Nele Tüch conducted this interview for our partner Frairaum.
Nele: Periods should usually be unnoticed, quiet, odorless and virtually invisible. You do exactly the opposite: you are loud, direct and deliberately break taboos. How important is this confrontation for you?
Anna: Our goal is that menstruators have the choice whether - like us as a brand - they want to be loud and tell everyone, that they are on their period or whether they don't want to broach the subject. By talking about it openly, we show that nobody should be ashamed or hide.
Katha: The company's claim is "Do what you want." Just because the period for me as woman goes unnoticed, if I use the product and I can enjoy absolute freedom and the greatest possible comfort through the soft tampon, it does not mean that I want to hide my period. I openly communicate that I have my period, but avoid nerve effects.
Nele: So in both aspects you do the opposite of what conventional tampon brands do. Conventional tampons are almost always noticeable and are noticeably part of the period. On the other hand, these brands cling to a communication built on not seeing blood and negating the period. That's not how it should be. We should talk about periods in order to normalize them, but also to experience them as comfortably as possible.
Katha: Periods are completely natural. Every woman has them and everyone has to get used to them. And yet they are not always the most pleasant days of the month. So our goal is to make this uncomfortable feeling more comfortable and pleasant.
Nele: Talking about your period is often something that doesn't go hand in hand with comfort. You have to step out of your comfort zone. Did you first have to get used to being able to talk openly about the topic?
Anna: Probably nobody talks about periods as much as we and a few other women in Germany do. For us it's now as normal as talking about lunch.
Katha: Also during lunch.
Katha: Of course we haven't talked so openly and a lot about periods all our lives, that only came with the job. When it started, we told friends and acquaintances about it and the reactions of men were particularly interesting. A lot of people were totally unemotional about the idea because they saw us as a business case and asked straight out: "How are you monetizing this?" Others were intimidated and didn't want to have anything to do with the topic. But there were also many who thought the idea was great.
Anna: The inhibition threshold has dropped extremely in recent years, especially due to the brand appearances of other tampon products. Or because of the tampon tax petition. A lot has happened. So we got in at exactly the right time.
Katha: Many other women paved the way for us, like Nana from the period tax or the companies that already exist on the market.
Nele: As a teenager, I had a completely different relationship to periods, for example: How often did you put the tampon in your sleeve at school or pass it on hidden in your fist under the table. If we continue to communicate so openly, we might be able to give more young women the courage to simply throw the tampon across the table through the classroom.
Katha: We want exactly this self-confidence also evoke with our packaging: It looks like sweets, in bright colors.It wasn't about hiding the period behind a candy facade, but about the fact that period products don't always have to be clinical and medical and boring
Of course we spoke to a lot of menstruators from all age groups. Recently we even have a student intern. I can say that the young girls and women today are in a completely different mood than we were at that age.
Anna: These are changes that span generations. A lot has happened between the generations of our grandmothers, mothers and us.
Nele: For us it may now be quite normal to talk about your period, but we are also in one bubbles My male friends wouldn't even bat an eyelid if I talked about my period over lunch, and neither would my dad, by the way. But I think as soon as you step out of this bubble, there are still many people who find the open handling of the topic irritating. Have you had any experiences with that?
Anna: I move further away from my Berlin bubble from time to time because I come from a very rural area in Bavaria. When I tell people about Never Not back home, most of them don't ask, but a few of the younger girls often approach me. They think the project is very cool, but they don't want to say it in front of everyone. You notice that what is happening in Berlin or in Europe's big cities has nothing to do with what the average thinks and does. And we have to make sure that we can also address these people - especially with our current target group.
Nele: What is your current target group?
Anna: Our typical user or customer feels comfortable in their body. The fact that the Never Not Tampon does not have a withdrawal thread may irritate someone who does not like to touch themselves. So our job is to take people by the hand: entertainment and education! We recorded video and explanatory material for the launch of the product. Our communication is very aggressive, but we also look at how we can pick up people who are not yet comfortable with the topic. We want to create an option that makes women feel better about their periods. But if someone has already found their perfect period product, then that's okay with us.
