No longer spoken in whispers


Like many working in the field of female hygiene products, there is usually a family member and the people around who inevitably become the catalysts for a business idea. In the case of Army kid Varun Narula and his collegemate Ishit Garg, it was the women in their lives.

Growing up, Varun recalls seeing his sister getting her first period and the seeming ease with which she asked their father to get a pack of sanitary napkins from the medical store. It was a far cry from a lot of households, where the subject of menstruation and everything around it is still spoken of in a hush-hush manner.

Varun and his friend set out to dispel this very taboo and normalise the discussion on menstruation through Phoenix Pads under their company Vakrangi Health Tech based in Rajasthan. Their company is involved in supplying semi-automatic and automatic machines that manufacture the pads. At the moment, their focus is tier 1 and tier 2 cities.

No longer spoken in whispers

With a strong presence in Hyderabad, Varun and his partner were all set to conduct a massive drive in the city before the pandemic. Now, the duo is rethinking their strategy and will conduct a distribution drive in the city, targeting marginalised women. “We supply the machines to remote areas as well where coming by hygiene products is difficult so a local supply chain can be developed. Through tie-ups with NGOs and women’s self-help groups, we also help provide employment to women in rural areas. An awareness drive is also done by us telling them about the importance of menstrual hygiene and cleanliness with the help of gynaecologists,” explains Varun.

Towards this, the company also adopted a slum called Banjara Basti where women previously resorted to ash, hay, old, dirty rags to tackle their menstrual cycle which can lead to raft of bacterial infections and affect their health.

Their Phoenix pads are customised for different flows – light, medium and heavy. Women can also check if all is good down there with a handy pH Self Test Kit they provide with the pads. It’s a good deal for a reasonable price, especially when products in this category usually take up a sizeable portion of a woman’s expenditure.

No longer spoken in whispers

The company frequently joins forces with Robinhood Army for their drives. “We distributed sanitary pads to women in flood-affected areas in Kerala in 2018 and then organised an event called Period Breaker where we had comedians, musicians and youngsters talking about menstruation in an open and uninhibited manner. It was quite encouraging to see that we could break the taboo in a city like Udaipur too,” adds Varun.

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