Chelsea VonChaz formed her non-profit #HappyPeriod back in 2015. More recently, VonChaz has taken on the task of founding the first ever menstrual care shop experience, Menärchē, which will allow people to not only shop peacefully for period care items, but also get educated in the process. She shared, “Menärchē makes your menstrual care more accessible by providing a line-up of safe period products and resources.”
How Chelsea VonChaz’s mission all began
Chelsea VonChaz was a freelance wardrobe stylist, working on Issa Rae‘s Insecure on HBO, when her passion for all things periods was sparked. One day she was driving between gigs and when stopped at a red light, she witnessed a young homeless Black woman bleeding through her clothing. It got VonChaz thinking, where does one go if they have their period and no means to buy period products?
Since then, she has made it her mission to help eradicate period poverty and break the stigmas surrounding periods through menstrual care donations, along with properly educating students about periods. She soon learned that shelters, prisons, and transition homes are not required by law to allocate any of their budget to menstrual items, and that most shelters receive far more personal care item donations geared towards men, like Gillette shaving cream. There was a huge need being ignored.
How Menärchē was birthed
Menärchē, which translates to “the establishment of menstruation” and is the name for someone’s first period, seems more than fitting for this company. The idea for Menärchē (pronounced min-are-key) was birthed from her experience running #HappyPeriod and the many people and brands she met over the last seven years.
VonChaz shared, “I’ve met so many amazing people who have their own period care brands … I noticed how over the years, a lot of times some of the brands or organizations would go out of business because they didn’t have enough data and were unable to connect with enough customers outside of their online sales.” Many were unable to crack through the retail doors and would end up messaging her to donate their stock to #HappyPeriod and close up their shop. She wants to give the smaller brands out there a chance to reach a larger audience, as well as educate customers about the many different options available to them and how to properly use the products.
The reason Menärchē is needed
While people are becoming more comfortable talking about periods compared to years past, for many there is still a stigma around it. Chelsea VonChaz wanted to create a safe space where people could shop for menstrual care products with ease, with someone there to answer any questions that may arise.
VonChaz explained, “There is no one typically in that aisle to help them. And often times it isn’t even a whole aisle for period care. You’re sharing space with other items like condoms, pregnancy tests, with lube. And there is not going to be anyone there to explain to you how you would insert a menstrual cup. There is no one there that is going to talk to you about the risks of TSS or the difference between the Playtex option and HoneyPot.” Menärchē store front will allow for this.
There is also a social impact piece to Menärchē, a portion of the sales will go back to #HappyPeriod. The store will also be highlighting many Black-owned period care products and organizations, which VonChaz realizes don’t get as much love or appreciation as other brands.
Chelsea VonChaz is a member of iFundWomen and received a $5,000 Caress Dream Fund grant through the platform. She shared, “As part of the grant we were able to initiate our crowd funding campaign on the [iFundWomen] platform, which was really cool because I got a chance to really plan and map it out.” VonChaz, who is used to bootstrapping, welcomed this new, exciting approach to raising capital with open arms. She likes that this approach helps her to slow down, and have support along the way.
The Menärchē iFundWomen campaign is still open for funding here.
There are even tiers and incentives depending on how much you give. As an example, with a $25 pledge, you can receive a Period Journal download. With a $50 payment, you will receive a $60 gift card to spend in store. A $250 donation gets you some Menärchē swag and a period product, and $1,000 allows you to be a founding vendor with priority shelf space.
The future of Menärchē
The Menärchē store front will be opened in the Spring of 2023 in Los Angeles. It will be unlike any retail space you’ve seen before. VonChaz explains, “My vision is not just a retail space. But also, a space for learning and making connections, lined in high quality essentials.”
In the meantime, VonChaz will be hosting a number of pop-ups starting this fall.