A designer by passion and entrepreneur by choice — Priyanka N Jain spent almost four years in the fields of design in India after working abroad. Yet, she felt a sense of incompleteness. To take control over her life and career, Priyanka, along with her husband, started-up “Hygiene and You” in July 2015 to create an ecological balance. Till now, Priyanka’s website has sold over 125 mooncups.
She is currently focusing on sanitary waste, which is a huge problem that cannot be reused or recycled and leaves harmful effects on our health as well as the environment. Besides introducing reusable cloth pads, menstrual cups and cloth diapers for women, Priyanka has recently launched reusable incontinence briefs for people suffering from urinary incontinence. She uses social media as a live saving tool to expand her eco-friendly venture. She has also made an informative video on menstrual cups on YouTube.
Tell us about your journey. What inspired you to become an Entrepreneur?
I am a designer-turned-entrepreneur. My journey of this switch has been very exciting, and no less than a roller coaster ride. After completing my education from Modern School, New Delhi, I moved to the UK for my graduation in BA Hons Architecture at the University of Nottingham. My designs were always inclined towards sustainability. I worked in London as an assistant architect where I realised my keen interest in graphics and branding. I decided to come back to India and explore opportunities in graphics as well as management to broaden my skill set. I worked for four years in the fields of design and project management. For all these years that I was working for others, I felt something was incomplete. I was not following my passion or dreams. I was unable to do whatever I wanted to. After having a long chat with my husband, I realised I needed to start something of my own if I wanted control over what I do. Together, we wanted to focus on something meaningful in life and launched “Hygiene and You” in July 2015.
What’s the concept of ‘Hygiene and You’ and what’s your vision behind it? An increasing use of chemicals, along with non-biodegradable use and use and throw products in our current lifestyle is leading to poor health conditions and global warming, which in turn is disrupting the ecological balance. With Hygiene and You, we decided to promote sustainable living while encouraging personal hygiene. We believe reusable, eco-friendly products are the need of the hour.
Hygiene and You spreads awareness about various sustainable measures that leads us to personal cleanliness. The solution could be to start with a step to improvise sanitation and stop spreading diseases so that we can live a better, healthy and standard life. Through self-caring and fighting non-communicable diseases, we are also providing the best information and products, our company caters in an eco-friendly manner. Our current focus is sanitary waste (it is the waste accumulated by disposable adult or baby diapers / sanitary pads / tampons). It is a huge problem as it cannot be reused or recycled and has extreme harmful effects on our health as well as the environment. A number of people have started incinerating these products, but that is also not a safe solution to the problem as a lot of toxic gases are released in the atmosphere with this process. Watch The Video Here: Arunachalam Muruganantham: The first man to wear a sanitary napkin
We are introducing women to reusable cloth pads (produced by organizations like Eco Femme, Shomota, Uger), menstrual cups (Shecup, Mooncup, me luna cups etc.) and cloth diapers.
We have recently launched reusable incontinence briefs for people suffering from urinary incontinence. These are designed like regular underwear along with sewn in cotton and wool padding that can absorb leakages. These can also be used for Postpartum bleeding, thus saving a huge number of adult pads / diapers from going to the landfill.
Who has been your biggest inspiration?
My biggest inspirations are the people who live a sustainable life, without producing a lot of waste. One such woman is Lauren Singer. She inspires me to replace all use and throw (plastic) products we use in our daily lives with reusable ones.
What are your deepest ambitions with ’Hygiene and You’?
Deepest ambition of Hygiene and You is to ensure that everyone around us reduces the use of chemicals in their life. We want them to replace all one time use products with more long lasting ones so they produce less waste. We want our generation to reduce their carbon footprint and make this earth a better place to live in for next generation. We want to see India as a nation of healthy citizens.
What market gap are you trying to address by bringing Hygiene and You in market?
We are introducing the market to innovative, eco-friendly products. Since these products are quite new, people are apprehensive to use / try them and have a lot of questions around these. We started a blog and posted videos on YouTube channel to answer these questions. After doing some research, we realised that only 10% of Indians understand English and that meant 90% of Indian population will NOT understand how to use the products we are introducing them to. To fill in this gap, we started producing blogs and videos in multiple languages which currently includes English, Hindi, Tamil, Telugu and Bengali. We will be adding more languages in the near future.
What makes you different from your competitors?
Our competitors are selling some of these products as they see a great potential in future. Apart from selling our products, we are spreading awareness about these products by the means of workshops (in schools, colleges, offices), participating in flea markets and through our multi-lingual blogs and YouTube channels.
How did you manage funding for the base operations initially?
We are a bootstrapped start-up. Luckily, our funding comes from personal savings and family support.
What were the initial days like — what kind of challenges you’ve faced and are still facing as an entrepreneur?
Initial days are very exciting, fun and extremely challenging. Especially when you are bootstrapping and do not have a VC’s money to burn on marketing. Taboos around us are one of our biggest challenges. As menstruation/urinary problems are subject that no one wants to talk about, we find it very difficult arrange workshops about menstrual cups / cloth pads / incontinence briefs.
What skills do you think an entrepreneur must have to be successful?
The most important skill that every entrepreneur should possess is perseverance. One must be completely committed to their vision so they can overcome all hurdles on their way. This also helps you get through the frustrating times when you are unable to map any progress. You need to be patient and give it your 100%.
How do you think the digital boom in India is empowering women? How has it helped your venture grow in the market?
Women usually face growth problems at work as personal life needs them to stay at home. Digital boom in India is offering great opportunities for women to work from home with flexible hours. They can now take care of the family, not spend hours in traffic, work any time of the day from the comfort of their homes and progress at work. We work with numerous women, from different cities of India without having met them personally. It is better for our business as we get inputs of some great women from different walks of life. We spend less on infrastructure, and do not need a huge office space. We feel like we have virtual offices all over India that are helping us grow faster.
The rise of the woman entrepreneurs - Your view? How do you feel being amongst them?
I have always believed that women are equally capable as their men counterparts at work. However, we see very few women at senior positions at work places. Major reasons being marriage, children or elderly at home. Things are finally changing and men have started to share the load at home which allows women to be at work. I feel very lucky to receive complete support from my husband, parents-in-law and my parents which allows me to work with my full potential. Women have a different approach at entrepreneurship as compared to men, and I am very proud to be able take my skills forward to make this world a better place to live in.
Here Is A Detailed Demo: The miracle menstrual cup and me by Poorvi Gupta
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