When could inclusive packaging be considered as such? There are many fields, but today we must choose one.
Have you ever thought that inclusive packaging could significantly impact people’s lives? For example, menstruation is often overlooked in society. Not everyone knows that such a natural phenomenon represents a crucial aspect of women’s health and psycho-physical well-being. Having it is not a woman’s choice, it is not to be underestimated, and it is not a shame – ’cause yes, this natural physical moment still makes someone raise their eyebrows (also, if you don’t have excellent packaging to cover sanitary pads). This is because menstruation is still seen as taboo.
To embrace the cause of trying to make a cultural bridge, today we have an ally: This Unique.
We chatted with Lisa Iannello, one of that start-up’s four co-founders and CPO. Fresh off the news, the start up has earned a place in Forbes’ Olympus, March edition. For the sixth year in a row, the magazine honoured the best of young entrepreneurs. Among the Under 30 personalities recognised were Lisa and her coworkers with the courageous and ambitious This Unique!
We talked about menstruation, communication, sustainability, and… Inclusive packaging!
“Why?” you could be wondering.
Because This Unique wants to be a bridge of dialogue based on mutual listening and knowledge sharing. Every menstrual cycle is different and unique ; this is one of the reason why on their site, you can buy customizable boxes of sanitary pads, tampons, and everything that contributes to the person’s psycho-physical well-being.
Packly was an essential partner in this inclusive packaging creation…
But to know the whole story of how This Unique was born and which role Packly played, all you need to do is keep reading!
Hi Lisa! Can you tell us a little about the story of This Unique? How did it all start?
This Unique is a “four hands composition”; it was born from the four founding partners: me (Lisa), Vincenzo, Ludovico, and Alice. We are between Milan and Turin; in fact, we have offices in one city and another; in Turin, mainly, there is also the logistics sector. The project is a son of the post-pandemic since it was born in 2021. Each of us rearranged our lives that year – given the various difficulties that covid brought about. We still knew each other when this project was only the idea of one person among the four of us; in fact, we came from different backgrounds, and this was our beginning and one of our strengths. As a single, the project then had a family as it expanded to all four, and we had bright eyes toward the birth of something unique!
So what are your backgrounds?
I did Product Design at the Milan Polytechnic and Vincenzo at the 24ORE Business School at the Cattolica, where he met Ludovico. Alice went to the University of Turin – Faculty of Letters. Completely different profiles, as you can see! We come from the primary sectors that we needed to create a team. I take care of product communication and product strategy; Ludovico covers the financial and economic part, while Vincenzo, who is the CEO, takes care of team strategy and administration. Alice is a fascinating figure because she was born as a copywriter for This, Unique, then she also covered the role of C.O., thanks to her organizational temperament.
What features distinguish This Unique from other menstrual products on the market?
It was born from observing the menstrual taboo, mainly from studying the subscription business model, which was not as popular as abroad in Italy. From there, my reasoning starts: what is the most recurring monthly need for the female target? Menstruation. Subscription is seen as a solution! It is more environmentally and economically sustainable (mainly because we are a start-up); moreover, it relieves the hassle of buying pads monthly!
If you think about it, the problems are primarily divided into product and experience. There are many issues related to the product, tampons, or pads. The most accessible one on the market is that of the supermarket, which often, however, has problems related to the material, which is plastic, which damages both people’s and the environment’s health. In some people, it can cause irritation in their private parts, while a sanitary pad made of plastic takes 500 years to degrade for the environment.
Suppose we base our reasoning on environmentalism being a very current theme, a priority, and a necessity for which we cannot close our eyes and not look. In that case, This Unique is intertwined with the question of sustainability starting from menstruation. We can estimate that around 12,000 menstrual products will be used in a person’s life, and if all these remain on earth for 500 years, it becomes a natural disaster!
What does the name “This Unique” want to communicate?
The name was born because, beyond menstrual education, we would like to be a cultural bridge of dialogue! Because unfortunately, the menstruation taboo exists, and it’s a paradox because menstrual blood is the only blood that doesn’t come from violence! Yet, it is the most stigmatized one.
