Chelsea VonChaz is a rockstar in the world of women’s wellness. And she is continuing to use her platform and passion to enact ever-lasting change.

VonChaz is the founder of #HappyPeriod, an award winning non-profit that combats “stigmas surrounding menstruation and period poverty for marginalized communities.” And through her advocacy for women’s wellness, she has educated many on the topics of uterine fibroids, proper menstrual hygiene, holistic period care, menstrual equity, body advocacy, and more. Now, VonChaz is taking her advocacy to the next level.

Currently, VonChaz is in the process of funding the launch of Menärchē, a “shame-free retail space that prioritizes menstrual care for people with periods.” And she intends for the brick-and-mortar space to also serve as a hub for inclusive education. As well as a space to serve the Los Angeles community with safe menstrual care products.

VonChaz sat down with 21Ninety for an exclusive interview and shared what inspired her to take her advocacy for women’s wellness to the next level, the shame that people experience when purchasing period care products, what we can expect to see as Menärchē evolves and more.

Jadriena Solomon: You are currently in the process of funding the launch of Menärchē, a shame-free retail space that prioritizes menstrual care for people with periods.  We know that you are a seasoned women’s wellness advocate but what inspired you to take your journey a step further with this initiative?

Chelsea VonChaz: I’ve been wanting to start this company for some time. Since running #HappyPeriod, I’ve been able to meet so many great women who are also entrepreneurs within the period care and women’s wellness realm. And we face a lot of the same adversities when it comes to selling their products and getting their brand more exposure. And unfortunately for some of them, they’ve had to close out their companies because they haven’t been able to make sales. 

Another reason that I wanted to launch this space is because when we go into stores, shopping for period care products, they’re confined in a limited amount of space – it’s in the same aisle as the condoms, the pregnancy tests, the diapers and everything. And because of that, it creates a more limited shopping experience. On top of that, when we are in Target or Walmart shopping for our products, we don’t have anyone in the aisle that is available to actually like tell us which tampon brands are the safest or which ones are good for first timers, how to actually use all of these products – so there’s a real lack of education in the shopping experience as well. I wanted to create a for-profit company – a scalable company – that can serve as a huge solution to those problems. 

I intend for Menärchē to essentially be a wellness center to provide education resources, tutorials and sessions for people to learn about the products that we provide. And it’s going to be a space where you can find products for the totality of your menstruation cycle and not just the phase when you’re bleeding. We’ll have supplements, pain management patches, herbs – it’ll be an array of items that people will have access to.

 

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JS: Like you said, traditional In store access to feminine care and hygiene products are extremely limited. THINX even reported that 44% of women surveyed have felt “awkward” while buying tampons or pads at the store. With 15% even feeling so uneasy that they opted for purchasing products online to avoid that feeling. Despite your strong stance in women’s wellness, was there ever a time where you were faced with this same fear? And if not, have you noticed this in the lives of the females around you?

CV: I’ve never had this fear but I’ve definitely had other people tell me that they’ve experienced that feeling. And I can understand how they could be made to feel negative or shameful about it. I don’t think that’s something that anyone should have to feel. So that’s also a reason why I’m curating this experience with Menärchē – I want people to have a completely different experience. That in itself is what we’re really selling. 

It’s more than just providing products. We’re providing education and truly an experience that folks have never had before.

JS: With the recent reversal of Roe v. Wade, the limitations placed on abortion access and birth control access, will we see Menarche also offer birth control options or provide ways to help women gain access to abortions or other needs that will help them retain agency and authority over their bodies?

CV: I love that question! I’m definitely thinking about it. Even though Menärchē will be a wellness center, I’m thinking of preventive measures that we can also provide. As well as health services or custom services that are currently being colonized. I would love to also provide a directory of health practitioners, OB GYNs, hormone and pregnancy experts as well – this is something that would be completely free for people to able to find the right services and have access to information and consultations for those services. 

Fertility issues are also a big problem with Black women currently, and we need a safe space to actually have dialogue around this and openly speak about fertility options. Not a lot of people are talking about the lack of fertility options when it comes to Black or indigineous communities – not everyone can afford IVF or to freeze their eggs. So I definitely want that to also be a space that we delve into in the future. I would also be open to us providing a service for people who are interested in their options when it comes to abortions. I don’t think that Planned Parenthood should be the only faith organization that handles abortion services. 

I’m definitely open to these things as Menärchē grows. Right now, our focus is to be a resource of an experience when it comes to learning about your body and having an array of products to choose from but those things are definitely initiatives that can be in our five to ten year plan – especially with the way things are changing in the world.

JS: Menärchē is currently in the funding stage with iFundWomen, and funds are being raised to open the retail space in Los Angeles, California. How far along are you in terms of meeting your goal for funding? And how can people support and donate to the fund?

CV: We’ve been doing really well with grants right now but we’re nowhere near our goal – I’ll be honest. We have a lot of brands reaching out to us who want to support and also have their brand available in the store. So right now we’re focused on building our community. 

We welcome people to support us through our crowdfunding campaign. And we’re also in the process of meeting with angel investors – the process has been really amazing. We’ve been receiving such positive feedback – especially from other Black-owned women’s wellness brands. People have been so extremely supportive and I’m so excited to be able to provide an outlet to support them as well. 

Support Menärchē: the establishment of menstruation by donating to their crowdfunding campaign here!

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