Crystal Etienne, the CEO and founder of Ruby Love — a Black-owned period-apparel brand that launched in 2015 — is determined to provide knowledge and supplies to teens who are just starting to menstruate, especially if they're from underrepresented communities. In fact, Ruby Love believes so strongly about providing proper period supplies to kids, it offers free sanitary-pad samples on its website. The goal? To make teens feel confident while navigating their bodies' natural changes.
"We're dedicated to encouraging families to openly communicate about period and puberty education," Crystal told POPSUGAR. "We launched our bestselling first-period kits that include educational materials that challenge common misconceptions about puberty and equip teens with the tools they need to embrace their periods."
In particular, Crystal wants to destigmatize discussions about periods, and that begins with serving teens who might have been previously excluded from conversations about menstruation. Because children from underrepresented communities are more likely to skip school during their period due to lack of access to menstrual products, this topic needs to be addressed. In fact, 84 percent of teens reported that they have either missed class or know someone who has missed class because they didn't have access to pads or tampons. Moreover, a study found that Black women are three times more likely to experience fibroids — or noncancerous growths in the uterus that can cause heavy periods — than white women.
"While the first period talk is an important introduction to puberty, the topic still remains taboo in many families," Crystal explained. "This can especially be true in minority groups who have traditionally been left out of the conversation due to stigmas surrounding the topic. As a mother, I know how important it is to have a menstrual-care option that is safe, easy to use, and helps celebrate a young girl's growth. Discussing menstruation as a monumental rite of passage and making her first period experience as positive as possible influences how a young girl views menstruation."
She noted that giving teens in underserved communities the information and tools they need will help them in the long run. "Helping girls of color navigate their periods will help them feel empowered as they step into this next phase of life. With that empowerment comes confidence in themselves and the realization that they can achieve anything. Our goal is to lend a helping hand with products that give all women and young ladies the confidence to never stop being, going, and doing!"
"Helping girls of color navigate their periods will help them feel empowered."
Through her work, Crystal realized that she needed to include dads in conversations about periods. As families come in all shapes and sizes, it's important that fathers begin to educate themselves on the topic.
"There are single fathers in the world who could use a helping hand in understanding how to guide their daughters through those first few period moments," she explained. "Periods shouldn't be a taboo subject that's only discussed between women. Teens should feel comfortable turning to their father figures for guidance regarding puberty while knowing that she will receive the support she needs."
Parents who want their kids to feel empowered about menstruation can purchase Ruby Love's First Period Kit ($50, originally $60). Designed to promote self-care, each kit comes with one pair of period underwear, informational cards, pads, cozy socks, a stress ball, hand sanitizer, wipes, a face mask, a warming gel pad, and more!