Let’s start by talking about tampons and then broaden the spectrum to include sexuality or personal care, always in a conscious way. Our service is customizable for each person because each person has a different cycle; there is no stencil, and there is no way to experience sexuality; therefore, we give you customization where you can choose the types of products and quantities. Each inclusive packaging is unique for everyone’s needs. This Unique is for all! And we also talk about menstruation, not just as a women’s experience. Why? Because not all menstruating women feel like women, and not all people who menstruate are women, if you know what I mean… This Unique is an inclusive and no-gender project. For example, identifying yourself in a specific category but not having menstruation doesn’t mean you are less of a woman.
I noticed that on social networks, there is crazy word of mouth! Your community is very active, and social networks (such as Instagram) allow for direct communication. So how important is it for you to talk about this topic online, and how does This Unique work to educate and raise awareness about menstrual health?
We want to be a source of information accessible to everyone and to be who we want and need to be when experiencing these things for the first time. Because not everyone had, or has the possibility and the privilege of turning to expert figures such as gynecologists; or sectoral figures from whom to inquire also to tell you that the tampon does not take away your virginity.
So our goal is to create a platform that connects these sources of information, which can be us, or people more expert than us, making the information of a specific menstrual or sexual moment of our body and mind more accessible. This is the work we do: as simple as possible but accurate. For example, I do the visible part of the product, so I have to create content that most people understand. We must be a bridge between those who inform and those who receive information. This Unique feeds itself from the community.
The brand thinks from the point of view of inclusiveness, even though it is a physical characteristic that biologically belongs to women. What is the response from the male audience?
The values of This Unique reflect the importance of the founders. Since the idea came from the four of us, we don’t want to cancel the male figure! They are also fundamental in that process of being “exploited” of their privilege (because they have a clear benefit over us), and here too, it returns the concept of creating a bridge to all that group of men who still do not have the tools to understand these issues we are talking about. Having male figures who act as “bridges” in this sense is very useful. Whoever created this product years ago was driven primarily by economic interests rather than necessity. To summarize, we don’t want to be a brand that only talks about menstruation to women. Indeed, when we participate in fairs and events, we put sanitary pads in the gift bags we provide to anyone without distinction.
Sifting through your site, I noticed the word “R-Evolution.” Carry out a revolutionary, provocative, or evolutionary initiative? Let’s say that one concept does not necessarily have to exclude the other…
Indeed one concept does not exclude the other! The provocation is taken as such by those still hostile to this issue. Our intention is not to provoke but move ed to educate, and maybe yes! – we do it through provocation but by creating bridges. We provide tools to make provocation understood. Otherwise, it would be just activism. We try to be punks, but explain why we are punks. However, in the end, we focus on evolution because we want to make people feel better, create a better menstruation experience, and remove all that negativity, that taboo around the phenomenon.
What are the future plans or goals for the brand?
Generally, it is a point of reference for menstrual or sexual information and the well-being of the body and mind. Not only online but also offline, trying to create more and more live micro-communities because online is more accessible, but not everyone is said to be online. On the other hand, for the product, we want to be a reference for experiencing “sustainable” periods, even if obviously we cannot compete with the big names. This Unique, we hope, is to become the no-gender and aware brand dedicated to the psycho-physical well-being of the person.
Inclusive packaging collaboration: how did you discover Packly?
I found Packly searching online! We needed immediate packaging for our products and wanted a fast supplier in Italy so that we had total control over the matter; we also needed an easy interface and direct and clear communication. So among the various, we have chosen you because you have one large selection of boxes!
What inclusive packaging did you order from Packly, and how did This Unique fit into the packaging design and production process?
We made inclusive packaging for our herbal teas for our 10-pack sanitary pads, not for sale on our site but needed for offline events. What we liked most is that you can work all on the interface rather than having this exchange of emails as if it were a prolonged ping pong. We don’t act like a company; being a start-up, we don’t buy in large quantities. We often need small numbers of packaging in a short time. Packly offers this possibility: it’s perfect for this!
Inclusive packaging involves so many values. Did you also find the green aspect that belongs to This Unique in Packly?
Surely!! We have never chosen plastic products, so we chose you for the green option!
In short: talking to Lisa was enjoyable, educational, and enlightening! We at Packly are happy to have been collaborators in this significant cause with inclusive packaging. While we treasure this meeting and welcome the advice to improve day after day, you can drop by our online platform and start your packaging customization experience!