uncomfortable! You’ve had years of being taught that your period is something to be ashamed of or grossed out by; it might take you a minute to unlearn that. Second, In my experience, the best way to accept your cycle as a natural part of your life is to take the time to care for your body—and your menstrual supplies. While washing cloth pads doesn’t actually add to most women’s laundry schedules (you can learn about my “Lazy Method” of washing cloth pads here), even the small ritual of putting your GladRags away can produce profound feelings of period positivity! Finally, there’s way less blood than you think. The average amount of menstrual flow is just a few tablespoons over the course of a few days!
On average, how much money can one save by reusing washable menstrual products instead of disposable menstrual products?
Of course, it all depends on the individual: the length of your cycle, how heavy your flow is, what products you use, etc. We estimate that most users will save up to $500 in the first few years. Our customers love to send us messages detailing how much they’ve saved, too. Here’s one from Lilith:
I was just wondering about how much money I’ve saved since beginning cloth pad use and came up with this for my usage:
Average box of tampons – $7 at about 9 boxes per year
Average box of pantiliners – $6 at about 12 boxes per year
Approximate amount of money I have spent on cloth pads since the beginning – $200
Number of years on cloth instead of disposables – 12
Adding taxes at 10%, which is what it averages around here means that my total money saved by using reusable menstrual products is about $1,562. And that’s not even counting the savings of gas money to and from the store each month. I didn’t adjust for laundry costs, because I just throw them in with loads I was already going to do. Impressive total! I can definitely think of better ways to spend that much money than throwing it into a landfill!
Out of everything, what is your favorite GladRags product?
My favorite GladRags product is the Color Pantyliner, primarily because it’s so darn cute! I have a handful, and the different patterns never fail to brighten my day when I use them (it’s kind of liking knowing that you’re wearing cute underwear). The GladRags product I use the most is the Day Pad—I use them with 2 inserts on the first two days of my cycle, then just 1 insert on the lighter days of flow.
Many of us have a horrifying or embarrassing period story. Is there one in particular that you can laugh at now and tell us about?
I honestly don’t! I have your run of the mill experiences of very heavy flow or bad cramps, but no great tales of woe (fortunately). I opened this one up to the GladRags team and Meagan (Director of Customer Happiness) had this story to share:
“I was 14 and wearing these mega short shorts. I didn’t realize my period had started, so I didn’t have a pad or a tampon on. Of course I bled through my shorts and it even ran down my legs a little bit. I looked down and realized I had blood smeared all over the insides of my thighs! I had to go to the mall bathroom and try to clean up with a wet paper towel.”
In your bio you mention that you have a soft spot for alliterative sentences. Give us your best one that mentions GladRags, period or menstruation.
I noticed when I was answering an earlier question that I did this! Using GladRags can… produce profound feelings of period positivity!
Who would be your dream spokesperson for GladRags?
Right now, I’m all about Emma Watson. She’s only a few years younger than me, but watching her as Hermione makes me feel like I’ve seen her grow up from a little girl into an educated, powerful, amazing woman. I can’t wait to see what she does next.
What attitude would you like for girls to have about their periods?
First and foremost, I’d like for girls (and boys!) to have adequate education about menstruation. Too many young people have no idea what’s going on “down there” (or even what “down there” is actually called), much less understand that they have a choice in the kind of menstrual protection they use. I’d like for everyone to have positive feelings about periods, too. I wrote a blog post recently about why I’m grateful for my period. I hope that someday, more people feel like that as opposed to the dread and disgust many women feel each month.
Tracy Puhl was hired at GladRags in 2009 and quickly discovered her knack for the period business. In 2011, she became the owner of the company at just 24 years old. From customer service rep to owner of GladRags in only a few years? Doing the impossible is just Tracy’s style! She’s been described as a pinnacle of professionalism, and packs the perfect punch of passion and pep to keep GladRags running smoothly every single day of the week (she also has a soft spot for alliterative sentences). When taking a break from changing the world one pantyliner at a time, Tracy can be found reading, traveling, playing with her niece, or telling people to look at how cute her cats are being right now.