Is the market ready for, elevated, period-proof underwear?
Only three innovations in menstrual protection have reached the mass market in 200 years. After the sanitary pad, the tampon, and the menstrual cup, Rebecca Linneros hope that it’s time for the fourth.
By JOHAN MAGNUSSON
September 23, 2022
Together with the team at Female Engineering, it’s all about finding innovative solutions to real needs for women. The femtech brand just launched its first product — a line of period-proof panties.
— They use advanced and patented technology that is engineered to be completely leak-proof and keep the wearer safe throughout the whole day, says Linneros. We have the best femcare expert in Scandinavia, Solgun Drevik, on board with us, helping us to work in new ways, especially when it comes to R&D.
— The market, Drevik adds, is ready for a completely new type of menstrual protection: one which is sustainable, and tailored to the female body. Our panties have been designed to feel comfortable any day of the month — and to keep the wearer dry for up to ten hours.
Rebecca Linneros, tell us more about the technology.
— We call it engineered leak tech. To be more specific, the gusset is equipped with patented technology in three layers, each with a certain function. It wicks, absorbs, and holds blood, staying dry, and preventing leakage. You can then wash it and wear it again and again. Together with our partner MAS and their innovation team in Sri Lanka, we’re exploring the newest technology within the fields of material science and fabric wearability. The idea is that, through identified pain points and consumer insights, we can innovate and explore, test and verify and — in the end — secure the best solution, meeting any female requirement.
You’ve also described your industry as slow-paced. In what way?
— Menstrual products have been available for over 100 years, but the market still has a long way to come. Many of the products out there are, even now, uncomfortable, impractical, and leave a lot to be desired when it comes to environmental sustainability. Welcoming and investing in femtech is key to becoming innovative: improving not only menstrual products but eventually all products that are mostly used by women.
And you spent quite a long time on research, what learnings can you share?
— I think we underestimated the time it takes to work with innovation, says Linneros. It takes time to prototype, test, and verify each step of the way and doing this during a global pandemic has been super challenging. But also, it’s a matter of always trusting your gut feeling — that this will make a difference and the goal to build something that will last over time. As we had the freedom to act as a startup, we started small but with a solid foundation to have room for expansion. This gave and gives us the freedom to co-create the brand with our customers and their needs. We then put together a team of women from all over the world — leading femcare researchers, textile engineers, material and fit specialists, creators and product developers — who dared to question the status quo.
When researching the market, Linneros adds, they realized that there were huge gaps in it — specifically for products that make life easier for women.
— This led us to think about all of the situations where womankind might still benefit from innovative solutions, she says. It kind of upsets us that innovation for female needs is still rather neglected — but that’s also what keeps us motivated. Femtech is still a relatively new field, but one that is very, very much needed.
— I also think it’s key to innovate on your core expertise, such as the knowledge about how the female body changes from a young girl when she first gets her period and up until she grows up to an adult. This is where the femcare expertise about absorption meant that we could secure the technology to be leak-proof no matter her age and size, and why we have a separate teen period underwear range, engineered for girls.