A Rockwood woman has started a business offering a planet-friendly alternative to plastic menstrual products.
Wishy-Washy Cloth — with the tag line ‘making your period just a little bit fabulous’ — provides women with high quality, attractive and comfortable cloth menstrual pads and panty liners made in Guelph and Rockwood.
The business recently won a $5,000 grant from the Business Centre of Guelph-Wellington's Starter Company Plus program.
While the average woman uses approximately 16,000 disposable pads in her lifetime, Christine Gayfer says her business aims to be a planet-friendly alternative to plastic menstrual products and that the creation of this Wishy-Washy was a mere accident.
As a user of reusable pads that lasted her 20 years, Gayfer says she ran out of her supply a year ago and needed more.
“And so I started making some for myself and I was having a blast. They were really fun to make,” says Gayfer.
“It’s a great product I was doing something great for the earth too.”
Gayfer then started making the pads for friends and family and things started gaining traction as people began asking to purchase them.
Wishy-Washy pads include a top layer of cotton and an inside layer of bamboo fleece that works as an absorbent layer. The back layer is made out of a softshell to prevent leaking.
“I sold a few at a cloth pad auction and it just kind of went from there and I was like ‘maybe I could make a business out of this,’” says Gayfer.
She says when she first attempted to use the reusable pad, she thought ‘it can’t be worse than a poopy diaper.’
“And it isn’t. It’s not even in the same league,” says Gayfer.
“I often say that cloth diapers are the gateway into cloth pads,” she said addressing the initial shock that comes with the idea of reusing sanitary products.
Gayfer says she found that the reusable pads worked better because they were more absorbent and eco-friendly.
“I wasn’t throwing any garbage or spending money every month,” says Gayfer.
She says part of the appeal of them is that they are pretty, cute and hand made.
“What converts women is how adorable they are,” says Gayfer.
Gayfer said while there are many reusable pads in the market online, she notices that her clientele enjoys purchasing from a local small business in Canada and hence, she primarily sells online.
She first started to sell in The Handmade Den in Downtown Guelph which helped her establish herself as a business and study the market.
“The quality is really important. When I did some market research of my own customers, that was the number one factor they’re looking for,” says Gayfer.
So she began to make custom pads that meet the demands of her customers such as creating a specific sized postpartum pad or one with a funky design.
Gayfer says the $5,000 grant will allow her to purchase an industrial sewing machine and industrial cutter to allow her to improve production and precision while making her products.
She says her goal for her business is to have her products available for wholesale in health food stores while still maintaining a small business status.
Gayfer has also been accepted into Innovation Guelph's Rhyze Ventures program for women-entrepreneurs, beginning in January 2020 and hopes to continue to grow Wishy-Washy Cloth.