LiZZOM at Sharjah Entrepreneurship Festival 2021
LiZZOM is honored to be a part of Sharjah Entrepreneurship Festival 2021. Organized by Sheraa, the UAE’s premier incubator and prominent driver of the country’s startup ecosystem, the Sharjah Entrepreneurship Festival (SEF) is the region’s largest gathering of entrepreneurs, innovators and changemakers. Since 2017, SEF has attracted over 13,000+ attendees to the largest celebration of entrepreneurs in the region, and this year will be no different.
We invite you to visit us at the Sheraa Gallery at SEF for a chat on all things sustainable, period care and menstrual wellness on the 22nd and 23rd of November at the Sharjah Expo Centre.
This is our first large-scale event since the pandemic, and we’re beyond excited to meet you! But first, we think this would be a great time to introduce you to LiZZOM, if you don’t know us already!
How LiZZOM started and how we met Sheraa
LiZZOM’s story began in 2019, when founder Chanda Lokendra experienced the tragic loss of a friend that stemmed from the delay in seeking treatment for uterine cancer, because of the stigma and taboo that surrounds women’s health. This traumatic event was a propelling factor in the serial entrepreneur’s motivation to start LiZZOM, dedicated to unmasking period taboos, and providing a sustainable and safer solution to menstrual wellness and common menstrual problems.
Chanda met Sheraa in 2018 through a startup competition. At the time LiZZOM was still a raw idea with a cloudy vision. One thing that was clear was the dedication to provide sustainable and safe menstrual solutions for women and unmask the period taboos that were leading to women suffering in silence. With some encouragement and guidance, Chanda went on to find the right menstrual management solutions and launch the startup with a humble bootstrapped fund of AED 100,000 in hand. As our founder would candidly share:
“there was one objective in mind, how do I spend this money to reach and speak with every woman on earth. I need only one opportunity to educate my tribe on menstrual management.”
This is where we began our journey to reach out to every woman we would meet or speak with. As they say, when you want something badly, the whole universe conspires to get you what you want. Every soul we met, and every step we crawled, there was someone there to help and guide us. Acknowledgement of our work by Dubai police, Radio 4, Zee TV, Colours TV, TiE, GEMS Modern Academy, Dawrati and Hope Amel Dubai gave us strength and encouragement to continue to do what we are doing.
This journey is beautiful because of the ups and downs and interesting changes. LiZZOM has had team replacements, product failures, warehouse issues and on top of all fund crunch, and yet we wouldn’t change anything.
Nothing is possible without the lovely people we have crossed paths with along the way! Quick shoutout to our mentors:
The LiZZOM Promise
As a homegrown femtech brand and alumni of Sheraa, LiZZOM is particularly passionate about female wellness female empowerment through providing access to menstrual wellness and education, advocating for sustainable menstrual care practices, and being kind to the environment.
We live by these 3 objectives:
1 . Reduce women infections by 20% by the end of 2025
2 . Impact 50,000 women to use safer and sustainable products by 2025
3 . Support Menstrual Health Day in removing period poverty by 2030
What we have achieved since launch
Unmasking period taboos
We believe that no girl or woman should be denied opportunities at school or at work because of a lack of access to menstrual wellness and products. For every pack of LiZZOM purchased, we give a LiZZOM pad to a woman in developing countries.
In October 1919, the Woolworth’s department store in Chicago sold the first box of Kotex pads. “Ask for them by name” became a vital Kotex slogan, encouraging women to ask for “Kotex” in a department store instead of “sanitary pads” to avoid awkward interactions between them and male clerks.
This became the foundation for how menstrual products are marketed – with discretion, secrecy, and sugar on the top – to hide what menstruation really looks like because it doesn’t fit in the ideals of how a lady should act. Early sanitary pads ads did not feature what the pad actually looked like, and promised that the pads would come in “plain wrapping”, because yikes, everyone might know you were on your period. How embarrassing.
The word period was, for centuries, deemed taboo. But, dig a little deeper, and you will realize that the menstrual hygiene industry itself is perpetuating this taboo and uses it to employ unsustainable practices that damage the environment and women’s health.
When we first decided to go on the incredible journey that LiZZOM is, we wanted to influence every last person to let go of period taboos and myths, all at once. But the more we did our research, the more we realized that changes happen slowly and steadily, and snowball into a massive movement.
We knew then that we must prepare LiZZOM to be more than just a menstrual hygiene company. It must grow to become a movement. A movement created for all the girls who strive to go to school without worrying about missing a week every month because of their periods. For all those women who teach their daughters and their sons about menstruation and do their part in shunning the taboo. For the responsible environmentalist in us all. For those who dare to venture outside their comfort zones and choose to be different. For women who bravely take on criticism yet decide to do the right thing rather than go the easier way.
