There are countless women’s issues and concerns that have found its voice in the past decades. With courage and commitment, advocates for women’s issues, shed light on topics once regarded as taboo. And it’s through efforts and initiatives such as these that women are empowered to live their best lives. Oliva Cotes, founder of period care brand LUÜNA is one such brave voice, working tirelessly to advocate for menstrual equity.
She begins, “From 2016 to 2018, I spoke to hundreds of women across Greater China about periods, learning that most of us struggle with and are frustrated by this natural monthly experience. Through this journey, I redefined my own period experience, relieving my negative physical symptoms by switching from traditional products and empowering myself with knowledge about my body.” With the founding of LUÜNA and partnerships with other like-minded organization, Olivia has left her mark in paving the way for better red letter days.
- What keeps you busy these days?
It will come as no surprise to anyone who knows me that my answer to this is ‘work.’ For now, life is busy building my company with a mission to improve the experience of menstruation for our community across Asia. Supporting my team, developing our strategy, product development and advocating publicly for menstrual equity are just some of the key areas of focus for me at the moment.
- How did you come to find your current career or life’s work?
After growing frustrated with the lack of education, choice, and transparency in the period care
industry, I set out on a mission. From 2016 to 2018, I spoke to hundreds of women across Greater China about periods, learning that most of us struggle with and are frustrated by this natural monthly experience. Through this journey, I redefined my own period experience, relieving my negative physical symptoms by switching from traditional products and empowering myself with knowledge about my body. This has forever changed my life.
LUÜNA is built out of a desire to share this journey with my friends, our community, and future generations, redefining, not just my own experience, but the experience of menstruation for all.
- What is it about your work or career that you enjoy most?
There are so many parts of my work that I love. It’s difficult to mention just one. However, as a passionate advocate for menstrual equity, I personally love working with schools and corporations to develop their menstrual health policies. In January 2021, we launched our initiative called ‘A Better Period,’ through which we work with partners across Asia to tackle menstrual stigma in the workplace and in the classroom. We do this by providing access to healthy LUÜNA pads and tampons, as well as launching educational programs around menstrual health. Currently, over 10,000 women and girls have access to free LUÜNA period care thanks to this initiative, demonstrating the huge progress my team has made in challenging the outdated status quo around menstrual health. When I can, I also still lead workshops for clients which is absolutely one of my favorite things to do and something I wish I had more time for. Witnessing first-hand our audiences learning more about this taboo topic and engaging with it in a safe environment is incredibly rewarding.
- For women who aspire for similar careers, what would be your advice?
Before starting a business, I recommend you be sure of two things; that your work truly adds value to people’s lives and that you have an undeniably kick-ass product. These things will allow you to persevere through the tough times and believe me, there will be tough times!
- What are the career milestones that inspire you to break the glass or mold?
Since launching LUÜNA in 2019, I can think of a number of incredible milestones. Personally, seeing our products on the shelves of Watsons, who was our first major retail partner, was unforgettable. Standing in the aisle looking at the shelf, I was reminded of the countless times I stood there as a consumer desperate for brands with better ingredients and more transparency. I will never forget that moment and often cite it as an example to others as proof that you can do anything – even take on the huge conglomerates who have dominated industries for decades.
- How would you describe your personal style? What are three your wardrobe essentials
I am most likely to be in puffy sleeves and chunky trainers. As such, I love my small selection of comfy white trainers and any dress or shirt with statement sleeves.
- What is a good investment piece? Kindly cite examples of pieces in your current wardrobe.
Quality is the key indicator for a ‘good investment’ piece. Shop around for slow fashion brands
that are transparent about their supply chain and production practices or source vintage items that are made to last. In Hong Kong, my favorite store for second-hand shopping is Hula, or when back in the UK, I head to some of my favorite London charity stores (or raid my mum’s wardrobe).
- What do pearls mean to you?
When sourced ethically, pearls allow us to treat ourselves sustainably and in harmony with nature.