Davielle Jackson wants to make life easier for women by making a very common source of stress and discomfort in our lives less of a challenge: our periods.
Jackson is the Black woman founder of the feminine hygiene company Femi Secrets. Started in 2013, she sought to provide relief based on her own struggles with her period due to fibroids and watching other women in her life, Black women especially, suffer with extreme cramps and leaks from heavy periods. She believes that if more women were informed about the chemicals in many of the pads and tampons they’ve been using since they were pre-teens, many of the health issues we battle with as adults pertaining to our reproductive health and fertility could have been avoided.
“My mother, my sister, my auntie, nobody ever spoke to me about period products or what to use or anything,” she tells ESSENCE. “When I started my cycle, which was on my 12th birthday, it was like a big surprise. I figured out what it was. I went to my mom’s house, looked under the cabinet, found some tampons. First thing I used. Never knew anything different. Nobody ever spoke to me about hygiene, is a tampon the right product.”
“Fast forward into, let’s say 10 years later. Now I’m in medical school. I was going to be a doctor. One of my close friends came up to me and said, ‘Listen, I’m suffering from PCOS, having extreme cramps. And I have a leak no matter what.’ She said, ‘Sometimes I’m using three and four tampons at a time to make sure I don’t have a leak.’ And I was like, ‘Oh my God, this is unacceptable.'”
With her background in biology and health and sciences, Jackson started doing research. She began to realize that chemicals found in many feminine hygiene products, meant to absorb moisture quickly, include phthalates, bisphenols, dioxides, pesticides and plastics, all of which are linked to different serious health and reproductive issues.
“Their number one goal is to make sure women don’t have leaks, but at the same time, what is the cost for using their product?” she asks of popular personal care product brands. “Will you suffer from infertility in the next five years? Will you have all of these other issues, cancer, all of these other things?”
In an effort to bring healthier options to the market, Jackson created the patent for Femi Secrets in 2013 and by 2014, had her products in Walmart stores. Her most popular one is the Pretty Panty, a light panty and pad in one. Like all of her offerings, it is free of chemicals. It’s also made of breathable, biodegradable material and structured in a way to be, as it’s touted, 100-percent leak-free.
“Most women don’t even understand the reason they have leaks if they’re using pads is because they’re using the wrong panty. The pads are shifting,” she says. “My patent design, the seat of the panty is wider and longer than any other panty. Therefore, it’s going to cup to a woman’s body and that’s the way that we guarantee a 100% leak-proof patent.”
“It’s really the safest option for women to use. And not only is it safe, it’s so easy,” she adds. “Normally with our period, we’ve got to go grab 18 different things, tampons, shorts, panties. We got a whole system. With Pretty Panty, it’s one panty. Put it on and when you’re done, you dispose of it.”
The simplicity of such products has allowed Femi Secrets to be successful, and to expand so that women are tackling their periods with the healthiest, most natural options. In addition to the panty, Femi Secrets has a subscription box of three different types: the Ultimate Protection, Femi Pain Reliever (with CBD pain-relieving ointment) and Healthy Period (including organic Femi Wipes). All the products offer some comfort, from the delicate designs of the Pretty Panty to the CBD bath bombs and fibroid teas meant to offer relief. But overall, they’re all meant to protect, not just from a messy, uncomfortable, and all-consuming period, but from the chemicals that can make them worse and in turn, make us sick.
“When I created this product, I said it’s not only going to provide the ultimate protection, but it’s going to make women feel good and it’s also going to be healthy,” Jackson says. “My number one goal as the CEO and the founder of this company is to make sure women have healthier and happier lives.”