There has much been said and presented on social media on body positivity and self-love. The wordings might change but the underlying idea remains the same. Are we women really taking care of ourselves? Our choices change every single minute of our existence. Everything in our life is a reflection of the choices we've made. So why aren't we doing the same when it comes to menstrual health?
Enough with the stigma
The problem with stigma leads to a larger women’s health issue – misdiagnosis or delayed diagnosis. The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists estimates that while endometriosis affects 1 in 10 women of reproductive age, it takes an average of 6 to 10 years for an accurate diagnosis after the first symptoms appear. Medical research is largely performed using male subjects and animals, even in diseases that are more apparent in women. There simply aren’t enough doctors trained in specifically treating women; because even the medical world suffers from bias. So much so that they lose out on an important piece of information – that periods are a key indicator of women’s health.
Not that we should be surprised. In 1873, American doctor and sex educator Edward Clarke said girls should be removed from the classrooms during their periods.
Today, though we are seeing changes, the stigma around menstruation is still rampant. Especially in marginalized communities around the world where women receive little access to education and menstrual products. Across Africa, one in 10 girls will miss schools when they have their periods, 1 in four of menstruating women do not have access to an adequate toilet of their own and 11% do not have clean water close to their home.
At LiZZOM, we are committed to transforming the experience of being a woman, to allowing every woman to embrace confidence and pride, to give them the freedom to create opportunities for themselves by providing access to safe and sustainable menstrual wellness products.
Even in the UK, statistics released in March this year found that 62% of women (aged 16 – 54) would put off going to a doctor with symptoms of endometriosis because they don’t think they’d be taken seriously, or think symptoms including painful periods are normal. Amongst 16 – 24 year-olds, this statistic rises to 80%.
Let's change the current state of menstrual wellness
In this day and age, everywhere we look on snazzy supermarket shelves, there seems to be more than enough eco-friendly, sustainable alternatives to products that we consume daily – toothbrushes, body wash, meat; the list is endless.
Why shouldn’t we demand the same in menstrual wellness? Since plastics were used in menstrual products heavily by the 1960s (using flexible, leak-proof polypropylene or polyethylene as the base), sanitary pads have not received an upgrade until the 2000s.
Regular sanitary napkins are manufactured using harmful toxins, chemicals, and plastic notorious for causing rashes, allergic reactions, and skin sensitivity. When female hygiene was concerned, our choices were limited. Not anymore. At LiZZOM, we create products that make you feel good from the inside out by giving you the options that truly matter. Every change begins with a choice. Let's choose change.
Conventional pads are made with an estimated 90% of plastic and each pad is equivalent to four plastic bags. The plastic used can cause allergic reactions and skin irritation; during menstruation, the reproductive organs are most vulnerable and the presence of a plastic layer inhibits the exchange of air and heat, thereby increasing the chance of bacteria growth.
In addition, conventional pads contain synthetic fragrances that sometimes carry cocktails of up to 3,900 chemicals including carcinogens, allergens, irritants and endocrine-disrupting chemicals (linked to reproductive diseases and disorders such as endometriosis). Some are even bleached using chlorine dioxide, associated with the increase of the risk of immune disorders, infertility and inflammation of the pelvic organs.
Each sustainable LiZZOM pad is made from 100% natural corn and bamboo fibers, using a zero chemical approach to ensure that each pad is completely organic, freeing you from harmful chemicals and genetically modified organisms and fragrances. Corn fiber gives our pads a soft and silky feel, while bamboo fiber, a highly breathable material and 40% more absorbent than cotton, gives the user better protection and comfort.
Sustainable Bamboo Fiber
- 40% more absorbent than cotton
- Requires less resources to grow
- Highly breathable and natural cooling properties
- Soft, silky texture
- Naturally hypoallergenic
Sustainable Corn Fiber
- Production of corn fiber produces lower emission of greenhouse gases
- A breathable material
- Naturally hypoallergenic
- Low odour retention
Better for the planet
The average user throws away an astonishing 125 – 150kg of tampons, pads, and applicators in their lifetime. These disposable menstrual products are a large contributor to ocean waste. Imagine this: one sanitary pad could take 500 – 800 years to decompose, and the first sanitary pad made still has not decomposed, till this day.
When plastics do not decompose, they break down into smaller and smaller pieces, into eventually microplastics. Microplastics easily pass through water filtration systems and end up in oceans, posing a great threat to aquatic life.
By producing our pads with corn and bamboo fiber, we strive to make small steps toward big change. We know that we cannot solve plastic pollution in a day, but we hope that by providing access to a more sustainable menstrual wellness product, we can encourage more women to practice sustainability and be kinder to our planet.