Katha: Never Not also works well as an additional product: when riding, in the gym, in the spa, during sex . And what the soft tampon can do in bed simply cannot be done by any other period product.
Nele: Periods and sex are big topics, including you. Sex naturally polarizes and in combination with the period even more.
Katha: Our Instagram channel is about what Never Not stands for, namely "Do What You Want". It's about doing what you want as a menstruating person - do what you want in bed, do what you want in your professional life, do what you want in your relationships (always with consideration, of course).
It's important that it's not about submitting to my sex partner because he finds the period disgusting, but about me feeling more comfortable having sex as a menstruating person. It's not about pleasing others.
Nele: Not only that: how often did I have sex during my period and had to put a towel underneath or couldn't go upstairs?
Anna: Exactly, the tampon should free you from the additional worrying. You have one less thing to worry about.
Katha: Just all the stains in the bed sheets, the cleaning products you have to buy. What I've already thrown away in bed linen and underwear without sex being involved.Stuff that just ended up in the trash
Nele: Have you experienced any personal period-shaming moments?
Katha: Quite often. What really upsets me is this sentence: "She's on her period." I've often been told that in my private and professional life. Whether it was the case or not is an open question. I've also heard it extremely often this sentence was said about other women. In an office I used to work in, the men even went as far as talking in the office about the fact that their wives are having their periods at home and are therefore so unbearable. As soon as anything comes up If a woman didn't fit, it was always directly assumed that she was having her period. The women's problems or criticism were immediately dismissed and no longer taken seriously.
Nele: You have a slogan that means "my body, my mind, my power" - when did you realize that this is a claim that is not self-evident, but that it is something that has to be trumpeted out into the world?
Anna: In the last few weeks we have been aware of order that we can make our own decisions about everything with our new independence - about our life, what we do career-wise, what we do with our money... That was a blatant moment. Especially the part "My mind, my power" hits this feeling head on - we can change and do so much with our heads.
Katha: "My body, my mind, my power" can have so many levels: we always talk about Europe and about a bubble and about whether we'll get a stupid comment or not, but girls in India can't go to school when they have their period because they is considered dirty there.
We tried to reflect in our campaign that Never Not is really a product for everyone and not just for a certain target group and not just for the bubble we come from.
Nele: I find it particularly exciting that you don't make a product for women per se, but for people who are menstruating.
Anna: For periods products make you think of women! There are so many different genders to identify with and about half of them can get his or her period.
The moment you feel masculine with a woman's body, you may want less with her Having to deal with a period because it doesn't feel natural for you - that's where Never Not becomes particularly exciting. You don't feel it and it has no visible thread. This can have an advantage, for example for a transman who is in the adjustment phase.
Nele: It's not just about gender-fluid people or trans people in the transition phase, but also about many trans men who remain in their biological body but feel like men. If they don't even want to change their gender, it can be very important for them to find a product that will accompany their lives in the long term.
Katha: If you If you want to be noticed as a man, the withdrawal thread of a normal tampon can cause a lot of confusion. I have a good trans friend who always wanted to hide his period, for him Never Not is ideal.
Nele: Your campaign shows a trans man, a business woman, a sex worker... You provoke with your campaigns - that's your way of breaking taboos. What can you give others to contribute to an even more tolerant, more open way of dealing with each other?<
Anna: You have to realize that periods are an issue that you can't do anything bad about. It can be uncomfortable, but that's it.
Katha: I like to provoke anyway.All I can say is if you break a taboo then the most that can happen is that people get upset and if you let that bounce off you then you feel a lot better yourself. Only the others who get upset have increased blood pressure. That's why it's important to speak up and talk about things. And nothing else in the world happens when I say today at the table that I have my period.